Tuesday, October 06, 2009

24

It's October 6. I'm officially 24 years old, which if you think about it, how I've been able to keep myself alive all these years is really a big accomplishment in itself. Every time I use the bathroom for a shadoobie, I still have to repeat "front to back," to myself.

Since the last time I've blogged, I've accumulated three stalkers; a guy, a girl and a married woman, whom I think I'm dating. I don't know. We've gone out a couple of times, and we haven't had sex, which is what a lot of dating people do. She brings her son along sometimes, which is typical behavior between friends, but she always lies to her husband and tells him she's by herself whenever he calls when we're together. She married him only after two months of dating and after a two year relationship with a girl named Tina.

It's really confusing and complicated right now. Even more so, than usual. And I blame it all on my recent dramatic weight loss.

Over the course of three months, with extreme diet and exercise, I dropped seven pant sizes and two shirt sizes. I can now wear an XL in Boys. Thank God for little obese children everywhere! And with a hot new body, comes new responsibilities, like making sure you're extra nice to people, so you're not perceived as a beautiful, major asshole. Brad Pitt suffers from this very same dilemma. In general, I'm a nice guy, but I'm now finding I cannot be as sarcastic as I once used to be. I guess that means only fat, jolly people can have a sense of humor. And in exchange for my SOH, I've gained this whole new sense of confidence that has allowed me to do things I normally could never do.

Last month, I attended the D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA, a giant convention devoted to all things Disney. I got to see a 30-minute preview of Disney's newest movie, The Princess and the Frog, shake hands with a living, Disney legend, Richard Sherman (musical genius!) and actually talked to Disney Channel stars, as if they were normal, everyday folk. In previous experiences, whenever I found myself in the presence of celebrities, I've always managed to make a fool of myself. Like when I courtsied in front of Kathleen Turner and kept touching her thigh. But now? I was able to talk to these Disney Channel stars without sweating profusely or becoming tongue tied and act like they were actual, normal people. Normal people, with beautiful, clear skin and soft shiny hair that makes you want to pet them all day long and fee them sugar cubes and grapes.

On top of being able to speak to people without showering them with my saliva, I also find myself becoming more extroverted and experiencing new things, like supporting the spouse of a friend as he takes the stage to perform a rap song he co-wrote and produced or taking a religious pilgrimage for a saint named San Francisco Xavier which was both spiritually and physically benefiting.

The people I'm meeting and the things I'm doing do make me wonder about Milwaukee and why the hell I ever moved there in the first place. It's not as welcoming as Tucson is. Nothing good came from that move, unless you count a new found appreciation for the taste of beer? I'm still a vodka tonic guy all the way, but at least I know I can hang with any crowd that appreciates a good buzz. Except Trekies, of course. But that's because they're just weird.

Friday, August 07, 2009

you've got my number, call me

Two weeks ago, at work, I received a phone call. Like any other call a customer service representative might receive while working at a call center, the caller had questions concerning their Prepaid Wireless cellphone. Except, this caller was calling in from Tucson.

We talked for about an hour on the phone with questions concerning her text messaging, what high school we went to, different price plans, where we hang out on the weekends, how to add and delete features on the phone using our website, and what exactly would happen if I wrote down the number she was calling from.

According to FCC regulations, it is a federal offense to write down any information you may come across on a database. Anything, such as a name, an email, the entire credit card information of a customer, could possibly land you in prison, with a cell mate ironically named Smilez, with a "Z".

I didn't have the chance to decide if calling the disembodied voice would all be worth it, because after an hour of conversation, the line went dead. Mid-sentence. And that was it. That was the end. But I couldn't get her voice out of my head. Or her number. It was easy to remember, since I was already familiar with the area code and when sung to Tommy Tutone's 80's hit, well, it just sorta imprinted itself in my brain.

One of my friends thought it was all so wildly romantic, two people meeting, and falling in love, because of a simple phone call. She had just seen an old Dean Martin movie, called Bells Are Ringing, where a telephone answering service operator tries to improve the lives of her clients by passing along bits of information she hears from other clients, and ends up falling in love with one of the clients. But that's Hollywood. Nothing in real life ever ends up like it does in Hollywood. Especially 60's Hollywood, where people stop and dance and sing, mid-sentence to big band numbers.

Then, one night, as I was driving home from a friend's birthday party, John Tesh came on the radio. Normally, I don't take the advice of entertainment reporters turned inspirational radio show hosts who promote their instrumental albums on an hourly basis, but John did make a good point. He talked about why we do the random things we do and the questions he said we should ask ourselves, really made me think. So much so, I actually ran over a rabbit, but that's a whole other story for a much, much later time.

Calling a random stranger from a database wasn't worth it. It simply wasn't. Even if it meant a lifetime of happiness. But using the internet to my advantage, isn't calling. At the suggestion of one of my friend's, I checked the Missed Connections link on Craigslist.com. If my lost caller was thinking about me as much as I was thinking about her, then there was the possibility they may have posted a link. And there was. And I sent an email. And I got a reply. But now...? Okay, sure, I can muster up the courage of an army, like the guys in Full Metal Jacket, but a blind date? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Monday, July 13, 2009

losin' it

The best thing about my training class for my new job is the candy. The worst thing about my training class for my new job is the candy. It's as if the company has a deal with Willy Wonka to provide the employees sugary delights to keep them awake and full of faux energy. As a candy lover, it was awesome to come to class, see a giant bowl of candy in front of me and know I could have my pick of the brightly colored, sweet tasting, piece of pure sugar and food coloring. But then I stopped.

After snacking on candy for a week, my jeans literally felt tight. Somehow, in one night, the sugar had finally formed in my body, and resulting in unwanted enlargement. I had to do something. I had to give up candy. And I did. Cold turkey. For one week. And the weird thing? It actually worked. I actually lost weight by giving up something I loved. By the end of next week, my jeans felt a little loose, as they should have been in the first place. I decided to see how much more I could lose by giving up other stuff I love. Bread.

You never realize how much bread is a part of your life, until you start dreaming about it and having semi-wet dreams about the Philsbury Dough Boy and Sara Lee getting it on in a bakery. And after one week, I literally dropped two pant sizes. Which was enough to inspire my friend Sarina to get back in the scheme of being healthy.

In Tucson, west of downtown, there is a small hill, known as Tumamoc Hill. It's been called the "Acropolis of Tucson" and is home to the infamous and long-standing, Desert Laboratory, along with the ancient civilization, the Hohokums. The paved road that leads the scientists up to the top of the hill is beloved by hikers and weight watchers alike because of the long, steep trails that work out the entire bottom half of your body. At one point, to get to the top, you actually have to do lunges! And when Sarina recommended hiking the hill, I immediately signed up.

Then, Sarina recommended a workout class she was taking, called Zumba, a combination of latin and hip hop dancing that works out every muscle in your body. To those who take the class every week? You are certifiably insane. The class was mostly filled with women, and being the only guy there, I thought I could hang. I was wrong. I almost passed out. I drank over a gallon of water that day, and yet, the color disappeared from my face and I could feel the Asian slaw I had for lunch rising in my throat. I had two choices. I could puke my entire guts out and force myself to believe my body was just riding itself of the toxins or I could save face and throw up like an anorexic Hollywood starlet in the bathroom. The only problem was, my legs were wobbly, and I looked like the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, right after Dorothy took him off his post and forced him to walk for miles.

Somehow, I made it to an empty recruiters desk, laying on the floor next to a trash bin, trying to catch my breath while holding my vomit in. And somehow, the faux hawk I was rocking that day, managed to keep its shape and style, so if perchance I did pass out, I would look like a hot lifeless body, rather than an ugly lifeless body. Thank you Axe hair product. As I laid on the floor, waiting for the color and my breath to return to my body, I started thinking, was it all worth it? Is it really worth exercising this much? The answer is yes.

When I saw my best friend Madelaine, the other day, the very first thing she asked me, was, if I was doing drugs. It was one of the nicest compliments I had received in a very long time. Of course, I hadn't been, but to think that the past three weeks actually paid off was good. So...even though I'm exhausted, even though my thighs and legs are hard and sore, even though I haven't had a good cheeseburger in forever, I think I'm gonna continue on with the whole eating better and feeling better thing for a while and see where it leads me. Hopefully, it's something as good as a big bowl of candy.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

maybe, just maybe

I just got my first paycheck. Maybe I'll stay. For a little while, at least.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

workin' nine to forever

Since moving to Wisconsin and back, major life-changing moments have occured. We have a new president, gay people can get married in Iowa now, your mom probably started Twittering, the world went ape-shit over a Scottish woman with a nice voice and overgrown eyebrows, and that reality show on TLC with all the kids? The one with the sextuplets? As of Monday, it's now, Jon Minus Kate Plus Eight.

But if wondering how the drama of a "regular, ordinary family" would unfold, hasn't kept my mind off the fact that I still needed a job, then the daily bills and the constant phone calls from credit card representatives have.

Luckily, I found a job. One of those, florescent-lit, creaky computer chair-sitting, mysterious weird cabbage and feet smelling corner, call center jobs. It was easy to find and even easier to get, since apparently, they'll hire anyone. The guy I sat next to while I waited for an interview, told me he was so hungover he felt like "throwing up chunks." The guy currently sits next to me in my training class.

The training isn't so bad. The trainer, on the other hand? He hates socializing, hates any other kind of music than Led Zepplin, enjoys dressing up as a warrior and having battles with other Dundgeon and Dragon nerds, drinks 3 pots of coffee a day, smokes 2 packs a day and eats a pound of bacon every Sunday. He's 44 years old, but looks like he's in his mid-60s. If there was ever a need for a poster child of how not to live life, he would be the perfect candidate.

And though this job offers great medical and dental benefits with an even greater discount on Verizon Wireless phone service, I don't see myself hanging around here too long. The people are nice and friendly and a job indoors is always better than one outdoors, but it seems as if I'll be working with people who don't want to amount to anything.

Two people in my class, who've already had previous call center experience have said, they regret leaving their call center, because working in a call center is the best job ever and there's no need to work anywhere else. They've even given up going to school, because working at a call center "pays great and doesn't require a degree." There are even some employees who've stuck around for more than five years, earning an average of $12 an hour and have no plans to move on up. Mediocrity suits them fine.

They say birds of a feather, flock together, and if that's true, I have to get out as soon as I can. Leaving an actual paying job isn't smart, especially in this economy, so, the question that comes to mind is...when?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

i'm not a celebrity, get me out of here

The other week, I asked my brother if I could borrow his car to drive to a birthday party. His response?

"You're THE LAST person on earth, I would let drive my car."

The last? As if. That means the woman who pushes her shopping cart with the talking stuffed animals downtown has priority of driving my brothers car before me! I had to get back at my brother. I had to get my hands on something I knew he would want, so that I too, could say, "you're the last person on earth I would give this to."

The Ed Hardy Fashion Show was coming up at Pearl Nightclub, and I asked my friend Madelaine if she could ask her club promoter friend, Randy, to put my name on the VIP list. It was the perfect thing to hold over my brother's head.

The problem was, Madelaine left to sunny Mexico for a wedding before, I could get all the deets and I had no way of knowing if whether or not my name was on the VIP list. Until Saturday morning when I received an email at Facebook from an unknown Facebook-er, telling me, in so many words, if I was interested in attending the Ed Hardy Fashion Show as one of the regular people models. Madelaine did come through for me! Although I would have much preferred to just have my name on the guest list, being asked to be a model was absolutely perfect.

I called Madelaine's friend Benni and met him at the Ed Hardy store on University. It was a mad house. There was a stretch, white Hummer limosuine blasting music as a red carpet was unrolled inside the store. It was a casting call for the Ed Hardy Fashion Show. I was not going to audition to be a model. I explained to Benni, I just wanted to go to the party. He explained, he thought I had "a look" and that I was already in the show, but they needed more people than me, hence the reason for the casting call. Then he asked, if I could walk down the red carpet and show people how it was done.

I'm not a model, nor do I think I could ever pass as one. I don't strut when I walk. At least, I don't think I do. But I knew, if I was going to model Ed Hardy, I'd have to act confident and despite how much I was shaking and how fast my heart was beating, I somehow managed to walk the length of the store, front and back, ending with a spin and pose, before feeling the bile rise in my throat. Next to eating in that Asian restaurant in L.A.'s 'fashion district', this was the scariest thing I've ever done in my life!

As I was being fitted for my outfit, I overheard one of the girl models bragging about how she knew she would win a spot, over her two friends because, she was "the beautiful one out of the group." With beautiful friends like that, who needs ugly enemies? Or something like that. It was sad, that this regular person model would rather be in the limelight, then with her friends. I didn't want to be like that. I would much rather be hanging out with my friends, having fun and checking out the clothes I could only wish to wear on a daily basis.

So, I called Madelaine's friend Benni and told him, something came up and I could no longer fulfill my duties as a model. That's when I learned, Benni wasn't Madelaine's friend. He was, in fact, a complete and total stranger, who was searching random people on Facebook asking them if they were interested in modeling for the Ed Hardy show, in the hopes of trying to find a date. In fact, the 'email' he sent, was a friend request, but I was too excited to actually notice. He was in no way involved in the casting decision, being a promoter for a local gym, which was sponsoring the Ed Hardy fashion show.

Which means...I made the cut, by myself. Me! I did it. I walked down a red carpet by myself. And the worst part is...I gave it up! I gave it up. And I just found out, I probably could have kept my outfit or at least part of it...this is so not the way to start off a new chapter.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

home sweet home

After a goodbye dinner on the patio of La Pearla with my new Milwaukee friends, I picked up Mike Lightyear Sr.'s Jaguar, packed it with all my knick knack patty whacks and by dawn's early light, I was off on Route 66. 

My first stop was in Chicago, IL, where I picked up my road trip buddy, Michelle. It was also where the Mother Road began. Cyrus Avery initiated Route 66 as a way to expand his oil business and by 1926, people began to travel west, in search of hopes, dreams, and the start of a new life. 

Our first stop was in Chenoa, IL where we ate at a small mom and pop diner and then headed out to the small town of Divernon, just outside of Springfield. It was so weird to see such a small town exist. I really thought they were the creation of Hollywood folklore. 
But, no. The library had about three thousand books total and the only "electronic store" in town featured a washer and dryer in the display window. 

We stopped in St. Louis, MO for the night, saw the arch, walked down Laclede's Landing 
and before heading out the next morning, we ate at Eat-Rite, an institution of Route 66. 
The small diner only has 15 stools and if you ever get the chance to stop on in, it's well worth the wait. They cook with real old-fashioned butter. Cholesterol be damned!


Traveling down the old and winding route, Michelle and I saw the landmark Chains of Rocks Bridge, which once linked Illinois to Missouri, crossing the Mississippi River,

Jellystone Park, home of Yogi Bear,

and the Blue Whale Amusement Park. 
Built as an anniversary gift, the whale has two slides and the fin doubles as a high board to dive off of. It was the ultimate stop in Catoosa, OK during the 50's and 60's for families, while traveling west. 

Past Oklahoma City, we stopped at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, OK and then the Sandhills Curiosity Shop,
where Michelle and I met Harley and Annabelle, two energetic, outgoing and inspirational old hippies, who met in 1986 and together they've run the curiosity shop in the small town of Erick, OK.

The entire shop is filled with antiques and Route 66 memorabilia from yesteryear, but not a single thing is for sale.
They live, solely based on the kindness of strangers from all around the world, who donate money to them, so they can continue living and entertaining people with their "redneck shtick". 
The two "Mediocre Music Makers" have even been the inspiration for Disney ImaginEARS,
who are planning on designing a Cars theme land in Disney's California Adventure Park, using their shop as part of the queue. 



After making lifelong friends with the happy hippie couple, Michelle and I drove past The Leaning Tower of Texas

and the World's Largest Cross,

before staying the night in Tuccumcari, NM, a tiny six mile town that hasn't changed much since the golden days of Route 66. The Sahara Motel,

La Cita Taco Shop

and even the Blue Swallow Motel,

which inspired the Cozy Cone Motel in Cars, are still around. The owner, Bill, a retired electrician from Las Vegas

took over the motel when he saw it slowly fading away and restored it to it's original neon glory. 


We stopped for lunch at the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, NM,

once the hideaway for famous stars

who stayed while filming classic western movies.

Mid-afternoon, we arrived in Flagstaff, AZ to the Hotel Monte Vista,

enjoying a cocktail in the hotel lounge.

Scenes from the classic black and white film, Casablanca were actually filmed in the lounge and as Michelle and I sipped vodka martini's we couldn't help but say, "Play it again, Sam..."


Through picturesque Sedona

and metropolis Phoenix,

we made it to Tucson a little past midnight and right on Mother's Day. It was the absolute perfect present. The return of a prodigal son and a prodigal daughter, what mother wouldn't be estatic? 

Two days later, Michelle and I were back on the road,

re-visiting new old friends and seeing other sites we missed along the way including the world famous, Cadillac Ranch,

The Big Texan Restaurant

and Ted Drewes Frozen Custard.

Being on the road, I learned a few things about myself. I learned how to get a hotel room without using my ID or credit card (trust me, it can be done!) change a tire (first and last time!)

and I learned the warning signs for a tornado watch. That was a major one. Not being from tornado country, Michelle and I had no idea we were driving through a tornado warning, until the freeway looked like an above ground roaring river and people actually started to park under the overheads.

That was scary. But obviously, we made it out okay, or else I wouldn't be back home typing this blog post. 

The great thing about being back home is that everyone and everything I left behind was waiting for me with open arms. Absolutely nothing has changed. The bad thing about being back home? Absolutely nothing has changed. It's like I never left.

There's a saying in French, je prévois de vous promener à pied sans but sans un plan, which means to walk around aimlessly without a plan, and I might be doing that for a while, to clear my head and let everything I've seen and done soak in, before starting the next chapter in my life. It's kinda nice not knowing my next move. And it's also nice to know, no matter how far away I may roam, I'll always be welcomed back home.