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15th of March

eBooks are all the Rage!


studying-702583-m

Met a guy at a conference recently.

Very nice gentleman.

Even offered to help me find some writing accountability.

In our conversation, we discussed all kinds of writerly things including print (and ebook) options.

At the end of the conversation, he gave me his contact information, and I offered my card.

(Of course, I had to cross out old email addresses/blog sites/etc., because I’m so bad with technology that I can’t quite keep up, it seems.)

He was patient, and when I offered to give him a copy of a book, he politely, and it was the nicest rejection I’d ever received, said, “Ebooks only, for me.”

I quit searching for the PAPER copy in my backpack.

Brought my hand out of the backpack and shook his. Muttered something like, “Just ebooks?”

He smiled and nodded. Informed me that it was keeping him clutter free, and his wife was appreciative.

Ebooks are all the rage, it seems.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE paper copies. The smell. Being able to hold them outside. Take them camping and not having to worry about an electric outlet or battery life. But…

his smile revealed something new to me.

He was enjoying a life less cluttered.

And…maybe that’s what it’s all about these days of “Run and gun” style of living.

There’s little time to breathe.

My wife and I just moved apartments this weekend. We are getting settled and the endless copies of books are invading our space AGAIN. Maybe I’ll take his advice to a certain degree (keep some of the paper). But, I agree with his attitude. He was freeing up a lot of space and still reading what he wanted/when he wanted.

Shameless plug: (Final Day of my ebook being FREE is today: http://www.amazon.com/BAPTISMS-DOGS-Stories-B-Tucker-ebook/dp/B00LAFKRBQ/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426443237&sr=1-1&keywords=baptisms+%26+dogs) I’m grateful to the many people that have taken a risk and read this book. I know it’s different to what you usually might pick up at a store. Plus, they’re short stories. But, thank you so much for being there for this first effort. It’s done better than I could’ve ever imagined.

Like my ebook, maybe I will continue to seek out copies on Kindle. But, let me tell you it has been so difficult to part with the REAL thing. (It’s difficult to take a dog-eared copy of a Kindle ebook into a pool where cannonballs are being offered by small children, without losing the entire device to H20. But I will try and try again.)

 

 

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14th of March

Is Online Dating Good?


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We all know eHarmony from the commercials.

The friendly, white-haired gent, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founded what is boasted to be the “#1 trusted online dating site for singles.”

Have you been there?

No. I’m not encouraging online dating to any one person. And, it’s not that I see anything wrong with you wanting happiness.

My experience with eHarmony was actually a GOOD one, albeit humorous, as only things can be for my unusually awkward self.

Let me take you to 2004!

Yes. The year I left the college where I’d started with my buddies, and transferred to a new, bigger (scarier in size) school. (See, Dog Days of Summer)

I met some awesome new roommates in, Thomas, Obbie, and Mitch. But…

I was extreme.

In everything.

I felt the need to work out 3x more than the average college student, ate 2x as much as my peers, and tried to be involved in every on-campus organization that first year at UK.

To take this a step further, I also had to be looking for a girlfriend 14x more frequently than any of my new buddies. (They can attest to this.)

I looked East, West, and the other 2 directions on-campus. My wife thinks I’m still extreme, but this category is one that I pursued the most in Lexington.

So, that leads us to this story of how I found eHarmony and trusted it to lead me to Miss Right. (Remember, this was also the first year of something called ‘Facebook,’ and Kentucky was one of the frontrunners in connecting to other schools. I used it and saw the potential to hunt for the lady of my dreams, but it still wasn’t as well-known as Dr. Warren’s site.

Yep. I was all of 19 years old (maybe 20) and had already given up on meeting someone on my new college campus. I remember Thomas asking, “What are you doing? You can’t give up yet! You just got here.”

And, I shook my head and said something to the effect, “No. This is my only chance.”

Of course, these were friends, and even though they had every right to think He’s crazy! they stuck by me and…

watched me fill out all “29 dimensions” of the trusted site.

eHarmony was cool, I remember, because they asked a lot of great questions about upbringing, religious beliefs, and favorite hobbies. I thought, They can’t be all bad like some of the other sites, because they want to know all about me.

And they did. That application took all of 1 day of not going to class or studying for the classes around that day. (The guys checked in on me periodically throughout the day to make sure I was still breathing.)

29 dimensions, all skeletons out of the closet, and 1 day of college life later I pushed the ‘SUBMIT’ button and awaited Dr. Warren’s reply.

The answer came back quickly. The auto-response after I’d submitted it the day before and said the eHarmony staff would be responding with my results (or matches) soon. So, I bit my nails and couldn’t sleep the night between. I recall eating a DiGiorno’s frozen pizza somewhere in-between.

Thomas watched me check my email on that uber-slow Toshiba Satellite. It hummed to life, and I clicked on my Hotmail account. There was a new message from the eHarmony miracle workers.

It said…

Something something something.

And, I remember thinking: How kind of them to send this thorough response! And it WAS both thorough and kind.

I remember getting through the preliminary fluff and really appreciating their promptness and sensitivity in sharing what they said at the letter’s conclusion, which read, in my own paraphrasing:

Mr. Tucker,

Your age and answering of certain questions led us to the analysis that you’d be best-suited for continuing to pursue your future companion and to not give up on finding them at this time. Thank you!

This is of course a paraphrase, but it REALLY made me laugh. Their honesty was terrific, and I was able to meet my wife, about 3 years later, but the RESPONSE of this survey was shocking to me at the time. They essentially said what my roommates had said as well. Except with a technical approach and some surveying included. Yet, I’m still so thankful for the result, which really helped me to get OUT of the dorm room those next so many years. THE lady was still out there, and I learned to not give up (or get dismayed) so easily. I definitely learned that Facebook (or whatever else that came after MySpace) wasn’t the ANSWER for interacting and wooing someone.

Hallelujah and then some!

The fine people alongside Dr. Neil Clark Warren were there at just the right time. Now, I am SLIGHTLY less neurotic than I was at the outset of college.

 

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12th of March

Hat Fetish.


I have an obsession with hats.

See Figure 1 below for proper em-phasis (on the right syl-lable).

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Call it temporary, and I’ll show you a progression. This is compliments of Facebook and its record-keeping self. (Scary, I know.)

2004: (80s party)

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2005: (Halloween shindig with JT and Adam at Campbellsville University)

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2006: (Residence life at UK and Burger King at 2, 3, or 4 am)

1910092_518873466380_2775_n and 1927681_518631561160_1863_n

2007: (Pool table at Casa de Silvers)

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2008: (Honeymoon on the open seas and dry land and Illinois with the Mrs.)

1909712_582937671200_9580_n and 1909712_582935061430_652_n and 1929655_521086905824_118_n

2009: (Halloween in Monticello at the Pyles’ residence)

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2010: (Mexico and Ohio)

35405_698516136312_5751690_n and 625672_10100838105267250_2097907668_n

2011: (Mexico again)

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2012: (Gun range with sister-in-law and Florida and Kentucky)

317564_10100347720681890_390089136_n and 391541_10100838067492950_1127156725_n and 394869_10100471228291650_1548253637_n

2013 – Present:

Is, of course, still being written. The lesson learned from the above images?

I have entirely too many hats and…have worn them all to the best of my ability.

I’d like to thank Facebook for this field study in accessorizing. (Maybe the first one ever completed via social media.)

It has helped me learn 2 very important lessons:

1.) All hats are not created equal

2.) There’s a right time and a wrong time to wear a straw hat. There’s NEVER a wrong time to break out the Viking helmet. EVER.

*The Viking helmet shown above was worn during the Writer’s Residency in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. However, it was also a helmet worn during the cruise of January 2009 and was a great conversation starter.

**The golfer hat above was worn during New Year’s celebrations with friends in Lexington, KY.

 

Do you have a hat that you wear almost every day of the week? What makes this the “go-to” hat?

I know I write this with light-heartedness and humor, but I really do look back fondly on all of these silly excursions and appreciate the times shared with good friends.

May you find any (and all) opportunities possible in 2015 to be yourself and celebrate the “less formal” arenas of your life.

God bless!

 

 

 

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11th of March

Dog Days of Summer.


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That same summer–which brought me NYC and Brazil mission-mindedness–was the one where I went to college.

Campbellsville University. (Enrollment in 2003, 1777 students)

The name had recently changed from Campbellsville College to University…signifying as it does for all colleges…that it had hit its stride. The label “university” was a Welcome to the Promised Land sign. (Since that day/time, it has doubled in size as a university.)

So me, Adam, and JT arrive in Taylor County, Kentucky. The 3 amigos hit the ground of post-secondary education running. We felt that life would never be the same after moving out of our hometown.

Gone were the stigmas (and embarrassments) of high school hazing days. Before us, were the Spring Breaks, Education Abroad, and Dean’s List opportunities.

Oh how I love anticipation of things that are new!

See, I entered Campbellsville University (CU) possessing a scholarship that mirrored Adam & JT’s. We were indeed triplets.

But, where my academic route varied from theirs was my inability to choose a major. College is keen on a 4-year plan. Right?

Motto: Don’t switch majors more than once. I’ve not shared this publicly before, but the pressures to pick something out (and FAST) were overwhelming for me. So what I did next reflected nicely on my academic profile: I majored Pre-Med.

Yep. Nothing says I don’t know what the heck I want to do with my life like declaring Medicine (and 8-12 years of schooling) like majoring in something that specific. Ironically, JT really did major in Pre-Med alongside me, and he completed his studies in 2012. I’m proud of him. Similarly, Adam majored in Music and still teaches percussion present day.

I was an atypical college student.

My scholarship was in jeopardy due to my Calculus, Biology ensemble that Fall 2003 semester, and I discovered my only enjoyable courses were English and social sciences.

Gone were the dreams to pursue “Renaissance Man” interests that high school had afforded. Be good at everything! was a phrase no one was using anymore, it seemed. Ben Franklin did it. But, he’s no longer living. My grades suffered due to lack of interest and the accelerated curriculum each week that term.

Mid-terms happened. Grades very bad (Cookie monster voice).

My scholarship looked to be in jeopardy. I longed for Brazil and the miracles we had seen down there. We were attending a Christian school, and I longed to be elsewhere, because I didn’t feel connected to the real world. Ironic?

Pre-Med. was Pre-destined to Fail.

So…guess what I did following those Dog Days of Summer?

In the Fall 2003, I applied to transfer to UK. (No. Not the United Kingdom…even though I have ancestral connection to that region of the world.) No. I applied to the University of Kentucky and was accepted at the mid-point of my Freshmen year.

Why would I leave my 2 best friends, a full ride, and a 1,777-person campus?

It wasn’t easy.

Just like playing “Me, Myself, and Irene” to a large crowd of peers I respected (see Playing Possum) and seeing a panoramic of me signing an autograph at the least opportune time in Brazil (see Mission-Minded…Eventually), my decision to leave what I knew and pursue a not-payed for, undeclared major, at a school larger than most Kentucky cities, with no clue where anything was at geographically was tough to put it mildly.

I didn’t know what I was doing. Beyond the fact that I was pursuing a new start at a largely secular school and leaving behind a strong godly campus where the slogan was, I kid you not: Find your Calling! I tell others that I did, but I did it elsewhere. And, I don’t say it facetiously either. I mean it. The decision to transfer was God helping me discover my path…and it didn’t happen where I thought it would…and that’s okay. Even though, I hated leaving behind what I knew to pursue it.

Mom was patient. She saw me return home 15 of the 16 weekends that semester. She knew the scholarship wouldn’t transfer. I was going from private-paid to public-owed overnight. Still, she supported and said, “I want what’s best, Brian, and I know the cost will be worth it.”

Fast-forward now to today, I see the purpose more now than I used to. (I no longer roam the dorm hallways with an aerosol can spraying peoples’ wardrobes, crumbling muffin crumbs in JT’s bed when he wasn’t looking, or, wrestling with ghost stories about people being shot in our old, spooky residence hall…I try not to anyways.)

Instead, I can see the transfer as one of the most difficult (and rewarding) decisions of my life.

Did I figure everything out overnight? No.

Did I pick a major and stick with it? No again. I think I had 6 total from start to finish and ended up double-majoring.

Did I have it as easy as before the transfer? You see where this is going.

Paying for it out-of-pocket and moving into a world where I didn’t know my freshman roommate’s name was terrifying. (I still remember Police tape saying “Do not Cross Line” stretching across the room that would become my first at UK.) But, I learned A LOT about perseverance and myself 2004-present.

I met my future wife in the dorms. My brother helped me mature during those remaining college years. And, I met a lot of great people along the way. Summer 2003 was crazy and Fall even crazier. But, I wouldn’t change any of the outlandishness at all. The headache came and went. So did Calculus and Pre-Med. and zip codes and DiGiorno microwavable pizzas.

Was your educational path like mine? Daunting.

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Now, I look forward to 2015 with its twists and turns. God provides steps, and sometimes I see them and sometimes I go off-course and wade through the muck. Sometimes the muck helps me appreciate the steps even more.

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10th of March

Mission-minded…Eventually.


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Not but a few weeks after that “Me, Myself, and Irene” experience in the summer of 2003 (see, Playing Possum), I had the chance of a lifetime…
To go to Brazil!

 
Imperatriz, Brazil. Population 250,000, and the second largest city in the Maranhao state. Its hottest and coldest months both occurring during what are our summer months here in the States. It was a truly tropical experience complete with Amazonian rainforests, cave iguanas, and a few pythons along the way. (I still can’t believe that tour guide didn’t tell us about one he saw, while Allison was injured. She definitely would’ve been the weakest link had things gone awry.)
Anyways…this was more than just a luxury trip.
It was a trip with a purpose. No one on the team had taken it lightly. Its duration was 2 weeks from beginning to mid-August, and most importantly, it was a mission trip. (I’d even been blessed enough to have someone support my costs for the trip and pay my way for it!) So, there was great focus within our team going into Imperatriz with willing hearts.

We arrived in Brazil, and it was hot! But, hot in a good way. Have you ever experienced a good heat? I know. I usually hate hot temperatures, too. But, I can safely say this was the first (and only) time in my life where the temps climbed well above 90-100 F, and the sun baked a person rather than microwaved them. There was coconut milk served directly from coconut vendors and plastic straws poking from the tops of them.

 

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There were tarantulas just chilling on the park lawns where couples looked longingly into one another’s eyes unconcerned. (I was educated that big spiders to us were just babies to Brazilians and harmless if left unbothered.)
Then, we met the people. The Brazilian people were the BEST! I can say that, because I grew up with some of the nicest folks in the entire US in southern KY, and I’m being honest. (No offense Mom!)

 

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Brazilians were happy about everything. As a culture, they hugged. You couldn’t be introduced to someone new without expecting open arms to receive you. It was something we all (even the most reserved of us…even though most of us were pretty outgoing) grew accustomed to by the trip’s end.
We returned hugs, laughter, and smiles. The Imperatriz village– where we had revival–accepted us every night for testimonies and sharing our life stories. It was a tremendous blessing. (Remember, I had just survived NYC, the VHS incident with my old Coach, and my letting one of my mentor’s down, see Playing Possum).

 

Then, my antics returned. I lost my head.

 

Maybe it was the 100-degree heat, or, JT waking me up with his humming in the middle of the nights in our hotel. Maybe it was the authentic Passion Fruit juice that we all drank before heading out into the villages each morning without knowing it was, in fact, a sedative. (That would explain the concerned looks that the locals gave us at breakfast time each morning when we drank it by the gallons.) Maybe it was the beans and rice, although I highly doubt it. I loved all of it: Brazil. Even the steakhouses. Especially the steakhouses!

 

But, no, it wouldn’t be something that objective.
It was simply my ego.

 

Do you have one of those?

 

Sure you do. And I know it’s not always as weird as the Freudian label it wears. Plain and simple…it’s one’s self, one’s awareness of self and its comparison to others.

 

Well, I thought I was doing fairly well with my self/ego/what-have-you, when I discovered that the Brazilian’s altruism and compassion seemed to be unending.

 

As others would return from the villages and share the updates of their talks with families and bonding and witnessing, I would keep hearing locals talk about how similarly me and another in the group resembled the locals’ favorite US pop artists at the time. (It is important to state that Brazilians loved US pop music of the 80s and early 90s variety, and it was still basically current to them in 2003.) And, a large part of our mission held singing and skit components, and I vividly remember us walking back to the tour bus…like the Beatles or something and kids shouting at us through the bus windows.

 

They yelled things at Jennifer in our group, and we finally understood they were chanting “Amy Grant! Amy Grant!”
to her.

 

They pointed at me, and again, the ego took hold of me. Unlike Jennifer, I didn’t quite resist the urge to wave and remain on the bus. (That would’ve been too sensible, remember?) So, I listened to their chants and I heard, “Justin! Justin Timberlake!”

 

Without knowing what I was doing, I was back off the bus and waving like an ignoramus at the kind, affectionate crowd.

 

I still remember our preacher’s soft, reaffirming word in my ear, as we re-boarded the bus that day, “Brian. Remember why we’re here. OK?”

 

I heard him. I mean, genuinely, I did. But, I couldn’t turn down the fans. Right? I was too naive (no, immature fits better). Even later in the week, while Jennifer took the high road, I kept on pursuing my fame and not-so-much fortune. I answered to their calls of “Justin!” and even sang a few NSync songs for the kids.

 

Disgusting, I know.

 

The real clincher in this whole charade. Worse than the pretending to be a celebrity, egging it on, and not following Jennifer’s lead the first 15 times was the final reminder.

 

We’ll call it an eternal one for added emphasis.

 

We arrived back in the States. Pictures were developed. Oh, don’t you love how pictures can truly encompass where we were (good or bad) at any given moment in time? Pictures were developed using a very cool, modern option called 1-hour photo. Remember that?

 

And what do I find but a picture of my buddy, our preacher, and me all smiling. Then, I see that it’s been developed using an even cooler feature of 2003, the panoramic photo feature. So, off to the side of JT, a boy he’d just led to Christ, and Coy, you see me. –> A goofy sticker stuck (for some reason to my face), a big cheesy grin, and an ink pen in my hand.

 

What am I doing you ask?

 

Signing an autograph.

 

On our mission trip.

 

Where countless decisions were made inside those 2 weeks that were life-altering for friends in Imperatriz and JT took this picture as a memory. And you have me putting my John Hancock on a card to a small boy who undoubtedly thought I sang “Bye, Bye, Bye” for a living.

 

 

I look back on this knowing that JT and I have laughed about this picture 100s of times. Not because it’s something that should be encouraged, but because of how much we (and yes, I) didn’t know about life. Clueless. The picture still rests on the mantel above the fireplace at home in Monticello. Mom displays my highlights and lowlights alike. And, I love her for it.

 

If you encounter praise or shame, and I know most of us could already fill several books with our experiences thus far, let it be what it is, and work through it. I think of that picture and laugh every time. JT doesn’t find it quite as funny, but he still laughs.

 

 

 

To: Justin Timberlake, you have my sincerest apologies for impersonating you during the summer of 2003.

 

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9th of March

Playing possum.


Baptisms & Dogs in Times Square

Senior Trip, 2003.

My classmates had been subjected to my antics for the better part of a decade (see previous post titled, Flamesh). Our school (RIP) was a K-12 system with everyone in the same building’s infrastructure. I graduated with less than 50 peers.

We all knew one another.

Favorite foods, hobbies, nicknames, played sports together. It was a close-knit family moreso than an awkwardly large high school that you see in Class 3 through whatever number they go to now (5, 6, a bazillion). It was a great time. Imagine a school-setting where the student body was so close there really wasn’t room for the term clique to exist. Pretty amazing, now that I look back on it (and us being teenagers)!

So we took this trip (like every Monticello HS graduating class before us had done). We rushed onto a charter bus at the high school and departed for a week’s worth of adventures from southern KY to Washington DC to NYC. Our already close group learned every more about one another. Inside jokes were common knowledge on that bus. Assigned seats were non-existent, because everyone sat beside someone different at each stop it seemed.

In Virginia we goofed about Virginia is for Lovers signs. In Washington, DC, JT and yours truly were left behind at the Robert E. Lee exhibit. Then, we caught up to our bus, and we made it after another day or so to NYC.

Times Square, THE Howard Johnson cafe, and Broadway. The sky was the limit for us. The Milford Plaza was a beautifully maintained, older hotel situated right alongside Times Square, and we could just round corners and be in some other really exciting street, in this amazing town in seconds.

I remember many of us broke away from the pack and reconvened in Brooklyn for the Yankees game. I vividly remember sharing a frightful cab ride to CBGB’s (again, RIP) to see where the Ramones once played.

Then, we eventually came to week’s end and the return trip back to the land of plenty–Kentucky. On the departure from NYC, I had been savvy enough to drop in at the Virgin Record Store and pick up a VHS cassette for the trip home. (The on-board movie experience had been lacking on embarkation, and I wanted to remedy this. A VHS in 2003? I know, but it was the charter bus’ limitation [not my own lack of technology prowess.])

So, VHS in-hand–a Jim Carey flick, I booked it back onto the bus, and we headed to Monticello. Simple story, right? Nothing life-shattering about this.

Wrong.

I remember the excitement surrounding the option for a “new” movie. My classmates urged the senior sponsors on the trip (again, small school, so, sponsors were my own baseball coaches, teachers, and everyday mentors at church), and the VHS was pushed into the tape deck. And, I was equally excited…

Then, the movie started playing.

It was Me, Myself, and Irene.

Do you remember that one?

I surely didn’t, if I’d seen it before this moment. I remember getting nudged by my buddy, Adam, and him saying “Don’t you remember what’s in this one?”

And I just cleared my throat, and said, “It’s Jim Carey. It’ll be funny.”

He just said, “Oookay” like he knew something I didn’t, and it didn’t sound good.

The movie was rated ‘R,’ and it had some questionable stuff in it, but what made this til-the-day-I-die awkward was, again, our closely-knit group.

Have you ever wanted to be a good example?

I’m sure you have.

Have you ever felt like you let others down?

I’m two-for-two here.

On this bus, I remember the movie firing up, and having 23,000+ uses of the F-word, salacious content involving Jim Carey, and I must add that the movie’s content paled in comparison to the looks people were giving on the bus.

First off, I remember my baseball coach, asking pretty loudly, “Who would pick such filth?” for the entire cabin to hear.

No answer.

The movie played on.

It should be noted that also on this bus trip was my English teacher/youth leader at church/mentor/respected member of the community, and….his 10 year old daughter.

Yes. Dagger into the heart.

The movie played on, and a few more scandalous events happened.

Again, baseball coach stands up, “Who would pick such filth?” And then yells for the VHS to be “STOPPED!”

At this point, I’m past the pointed of baffled/startled/embarrassed. So, I do the only thing a man at the end of his rope can do…I played dead.

Coach walked up and down the aisles begging for the culprit to come forward. He asked everyone, “Who did this? It’s okay if you share it with me. They need to be talked to,” he said.

Surprisingly, my amazing friends stuck to their guns. I had head down, resting on the seat cushion, and I remember my eyes were pinched shut, trying to will Coach away.

I heard, “Wake Tucker up!”

Alex nudged me and I “woke up,” and I said in my best, concerned voice to Coach, “What’s the matter? What happened, Coach?”

He could see I was sweating; he wagged his finger in a “Follow me” gesture to the front of the bus. I stood on shaky knees and obliged him.

I looked at my English teacher as I passed him (and his daughter’s seat), and he didn’t make eye contact. Still to this day, I’m apologetic about the “Me, Myself, and Irene” experience. It was truly a sad, detrimental day.

But, I hope some can now look back on it and see, just how wonderfully awkward life can be. Especially the teen years.

Have you had anything so horrific happen to you that you played possum, or, faked being alive?

That trip to NYC was a great bit of closure to a wonderful high school experience, and even though it had its blunders, I wouldn’t trade that group of people, in that place and time, for anything in the world.

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8th of March

Fla-Mesh.


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I had this idea in middle school that was umm…unique.

Call me a trend-setter. Maybe just a weirdo. Maybe 20 years before the hipster movement.

I had this innate desire to be as comfortable as possible in school. (Doesn’t everyone?)

Some were choosing to wear pjs to school and others were bringing in their Abercrombie & Fitch threads, but not this guy.

Looking back on it now, I obviously wasn’t choosing to win the award for most cool lad at school.

Why? you ask.

Simple. I was trying to start a trend that would’ve rivaled Gretchen’s attempts to make Fetch happen in Mean Girls. It was cool in my own mind, but in actuality, anything but.

See, I had this desire to throw down the fashion gauntlet.

…I wanted to combine flannel and mesh.

Yes. You heard that right.

Those two comfortable fabrics. Worn together and side-by-side. Flannel up top. Mesh on bottom.

Fla-mesh. Or, Flamesh.

It was born overnight. I remember watching Seinfeld and seeing George Costanza’s love for velvet, and his interest in being draped in the comfortable material. His lengths of wearing the stuff everywhere around NYC gave me hope for my quest.

So, the next Monday, I took a navy and goldenrod colored flannel shirt and navy mesh ball shorts and put them together. The combination was mesmerizing (to me).

I awoke early and was dressed before anyone else in the house could protest. (I thought my older brother would think this the best idea I’d ever summoned.)

I hopped on the school bus, rode the hour-plus distance from the country to the city, and tried my best to walk confidently into the gymnasium, before the bell sounded.

Entering the gymnasium, I felt a lump in my throat, but I swallowed and remembered telling myself that there wasn’t anything to worry about, because this was the best fashion-trend EVER discovered. Better even than George’s velvet idea.

It would become the hit of the 90s; the envy of all other students.

I rounded the corner and remembered the looks of my best friends. Their reactions were priceless. I remember the stares. (They were the longing looks of people saying: I wish I’d thought of that!

It should be noted that this was also occurring on the same day as a school photo. I had planned the reveal strategically of course.

So…the announcement was made over the intercom to make our way into the auditorium, and I did so hurriedly. (I had used Sun-In dye on the front of my hair, and it had taken on an orange/rusty yellow coloring from the night before.) I pushed up to the front of the 6th grade line and donned my flamesh for everyone to see. I actually remember the photographer doing a double-take.

I thought it was a look of pure envy. I’ve even made the picture guy realize where fashion could go, I thought.

My classmates, I realize now, didn’t put up a fight against my rush to get to the front of the line, because they knew something I didn’t.

I couldn’t really see how flamesh looked on someone wearing IT.

The pictures were developed and Jostens, Olan Mills, or someone delivered them to the homeroom class a few weeks later. I remember a few people elbowing me in the weeks leading up to the delivery and saying stuff like, “You excited about them pictures? I wouldn’t be,” and “How’s that new style going?” I realized their tones of skepticism, but I wish I’d looked in the mirror more closely and seen the fashion statement.

To put it bluntly, flamesh was a no go!

I got the pictures back, and I remember getting a huddle of classmates around me, shouldering for a glimpse at the awesomeness. And, it was…not awesome.

There was a small boy, orange cream sicle-colored hair, pointy teeth, and a confused jumble of clothes. The ball shorts and short-sleeved flannel stripes all kinda ran together. I was half smiling, half smirking like Chandler Bing. It was a look that said: I know this looks better than anything else…plus, it feels good.

The truly sad part of this adventure in trend-setting is that it really was the most comfortable outfit I’ve ever worn. But…the picture goes down as a monumental reason for why style isn’t everything. I still have that lesson-learned in a photo album back at home. It’s funny and somehow still able to trigger a vulnerability in me. George Costanza and I both learned a lesson in comfort and image.

Fla-mesh. May you rest-in-peace. You were 20 years ahead of your time, and the world simply wasn’t ready for you.

If you have pictures of a similar disaster, feel free to share them with me. It could be a great laugh together!

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6th of March

Newsworthy.


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Origin, 1932.

The word newsworthy is fairly self-explanatory. It’s adjectival meaning directly describing something that is considered “news + worthy”. My question for today:

What is newsworthy to you?

I picked up a copy of the USA Today (today). The Weekend one. Yes. They lump today, 3/6 together with 7 & 8 in anticipation of news over the weekend.

Today’s copy does encompass the story about the 127 passengers that avoided a near-fatal landing on the front page. Yet, above even this “Icy Escape in New York” heading and parallel to the USA Today Weekend logo is the update of “Harrison Ford hurt in L.A. plane crash…Actor ‘battered’ but OK, son says”.

Given the placement and its proximity to the Today’s logo, it would be appropriate to consider this the most newsworthy update of the weekend, would it not?

Don’t get me wrong. I love Harrison Ford. I’m glad he’s OK. Yes. I love him in pretty much anything he’s ever starred in. But, the gloves must come off somewhere. He’s 70something years old. Had the choice to fly the plane, and even was fortunate enough to come away from the accident OK. His son being able to confirm this might permit it to be enough to call it minor news…tuck it away in Section E of the Entertainment section?

My point for bringing this up is simple. In 1932, the word newsworthy held meaning in its controversial first year. Like most words it suffered from overuse and took on a much less certain definition like words such as “wish” and “hope” do today. Think about what topics come to mind when you hear the word newsworthy in 2015. Does it have something to do with truly spectacular (or sadly, sometimes horrendous) events? Events on both ends of the news spectrum? We know 2015 has events “interesting enough to report to the general public,” and boy, do they. But, let’s keep this word away from lukewarm, everyday overuse.

Here’s a list of some of the newsworthy events that occurred in 1932:

  • January: Hattie Carraway of Arkansas becomes the first woman elected to the U. S. Senate; China and Japan go to war again in the January 28 Incident; Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World is published;
  • February: Japan declares the “independent” state of Manchukuo (Manchuria).
  • March: Infant Charles Lindbergh, Jr. is kidnapped; the January 28 incident ends;
  • May: Jack Benny’s radio show premieres; the Lindbergh baby is found dead; the Bonus Army of WWI veterans marches on Washington, D. C., demanding payment of the military bonuses promised them;
  • June: the U. S. imposes its first tax on gasoline; Germany lifts the ban on the Nazi SS and SA organizations.
  • July: the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches its nadir at 41.22;
  • August: Carl Anderson discovers the positron, confirming Paul Dirac’s prediction that it existed.
  • September: the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd becomes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • October: Babe Ruth makes his famous “called shot” in game three of the World Series; Britain grants Iraq independence; the “unsinkable” Titanic survivor Molly Brown dies.
  • November: Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected president of the United States; German President von Hindenburg almost asks Hitler to form a government, but opts for Kurt Schleicher instead;
  • December: the BBC Empire Service, later known as BBC World Service, begins broadcasting; Radio City Music Hall in New York City opens it doors.

 

**These are all *ahem* newsworthy events. Heck, even April was skipped, I guess, because nothing notable (or, big enough) shook the foundations of journalism that month.

***I’d like to also add that this was the year Oxford English Dictionary gave its first citation of the plural noun “cojones”, found in Hemingway’s 1932 Death in the Afternoon.

Maybe if we choose to become more selective in our descriptions of events (or, even better, more restrained), then, we can discover news again and appreciate it for all of its insight and remarkable coverage.

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5th of March

Did we have the same childhood?


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I’m a 90s child. Don’t really fit with GenX and don’t quite enjoy the label of Millennial like a lot of my peers. But…I do embrace the pop culture of the 90s and all of its wonderful slices of nostalgia. I’m going to list some of this awesomeness below, and I’d love it if you could join me in a.) reminiscing, b.) realizing what an oddball 90s kids really were, or, c.) embracing a childhood you might’ve never had but now wish you did, as a result of this terrific era.

Here we go! (rolling shirt sleeves back)

You are a 90s kiddo if you–

Watched: Boy Meets World on TV every Friday on ABC (TGIF)

Walked: with a cassette Walkman strapped to your belt loop (my cassette of choice was The Rembrandt’s LP (yes, the band that did the Friends theme song))

Ate: at Pizza Hut for parties, played arcade games, and garnered Land Before Time puppets while devouring The Bigfoot pizza

Read: books because BookIt existed and the prize for reading a lot of books was a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut each and every week….EVERY week (see above)

Traveled: with a Game Boy that only offered games in black-n-white colors and only lasted until the Duracells ran out

Sang: the theme song of Reading Rainbow even when there wasn’t a TV anywhere around (didn’t matter) Where is Levar Burton these days?

Believed: “The truth was (really) out there” thanks to Mulder and Scully

Still turn your head: when you hear ducks quacking and think of Coach Gordon Bombay…Emilio!

Don’t: ever want to see a Ring Pop ever again!

Are OK: with “living in a van down by the river”

Paint: with the voice of Bob Ross echoing inside your head

Look: for the Daily Double no matter what board games you might be playing

Still look for: Slime Time as a portion of Nickelodeon’s broadcasting efforts

Legitimately: miss birthday cakes and cookies (the shortbread ones) from McDonald’s earlier years

Perform: all of the Robin Williams voice overs in Aladdin

Saw: Home Alone 1 in a theater and dreamed of coordinating your own attacks against The Wet Bandits

Memorized: Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” just in case it was requested at a rap-off

Wanted: Parachute pants but…never bought parachute pants

Remember: who Sisqo was. what song Sisqo sang.

Had: striking resemblances to Michael Bolton and Billy Ray Cyrus in 3rd – 5th grade. “Don’t touch the hair!”

Know: what Napster is. Was.

Recognize the name: Picabo Street

Still say: “Bo knows”

Took vitamins: to be like the Flintstones

Wore: pants backwards like Kriss Cross

Owned: a fisherman’s hat, not for fishing, but to be legitimate

Favored: R.L. Stine over anything else in the library

Hated: the sound of dial-up Internet but knew it would work most of the time

Screened: phone calls on the ‘home’ phone thanks to No Doubt

Drank Gatorade: like Mike

Drank Surge: because you weren’t supposed to (P.S. it’s back!!)

Heard the words: “Finish him” even in your sleep

Owned: Walkie Talkies to converse in the yard with your buddies

And last, and certainly not least–

Witnessed: Crystal Pepsi and the end of the 90s

If you want, you can join us if you don’t have this terrific decade to call home. If this scares you at all, I recommend sticking with the memories that were made for you elsewhere.

Regardless, we 90s folk know that it was a beautiful marker in this fine country’s history. If only we could latch onto more wonderful (excluding Crystal Pepsi) ideas in the future, we know the next generation will be in good hands as well.

Take some time and reflect on a decade that still feels like it encapsulated so much more than just 10 years. Add some shows on Netflix and relive the awkwardness. I still can’t believe I had as many Super Soakers and Nerf guns as I did.

Wonderful!

 

 

 

 

 

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