Wednesday, August 31, 2011

We're A Loving Family, Really

My older brother emailed me a list today.  The subject line said "Things I Hate."

-Low trucks with running boards
-Songs that directly address the audience
-People who use their blinkers in "Exit Only" lanes
-Songs where you need more than one word to determine the gender of the singer
-The Fox network's NFL robot
-Songs that say "I can't hear you!" even though they're recorded
-Emo jeans

He's such a nice man.

P.S. - He wants credit for this list, so just know that this was from my actual brother.

Monday, August 29, 2011


So a major reason for my break from blogging is the fact that I currently have three jobs. I work full-time with my current employer, part-time from home for my previous employer, and part-time for another employer (mostly on weekends). So when you add that in with my desire to be a good father and husband, it doesn't leave a lot of time for writing blog posts. But I feel like I owe it to myself to keep blogging, because there's a point to all of this. And the point is not just to try to be funny. And I won't pretend that it's a way to work on my writing skills (because I don't care about my writing skills). A big reason for blogging is that I'm essentially keeping my memories somewhere to review later. It's a twisted, altered record of my life, but it's important. So it would be a shame to stop that completely.

Even with that in mind, a lot of these stories are not important to me. I don't care if I remember the Ford Mustang I saw last week with three queen-sized mattresses strapped to its roof (pictured below for proof). But I do care to remember how I felt during different parts of my family's lives. My kids growing up, my wife and I getting older, my crazy job-hopping. All of that is important to me. And I'll forget the little things if I don't make them bigger things via this blog.

So if you think I'm embellishing, you're right. I do that often. And if you think I make something out of nothing, you're also right. Because the little nothings are what I'm afraid of forgetting. And that's the reason I'll continue. And that's the reason this is important. Because my internal memory is terrible (as my beautiful wife would confirm). But if I write this stuff down, even if I alter it to make it more humorous, then I don't have to rely on my memory as much. And that's a good enough reason to continue.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Things My Older Brother Has Learned While Working His New Concert Job

- If you walk into a venue with a laptop bag and a pair of big headphones around your neck, nobody asks for credentials or a ticket.

- People with eyebrow piercings rarely say the word "yes." They prefer to say "For sure, man," or "Oh, totally."

- Some guys wear eyeliner.

- Some girls wear neckties.

- Every singer is shorter than you'd expect them to be.

- Even the most skilled accordion player is not talented enough to make you forget how lame accordions are.

- If your favorite band says goodnight and you haven't heard their most popular song, you should probably hang around and cheer for about 3 more minutes.

- Music is loud in person.

- The older you are, the more ridiculous you look dressed like a member of the band.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bueno, No Bueno

One of my older brothers has a really cool job. He goes to concerts and uploads song lists and band pictures to the iPhone app for the company that books the venues. So he parks in the "gold" parking lot (for free), sits in the booth behind the audience (for free), and then eats the catered food that the band gets (for free) while doing minimal work. And on top of that, he gets $150 per show, and he gets reimbursed for mileage!

Now before you get too jealous, there are some drawbacks. For starters, he doesn't just get to pick his favorite bands and go to their shows. He gets assigned to shows at random. So he may get to work the sold out show of a major artist or… he may have to work a local Tejano concert where he can't understand a word of what's going on. And that happened to him last week.

My brother can say two things in Spanish: "gracias" and "por favor." Other than that, he can barely pronounce the names of foods at Mexican restaurants. So he is grossly ill-prepared for an all-Spanish concert. In fact, during the two-hour accordion-filled show, he was able to identify exactly two songs. And he was only about 50% sure those were correct. So anyone looking to find out what songs were played that night was pretty much out of luck.

And the funniest part is that he didn't have the faintest idea when the show was ending. Because he didn't know the Spanish version of "you've been great tonight" or "this is our last song." So he had to wait until the main singer waved and said "Gracias!" and the audience got up to leave. So that meant he couldn't cut out early and avoid the crowd. So imagine my brother, the only dorky-looking dude holding a laptop bag, jostling for position to the exit. He must have looked really out of place.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Soup Klutzy

Today I realized that the physical comedy used in movies and TV shows is not nearly as funny when it's happening to you in real life. So next time you laugh at a prat fall or a giant mess on TV, remember how terrible it would be if it happened to you.

(Wouldn't it be weird if I didn't have an example story to share right now?)

So I was getting ready to fix my lunch today at work. And I have a can of soup. So I started to pour it into my Styrofoam bowl when I realized the bowl was too small for the amount of soup. So I picked up the half-full bowl and attempted to pour the soup back into the can. In the process, I broke the flimsy bowl, spilled soup all over the counter and floor, and nearly died by slipping on the soup puddle at my feet. So I mopped up what I could, soaked to the forearms with soup shrapnel (celery, tomatoes, etc.).

Naturally, this is when the previously empty kitchen filled with people waiting to use the microwave next to me. So they got to see the rest of the ordeal, wondering how in the world I managed to spill soup when the only things involved were a bowl and a can. So I scooped, scraped, and mopped up the spill and went on my way.

And if this had been on Friends back in the 90s or on 30Rock this year, I would laugh at whoever was acting it out. But in real life, it's not all that funny. It's quite embarrassing. Especially embarrassing if you keep mumbling "broken bowl" and "didn't know my own strength" between bursts of your own nervous laughter while people watch you slide around the area in vegetable-flavored puddles.

The good news is that I got to eat McDonald's for lunch today. The bad news is that the only reason I got McDonald's is because I'm underqualified to microwave a bowl of soup.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Age/Old Questions

I realize I'm getting older. I realize my hair is falling out faster than I'm comfortable with. And I'm starting to think I've passed the age where I could conceivably dunk a basketball. And I'm okay with all of that for the most part. I think I'll be able to avoid a midlife crisis when the time comes. But every once in a while I'll get a stinging reminder that I'm not as young as I used to be. And let me preface this with a little disclaimer: I do not think I'm old, and I'm not lamenting anything about my age. I'm just sharing a few recent reminders that things are changing.

One thing that hit me recently was the fact that in a decade, people will look at pictures of me now and say, "Wow, look at all the hair you had!" or "Hey, here's one from when you still had hair!" I felt physical pain when that notion entered my consciousness. And the kicker is that I have a giant (probably lumpy) head. So I can't even jump the gun and shave it off. I'd look like a total weirdo.

The other thing that happened recently was worse (maybe). The job I have now is at the same company as my oldest brother. And while we don't share a resemblance (luckily), we share a last name. So people I haven't met will often come to me and say, "Are you, by chance, related to Mike?" And when I say yes, they inevitably over-share about their work experiences with him. But last week, a guy I'd never met threw in one little accidental jab while over-sharing. He said, "Yeah, Mike and I go way back. I knew he had a brother in his thirties, but I didn't realize you worked here." And I didn't correct him, because I was shell-shocked. But I'll be honest. That stung. I'm not thirty yet. And while I'm fairly close, it's important to note that I'm not thirty yet!

What really hurt is that he didn't say "around thirty." He said "in his thirties." And the age range where I am willing to tell someone I think they're "in their thirties" is between 34 and 43 (you know, to be nice). They have to be old enough so you know you're not overshooting, but young enough that you're not obviously trying to compliment them.

So my conclusion is that he thinks I'm at least 34 years old. That's older than I was prepared to hear from a stranger. I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't tan, and I've never done meth or tried boxing. So there's nothing I've done to my face over the years that would age me enough to warrant that.

And I bet now, people will look back at this blog post in a decade and say, "Hey, here's one where you were upset about getting older! And now you're bald and in your fifties!"

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Donut Is A Lie!

My older brother started a new job last week. And he's not too happy about his commute. At his last position, he was 6 miles from the office, so he only spent about 20 minutes in his car each day. But now, he drives 35 to 40 minutes each way. Which means he puts almost 250 miles on his car each week. So with the extended hours and longer commute, he's away from home about 12 hours a day. So considering what he had, he's unhappy about it.

Well, I encouraged him to try to find the silver lining for the new job. There's always some perk that you can focus on that makes it worthwhile. Well, he didn't get a pay raise, he spends an extra $200 per month on gas, he spends an extra $100 per month on toll roads, and the area he works in smells like a poot (sorry, that's what my kids call flatulence). So it's hard to find the silver lining. But he's a generally positive person, so I figured he could do it.

Well, on his first day he saw boxes of donuts everywhere. It seemed there was some kind of unspoken Donut Monday rule, and he was thrilled about that. There were about 6 boxes of donuts throughout the office and there were still some left over at the end of the day. Obviously, he was excited. So much so, that all the other stuff that he found out during the week (broken vending machines, slow elevators, disgusting coffee, invasive cavity searches), he dismissed as trivial. Because, hey… Donut Mondays!

Well he found out today that there is no such thing as Donut Monday. It was just a fluke that all the donuts appeared last week. So despite his frantic searching this morning (with the fervor of Indiana Jones during that scene in the Temple of Doom when he's trying to get to the antidote), there was nary a donut in the office. So now, all that stuff that he ignored last week as trivial in comparison to Donut Monday has come rushing back in a wave of devastation and despair.

It's actually quite sad. Imagine if you put up with a lot of hassles because you knew there was a big payoff, only to find out that the payoff was a lie. You keep telling yourself, "I can put up with this, because there's a long term benefit." But Santa's not real, your investment broker is running a Ponzi scheme, your meticulously-built Beanie Baby collection is worthless, and Donut Monday doesn't exist.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Precocious Moments

I've found that there's usually a fine line between something being awesome and something being annoying. Examples:

(My apologies for the quality.  I'll try to get a better copy up later.)

And the difference almost always comes down to quality and circumstance. And that is definitely true of my content today. Because one thing that can be either very awesome or very annoying is kids acting like adults. If my four-year old tells me he's ready to be a castaway on Survivor, that's adorable. But if he corrects my grammar, that's irritating.

So I'm usually pretty careful about sharing moments like that, in case I come off as one of those braggy parents who think their kid is going to be the first toddler president. And most of those moments are just my kids figuring out the context of their parents' words and using them correctly the next opportunity they have.

So in the interest of avoiding the perception of bragginess, please read the following precocious anecdotes without judging me for thinking they're precious.

Story 1 - My daughter has heard me say a few phrases for 2 and a half years. So it shouldn't surprise me that she can use them correctly. But last week, she said the following: "Mommy, I want to go play. And we have two options. We can go upstairs and play in my room. Or… I can go get some toys and bring them down here. So which do you want to do?"

Now re-read that quote and imagine it coming from a two-year old who's holding down fingers for each option. Precious, right?!

Story 2 - That same sweet girl that understands playing options, does not at all understand knock-knock jokes. The only one she knows is the one where the person at the door is named "Boo." And the joke ends with "Don't cry. It's just a joke." But she doesn't remember the setup. So every knock-knock joke she tells ends with "Don't cry. It's just a joke." Example:

Madeleine: "Knock, knock."
Me: "Who's there?"
Madeleine: "A bird."
Me: "A bird who?"
Madeleine: "Don't cry. It's just a joke."

Very cute and very funny because she requires the listener to laugh along with her "joke." But the other day, she decided to mix it up a bit. And I think she got the punch line from me (the guy who always loses stuff).

Madeleine: "Knock, knock."
Me: "Who's there?"
Madeleine: "Where's my debit card?!"

I don't get it, but I laughed for real at that one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fine. I'll Start Blogging Again.

So here's my defense....

You know when your brakes need to be replaced and they start to do that light squealing thing when you stop? And they build that into the brakes so you know it's time to change them. But then, after three weeks of ignoring it, it goes away. So instead of realizing the truth (you're about to ruin your car), you pretend you never heard the original squealing and you bask in the relief of the self-fixing brakes. But in the back of your mind (along with the knowledge that you should be flossing daily) is the knowledge that brakes don't magically fix themselves. So one day, instead of lightly squealing, your brakes begin to crunch. And after you check to make sure a coffee can is not lodged in your wheel-well, you remember the squealing. And after you pay $450 for new brakes, pads, shoes, rotors, and labor… you really start to miss the squealing.

Okay, I think somewhere during that analogy I lost my train of thought. But the point is, I blogged occasionally and that was enough to make me feel better about not blogging. And then I realized that I was doing what all those other (stupid) people do when they blog. I was putting it off and then apologizing, so that every post was an apology for not blogging enough. So I ignored this blog altogether. And then one day, I heard the aforementioned "crunch." And it was in my brain. It was the realization that I had family, friends, and followers that I had essentially ignored. And perhaps more honestly, I had the realization that something funny must have happened to my older brothers (or me) in the past two months and I really should write about it.

In summary, I'm back. And I'm sorry. Wait, no. I'm not sorry. I'm just back. Okay, maybe a little bit sorry. I'm like 10% sorry… but still… 90% back.