Life Coach . . .

Several months ago I made a promise to my friends, family, and strangers who read my blog that if they gave and gave BIG to my favorite thing in the airwaves (KMUW), I would make my own sacrifices including going to see a LIFE COACH.

A few things to get clear . . .

1) I'm super, super skeptical of any career or profession where your job has no tangible results. I don't mean you have to build stuff with your hands to be a "real" person but I mean you have to have a goal or objective that you are held accountable for (a good hair cut, a perfect latte, something you built with your hands, etc.)

2) I'm super, super skeptical of any career or profession that is based on human interaction that you can get your "terminal degree" in while never actually interacting with a human. It would be like a dentist never touching teeth or a person who built stuff with their hands never building anything with their hands.

3) I am a friggin' MARKETER so if I was going to criticize how people make their living the stones and the glass houses would be soul crushing.

Okay - disclaimers aside - I held up my end of the bargain back in December. Twice. I could not get approval from EITHER life coach I met with (one male, one female . . . both based here in Wichita) to name them publicly. I was open with them that I was meeting with them out of obligation, that I was skeptical of what they did for a living, and - at the end of each session - I told them both they did very little to persuade me of the validity of their careers so - I can see them NOT wanting to be named. That's cool.

For what it is worth . . . they were both VERY passionate about helping people. They were both VERY professional in the session I had with them. They were both VERY open to finding ways that we might work together to get some positive results. We were both VERY friendly, warm, kind, and willing to endure me.

Bottom line . . . I think there are people out there that would find real, hard value in a life coach. Yep. I said it. There is something there . . . sorta.

Here's the problem . . . I'm a "hard driver" (as one of them put it). I have goals and objectives for each day, week, month, quarter, and year. I have two sets of all those, technically (one personal, one professional). I know who I am professionally. I know who I am spiritually. I know who I am sexually (yes, that was an exploration for one of the folks I met with). I know who I am as an ex-husband, father, son, brother, uncle. I have friends. I have a shrink. I am obsessive compulsive so my closet, home, office, and life are pretty well in order. I have a financial planner. I have a very sound, tight framework for the chaos of my life to run on top of.

IF I didn't have all that stuff going on. If I didn't have a direction and a plan and a path and a strategy and if I didn't have a good network of friends, family, and other professionals that can and do hold me accountable and so on . . . I would love a life coach. I would NEED a life coach. I'd be a GOOD client to and for a life coach.

I may not be able to build anything with my hands but I can acknowledge someone making something out of nothing and life coaches do just that - all day, errrrrrryday.


House of Cards, Season 2 . . .

I will not spoil any part of season two of House of Cards for you (but - for real - if you have not yet binged on the new season you were clearly NOT that excited for it so shame on you) but I will say this . . . it was way more absurd, way more implausible, way more ridiculous, and way, way more amazing than the first season.

Taking down the entire second season in 21 hours (including sleeping for eight hours, running some errands, and a few hours of shopping with a friend) was something I just could not resist doing even though I knew, as I hit "play" on the last episode that I would be super, duper sad 51 minutes later knowing I had to wait another YEAR to hit "play" on another new episode.

By the time (spoiler free - keep reading) Frank Underwood double-raps the desk and strikes an otherwise iconic pose in the final shot, I didn't care.

It. Was. Amazing. Hats off to everyone involved with a show that could ONLY be done the way it is being done (although I will say that ABC's Scandal, when binge-watched on Netflix is not that much less amazing). I will wait until NEXT February to get my fix . . . you just make sure it is worth it.

In the meantime - a parody that is totally worth watching.


Closure . . .

Friday was an important moment for me. I won't get in to too specific of detail but it suffices to say that the financial business of my marriage was laid to rest.

If you divorce in the Great State of Kansas (and I hope you never do (not because Kansas is a bad place to do it but because divorce is a horrible thing to go through) the court will help you with many issues including what sort of money needs to change hands moving forward.

Splitting of personal and shared assets, distribution of shared finances, child costs and support, and - my favorite (and I don't mean that sarcastically, I really do think it is a curious and fair thing to deal with) spousal continuance/maintenance.

This doesn't count if you have a pre-nup or a post-nup or if there are extenuating circumstances, etc. but if you have a "regular" divorce (like I had) just presume it will happen. It is not that painful.

Literally the spouse that makes more money gives a little vig of a specific percentage of the discrepancy of the wages for a percentage of the duration of the marriage. Fine. TOTALLY okay with this.

And I paid mine, happily, every month for the last 19 months . . . I should not be done. I should have a little more time still to go - a little more money to change hands.

BUT my ex-wife called me Friday and said "Let's just be done with this. It is time for us to all move on."

Part of me wondered what the catch was. Part of me wondered what was up. Part of me wondered if she had gone and had a liquid lunch. Part of me didn't care as long as she would put the offer to call it good in writing (just being honest).

We exchanged a few e-mails and it turns out that her heart was in the right place, her intentions true, and her gesture something well thought out and well timed.

So we ended the financial obligations we share outside of our child (well - we'll do our taxes as a couple one. last. time. in a few weeks) and we got some closure.

From here on out the only vigs we kick each other will be based on our child, our mutual well-being, and acts of kindness. If this one, on her part, sets the bar . . . this next chapter of our life is going to be a phase I really, really enjoy.

Happy Monday!


Sunday Funday . . .

Admit it (statistically) you might know the PHYSICS but you didn't know the rest. So, for that, you are welcome.


Shabbat Shalom . . .

No. Not peek-a-boo!
As we start down the third base line heading for "home" (our official Jewish conversion) we sat the other night in Rabbi's office and talked about a variety of things including what our Jewish/Hebrew names might be (apparently one of my finalists reminds my classmate of a skinny, pubescent boy - luckily it was NOT the one I chose) and what Israel means to us.

One of the things we did not discuss but we were told would likely come up at our Final Oral Exams (I am calling them that - it is really just an informal chat with some of the congregation's elders and Rabbi) was how we celebrate Shabbat and what the weekly occasion means to us.

It occurred to me that I've been marking Shabbat for nearly 17 months now (that is 73 Shabbats to you and me) and that, while I've told various people in my life about how I do it I've never really thought about HOW I do it.

There are a series of rules for strict, observant (Shomer Shabbos) Jews but, as a reform Jew and as a convert coming from a life where Friday nights and Saturdays were not consistently religious other than the "Holy Week" leading in to Easter I can comfortably say that I am NOT shomer Shabbos and I am okay with that - as is my faith.

Let's be clear . . . I am taking baby steps toward a more observant, dutiful Jewish life. I do not follow a Kashrut or "Kosher" diet but I don't eat pork, shellfish, or milk and meat at the same time any more. I don't co-mingle milk and meat at meals. I bought glass dishes for my new place, etc. It has been baby steps Every few weeks I tighten my controls and try to make steps forward and I will continue to do so.

The same is true for Shabbat. While still a work in progress - here is how the occasion plays out most weeks.

  1. Services are the centerpiece. I typically go Friday evening but will go on Saturday mornings as my schedule dictates. I have NO problem planning my calendar - on a night that most people view as prime social real estate - around religious services. I actually find it a comfort in some ways. I am so at peace in the sanctuary that it feels like the perfect end to the week.
  2. I don't drive causally between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday. If I HAVE to go somewhere or do something, I will drive. If it can be done before or after - I offset it. I am finding this easier and easier to do over time. It is sorta nice to drive home from services and know that I can just hang out for the next 24 hours (easier the weekends my daughter is with her mother).
  3. I don't spend money I don't have to spend on Shabbat. Insert cultural joke here but I have NO problem with this one. I typically do all my errands and shopping on Sunday (always have) so - save ditching out on a social plan or two or maybe having other people pay or offering to pay them back if they do pay - it is pretty easy. I will readily go to dinner Saturday evening (even if we start before the sun has set) as a compromise.
  4. I do light prayer candles and welcome the Bride of Shabbat in to my home. Once old enough - and if she wants to (no conversion implied or implored) - my daughter will light the candles and recite the prayers (an honor typically given to women - although it being an "honor" is open to dispute). 
  5. I DO wear my kippah from the time I leave the house to go to services until I go to bed Friday night. This is an entirely made up observance but one that I enjoy . . . Shabbat is subjective, yo.
  6. I do not CASUALLY use electricity or electrical devices on Shabbat. We eat largely room temperature and/or cold foods (I know this is cheating, too). To clarify - I turn on two lights in the house before leaving for services (this is cheating and I KNOW it). I turn them off before going to bed. I put my smart phone away (not turned off but I don't use it unless someone contacts me). I don't talk or text unless I have to - responsive, mainly. I try to resist social media and the Internet. I try to avoid Netflix and TV. I am getting stronger and better at this week after week (except my binge of House of Cards Season 2 last week - clearly).
  7. I spend at least two hours every Shabbat on my Hebrew, Torah reading, Jewish learning, or other Jewish pursuits. I typically do a lot more but I will do at least two hours the weekends I am a father. Some weeks I will spend eight or ten hours on these efforts.
  8. I avoid conflict.
  9. I try to honor all 613 Mitzvot for 24 hours (nearly impossible but I try) and I try to add another one to my list of rules to honor all day, every day (I'm currently in the high 200s - read the list - some of them are hard and interpretive and I want to be HONEST about what I am and am not (capable of) doing. 
  10. It is a throwback to my Catholic days but I review the 10 commandments and see how many times I broke any/all of them that week and vow to be better the next week (and I am improving).
I am FAR stronger on Fridays between work and bed than I am on Saturdays (something I am trying to rectify) and I will admit to breaking the above rules if it means time with friends or opportunities to better myself or in some way appreciate what I have and who I am and where I am going.

The whole point of Shabbat, for Jews, is to step away from the hustle and bustle of life and to spend a solid day - as G-d did - just reflecting on what had been made and done and to appreciate the value of the effort spent and to rest up for the next round. 

I won't pretend to be the Poster Child for Jews (I'm a work in progress, kids) but I feel like I'm honoring the day and trying to become more and more reverent. 


Spoiler Alert . . .

The following is a REAL interaction that I just had with a colleague in the break room here at the office.

(SETTING: Kitchen/break room for 80-person company. Leftovers from catered, barbecue lunch litter the table and the smell of smoked meats hangs in the air. On far wall a large TV hangs and NBC's coverage of the Olympic games BOOMS out of the speakers with HD visuals to accompany. Two colleagues enter room from separate entrances at opposite sides of the room at about the same time. One is there to file mail, one is the to get another Diet Mtn Dew before his energy and patience drops to a point where someone must pay and pay dearly.)

ANNOUNCER: "A valiant game, well fought and played and certainly both nations can take pride in the effort shown here."  (visual of women on ice (presumably a womens hockey team based on quantity of them and that they were standing on ice, etc.))

COLLEAGUE: "Oh DARN IT (she actually said "darn it")! (turns back quickly to the TV to not see anything) I didn't want to know who won this game. Oh well. They probably won't reshow it anyway."

ME: "Well. I don't know that it is ruined. You can't really tell what medals are being presented and, since this was the gold medal game, BOTH teams will get a medal. You could still watch it tonight."

COLLEAGUE: "That is not true. I saw them handing out gold medals."

ME: "But did you see what team they were giving them to?"


ME: "See - there you go! The suspense is still real."

COLLEAGUE: "You are so full of sh*t when you make these things up."

ME: (cracks open Diet Mtn Dew, gulps quickly, hopes its effects are immediate, walks out of room)


Funk . . .

I'm not exactly a "happy" person but I'm also not a "sad" person. I am a generally "content" person - meaning I pretty much accept where I am and what is going on, try to find the best in it and try to improve and better myself at any opportunity (as long as it doesn't require, you know, actual effort or work or perspective).

I don't know that I'm all that rare but I also don't think I'm universal in this mindset.

I know lots of people that are very "black" and "white" in how they view the world around them. Chick Little/Cry Wolf/Woe is Me types and Today is GREAT because my coffee mug says so/Look at how broad my smile is/The four pictures I have of my spouse and kids on my desk means everything is perfect types (if you are more comfortable with the analogies).

I don't have a problem with EITHER camp (but can't stand trying to interact with either type (I kid, I kid . . . but only sorta)). What I do have a problem with is when people are miserable in their own camps.

We all know these people . . . Heck-bent on being sad or "needing" to have a problem to solve. More frequently . . . the ones that will smile ear to ear while their home burns to the ground behind them and they pinkeye they got from their kid makes their entire face droop. You sorta take them/their positions at face value (and if you are like me you roll your eyes, make an internal voice criticism, and silently ask why they are not being more honest). You might do this for convenience or out of exhaustion or distraction with your own "stuff" - or worse - you may let it go out of apathy or a belief that asking this person that question is a waste of time because they won't be moved from their pedestal.

Push. Start asking questions and, soon enough, you realize they are not black or white - they are GREY (GRAY (fine, whatever, screw it)) like you and me. You may find them ready to step down off their post and to be honest with you - maybe cry, laugh, or sigh with relief that they can vacate the facade.

That is the beauty in asking questions and exploring a person and their mood. That is the joy of relationships (casual friendship through soul mate (dry heave)). This is why some argue that we humans are the top of the Animal Food Chain (our ability to "reason").

If you're not being honest with yourself and those around you and/or if you are not asking the right questions of people you fear are not being honest with you - there is genuine emotion and genuine joy and sadness being lost. There are experiences to bond and cleave (the joining vs. dividing type) and to help or share with each other that are being wasted. There is color - grey, orange, red, blue, purple, etc. being ignored.

Look for the color. Ask the right questions. Enjoy the beauty. Be a friend.


Living Alone . . .

Maybe I do NOT want to grow old and die alone . . . thankfully my therapy appointment is tomorrow morning!


My Beloved Wichita . . .

It has been a(nother) rough week to be a Wichitan. NOT because of the weather or the winter "blues" and certainly not because the WSU men's Shockers got to 27-0 (the women's team is 26-2 and currently on a 12-0 run (equal time, equal time)). No, no. It was a bad week to be a Wichitan because it was a bad week to be a Kansan because we got exposed for how conservative some of our neighbors really are.

You SHOULD have heard by now about the mind-numbingly stupid language, intent, direction, and PASSAGE of HB2453. What you probably didn't hear (but that I am thankful for) is that the bill will not survive the state Senate. What CLEARLY so many of my fellow Kansans also never before heard is how ideas become bills, bills become laws, and the legislative process actually works (that is a different rant for a different post but - seriously folks - you're better than this confusion).

WHY did this activity "all the way" in Topeka make me want to re-profess my love for Wichita? Because we ALL need to re-pledge ourselves to this great state and the best city in the state. Make NO mistake . . . "they" are pointing and laughing at us. "They" think we are all closed minded, overly conservative, socially slowed (if not dead in the water) followers, and they think we actually LIKED that bill and its intent.

I moved here 6.5 years ago (almost to the day). I had visited Wichita many times before we moved here (including one stay of seven weeks while we waited for our daughter to be born and released from the hospital) and a few two week stints. I will never forget my first flight in . . . after what seemed like an eternity of flying over dark, empty Americana I saw the glow of our fair city in the distance and immediately realized I may have misjudged Wichita. By the time I left (we were here for eight days the first trip) I had fallen in love with this city. Truly. It was just three months later we had our first discussion of moving here.

WHY did I love it so much? This town STINKS with opportunity. We keep the world flying (or did - that statistic might be dated). We have these amazing start-ups and entrepreneurs here. Sure, sure . . . we also have the Evil Empire (as I like to call it) located here in our fair city and we are all but killing our own downtown because of the abundance of cheap land and cookie cutter houses that surround us. Even the BAD things about Wichita are good . . . The Kochs give HUGE amounts of money to help fund our cultural elements (dismiss it and their intents any way you want, cynics . . . without them there is less art and culture in this town - period). That abundance of land and lower cost of living helped motivate me and dozens of other people I know to leave lives in other parts of the country to come here and to refocus life on family, friends, and happiness vs. keeping up with those friggin' Joneses.

I have TWO issues with Kansas and with my neighbors here in Wichita . . .

1) Somewhere along the line (pun intended) the average Wichitan decided their life was about a blue collar job. NOT that there is anything wrong with an honest living based on hard work and expertise but, more over, because it is not about how they make a living - it is about how they GO ABOUT living. I know so many Wichitans who think that they have to keep their noses down. Do exactly what they are told. Don't ask questions. Don't rock the boat. Just get your check and go home. Don't look for more. Don't take more. Don't give more. Just do what you are told to do.

2) We are soooooo "polite" here. And this is my biggest issue. Let's clarify what polite means (to me) . . . being agreeable. It does not mean you are kind or welcoming or accommodating or accepting. It simply means, like in the gripe above, that we don't ever question or discuss or debate. We just nod our heads, agree, and let the argument take place entirely in our brains or the ulcer-ridden stomachs we carry around. We let people find out "later" (minutes, weeks, YEARS) that there was never as much accord as believed and that there was not a coalition of mindsets, etc. that was needed.

What do these gripes and this very bad week to be a Kansan have in common? They all work together to show that WE did this to US! We allow Legislators to just keep their jobs. We don't even, statistically, know who our representatives ARE in Topeka (and I would argue DC is also a mystery). We don't look at issues. We don't try to understand what is happening in this state politically. We don't vote in compelling numbers. We don't take politics seriously. We keep our noses down and rivet away at our daily lives. We don't point out the craziness that is happening around us. We are simply dutifully polite.

Until we can't take it any more. I've reached that point. The "Northeasterner" in me has officially had enough (if you know me on a personal or professional level you'll know I have never gone out of my way to distance myself from the stereotype that all of us from "that" part of the country are loud, opinionated, bullish, and inconsiderate of feelings). I hope you have to.

It would be the BEST thing for Wichita and Kansas if you've had enough. If you are ready to have a conversation or an argument. If you are willing to poke your head up and ask questions. This is our city, our state, our future. Let's make it great.


Sunday Funday . . .

Run to this song, if you are so inclined. You will feel great for having it in your playlist . . .


A Love Letter to No One In Particular . . .

Red roses . . . the least sincere thing about Valentine's Day.
Well. It is here. You're nearly eight hours (here in the central time zone) through Valentine's Day. That's 33.3% to you and me. Have you done your thing yet? No? GOOD FOR YOU! Yes? Well. GOOD FOR YOU!

IF you are still trying to figure it out I wanted to help out - you worry about the "gift". I'll write the note on the card for those red roses you will buy out of desperation. Sound good? It sure does.


"I've enjoyed our limited time together. On this day for lovers I simply wanted to let you know that you make my heart beat a little faster."


"I hope it is not too soon or too forward for me to simply say 'I love you'. That was too soon wasn't it? I always do that. I'm sorry."


"So, yeah. Uh. Happy Valentine's Day. We are going to have sex later, right?"


"There are not enough hours in the day nor blooms on stems for me to really show you how special you are to me."


(Come on, man. If you did this with a genuine intent - you already know what to write on the card.)


"Every day with you is better than the day before. Especially the day when you make that lasagna I love so bad."


"(These) roses are red. Violets are blue. Boy oh boy, I sure love you." (Yes - this poem sucks because ALL poems suck.)


"Here. Flowers. Go f*ck yourself."


(No flowers sent, no card needed.)


"I didn't think we'd be celebrating today - what with my affair and the credit card debt you racked up without me knowing and with that Facebook incident (I am still sorry for not respecting your privacy) but. Hey. Here we are. And I love you."


"I smelled what you put down this morning while getting ready for work. You need more fiber in your diet."


"Happy Friday. What? Today is also a holiday? Weird. I love you, Pet Name."


"You'd better find those handcuff keys because, either way, it's going down. Happy Valentine's Day."


(Copy of receipt.)


"So here are some flowers. You're welcome and I'm sorry. I'll wait for you to start season two of House of Cards but you better hurry it up, bring pizza and some Diet Mtn Dew when you arrive, and then zip your lips for the next thirteen hours. I love you, gurrrrl."

Happy Valentine's Day, people who partake. XOXOXOXO! (That's sarcasm.)


Tokens of Affection . . .

THIS will (not) shock you but I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day. NOT because I'm opposed to love (check out my last name, fool!) but because I don't like the idea that ONE day a year we "have" to go out and buy some stuff so that the one we love knows they are loved.

And yet - here we are - Valentine's Day Eve (not a real holiday) and there are millions of men still scurrying around trying to figure out what to give and how much of it to give and millions of women have prepared cards that the men in their lives will read and discard shortly after and they have likely put great thought and focus in to an actual thoughtful gift (while the men, to repeat, are just now shaking off the slumber of Valentine's Day 2013 and getting started).

What will they give the women in their lives? Statistics say RED ROSES (Seriously? SERIOUSLY? If you are giving red roses to someone you "love" on February 14th, you need an actual intervention. Literally. Put the 800 Flowers discount code down and step away from the Internet. Slowly.) or CHOCOLATE (fellas, fellas, fellas . . . seriously. Even the GOOD STUFF is not okay on this particular day. Next? Lingerie. I like where your head is at (Geddit!) but . . . no. Gift certificates . . . are you fist f*cking me?! Who is she? Your postal worker? Ugh.

Now I know, I know . . . ALL these things are are fine gifts on their own (you pick any of the other 364 days of the year - 365 on leap years) and we're good. You and I are straight. We can hug it out. But if you feel COMPELLED to give a gift on Valentine's Day (and - seriously - do NOT do it), do yourself a favor.

  1. Give it to her between the two of you. If you are sending flowers to her at her work . . . you're . . . (deep sigh) . . . you . . . (groans with frustration at being able to unfind the words) . . . you are part of the problem. Gifts between intimate people should be exchanged intimately.
  2. Make it PERSONAL. Deeply personal. I'm talking a thing that might cost $1 or $1,000,000 but will make her do that thing where she utters a sorta word and smiles and tosses her eyes between you and the gift for a few, speechless seconds before exclaiming pleasure in it. I don't know what that gift is - you're the one who loves her. But figure it out. Tick, tock.
  3. Do not let price be a factor. If you feel like you have to spend X dollars for Valentine's Day you're already lost. You're my father in 1993 during one of my college visits before GSP, smart phones, intuition, or focus. Stop it. Be GENUINE - not budget conscious.
  4. Symbolism. See that picture up there? It is a metal heart my mother gave me in the fall of 2003. She and my father had come to visit me in DC and to meet my then-girlfriend. We went to a few museums and my mother grabbed two of these and gave one to me and one to the woman. She told us to protect, cherish, and treat them like something far bigger and more precious than a little hunk of metal. I stuffed mine in my wallet. I just asked the woman the other day what ever happened to the one my mother gave her. She texted me a picture of it a minute later. Those hearts were $1 each. They are 10.5 years old. They are still protected and treated as important. Because they are. 
  5. Do something. Literally. An action. A woman I have shared loved with (yeah - I just said that . . . you're welcome) loves to read MORE than I do (an accomplishment). We have spent time reading to each other. Newspapers, magazines, books, short stories, Yiddish Folk Tales, etc. It is calming and intimate and I cherish it more than any physical gift she could have given me. Find something you both enjoy (table tennis, deep cleaning, grocery shopping, sex, etc.) and spend sometime on Heart Day (and just about every other day) sharing that activity. Save your duckets.
So there you have it. A cheap, petty, curmudgeon's take on Valentine's Day gift giving. I will be giving a gift to my daughter tomorrow morning. I hope she likes it as much as I liked picking it out. I hope that considers it special. I hope, a decade from now, she will show me a picture of it - still in her care.

Pound sand, red roses! 


Detlef Schrempf . . .

Why is this song called Detlef Schrempf? No real reason. Why is this song so beautiful? Lots of reasons.

Anyone want to go to Ithaca on February 22nd?


Olympics . . .

Sooooooo you may (MAY!) have heard that the Olympic games are happening in Sochi Russia right now. How would you know?

Probably topics like the uniforms people wore to opening ceremonies (shame on YOU, Ralph Lauren - big ups to YOU, Norwegian Curling Team) or the state of the toilets and the waste policies of them or maybe, MAYBE you heard about some Olympians who didn't make the games (The Red Tomato and Tiger Wood's "Go-To Girl", for instance) or . . . if you're really paying attention some US figure skater who feels she got disrespected and uttered a profanity while on world-wide television.

THESE are the Olympic Games and why we follow them in the year 2014?

Here is why I don't care about these Olympics . . .

  1. They are sports. They are stupid, accordingly.
  2. They are a "symbol" of the best in humanity being played in a country notorious for hurting its own people and being far less than humanitarian to all.
  3. They are being played in a land that is headed by a man who RAN THE KGB forever. For. Ever. You want to talk about great human policies? 
  4. I don't think countries should be incentive-ized to be "better" to their people with Olympic games. Look at Beijing. Find me ONE Chinese person who says "Man, it really SUCKED to live here under this oppression until we got three weeks of the world's attention . . . not it. is. awesome."!
  5. The Russian government acknowledged spying on guests in their hotel rooms. With cameras. In the shower. 
  6. What are the sports being played? Just a collection of people traipsing atop frozen water. Literally.
  7. I miss the Cold War (there - I said it - you should be so brave). Okay. Not really.
  8. The environmental impact of these games is particularly insane and uncalled for - we could probably have found a place where it was actually WINTER (like f*cking Wichita, Kansas) to play and that was close enough to an infrastructure that could really handle these games (like, oh, I don't know . . . MOSCOW!)
  9. Maddie Bowman - who is COMPETING - doesn't even look excited about these Olympics.
  10. There are FIVE Israeli athletes in Sochi and their memorabilia is weak-sauce. 
Anywho . . . go USA and all that stuff. We're all real proud of you. Enjoy the Olympics, if you are so inclined (no judgement) and please, please, please . . . stop with the toilet talk. There are far bigger things to consider and discuss. 


Craziest. Night. Ever. (20s) . . .

A year ago, I asked for some reader suggestions for posts so I could have some things to populate if my brain slowed and I needed something to throw live.

I'm going to spend the rest of this week on a topic I loathe (love/Valentine's Day) so I figured I would spare you one day of awkwardness and give you one of those posts . . . the "Craziest night of my life - 20s edition".

Before I get in to this too far and you misunderstand let me be proactive . . . this post has nothing to do with the horror, terror, loss, and sadness of 9/11. It is not my attempt to be deep or philosophical nor is it my attempt to make it all seem okay. It is not okay now, it was not okay then. What it is/was is something that I can honestly say I was LUCKY to not have been directly impacted by. Did it "affect" me? Yes. Did it "effect" me? Yes. But not any more than it did the average American who was lucky to only have photos, video footage, and fear to remember the day by. We good? Good.

So I lived and worked in Washington, DC on September 11, 2001. The day started, for me, beautifully (it was PERFECT weather in DC - the first day that the heat, humidity, and nastiness of the DC summer was not thick in the air and I had a little flirt-thing going on with a woman at a Border's near my office so she gave me the Ben Folds "Rockin' the Suburbs" album Monday night so I had new tunes in my discman (yeah, I said that) as I walked to the metro. The perfection of the day would be short lived, clearly. I won't go in to the details of that day because 9/11 was NOT the craziest night of my 20s. No, no. September 12th took care of that.

After a day of stress and worry on Tuesday and a very timid "we back to 'normal' in any way" day on Wednesday, a group of friends and I decided we would meet up after work for happy hour to just sort of enjoy each other's company and to celebrate fellowship (the District of Columbia was a magical place following 9/11. We made eye contact. We smiled. We let people stand on the left side of the Metro escalators. We were our best, best selves.). Happy hour . . . turned to hours . . . turned to Thursday, September 13th.

Here's all I know. I woke up at about 4:45 AM ET. I was naked. I was in the hallway of my small apartment (my then roommate was asleep in his bedroom just feet away). The hallway light was on. A partial pizza sat on my chest. My mouth tasted like burns, cigarettes, booze, morning funk, and "this is going to hurt when I try to get it together in a few hours." You see, dear readers, we had apparently had one HECK of a group bender the preceding evening (Disclaimer - I always tell people I stopped drinking on Election Night 2000. This is sorta' true. There are four exceptions. 9/12/01, Election Night 2004, a random Saturday night in February, 2005, and a random Saturday night in April, 2006. Now you know.).

I would be an absolute liar if I told you I remembered the evening. What I "know" about it has all been relayed back to me second and, in one case, third hand. Here's what I think transpired . . .

We started out light and easy with happy hour drinks. There were about six of us. Before long the crowd swelled to about 12. Most of the people were my closer DC friends, the rest were friends of theirs (I was sorta dating a woman at this point - she was not present, thankfully). We met at an Irish bar on Dupont Circle in a hotel (I can't remember the name of it and it has apparently changed names since). We stayed there until about 11:00 PM ET. In that time we ran up a tab of well over $1,100 (which I insisted, apparently, on paying the entirety of - apparently if you are ordering round of cognac and forcing people to drink them you feel obligated to pay for said liquor). I apparently tried to kiss every person at the table. I apparently tried to kiss the waiter (Yes. Waiter. Male. No - I'm still not gay.). I apparently tried to get the waiter to kiss the females at the table.

I eventually made my way out in to the streets of DC (literally - just stumbled in to the circle - one of the busier exchanges in the city) and in to a cab. My roommate, I believe, went with me. We took the cab back to our neighborhood (but not our place - I don't think - if we took it home, I did not call it a night then). I then spent another 90 minutes or so at a bar on 8th Street, SE (we lived in-between Eastern Market and Potomac Yard just off Pennsylvania Avenue). I got home at about 1:00 AM and ordered food (if the receipt for the pizza is any indicator). I then, I am presuming, sat at the front door trying not to pass out from all the booze in my body and eventually, most likely naked, greeted the pizza guy, laid on the floor, put the pizza on my chest, took out one slice, and called it a night.

Was it a good night? Heck YES! I apparently had a great time and enjoyed my friends and the notion that we were all still alive and that our lives were eventually going to get back to normal and everything was going to be fine. I had booze. I had pizza while drunk (people always talk about the kiss of a beautiful woman, a sip of deep, rich red wine, the curve of a Porsche, etc. as the greatest pleasures in life but no one ever talks about pizza while drunk . . .). I let a random delivery person see me naked. I slept in the hallway. I went to my bed and called it a night without brushing. OR flossing.

Was it the most memorable night ever? No. Was it the craziest night ever? Yes.


NOT The Midwest . . .

I saw August: Osage County the other night. It was fantastically written, cast, and acted. There was not a single person I didn't enjoy in their role (even Benedict Cumberbacht as "Little Charles" was great - that was NOT an easy role). The movie, worth a viewing, is based on the play with the same name. It is very, very heavy and emotional and sad. There are NO silver linings. NO happiness at the end. NO group hugs.

That being said there are some HILARIOUS moments in the movie and the dialogue offers some of the best use of "f*ck" I've seen since any movie Quentin Tarantino ever made.

My FAVORITE exchange in the movie was one where the indigence I scream and yell about all the time (that Kansas (well - the movie is set in Oklahoma but it is the same thing) is NOT in the Midwest). Yes. We have "Midwestern Values" and we are tucked away from those nasty, nasty coasts (I kid - I love you Atlantic ocean and all the states that smell your salty air) but we are NOT, geographically, regionally, zonially (word?), physically, or actually a Midwestern State.

Look! The National Fish and Wildlife Management Agency agrees and those guys, part of the federal government/the Man are NEVER wrong. Ever. EVER!

Don't believe me? These guys at some random education company agree . . .
And these guys at a little publication known as National Geographic agree . . .

So - please - folks . . . please . . . let's start being proud people of the Great Plains vs. Midwesterners.


My New Name . . .

As my conversion process continues along, we are sort of upping the deliverables and the level of things. No, no. We're not playing truth or dare in the sanctuary or playing Torah trivia. Better . . .

We're talking interviews, and ceremony, mikveh, blood letting (I'm already snipped - you're welcome for the horrifying mental image) and - as a never-nude with severe body anxiety the HAPPIEST of the three things I do not have to study for . . . my new name!

Yeah. That's right. The day I convert you will FINALLY be able to call me Janet (Ms. Jackson if you are nasty . . . and I hope you are). I kid, I kid. I will take a Hebrew name. Largely ceremonial (you will still be able to call me Sean or anything else you want - except late for supper (heyyyyyyo!)) the Hebrew name is an important part of the conversion process.

I've picked my name (the closest I will come to sharing it is that I've asked a handful of people their thoughts on my three finalists). Why the mystery? Personal choice, I guess.

I can/will say this though (the point of the post begins here) . . . it was HARD to choose my own name. Much harder than it was to contribute to the naming of our daughter. Way, way harder than naming any family pet. Even harder than naming my two cars. Less enjoyable, candidly, than I thought it would be but a challenge that I really enjoyed taking on.

I looked at all the traditional Heroes of the Torah options (seriously, though, I NEED those glasses) and decided even my legendary ego would not feel good about naming myself an icon of my faith. I then looked at those secondary heroes (the kid born to a 980 year old man and his 711 year old wife, etc.). Not so much for me - I want to be my own person, I suppose (no disrespect to all those out there who carry these monikers). I ultimately decided that I would find things that were reflective of my personality and my character.

From there it was a seriously fun exercise. I'd find what I thought was the perfect name then a Google would tell me the word meant "of great curiosity" AND "stands outside the donut shop and just inhales deeply" (Hebrew is a tricky tongue). I would find a name that I loved to say (yes - pleasure on the tongue was a criteria for me) and then realize it was a feminine vs. masculine base. Oy vey.

Then - after what was probably thirty or thirty five HOURS of research and trying to figure this out I found three finalists. All of which make me super happy and all three have been thumbs-upped by my sponsoring Rabbi.

I know who I am. I know who I will be. And, soon enough, I'll have another label to use in that pursuit.



Toothbrushes . . .

So I generally share a lot of random crap here but this story . . . this is some true randomness. And perhaps something I should not share based on statutes of limitations and general criminality but - screw it - here we go. 

Right around the time it was first decided that my marriage was over and I would move out of the family house I went to Dillons (maybe even that night) for some milk and a few other groceries. As I rounded the last corner toward the registers I walked by the dental care section and just grabbed one of the Kroger brand toothbrushes . . . and I stuffed it in my pocket.

I went through the self checkout and paid for all the items I had grabbed except the toothbrush and I left. Yep. I stole. Shoplifted. Thieved. And I have NO idea why. But here is the weirdest part . . . I did it again the next time I went to Dillons. And the next time. And the next time. And the next time . . . over 20 times in all. 

Things started to calm down. Life settled in to a rhythm. I stopped stealing toothbrushes. I filed for divorce. I started again. Nine times in a row. I stopped. I lost my job. I started again. 11 times in a row. I calmed down and got focused and felt no need to steal dental hygiene products. I repeated this cycle several times. How many times? I have 43 toothbrushes in a box. 

I never used a single toothbrush I stole (I still have them - I just discovered the stash while settling in to my new place). I never understood why I took them. My shrink has no real theories other than that getting caught might have given me some tangible/real punishment to alleviate other confusions or woes that felt like punishment. 

I don't really know why I did it. It has been a long time since I took one (between us - and the Wichita Police Department and the security team at Kroger/Dillons) and I'm proud of myself for not taking any during the recent stress of a wrecked car, relationship awkwardness, and moving houses (I don't do well with all the stress . . . that is often self-induced) and I have been to Dillons a million times during these recent transitions. 

No, no. I didn't simply move on to another item to steal (oh ye of little faith). I just decided not to steal stuff. 

I deserve no credit for this restraint and I have no idea why I tell you this story other then, well, if I state it publicly I go on the record. 


Bed Peace . . .

If you got or took the day off today, enjoy the time - make some love.


Black Lexus SUV . . .

When I first moved to Wichita 6 1/2 years ago it seemed like there was ONE car that was "allllllllllllllllllllllllllll (deep gasp) lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll(I am feeling lightheaded)llllllll the rage" - a gold Lexus SUV. I had two colleagues that each had one and they seemed everywhere and seemed to be the norm. This was sort of jarring to me having come from the Northeast where there didn't seem to be an average vehicle. This is not a criticism of Wichita - simply an observation. My world amateur sociologist ranking tells me that the disparity of cars "there" vs. "here" was probably indicative of nothing and there is clearly no statistical evidence to back up this claim anywhere.

Anywho . . . fast forward to late-2013 and early-2014 and it seems, Wichita, that your tastes have changed. Yep. You've gone from a gold Lexus SUV to a black Lexus SUV. I'm not kidding, fellow Wichi-Wichers . . . look out there right now! Check your office parking lot. Look on Rock Road. Consult Kellogg. You'll see an average of 1:13.9 cars to be a black, Lexus SUV (that is a real statistic - I once sat and counted groups of 20 cars driving by me for 10 full sets and that was the frequency).

The question becomes WHY?! A  new, black Lexus SUV will cost you a boatload (street parlance for $40,000 - $55,000) of cash. You can buy a home in Wichita for $119,000 (thanks, Zillow). You can buy a toothbrush in Wichita for $2.42 (or get them for "free" by visiting the dentist). Sure, sure . . . they are lovely cars. I've never actually been in one but the photos on the web and the pristine Ugg boots of their owners imply a clean, safe, mahogany finished ride with seat warmers below the buttery-leather a cow was happy to give its life for. There are videos on YouTube that show the car adjusting to the person sitting in the seat based on body weight and owner preferences. Those LED headlights look sharp - I'm not going to lie about that. I have ZIPPY problem with people buying a car that makes them happy (my beloved vehicle makes me very happy and I paid a price that might seem high for it (comparably)).

So are we all trying to fit in? Is this the return of IBM's "Identical Blue Men" salesforce? Is the notion of personal choice being skipped for what society might determine the preferred choice?  Or are these cars this. damned. awesome? Do we all just want to drive what the Joneses drive? Is it that we want premium luxury and we're finally at a place in our lives where we can and will afford it? Is my brain just somehow pre-disposed to see these things on the road and, in reality, silver Mercedes SUVs are actually the norm? What ever happened to the Mini  Cooper boom, anyway? I'm digressing.

Here is the point . . . There is something to be said about what we drive and what it says about us - I just have no idea what the heck it says or what it means.

Drive safely, black Lexus SUV owners (and all the other ships at sea).