Thursday, August 18, 2011

(Really) Busy at Work (Reprise)

So, Google+ came out with games last week.  I'm not positive, but I believe I was one of the first people to have access.  Nothing told me, but it showed up one day, and I managed to start playing Angry Birds.  None of my other friends had started yet.  That's not the case anymore.

Anyway, there's this now:
Yeah, I've already nailed all of the stars on all of the available levels.

Yeah, I found all the Chrome secrets, too. (Peeps need to do your part for the Teamwork levels!)
Wait, most of this looks familiar.

It's my last day of full-time work at the wind farm I currently work at.  I've blogged and facebook'd regularly since I've started working here, yet I still manage to get things done.  No, I still manage to impress my boss by the quality of my work.  I guess those are the benefits you get for being an efficient worker with a top-notch education.  I can do just enough work to blow everyone else at my office out of the water, and then I still have 5 hours left in the day to play games.  I'll miss that when I move on to a job that requires much more effort.

Back to work,

I'm Popular!

There are wildly successful blogs out there.  Hyperbole & 1/2 is the first to come to mind (though she's been slacking as the whole book deal comes through).  There are blogs that have been going for years.  Blogs with tens of thousands of followers.  I'm fairly new to blogs.  I didn't read or follow any until I started one.  Then, much like when you first start playing a successful video game, the reason everyone has been into them becomes apparent.  It's actually overwhelming for a budding blogger who feels like he has a voice that hasn't been overdone yet, but wonders if all of this writing will ever be noticed by people beyond his Facebook friends.

Yesterday, when I logged in, Blogger at least gave me one small ounce of satisfaction that what I'm doing may work.  Blogger told me to keep thinking the way I do, and to keep baring my uncensored thoughts to the general public.  Blogger told me this by calling my blog something that I've never been called before:  popular.

Yes, I realize that it is just a ploy for people that make money from this to make more money.  However, this hasn't happened before.  I like to think that it is due to the number of people that have been reading my blog lately.  I'm on track to break 3,000 pageviews for the month of August.  I regularly consider adding some sort of money-making features to my blog, but I'm not desperate yet.  The day it happens, I will apologize, but I will probably do it nonetheless.

When I started this blog, I figured that it would be something that Annie and I would read, comment on, and it would be another fad that I would forget about in a few months.  What if I was meant to be a blogger, though?  What if I am a good story teller, or I can become one through practice?  What if this is my way of being popular?  (Too bad I didn't have any way of being popular in college...)  Ha, popular...

Thank you, K-chen, for putting that into perspective.
And thank you, readers, for making me feel popular,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Now I'm the Culprit

I'm actually starting to really enjoy my weekly sauna visit.  It is getting easier to stay in there without feeling like I'm dying, I get a good sweat on, and I feel amazing as I'm walking out of the gym after my shower.  Though, my schedule is going to be off, now that I've finished teaching at one club.  I'll still find a way to fit it into my schedule once or twice a week.

I also still maintain that there is too much penis loitering around in sports club locker rooms.  Last night, for example, I saw two naked men just standing in the hallway talking to each other.  Stark naked.  How can you do that and keep a straight face?  Hell, how can you do that and maintain eye contact?  Another guy was standing in the mirror just looking at himself.  WTF?  Go home and stare at yourself naked.  I do.

Anyway, the most awkward moment in the sauna this week was my fault, entirely.  Everything gets locked in a locker, and you take a key on an elastic band along with you everywhere.  When I'm showering, it's under my towel.  When I'm sauna-ing, it's around my wrist.  Unless I start to get too hot.  Or if the key touches me a few minutes into it and I feel like I've burnt myself with a sauna-heated, gym locker key.  So, the key was sitting next to me for a few minutes.

I was all into the sauna.  Leaned back, eyes closed, dripping sweat.  Then I heard it.  The slight tink-tink of a triangle in the distance, or the scooting of keys beside me.  It took me a second, but then I almost shit myself once I realized what had happened.  Did an awkward nakedy-naked guy scoot up next to me?  Nope.  Worse.  My locker key slid between the slots of the bench, and now they were comfortably resting about 4 feet below me, out of reach of any part of my body.  The next thing I remember, the door opened and a gentleman that had been coming in and out of the sauna asked me if I was ok.

I was on all fours on the floor, butt naked, desperately trying to force my arm to fit in between the vertical slots of the wooden bench.  It was fruitless, yet I didn't immediately have any other ideas.  So, I tried everything from getting the boards to open up or slide, to trying to find a way to climb under the bench from the far end.  What else was I going to do?  Walk out to the front desk while completely nude and request that they help me get my key out of the sauna?  That sounds like the beginning of a gay porno.

Instead, I walked out and searched around for something to stick between the slots.  Q-tips, towels, combs, bags, a chair, stools... nothing.  Then, all the way in the back of the shower room, I saw it.  It was the janitor's closet.  Or custodian's closet.  Or whatever.  I prayed that it wasn't locked as I walked toward it, and it wasn't.  I grabbed some sort of long, threaded rod and managed to return my key to my hand in a minute or so.

I even maintained myself enough to actually get back into sauna-mode and hang out there for 10 more minutes.  Regardless, for 5 minutes or so, I had tragically fallen into every bad 'dropped soap' cliche there is.

So, yeah, who's coming sauna-ing with me?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Power Ballad Key Changes

It was a late night after my closest friends and I finished Annie's performance of Les Mis and headed to Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe in downtown Oakland.

We started to have a discussion about how the 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Mis had the best 'Bring Him Home' ever.  (Well, that's my opinion, at least.)  I said Alfie took it up like a 4th or a 5th when he came in, and Annie called me stupid and said he probably only went up a step.  Then I went on to agree that she was probably right, since that is the way things are done in power ballads.  (If you don't know anything about Les Miserables, then you should find a way to see it performed on stage.  If there was only one musical that you were to ever see, make this one be it.  Fuck Phantom.)  Amazing quartet of Jean Valjeans follows [old guy is the original, guys on the outside are the current, English JVJs, and Alfie comes in last]:

We were with two friends that, though very intelligent, don't have minors in music from Michigan like Annie and I, so they didn't quite grasp our discussion.  We went on to try and name examples.  My first guess would be that there's a Whitney Houston song with a big dramatic key change, but I couldn't think of it in 'I'll Always Love You'.  Annie, and I look at each other, obviously singing it in our heads, and we both smiled at the same time.  Yeah, it's probably the most notable key change of a power ballad ever.  About 3:10 into it, after the brilliant grand pause and a single drum beat, she returns to the chorus in a different key.  It's easiest to tell by listening at 1:57 and immediately scrolling to 3:20.  Play with the song here:

Since then, I've decided to go through some of my music and find more examples.  I listen to the cheesiest collection of music from all of those soul sisters you're picturing in your head right now:  Celine, Mariah, Christina, Groban, Clarkson, Underwood, Wonder, and a plethora of American Idol rejects.  I was actually surprised at how many of the songs I assumed change keys about 2/3 of the way through didn't.  Anyway, one that's really easy to hear is found at 3:24 of Bon Jovi's 'Livin on a Prayer' (let me be the first to apologize for '80s hair):

If none of this post made any sense to you, then don't worry about it.  This was just a chance for a few bandos to geek out.  There's another one in MJ's 'Man in the Mirror', but I'm finally bored with this.

What other songs can you find?

Monday, August 15, 2011

There's Always *Tomorrow

I think that I can get my point across with very few words:

Tomorrow's saving grace.

Spends too much time on Facebook,

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Recession. What Recession?

There's been a bunch of talk about the national debt ceiling.  I tried to understand it.  Every time I attempt to learn about anything remotely political, I end up being blind with rage at how inefficient our political system is.  I wish there was some big, fancy SAT word that combined the words frustrated and enraged.  That'd be a better word.

For years I considered myself a straight-ticket democrat.  I still feel like republicans are ridiculous, but the polarized democrats are just as bad.  In fact, I don't even know where I sit politically these days.  What was that word for frustrated+enraged?

Anyway, I'm off track.  The point of this post is my perspective of the impending doom that's been following us around like a sad cloud since the summer of 2008.  Will we end up in a depression era?  Will we finally experience the struggles that taught our grand- (or great grand-) parents how to stretch meals?  Will we reach the point that it's considered a national crisis?  Will credit cards and loans make it even worse for us than it was for them?

My opinion:  who cares?!  I've got nothing.  I've watched the whole world collapse around me.  I hear all these stories of people losing millions on Wall Street, people losing their jobs, forced retirements, lost savings, foreclosures, massive credit card debt.  It sucks, but ummm... welcome to my life...

I slept on a floor for 3 years in L.A.  I lived with roaches, floods, and massive homeless traffic outside my window.  I had it all figured out how I was going to live out of my car, when I happened across an apartment that I could 'kind of' afford.  I have a brand new car's worth of credit card debt, and I refuse to look at the total damage of my loans.  I have two Master's degrees, yet I make the same annual salary as a barista.

So, I guess my point is:  I don't feel the recession.  I've been in a recession since before it was cool.  I'll still be in a recession when the country straightens itself out.  I feel more like the world is being brought down to my level, evening out the playing field.

I hope none of you are feeling it, but it's not like I caused it.  I haven't missed a payment on anything... ever.

I can't wait 'til I'm not broke as shit.  That's gonnabe nice,

Friday, August 12, 2011

Homeless Signs

The other day, Annie and I were stopped at a stoplight.  I started laughing hysterically for what seemed like no reason at all.  She gave me the 'what the fuck is wrong with you?' face.  Anytime something like this happens, it's always a longer story than you would expect.  Especially since I had just rapidly thought about a few things in mere seconds that culminated in my laughing outbreak  Here is what happened.

A homeless lady had a sign that she was holding up beside the intersection.  (Homelessness is ridiculous in the Bay Area.)  It said something like "Your going to have a better day if you give me $$".  My first thought was:  come on, lady, that's the wrong 'your' (*you're).  Then I realized that I was truly an awful person for judging a homeless person's grammar.  She probably has more important things to think about, like what fad diet is going to help her drop those last few pounds for bikini season.  Then I went on to think that I didn't care.  If homeless people know how to write in English, they had to have learned it somewhere, and that they shouldn't expect people to give them money if their English is that horrific.  Then I started laughing, because I realized that, once again, I was judging a homeless person for not carefully spell-checking their cardboard sign.  (Though spell-check doesn't work for grammar errors.)

So, there's no surprise when I tell you that I have urges to make fun of homeless people's signs.  If I had more money, I would work it out to make passive aggressive signs that mock their signs and stand next to them.  However, I'm lazy and poor, so I'll just give you a glimpse of what I'm thinking, and you can imagine how awesome the whole series would be.

Please don't stare at me with sad eyes when I'm exploiting you.

There was a guy in SF last weekend that had a sign that read "Let's be honest, I'm saving for a hooker."  It made me giggle, and I thought that was worth $1.  I didn't give him one, though, for 2 reasons.  1) That'd be a really shitty day for a hooker.  2) "Honest" homeless signs like this have been popping up alot lately, so I didn't deem it creative enough.

No worries, these peeps are still creating a few brilliant signs:

And, no, I didn't give any of these people money,

"I'm broke as fuck, and you smell like piss." - Jenna Marbles (I just realized 'The Face' was uploaded on my birthday.  We're destined to be together.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Annie and I are constantly challenging ourselves to be better people.  And by that, I mean we literally have little challenges to find out who is the better person.

We went sans chain establishments for about half a year.  This was a great challenge that we started after Earth Day 2010.  For the first month, everything had to be free of chains, emphasizing the importance of sustainability and local economies.  Our rule was that it had to have no more stores than Sprinkles to be considered a local chain.  Food was purchased at farmers markets and local grocers.  Auto repair was done at local repair shops.  Gas purchased from independent fuel providers.  It was a wonderfully healthy and informative time.  We eventually settled on no chains that would benefit us the most (so I couldn't eat at chain restaurants and she couldn't drink chain coffee).  We both decided to break it together when we went to a Buffalo Wild Wings to watch a Michigan Football game.  It definitely helped permanently ween me off my addiction to fast food.  (Though who doesn't like an Egg McMuffin every once in a while?)
Eat me. Don't forget hash browns.

We've tried to tabulate everything we ate.  I had built this huge spreadsheet with nutritional information for just about any food I've come into contact with in the past 6 months or so.  It was part of my bout with nutritionists to figure out why I'm so fat even though I'm so active.  This fell apart after a week or two, but I still use it to track my weight (which is still kind of disappointing).

We've even attempted to co-author a book.  It was a fictional dystopia story where we got to point out everything we felt was wrong with society and try to fix it.  We collaborated on it via Google Docs while we were living in different parts of California.  It's so frustrating to have somebody judging everything your writing during a brainstorming session.  It fell apart pretty quickly.  No... it was a huge failure.

We've tried to minimize our electricity use.  (I'll claim that I am one of the greenest electricity users I know.)  The goal was to only have one light on per person when we're home.  I can typically spend a whole night in my house without lights.  It also included turning off computers more often.  I still feel like I run around turning off lights not being used.

Our current challenge has been to not say anything mean to each other.  We're both extremely critical about everyone and every thing.  Since we're constantly around each other, we have no choice but to continuously point out physical and personality flaws in each other.  I'd even go so far as to say we're downright rude to each other on a regular basis.

So, as we walked out of Oakland's City Hall after processing our domestic partnership, I came up with the challenge to be nice to each other.  Sounds easy, right?  We wanted to see how long we could go.  We were confident that it would reset a few times in the first few days (or hours).  However, we're coming on a week.  I'm kind of surprised how much more I like her now.

It's probably because we haven't spent much time together in the last few weeks (between my Zumba career and her Les Mis rehearsals).  But I think it mostly has to do with not being called fat every day, and me not having to call somebody funny-looking or dumb.  There's been significantly less whining about nit-picky things that nobody but the two of us can point out about each other.  Is this what the rest of your relationships look like?  No wonder you're all married already.

I'm still the smarter partner,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Losing Our Minds

There are so many stories/studies telling us how the internet (and your smartphone) is changing the way we think.

How many phone numbers of your friends can you list off right now, without looking?  Annie (my partna') doesn't know mine, though it has been the same since we started dating 8 years ago.  (I know hers, because I like to memorize things.)  I have to go back to my middle school days to remember a time where I knew all of my friends' house phone numbers.  (I remember not having to differentiate between cell phones and land lines.)  For some reason, I feel like I even knew my closest friends' addresses.  That is certainly not the case anymore.

My aunt just moved from IL to FL.  When I called her during her long driving trip, I realized her home phone number is going to change.  I've had her house phone memorized for as long as I can remember.  It might have been the first number that I memorized.  Will I have the next one memorized at all?  Or will it just be a number stored in my phone that I reference on occasion?  I have to look up my mom's address every time I mail her something (she's moved since I lived with her, but she's been in the same spot for a while).

I used to memorize license plate numbers for all of the employees at Walmart when I was in the parking lot pushing carts.  It kept me busy, and it was fun to practice memorizing things.  I knew all of my credit cards, too.  Now I couldn't tell you my own license plate number, nor could I list off my drivers license number (though it has half as many characters as the one in MI that I can still recite).  I don't think I'm old enough to start claiming memory loss, but I do feel like my memorization has lost its edge.

Also, due to my persuasive skills, I used to be an amazing argue-er.  I was a great person to have on your side at the bar.  Between my breadth of random knowledge, my book knowledge, and my mad bullshit skills, I was fairly good at convincing people I was right in the midst of most arguments.  Now, arguments are settled almost instantly by googling.  How can I argue against an immediate, definitive answer?

It's hard to defend memorizing multiplication tables to kids when they'll have access to the answer at their fingertips for the rest of their lives.  There used to be a debate on when calculators should be introduced into a math curriculum for young students, but isn't that point moot now?  We should teach them how to use technology immediately, since there's not much need for memorization.  Heck, WolframAlpha can lead you through the steps to do some of the complex math (like trigonometric integrals) that I have trouble remembering from high school calculus.

Is this good or bad?  Will it matter in the future?  Regardless of the pros and cons, do we really have any power to change it?  Will the smart kids lose their advantage in life?  Will the more creative or the more risk-taking members of society become the leaders?

Or, am I just losing my mind?

Trying not to lose his mind,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Xmas is Coming

It's funny how weather changes you.  I used to be the guy that wore shorts year round.  No cold was too cold.  Heck, I'd sometimes be tromping through slush in flip-flops on my way to class.

Then I moved to Los Angeles.  Though I made fun of the Angelinos when I first arrived (since a 65 degree day was chilly and required gloves and maybe even a scarf), I slowly turned into one of those people.  Granted, I never went so far as to own a jacket or winter gear, but I did find myself making comments about how cold it was when it got down to 60 at night.  I was able to convert from a sheet to a blanket for sleeping.

Now, whenever its cold and moist and there are thick clouds blanketing the sky, my body thinks it is Christmas time.  How ridiculous is that?!  I get happy, and urges for everything winter-y, and I immediately start to think about all things Christmas-y.

Fuck. Snow.  Oh wait, wrong part of the country...

Now, I've heard stores are starting to hint at Xmas.  I'm getting anxious about how I'm going to afford Xmas presents.  I'm starting to wonder what songs I'll use for my 12 Days of Xmas.  Annie has come up with the idea that we only ask for money for a Bali trip we are planning.  Yet, it is WAY too early to start having Xmas conversations.

I love that time of the year, but slow down.  And shouldn't my body be used to cold/foggy/rainy now?  I've been away from L.A. for 8 months.  Also, I use Xmas to clarify that I am materialistic and in no way am I using December holidays to celebrate the birth of any mythical baby.

Oh weather.  Oh society, and your rush to Xmas,

Monday, August 8, 2011

Domestic Partna'

My internship at the wind farm ends next week, when I will once again return to the ranks of the nation's funemployed.  Since I've started working out approximately 5 days a week (between volleyball, teaching Zumba, and starting to weight lift again), it is only a matter of time before I injure myself.  I haven't had any type of health insurance since I dropped out of UCLA in January.  So, Annie, in all of her wisdom, demanded that I look into purchasing my own health insurance.  It costs so much $$ to insure yourself, independent of your workplace.

So, Annie looked into adding me to her policy.  Ways to get on hers: marry her, be a dependent child of hers, or come up with some sort of legal relationship that is recognized where she lives.  So, some research was done.  Can we be domestic partners?  In the state of CA... nope.  Per the State of California Declaration of Domestic Partnership, we did not meet one of the requirements:

Both persons are members of the same sex, OR one or both of the persons of opposite sex are over the age of 62...

So, I gave up.  Annie continued digging, though.  It turns out that we actually meet all of the requirements for the City of Oakland's Domestic Partnership:

  • We are both over 18 years of age and have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring;
  • We live together;
  • We are jointly responsible for basic living expenses which we incur during the domestic partnership;
  • One of us is an employee of the City of Oakland, or both of us reside together within the city limits;
  • Neither of us are married, nor are we related to each other in a way which would bar marriage in California;
  • Neither of us has had a different domestic partner less than six months prior to signing this Affidavit;
  • We agree to notify the City of any changes in the status of our domestic partnership agreement.

So, we made an appointment and signed the City of Oakland Notarized Affidavit of Domestic Partnership on Friday afternoon:

Throughout all of the forms, we put Annie's name first, and my name still came out first-billed.  Men rule!

First of all, you cannot be in a domestic partnership in the Bay Area and not feel like a Gay Rights activist.  This is slightly humorous karma.  A year or two ago, in the middle of the Gay Marriage debate, I was so upset by the ridiculousness of the homophobic movement that I said that I would refuse to get married until all of my friends could.  I said that I would only get a domestic partnership.  To be honest, I was kind of talking out of my ass at the time.  Who knew it would come true?!

Second, I have no doubt that we will get married at some point in the future.  Weddings are just so expensive, and we'll be paying for it entirely on our own.  Plus, I'm still really unstable until I find a career that I'm satisfied with (or return to school), so it isn't a safe time to try and nail me down yet.  Also, we'd like to register at some really classy places, so we need this recession to run its course and let all of our close friends get really good, high paying jobs for top-notch presents.  ;)

Third, it is really sad how informal a domestic partnership registration feels.  It makes me a little sad for gay couples.  We discovered we were eligible on Monday, discussed it, made an appointment on Tuesday, and showed up on Friday to fill out the 30-second form in street clothes.  There was nobody else in the office, aside from the person helping us, and we were done in 10 minutes.  Is this all that a marriage certificate feels like?  I always imagine it being a much more thorough process.  (Also, what do people do with their marriage certificates?  I've never seen them on display.  Why not?  Our domestic partnership is framed!)

Fourth, I can't stop calling our domestic partnership a 'gay marriage'.  I recognize that it is probably really offensive.  (Me? Offensive?)  It started as a way to continue to put into perspective that this process, that we aren't taking very seriously, is ALL that gay people get.  Annie hates it when I say that we got 'gay married', so I'm trying to stop using it.  It just flows so much better than 'domestic partnership' though.  Maybe in older times...

Lastly, we are already learning a bunch of the differences between marriage and domestic partnerships:

  • Our partnership may not be recognized anywhere outside of Oakland.
  • Hospitals and inheritances don't usually consider us legally bound.
  • If Annie adopts a baby, I'm not the legal parent.  I'd have to also adopt it, afterwards.
  • If we were married, my health insurance costs would come out pre-tax, but that is not the case for DPs.
  • We're eligible for a Joint Membership to the University of Michigan Alumni Association (which means we'll probably become life members at the next renewal).  This was one of the big sellers for me, since I tried to make this happen 3 years ago.
  • There's no real way to keep track of us if we move outside of Oakland, so I guess we're domestic partners in Oakland for life, or until we notify them otherwise.

Should you send gifts?  Probably, but save the big stuff for when we get married in 2025 (judging from how long it took her to get me to make this much of a commitment).

Expect to hear me talking like a cowboy frequently, because I hear John Wayne's voice in my head every time I say domestic partna',

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gym Locker Rooms*

For those unawares, I now teach Zumba for a fancy sports club chain throughout the Bay Area.  This provides me a free membership, and I've been trying to take full advantage of it.  It'd be nice if I could get myself all sexy again, like when I graduated from high school.

There are so many things going on in a sports club locker room that life just doesn't prepare you for.  Thinking about watching the baseball game tonight?  Why not sit and watch it in the nude at the entrance to the locker room!  Want to grab a shower after your work out?  Don't be shy, walk up and down the aisles while you're butt naked to get a last few laps in before you wash yourself!  Have a clean towel in your hand?  Good.  Try not to use it to cover you at all, and throw it straight into the dirty pile once you've finished taking it on a tour of the locker room!  I'd love to use the sauna, I'm just not comfortable with sitting there for 15 minutes while you stare at me absolutely naked.  There are millions of clean towels laying around, would you like me to hand you one?

This is what we all imagine.
Though this is much closer to reality. Much closer.

Is it just me, or is there a tad bit too much nakedness going on in there?  Hey, I like to be naked, as we've already learned this week.  Hell, I've watched gay porn.  I have no problems at all with the naked male body.  But don't you think that we could calm down the amount of penis haphazardly loitering around?  Can't we go back to the shy nakedness we all had in middle/high school?

Also, there are things too awkward for me to think about you doing, let alone see you do.  Standing naked in front of a mirror to rub your entire body down with lotion is a bit much.  More than a bit much.  Honestly, I don't even think I'd enjoy seeing a girl do this after 30 seconds or so.  There are places on my body I try to only touch with soap, and lotion shouldn't be applied so vigorously that it starts to lather.

Finally, the naked, elderly male body is scary.  Should I plan on my balls really drooping down that low?  f.m.l.

Today there was an absolutely naked man sitting in front of the mirror shaving (his face, thank god) with an electric shaver.  That really necessary?  To top it off, he was on his cell phone (I'm assuming, otherwise he was a lost homeless man) cell yelling about how dark and devastating his current divorce is.  Cover your balls, walk outside, and talk in the lobby so that you aren't interrupting the procession of loitering penises that are tromping around the room.  kthxbye.

Maybe I'm not as comfortable being naked as I thought, or maybe this will make it worse...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Remembering Joe

[I apologize beforehand.  This wasn't supposed to be so long.  It turned into a stream of consciousness, so I just let it keep bringing more and more memories to the forefront of my mind.  It was thoroughly therapeutic.]

10 years ago, today, I was a 16-year-old boy.  I had been driving around with my fresh license for 6 months.  I pushed carts at Walmart (I just got my first job on June 26th of that summer), and I worked full time since it was summer break.  At that time in my life, I was thoroughly devoted to band and the Red Cross.  And though I wasn't very popular any more (like I had been in middle school), I had a few circles of very close friends.

I started writing this post to detail a few of the specific moments that I remembered centering around this day, August 4th, 10 years ago.  All it made me realize is how fuzzy the whole time is in my mind.

I don't remember how I found out.  I do remember hearing that a fire in Detroit Beach had made the news, and that it was on 5th Street.  I lived on 4th Street for years, so I wondered if I knew anybody.  I remember hearing that one of my closest friends had shown up on scene just before emergency responders, and that she was trying to help get people out of the house.  I remember hearing that not everybody made it out of the house.  I remember finding out it was David's house, and that alone was devastating.

David lived a few hundred feet from where I had lived.  We shared the same bus stop from 3rd grade to 8th grade, until I moved (though he was a year ahead of me in school).  One of the most epic childhood fights I can remember happened in his yard, though strangely, he didn't have any part in it.  David had a cute little sister, and I remember wondering how old she must be now.  My first instinct was to call Joe and ask him if he knew anything about David and his family, since they were cousins.

I don't remember if I tried to call Joe, but if I did the line to his house was busy.  I remember hearing details about how the fire had something to do with the boiler, and that David's mom's oxygen tank blew up and made it even worse.  Again, it's fuzzy, but I do remember finding out that Joe may have been staying the night at David's last night.

Then there are huge gaps missing.

I remember speeding around turns on the long road leading from my house in the huge, red conversion van I drove at the time.

I remember breaking down crying while pushing carts at Walmart when it hit me that Joe had severe brain damage, and if he recovered it was likely that he would no longer be the Joe that I knew.  It was so awkward, and kind of embarrassing, as I ran through the store bawling.  I ran straight to the manager's office and told him that I was leaving for the day.  I tried to explain, but it was obvious I was distressed.  Though I was scheduled to work, I didn't show up again for over a week.

I remember hearing that everyone was at the hospital, and having mixed feelings on rather or not I felt like I should be there.  I remember his parents asking if I would be a pall bearer.  I was so honored, yet I felt like I didn't deserve to be.

I remember begging my girlfriend (who I was thoroughly in love with at the time) to hang out with me, alone, but all she wanted to do was hang out with friends.  Years later, I can kind of understand that, since I wouldn't have wanted to be alone with me at the time, either.  It's not like I lost a brother, but something about our relationship and the timing and my age at the time really left lasting effects.

I remember staying with my close group of friends every minute for days.  We switched houses every once in a while, but we all slept in the same room and stayed in constant sight of each other.

I remember watching porn in the basement of a friend's house, while we were all still together.  More friends showed up and found it awkward that we were watching elderly porn when we were supposed to be in mourning.  We agreed that it was strange, but life was fucked up, and we were enjoying making noises and narrating.  We were enjoying ourselves, and we were all at our wit's end, so it was nice to be doing something else.

I remember that I had snagged a picture of him on my cheesy little polaroid camera just a few days before.  The camera where you pulled out the thin strip and you were left with a mini one-square-inch picture.  I'm still convinced that it was the last picture of Joe before the fire.

I remember snagging his quads from the band room and bringing them to the funeral.  I remember driving all of the pall bearers around.  We had decided to wear Hawaiian shirts.  It seemed fitting that we shouldn't be dressed like stuffy penguins when Joe was always so light hearted.  I remember the casket being so heavy.  I was worried that it might slip, or that I might drop it.  How could it be that heavy with 8 of us carrying it?  I still wonder if it was really that heavy, or if there's some psychology associated with pall bearers that makes the casket so much heavier than it is.

I remember the line of cars in the procession was the most massive thing I had ever seen until moving to Los Angeles.  The traffic that we must have caused probably resides somewhere in Monroe record books.

I remember hearing his father crying out in the church.  I remember thinking that it must have been his mom, until I looked over.  It only happened once, but that shriek still haunts me.  I remember thinking that the whole family must be on ridiculous doses of antidepressants to even be sitting here going through this without going absolutely insane.

I remember not crying.  At the viewing, my best friend read something aloud that he had written in his bus ride back from Texas (where he had been spending time during the summer break).  Everyone cried.  I didn't.  It made me feel heartless, but I didn't cry.

I remember crying.  It is some sort of law that there has to be witnesses when the casket is lowered and the first few piles of dirt are thrown on.  That's where I lost it.  That's where most of us lost it.  Some guys had to walk away.  I remember not being the only one brought to their knees in tears at that particular moment.  The only other moment that came close to this, was when they handed the pall bearers the items from Joe's casket as they were closing it... for good.

I remember dedicating everything I did that year to Joe, and David, and David's brother, who were all lost in that fire.

I'm not sure how Joe and I became friends.  It's likely that it happened through band, but we had an interesting bond through computers.  We chatted on ICQ, hacked, and passed around cheesy video games before it was cool.  We were rock stars in our middle school computer class.  I stayed the night at his house once or twice (I wasn't one for sleepovers, so that's kind of a big deal.)  I remember that one time his mom made meatloaf, with green peppers throughout it.  I hate green peppers, but I smothered it with a ton of ketchup and choked it down, because that's the respectful thing to do.

The last time I saw Joe was at a bonfire.  He showed up with one of our friends; the two of them had been hanging out a lot at the time.  Hanging out so much, that I was kind of jealous.  When they left, I remember calling Joe our friend's bitch.  Those words still haunt me.  The last thing that I said about one of my close friends while he was still alive was awful.  It really put into perspective alot of the words that I choose in my life now, forcing me to avoid 'love' as much as I do the word 'hate'.  Be careful when you are talking about people.  Words can be so powerful and so everlasting.

I have this great picture of the two of us in our high school marching band uniforms after we performed at the University of Michigan Crisler Concert the fall before.  We were both going to go to Michigan for college and be in band.  He was going to be in the drum line, and I was going to play trumpet.  Easy enough.  Now the picture that sits on my wall is one of the few concrete objects that just the two of us shared.  It'd be a great picture to include here, but I never scanned it.  It just sits on my wall.  I did live up to my part of the deal, though.  I only applied to one college, and when I considered dropping out of the marching band before my senior year, he was one of the reasons I didn't.

Though I always feel like I'm discrediting those closer to him, like his family, whenever I express my feelings on the whole situation, it feels good to finally lay down everything that I remember.

Rest in peace, Joe.  10 years feels like yesterday, and I will always remember you,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Naked Roommate

What differentiates a nudist from someone who just likes to be naked?  Anything?

Let's start by clarifying that I don't think I'm physically attractive.  Though I am fairly happy with all parts of my body below my waistline (minus some acne and a few random patches of hair), I feel like my top half really brings down the total value.  I really don't think people should have to look at me naked, nor would I expect anyone to take pleasure in it.  That being said; I am naked all of the time.  Not in a sexual way.  I just like to come home from work, take off the big kid clothes, and walk around in my birthday suit.

This kind of makes me an awful roommate, though I don't think that my 3rd roommate knows.  (She's been unfortunate enough to see me in a towel and maybe my boxers a few times, but no major incidents yet.)  Annie certainly knows, and those close to her should send their condolences.  I feel like if we were ever to break up, the biggest catalyst (or habit she would take pleasure in ridding from her life) would be my almost-constant nudity.  If you have ever been in our apartment, you've stood where naked ~RoB has stood.  If you've ever sat on anything, chances are naked ~RoB has, too (except our dining room table, cuz those chairs aren't comfy for naked peeps).  I cook naked sometimes, I've cleaned the bathroom naked, I've worked out naked, I sleep naked, and I generally loiter around sans clothing.

I rarely think of it, but I've wondered a few times if anyone can ever see me through the windows.  It gets hot in our apartment this time of year, so I'm a big advocate of keeping our windows open for the breeze to flow through.  But is that exposing some of our poor neighbors to naked ~RoB, too?

I know two people from college that were self-proclaimed nudists.  Seriously.  But what is it that pushes you to make that last step and proclamation?  I have no interest in joining a colony.  I love volleyball, but I have no intention of ever playing it naked (my Herbal Essences bottles tell me that is the #1 pastime for nudist colonies).  Aside from some drunken incidents, I don't really have much interest in showing the whole world my penis.  Unless you ask.  Or happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Or happen to have eyes.

So, am I a nudist, or does everyone do this (except Annie)?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My First Concert

I've been to a few orchestra concerts and several operas.  I've been to numerous musicals and one play.  Yet, I've only gone to two concerts in my life, and I only paid for one of them.  This is kind of ridiculous if you consider how much I enjoy music, and how obsessed I am with some artists:  Boyz II Men, Gloria Estefan, Whitney, etc.  Concerts just always cost a lot of money; money that I don't have.  I've also always been into sleeping.  Late nights rarely sound worthwhile.  So, I never went.

My first concert (though I don't count it) was actually a Ludacris concert.  It really was ludicrous!  My roommate designed the posters for the concert when Luda came to play at Hill Auditorium, on campus at Michigan.  As a musician (though not super talented) growing up in Michigan, Hill Auditorium had long been considered an altar to me.  Well known for its amazing acoustics, and graced by the music of greats like Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Wynton Marsalis.  Then, all these homies busted in and yelled, "Throw your middle fingers in the air if you like hip hop!!!!"

It was immediately apparent that I did not fit in there.  Let's be real.  My roommate and I, both awkward, pasty white guys, were sitting in the center of the 5th row of a Ludacris concert.  I don't know the most appropriate way to tell you how African American it was up in there.  We survived, and I found out that I knew like every Ludacris song there ever was, and I actually kind of had fun, but it was random and I went for free.

Last night was what I'm going to consider my first real concert.  Why?  I had legitimate interest in the artist(s), I paid to see them, and one of my friends is the rock star drummer.  Those around Ann Arbor while I was there are probably familiar with Tally Hall.  They gained some local fame, started selling albums, went on tour, and the drummer (whom I met through marching band, and he dated another friend of mine) eventually dropped out to try out the whole rock star thing.  Annie had a bunch of their music from purchasing their old CDs, and one of our mutual friends is Tally Hall's #1 crazy, insane fans.  Anyway, their most recent tour brought them to San Francisco last night.  I'd never really been to a concert, especially one that felt so indie, so I agreed to go.

As it turns out, I was really impressed by Tally Hall.  The venue made me feel a little old, though.  The concert was 'all ages', and the number of black Xs on minor hands were uncountable.  I felt like I was straight out of a scene from Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist.  There were references to Chelsea Clinton, a cover of Biz Markie, and a cover of another 80s euro rock song that I can't think of right now.  All I kept thinking is, these kids don't even know that these are references/covers to things before they were born or at least before they were paying attention.  Anyway, Tally Hall music was really interesting (no, not cynical interesting, but for realz).  I see no reason why I shouldn't add all their music to my playlists.

Tally Hall in San Francisco

Afterward, our friend came out and talked to us.  He had to keep interrupting his stories to turn around and take pictures and sign autographs and accept gifts.  (How fucking ridiculous is it to get gifts from fans?!  Nobody brings my ass gifts while I'm working.  It was almost as crazy as Halloween with El Chavo del Ocho.)  We were out really late at a bar/concert on a Monday night, and there must be pictures somewhere to prove it.  I feel like the rock star.

In the middle of his autograph signing, I jokingly asked him to sign my tits while I pretended to start unbuttoning my shirt.  No less than 2 minutes later, another Michigan person walked up and used the same line.  It made me upset at the stunted creativity of our generation.  It also made me think of David Sedaris pointing out the same thing when he read a sign in a joke shop not to hold the fake eyeballs up to your face (after thinking to himself that it would be funny).  Humans are so pathetically predictable.

Regardless, I'm such a rock star,

Monday, August 1, 2011

There's NO Mind Eraser

There are 2 online videos that have stuck with me since the day that I first viewed them.  Here are those stories.  Neither of these videos are directly embedded (or embed-able), so I just provide their internet links.

I was in a computer lab at Michigan when one of my friends said, "Do you wanna see the most fucked up video you've ever seen in your life?"  I was happy to take that challenge.  Come on... I watch crazy porn, I giggled through 2 girls 1 cup, I've watched all kinds of horror flicks like Faces of Death, what could you possibly have on your little ol' computer that is so screwed up?!  Then, my life was forever changed.

BME Pain Olympics (probably the only time that I'll warn you that something on my blog is NSFW). Save it and watch it at home tonight:

The other video is notably less fucked up, yet still gross (and never-ending).  I don't remember how I came across it.  I think it went around Facebook a while ago.  Now I can only find references to Tosh.0, but I like to think that I knew about it before that show...

Giant Pimple Pop:
"You've gotta be kidding me. You've gotta be kidding me."

I warned you,