Saturday, November 22, 2008

Death by Fashion

I have attempted to accomplish great things in my life, but the sum of all my accomplishments would not prepare me for the daunting task that was about to befall my fashion challenged inadequacies. Never before was so much asked of me. Never before had I been required to step so far outside of my comfort zone. I reached deep inside of myself to summon up my inner strength. (“The endurance and strength to run three marathons. Check. The courage to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Check. The intellectual prowess to interact with the world’s leading philosophers, theologians, and apologist. Check.”) My psychological resume gave way to the demons of self doubt as I walked up the lonely stairs to the world of high fashion. Panic and stress filled my heart as I foolishly attempted to embark on this impossible fashion mission.

Working for Nike is hard. Nike requires employees to work hard, be fully dedication, committed to excellence and work long hours. One of the great payoffs in working for Nike is that Nike is very generous in giving its employees great stuff. As an employee I receive free pairs of shoes every month, plus an occasional apparel giveaway. This has been a great blessing as many of our friend’s, colleagues and family members have benefited from Nike’s generosity. As many of you know, my facility is closing this week and as a result Nike has increased its giving. Nike owns many brands, and one of the brands is a high end fashion chain called Cole Haan. They offer quality designer shoes, purses, and accessories. Cole Haan’s is expensive! Most of their shoes and purses cost over $300.00. Needless to say, I would never buy anything from Cole Haan. I simply can’t afford it. Last week I received an e-mail announcing a huge Cole Haan give away. As I read through the e-mail the panic set in. We are to receive 16 pairs of woman’s shoes of varying sizes, 6 purses, and 7 pairs of men’s shoes of varying sizes, 15 socks, 5 shoe brushes and 1 accessory item. For most people receiving all this Cole Haan product would be a dream come true, but for me it was a nightmare. My mind reverted back to my last Cole Haan pick in which I had to pick out 3 pairs of woman’s shoes. My wife was so excited about her fashion possibilities. Disappointment crushed my wife’s fashion fantasy and my fragile fashion self esteem as strike three was called when she opened that third box. Who knew that camouflaged 3 inched stilettos were odious to my wife’s taste in shoes? I had disappointed the woman I love and adore. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m simply not a high fashion kind of guy. I prefer comfort and practicality over fashion and style. I gave up trying to impress with dress after cotton diapers. In the late eighties I flirted with fashion by growing an impressive mullet, however years later I have been mocked for being a former slave to style. The very thought of choosing sixteen $300.00 pairs of highly fashionable woman’s designer shoes was absolutely inconceivable to man who once thought he looked cool in a mullet. To make matters worse I only had 35 minutes to achieve the impossible. I have had the great misfortune of going woman’s shoe shopping. The reason why malls contain many shoe stores is that most women need to visit every one of them before they actually buy a pair of shoes. I have learned the hard way that there is something extremely intimate between a lady and her pumps. A woman’s shoes embody a woman’s personality. Finding the perfect shoe at the perfect price can be an all day affair. Don’t ever mess with a lady and her shoes! Many times a woman’s wardrobe is designed around a pair of shoes. They design from the ground up. Having Steve pick 16 pairs of designer shoes is a kin to giving my five year old son $2000.00 and asking him to go grocery shopping for the family. He would return with $2000.00 worth of macaroni and cheese and candy.
When I came home from work I shared my misfortune with my wife. “Can I come with you?” She asked. “Sorry, I have to go alone.” I said. My anxiety level then exploded all over my loving wife as I passionately confessed my complete inadequacy to perform this impossible task. I wasn’t man enough to face such a fashion challenge. I folded in front of my bride like a school girl facing the Boogie man. After Michelle stopped laughing at me, she informed me that she would prepare me by subjecting me to fashion boot camp. The pressure mounted on me as my wife told her friends about the upcoming Cole Haan shoe pick. I thought to myself “great now instead of just disappointing my wife now I will be crushing the fashion dreams of women all over my town.” Michelle and I poured over Cole Haan’s on line catalog. “This is a cute shoe, this is an ugly shoe”. Page by page I worked through the online catalog. Cute purse, ugly purse, cute shoe, ugly shoe. Again and again I reviewed the catalog! It was fashion torture. Every ounce of my manhood was being eroded by the waves of style. Soon I would be hosting Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Finally the day of reckoning had arrived. It was Designer Shoe Day (aka DS Day). As soon as I hit the shoe pick I froze. Panic filled my mind as I tried to reach back to my extensive training. Cute shoe, ugly shoe. “What do I do, where do I start?” Reason slapped me in the face as I settled down and start in size five high heels. I was a well tuned fashion machine. Cute shoe, ugly shoe. The ugly shoes were in abundance as I finally made it to size ten. I took a tally of my designer booty and I was still four shoes short with only five minutes to go. Like a well trained athlete I ran back through the shoe pick line grasping for any pair that might pass the fashion critics critical eye. As time expired I had achieved the impossible. Sixteen pairs of highly fashionable shoes in thirty five minutes. I had searched through hundreds of boxes to find the sixteen. To be honest with you I still can’t tell you what one of the shoes looked like. I was exhausted, stretched to my fashion limits and rejoicing that this awful task was now behind me. The rejoicing quickly subsided as I realized that I still needed to display the fruits of my labor to the woman I love. On the way home I anticipated my wife’s disappointment. Who was I kidding? I would once again achieve another historical fashion catastrophe. As I drove home I became very nervous. When I arrived at home I tried to play it cool by leaving all of the shoes in my car hoping that Michelle would forget that this was DS Day. My wife is far cooler then I, and she didn’t mention the shoe pick at all. Finally I couldn’t handle the tension any longer. I had to know what she thought. The hour of truth had dawned. An hour after I came home I went out to my car and retrieved the two huge boxes that contained all of my fashion fears. I placed them in my hallway expecting Michelle to tear into the boxes. The large boxes sat in my hallway for thirty more minutes until I couldn’t take it any more and I had to ask my wife if she was going to open the boxes. Anticipation, excitement and anxiety filled the room. Michelle opened each box one by one as I eagerly awaited her verdict.
As I said before “there is something extremely intimate between a lady and her pumps, a woman shoes embody her personality. Never mess with a woman and her shoes”. On DS Day I was almost killed by fashion.
I would like to dedicate this blog to Amy E Russell. Amy’s love of the shoe has inspired me to be a better man. I will be spending the next several months in fashion rehab but as soon as I get out, we will shop girlfriend.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Day with Big Brother

Anxiety impatience and boredom fuel the silent rage within my mind as I wait for my turn. It has been one and a half hours since I walked into the Social Insecurity Office on the third floor of an office building in the heart of down town Salem. The cage of my boredom is amazingly out of place in comparison to the beautiful bright office building lobby that I walked through early in the morning. As I stepped through the threshold of this Government office and I take a random number from a red contraption that should belong in a super market deli, I felt as though I was transported to a third world holding cell. I was greeted at the door by a police officer who checked me for weapons. The genius who decorated this room was obviously designed challenged and unable to connect to his inner feng shui. My smiling disposition was instantly extinguished by the blank stares of the multitudes that pitied my poor decision to join their ranks. Within moments my heart, mind, and attitude would be one with theirs. The flaw in my logic punished my self esteem with the mantra of my lack of intelligence. I ignorantly assumed that replacing a simple social security card would be a simple task for the most powerful nation on the face of the planet. I would simply walk in, confess my sin of losing my card and walk out minutes later with a piece of paper that contained my birth name and the one number that gave me purpose and meaning to my nation. I found a seat in the middle of the room and I realized that I had just become the peanut butter in a huge P and J bitterness sandwich. The seats were arranged as if we all sat on a huge airplane. Everyone faced to the front of the room eyes fixed to the back of some unknown person who filled the seat in front of us. Children dispersed throughout the room cried in protest to being subjected to an unbearable act of endurance and I wanted to join them. Their poor parents fail at attempts to comfort their protest and bring awkward silence to us grumbling adults. I came into this wilderness unprepared and unaware. Nothing to read, nothing to listen to, nothing to watch and nothing to do. To my right was the object of all our objectives, four windows and an audience with a government employee with a bad attitude. Directly in front of us was a score board that read “Now Serving Number”. Below the scoreboard displayed four columns which displayed our ticket numbers. Each ticket started with one of four letters. There was the A’s, D’s. S’s and my number group, the W’s.
These numbers were a contributing factor to much of my anxiety. Einstein himself wouldn’t be able to make any sense to their random sequence. Despite the fact they rarely changed, each letter group was clicked off in a bizarre order. The A’s, D’s S’s and W’s didn’t flow in an alphabetic or numeric order. It was impossible to figure out the duration of your prison sentence. The second reason was that the letter system caused letter envy. I strangely found myself loathing the A’s, D’s, and S’s. Their letters sequence was obviously favored by the United States Government. I felt disenfranchised and the cruel victim of letter prejudice. My self righteous sense of equality and fairness was being violated with every random sequence letter group that was “now being served”. The thing that got under my nerves faster then a splinter under a fingernail was the fact that the Social Security Office wasn’t competent enough to keep all of their service windows open. Two out of the four windows remained closed during my time in purgatory. When one opened, another would close. I estimate that their was over one hundred people waiting in that small room and the best the Government could offer was 50% of their production capacity. Anyone wishing for the Government to nationalize health care needs to spend some time in the Social Security Office. If the Social Security Office had to compete with private business they would be bankrupt in a week. Customer service is a foreign concept. I don’t mean to criticize the employees who have the difficult challenge of working in these offices. I think I would be jaded and hardened by dealing with people like me who have been marinating and incubating in their impatient rage for long periods of time. Two and half hours after I entered the door I was awarded my hard earned turn with Big Brother. Two minutes later I was finished. “I deserved more then two minutes” I thought as I passed the Security Guard. I should have asked for more then just a social security card. I should have asked to give the Social Security Office some good advice.
So if Big Brother is listening (and I know you are) here are some suggestions that will improve your image, will increase your effectiveness and productivity. Number one, people have value and worth. Their time is just as important as yours. Treat people with respect and dignity. Instead of a Security Guard replace him with a Help Desk person who loves serving people. The Help Desk can help people fill out forms so that Big Brother can process things faster. Open up a small coffee shop and news stand. You will make a lot of money. Make a room for children and their parents. Everyone will thank you. Tell people often how long of wait they can expect. Give them a beeper so they can walk around outside. Open all of your windows, remove the glass and place the counter in a space where the whole room can’t hear everyone’s business. People value their privacy, please respect it. Invite an Interior Decorator to arrange the room in an astatically friendly feng shui way.
Please let me know if you have any other helpful advise (be good now) for our Government.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fishing With Noah

I love to go fishing. It offers an opportunity to enjoy God’s amazing creation and it also offers an opportunity to relax and reflect in a peaceful quite atmosphere. I’m not a great fisherman. I don’t own expensive gear, a boat, nor do I know all the latest fishing techniques. I simply love the excitement of hooking onto a big old bass and the battle of reeling that hog in. More times then not I’m on the losing end. All I’m left with is glorious legends of the enormous fish that got away and the disappointment of what could have been. The disappointment always seems to melt into motivation and passion as I throw out my line for yet another improvable chance at greatness. Every crank of my reel is filled with hope and anticipation.
My love of fishing was passed down to me from my Grandfather. Unfortunately Grandpa John died when I was a young boy. In my minds eye he was a fishing super hero. He owned a small cottage on a lake and he loved to fish. I remember the stories my Grandma would tell us of how Grandpa John would come in from a fishing trip with strings of fish. I learned to fish from Grandpa John. We used a huge bamboo cane fishing pool and some unwilling night crawlers. We would often fish from the dock near our cottage and catch small Perch and Bluegills. Grandpa John would help us with our lines. We were always in need of bait, or help with some awkward tangle in our fishing lines. I recall the tangled mess would often drive my Grandpa John nuts. Just about every summer holiday of my childhood life was spent at that small cottage on Indian Lake. Much of my activity was spent fishing with my brother Kevin and my cousin Jim. Although I demonstrated little aptitude for fishing, I always had a great time. Kevin and Jim both were natural fishermen; I seemed to lack the patience and skill to rise to their fishing prowess.
My son Noah is now five years old and this summer I have decided to give him the gift of fishing. I gave Noah an old fishing box with hooks, bombers, crank baits and lures. I also took him to the sports store to get his first real fishing pool.
Noah’s enthusiasm for fishing is much like a dog that has spent the day away from the owner he loves. Intense excitement overflows in word and action as I drive my five year old Noah to our date with the deep. My heart is filled with pride knowing that this is the beginning of something my son and I can share together for the rest of our lives. Fishing will be our bond and sanctuary. There are few places or few things that you can do together in silence. Silence in community is both peaceful and relaxing. When I’m free to be silent in a friendship I know I’m loved and secure. I desire Noah and me to share this friendship, and fishing is the perfect venue to experience it. As we arrive at our fishing spot, relaxation and silence forgot to join us on our fishing date. Noah is like the space shuttle at lift off as the huge rockets gather strength and energy to break free from the launch pad. Just as the car hits park Noah burst out the door anxious to become a fisherman. Noah runs to the dock with his new fishing pool and a box full of fishing tackle. Evan before I hit the dock the game of a thousand questions commences. “Dad can you bait my hook? Dad can I cast my fishing pool? Dad can I use this lure? Dad how come we haven’t caught any fish? Dad will you untangle my line?” Noah decided to use every lure in his fishing box and try every kind of bait we had. My whole time was spent trying to make Noah’s fishing trip fun. Patience and quite are the hallmark of a great fisherman, volume and excited anxiousness was the testament of our effort. The fish in our lake never had a chance to actually take a bite. I imagine them swimming in their schools and saying to each other “hey there goes a very fast worm, there goes a very fast frog, hey there goes a very fast shiny thing.” I imagine they sat there very amused at the colorful banquet parade of fast things to eat. Needles to say we did not get a bite, but Noah did manage to break the world record for the amount of line changes in an hour and even though we caught nothing but seaweed we did have a great time. On the way home Noah said “ Daddy when I get older I want to be just like you”. Fishing with Noah was unlike anything I had imagined. I’m proud to say Noah fishes like his Dad.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I did it! In January I set out to loose 40 LBS and run a half marathon. On June 14th I and several friends from Salem Alliance Church completed the Helvetia Half Marathon. I had an awesome time and I finished 4 minutes and 5 LBS under my goal. Apart from the weight loss and reuniting with my love of running, the amazing part of this race was running it with Erik (with a k) Williams.

Erik and I have been great friends for many years. Erik lived with Michelle and I for several months when he became the Youth Pastor at Lilburn Alliance Church in Atlanta. Erik had just finished college and he was green, wild, and full of energy. Today Erik is experienced, wild, and full of energy. Erik and I would stay up until the early morning hours and play video games, we would also laugh. Laughing has become a central theme of our friendship. We are often like two adolescent teens with bad gas, little sense and maturity and no parental supervision. Erik brings out my immaturity, plus he can talk me into anything. He talked me into trying out for Survivor, He talked me into jumping out of an airplane, and he talked me into going down a zip line backwards and jumping into the center of a lake in the middle of the winter. If he was a drug dealer I would be in deep trouble. A couple of weeks ago I tore my pectoral muscle at work. Michelle was out of town so Erik picks me up from the Emergency room. I was in major pain. It hurt to breath. Erik had me laughing so hard on the way home from the hospital that I swore I was going to throw up. The man enjoyed torturing me with laughter. The more I laughed the more pain that I felt and the funnier it became. It was a vicious circle of cause and effect.

A couple months before the half marathon Erik and I joked about him running the marathon with me. Erik hates running! Running ranked up there with going to the dentist and being audited by the IRS. To my shock one week later Erik decided to run the half marathon with me. Erik wanted to spend more time together and to do something that was of interest to me. I personally think that he just wanted to see me in running tights. Before our first run together I gave Erik a very special gift. I put it in a small gift bag and I told Erik that it was a present to welcome him into the wonderful world of running. I gave him his very own pair of vintage 1980’s running booty shorts. These shorts bring a new definition to short. Many countries have banned men’s booty shorts because well they are just scary and shouldn’t be worn in public. The booty shorts are the trade mark of Richard Simmons on Sweating to the Oldies. If you would like to induce vomiting please watch Richard jiggle around in his striped booty shorts. Nothing against Richard, he is a great guy with a big heart, but the only reason people lose weight watching his videos is because they have to run away in fear. I joked with Erik that together someday we would run in our booty shorts.
Erik’s training was sporadic as he was coping with knee pain. He pulled off a couple of long runs but he was still uncommitted to running the half marathon. One week before the race he said he would make his decision after our 10 mile long run. Erik started off the run in pain and I was sure he wasn’t going to complete the ten miles or run the half marathon. Four miles into the run Erik asked me to run ahead. My plan was to run quickly home and pick up Erik’s body in my car somewhere on our ten mile loop. I made it home and I grabbed my keys and some water and went out to find Erik. To my surprise as I turned off my street I see Erik in the final half mile of the run. I don’t know who was happier, me or Erik. I was very proud of what he had just accomplished and I was also hoping that he would now commit to the marathon. Erik was stoked after the run. He was tired and hurting but the ten mile run gave him the confidence he needed to commit to the half marathon.
The day before the race we had a pasta dinner at one of our friend’s house with those who would be running with us from our church. Erik and I had a great time joking around and enjoying the company of our running community. Erik told everyone that we would be running the race in our booty shorts. I honestly thought he was joking. I felt very comfortable in my mid thigh cut running shorts and I knew that I would feel like a total dork in my lower butt cheek cut booty shorts. The next morning to my horror Erik picks me up from the race in his tight and very revealing booty shorts. “Hey Steve where are your booty shorts?” You can’t be serious, can you? Think of the poor people who must run behind us. Think of the innocent children. Think of the race photos. As I mentioned earlier Erik can talk me into anything, so on the way to the race I change into my “I’m a big idiot” running shorts. When you wear something that makes grown men blush, the only way you can pull it off is by exuding confidence and fully embracing the humor and horror that men’s booty shorts endow. If you know Erik Williams he was born for such greatness. Me, however, I would need to summon up great inner strength to be able to throw decency and propriety from self conscious personality. As I shed my running shell to reveal to the public my private assets, I did so with confidence and sense of humor. To be honest with you it was strangely exhilarating and freeing. I had forgotten about the many miles of pain that lie ahead of me and I just started having fun joking about our booty shorts. Erik and I ran the first eight miles together, side by side, four cheeks hanging out in stride. We had so much fun. I soon forgot about my lack of apparel and I ran a great race. I was very proud of Erik. He had finished his first distance race and even wanted to run another race in September. I often think about the poor souls who ran behind us. What were they thinking of such a grizzly sight? Did they seek out professional counseling after the race? As for the Booty Short Twins, you never know, perhaps you might see us running down a road in your neighborhood, and maybe you may put on a pair of your own vintage booty wear and join us for a couple of miles.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Daddy to the Rescue Part Two

The person who invented the fast food play structure owned hamsters. He thought to himself “My hamster Fur Ball is the happiest creature I know. He plays, eats, sleeps, exercises and goes to the bathroom in his hamster habitat. I think I could make millions of children just as happy if I made a home for them just like Fur Ball’s.” Thirty years later children play, eat, exercise and in some cases go to the bathroom in their favorite Fur Ball habitats. Early fast food play structures even had a huge water bottle at the top and a giant hamster running wheel on the bottom until parents complained that their children smelled like cedar chips and loved being scratched behind their ears.

Before I was a parent I have to admit that I secretly wanted to go on a fast food play structure. I grew up in the pre-play structure era of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Our playgrounds were made of steal and concrete. Our playgrounds were tough, unforgiving and highly dangerous. The inventor of my childhood playground didn’t own a hamster, he ate them as appetizers. My playground was so tough that my parents used to punish us by sending us kids there for time outs. There were only four pieces to every playground. A huge metal swing set with metal chains, metal monkey bars, a hard wood plank seesaw, and a metal merry ground (AKA the disc of death). We also had little to no parental supervision. Neighborhoods were safe and the kids ran free. The combination of metal, concrete, and no supervision was the result of many of my childhood injuries. Needles to say I was curious about these new fast food play structures and I wanted to someday invade this new children’s sanctuary.

So as I said in my last blog, I hear a cry of distress. My son Noah is crying for help somewhere in the upper regions of hampsterville. I’m now forced to enter this unwelcoming world. There is good reason why the rules for these play structures clearly state no adults allowed. The first is that once you are on the inside, chances are you will never want your child to be also. The second reason is that for the average adult it is much like stuffing yourself through a sausage casing. These things were not designed to be ergonomically spacious. Children fly through these structures like a pinball with a purpose; adults travel through these things like a slug being chased by a salt shaker. I enter into the structure to be greeted by the unwelcoming stares of children who on the outside of this play structure lovingly obey their elders but on the inside of this maze the tables are turned. I’m now invading their world. “Hey what is that old guy doing in here?” “No old people aloud.” I felt like a pork chop at Passover. My knees throbbed in pain and my back screamed for freedom from the confined quarters. I focused on my son’s cries somewhere above my head and forced myself onward. When I reached the greasy tube that would lead upwards to my child’s sobs I looked behind me to realize that I was the cause of an inpatient traffic jam of angry children. I gathered my courage and grabbed hold of the rope and began the ascent upward. The traffic jam behind me seized the opportunity and used me as an unwilling staircase to world above. I felt like a Sunday driver in the passing lane during rush hour. Children were literally riding my bumper. I finally managed to make it to the top. The unfortunate part of this reality is that heat rises as do bad smells. The two companions held me close as I worked my way through the second story maze. The good news is my son was no longer crying. The bad news was that I couldn’t find him. I searched through every hamster corridor and in all of the hamster bubble forts. I was drenched in sweat as I made my way to the last bubble fort and looked out the window. My knees and my back were screaming in pain. I was determined. I was driven by love and I would not be deterred from my mission. My wife and my son wave hi as my son is sitting at the table playing with his happy toy. Extremely embarrassed I slide down the greasy twisty slide to be welcomed by the stares of miserable parents and my laughing bride.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daddy to the Rescue Part #1

Daddy to the Rescue Part One
A child’s paradise can sometimes become a parent’s nightmare. Such is the case with every play structure found in many fast food restaurants. When a restaurant serves very bad food they figure that the best way to entice adults into their cholesterol laden establishments is to seduce their innocent children with cheap happy toys, sugar, and super sized play structures. Unfortunately this lethal combination of fun and sweets proves to be one combo meal that brings the unwilling multitudes in by droves.
The typical parental dining experience consists of standing in line with extremely hyper children who want happy toy now, and who also want to play on the play structure now. The happy bad food in their greased soaked happy bags is now in competition for the happy cheap toy and the super sized play structure. Now for any reasoning adult, you know you are in a losing battle. Not that you would actually desire for any human being (little alone your loving child) to partake in this nutrition challenged cuisine, but they begged for it and you bought it. Your children then insist on sitting in the play structure dining area. This area is mopped with grease at least once a week the tables are sanitized with soft drinks. The sticky furnishings are quickly diminished by the chaotic ambiance of crazed children’s exuberance. Parents beware; you have just entered into their universe, they are hyped up on sugar and this is their dominion.
You now give your child the longing of their hearts, one greasy happy bag with one cheap happy toy. The bad food is quickly put to the side as your child pleads with you to open their cheap toy. At this point there are two schools of parental thought. The first is to deny your child of the cheap happy toy until all of the bad food is eaten. This is a tough and logical decision, however it will expose you and your children to extended time in hamster Hades, and it will be sure to contribute to the unpleasant ambience of your dining experience by subjecting the rest of the adults to your child’s wrath. The second option is to give in to your child’s wishes. I highly recommend the appeasement option. If you are honest with yourself, the whole fast food experience is all about submitting yourself to your children’s desires. Be consistent, give in. This will reduce both the caloric intake into your child’s sensitive digestive system and it will reduce your sentence in happy land on the count of good behavior.
The wonderful thing with the cheap happy toy is that it is cheap and highly forgettable. The average happy toy engages a child’s imagination for an average of 10 seconds. It is then put into toy exile for eternity. You can’t even give it to a poor child in China because they probably made it in the first place.
After your child eats one french-fry and one bite of their cheeseburger they now beg you to play on the super sized hamster play structure. In the back of your mind you know full well that you are sending your child into a bacteria science experiment. I have interviewed thousands of bacteria and their dream abode is the fast food play structure. Many children bring their happy meals in several different forms into this wonderful world. Corpses of french fries, burgers, and chicken nuggets strewn the corridors. Greasy walls and ceilings finger paint the structure. What isn’t for bacteria to love?
After a short while you hear a cry of distress. “Lord please may it not be my child. Lord please do not make me go in there!” The other parents are now looking at you. Do you deny your child? Do you send in your spouse? Find out about my rescue operation in Hamsters Hades in my next blog.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Help Wanted: Mom

Help Wanted:
One amazing individual. We offer no pay or benefits, little gratitude, absolutely no chance of advancement, and extremely long hours with little sleep.
Must be able to make three great meals per day, plus snacks, clean, do laundry, clean, chuffer clients to various events several times per day, clean, do more laundry, serve as Yard Specialist, clean, help with school functions and homework and as a Teachers Assistant.
You must be a nurse, clean, manage and purchase kitchen inventory, procure, retrieve and operate household equipment.
You must be able to lift over 50 LBS, and give great hugs.
You must be an Office assistant.
You must be an excellent Accountant, and operate on a strict budget.
You must be a Consular, and Spiritual Mentor.
You must be an Event Coordinator.
You must be of excellent moral character, and able to instill those attributes into clients.
You must be able to work a full or part time job to maintain and support clients.
You must be selfless, thoughtful, caring, compassionate, patient, kind, nurturing, and above all the very essence of love.
You must do windows.

Please apply for this position by submitting a resume and your life to the Unwin Family Household Disorganization. We are an unequal opportunity employer dedicated to taking advantage of you on a daily basis. Applicants will be exposed to excessive whining, complaining, and rude smelly bodily functions.

Kaylee, Noah and I love you. Thank you for being Mom. You are absolutely amazing! We so need you.
Happy Mothers Day.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Chick Flick Recipe

This past week was one of the most physically demanding ones of my life. I started in a new department at Nike. In Nike World you start at the bottom of the food chain and evolve into a predator that bosses around others on the food chain. In my last department I was evolved. In my new department I’m bait. I spent the week loading trailers. It is hard enough coming from a desk job to a hard core blue collar back braking grueling position, but to put in 11 hour days loading trailers was a test of physical endurance for the strongest of body mind and character. In my first week three new huge young well built guys quit because the work was to physically demanding. By the end of the week I was exhausted and as a result I let down my man guard and agreed to watch yet another chick flick. I’m now living in the world of regret for subjecting myself to a family sized bucket of Kentucky Fried Chick Flicken. If you have seen one chick flick, you have seen them all. At least in the Rocky movies and in the Star Wars movies they numbered the episodes. Why don’t they number the chick flick episodes?

The genius of the Chic Flick is that it evokes the emotional heart of a woman to idealistic romance. The cruel part of the Chick Flick is that it evokes the emotional heart of a woman to idealistic romance. The bad news for the men who suffer through the chick flick is it evokes the emotional heart of a woman to idealistic romance. Women resonate, identify and idolize the main character because they share her story. They long for romance; they desire to find their own amazing love story. Men find the Chick Flick emotionally sappy and difficult to stomach because we are just men. The Chick Flick robs us of our dignity, self respect, and mental well being, by forcing us to deal with life on an emotional basis. The truth of the matter is that the cute guy who wins the girl at the end of the movie doesn’t watch chick flicks either and the girl who falls in love with him loves that about the cute guy.

So here is my recipe for almost every chick flick. I have listed 21 ingredients. Most chick flicks contain 75% of these ingredients. Please let me know your thoughts.

1) Very beautiful young lady experiences hardship or trauma. Usually it is the death of her mother or pet hamster.

2) As a result beautiful young lady is quirky and slightly unbalanced.

3) Beautiful young lady is very likable and has good morale character, and though she is gorgeous, cute guys don’t notice her.

4) Beautiful young lady secret ambition is to be loved by the perfect man. Beautiful young lady is idealistic, hopelessly romantic, and painfully single.

5) Beautiful young lady has a cool job because she is strong, independent, and smarter then everyone else, however she is too humble to notice how awesome she truly is.

6) Beautiful young lady is liked by everyone and people always take advantage of her kindness.

7) Beautiful young lady has a best friend who is morally inferior and slightly not as good looking, but will at some point speak morale truth into Beautiful young lady's life. Best friend typically gives the speech in point #17.

8) Beautiful young lady always has a nemesis that is just as good looking, but is self centered, selfish, conceited, and rude.

9) Beautiful young lady meets a cute guy that is nothing like her idealistic dream guy.

10) Beautiful young lady is annoyed by cute guy and they exchange playful banter and intelligent arguments for most of the movie. The cute guy is the only one who understands her true beauty and is in love with her from the time they meet.

11) Beautiful young lady kisses cute guy.

12) Beautiful young lady runs away from cute guy

13) Very good looking nemesis steals cute guy.

14) Beautiful young lady realizes she to loves cute guy.

15) Cute guy is stupid.

16) Beautiful young lady and cute guy fight.

17) Beautiful young lady has a life changing awakening and overcomes her personal shortcomings.

18) Beautiful young lady kicks very good looking nemesis’s butt.

19) Very good looking nemesis loses cute guy.

20) Beautiful young lady kisses cute guy and they have premarital sex.

21) Beautiful young lady and cute guy get married.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Clash of the Universes

I’m one of those strange individuals that actually enjoys early mornings. I love the quiet, peace, and the pace of a lazy weekend dawn. It is a time to sit in my big green chair with a huge cup of joe, read a book, and reflects on life. I get up about 5:30 AM on weekend mornings. This gives me a hour and half of selfish Steve time before my kids wonderfully invade my sanctuary. This past Saturday the good Lord decided to grace us with a Spring snow fall. The flakes filled the sky as disbelief filled my heart. Spring flowers yielded their colorful hue to snow flakes the size of quarters.
My daughter Kaylee wakes up at 6:30 to open up this amazing gift of snow. Now my daughter is much like my wife, her countenance and energy slowly rise with circumference of the sun. In KJ’s universe the day needs to be eased into with gentleness and grace. The early morning snow show was a shot of double espresso with extra sugar to my daughter’s immune system. Full of excitement she states the obvious with enthusiasm “Daddy it is snowing outside!!!” When God gives you such an amazing gift you desire to share it with everyone. “Can I wake up Noah?” Snow doesn’t fall forever and not very often in the Willamette Valley so I gave Kaylee the green light to invade Noah’s slumber. A few moments later the sound of running feet echoed down the hall. My son Noah does morning much like his daddy; sleep shakes from his personality like a quick change of a shirt. He embraces the day with vitality and excitement. Noah is drawn to the big glass window in the family room with wide eyed joy and determination. “HOLY NUTS!!!!!!!!!!” he screams with excitement. My son is now like a super nova of exuberance, spinning out of control and swallowing whole planets that lay in its path. “Dad can I go outside and catch snowflakes with my tongue?” Before I have a chance to answer, Noah is out the back door in his batman PJs, barefoot, tongue to heaven, eating God’s gift of falling frozen manna. Kaylee is quick to follow. As I mentioned earlier great gifts were meant to be shared, so my ice cold children find their way back inside and ask permission to share the love with Momma. I admit my motivation at this time was purely for my selfish enjoyment, my lovely wife is very morning challenged. Morning is a very slow, drawn out, painful dance of accepting the reality and responsibility of the day. My wife holds the world record for hitting the snooze button. They actually named the button the snooze bar in honor of her. My wife loves weekend mornings because I watch the kids, as she over indulges in sleep. I typically make breakfast for the family and hopefully sometime before noon my wife emerges from her comatose sleep to grab her coke and join in us on our day. I set these two parallel universes into a collision course by consenting to my children’s wishes. I watched (at a safe distance) as Kaylee and Noah arouse my bride to a rude, unwelcome, awakening. Cold hands and feet collided with warmth and security, joy and exuberance collide with groggy and grumpy. Two greater opposites rarely exist. My bride did the best she could not to fall down the dark stairs of bitterness. The combination of a Spring snow, cold children, and the early hour of the day proved to be a force far to great for her to endure. My children retreated in defeat as poor Michelle buried herself under her down comforter and was simply not in the proper frame of mind to receive my children’ s gift of enthusiasm. I quietly enjoyed the clash of the Universes from the safety of our hallway. The kid’s had a blast in their gift of snow in April as they filled our neighborhood with laughter and joy, and I will treasure that special morning among my favorites of Spring.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tensions of Two Realities

I find myself living in the tensions of two realities, the reality that is alive and well in my testosterone driven male ego, and the much less glamorous reality of getting older. I’m in the process of training for a half marathon. My testosterone driven male ego tells me that I’m running faster and farther then ever before. I’m a 41 year old stallion keeping pace with the running elite. I’m sleek, arrow dynamic, and powerful. I have defied age and endurance, and I’m a chiseled statue of muscle and flesh.
My much less glamorous reality of getting older, is slow, out of shape, and distanced challenged.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I asked my wife last week if she would drive my running route to see if by some chance that my mileage was wrong, or perhaps my watch was needing batteries. I couldn’t have possibly run as slow as I did. When I was running marathons 13 years ago, I arrogantly dismissed runners of my current caliber as “joggers”. In my minds eye I was flying. I pushed myself hard. The miles moved under my feet with speed and power. How could my watch deceive my testosterone driven male ego? When my wife returned and shared the unfortunate reality of my old age, my heart sank and my fragile delusional reality dropped from my prideful mind like an anchor to a reef. I have been humbled and grounded by truth.
I spent the first weeks in my new reality in denial. I shook old age out of my mind like a dusty rug. “If I just work out harder, if I can manage to lose a few more pounds, if I put in more miles or if I just have greater focus, perhaps I will soon return to my former glory”. Denial gave into acceptance and I have embraced the painful truth of getting older. The graying hairs on my receding hairline will need to adapt to the new reality of running slower. My standards and expectations of myself will now need to adjusted to new ones. What I once saw as running mediocrity will now be my standard for excellence.
I feel like I’m settling for less. I feel like something has died within me that I desperately desire to recapture. Why can’t I run for the love of the run? Why must time dictate my self worth and perception of excellence? This half marathon will hold greater personal meaning then the full marathons of my twenties. This race will test my character. I will cross the finish line knowing that my accomplishment isn’t any less significant then the guy who finished first or any more spectacular then the guy who finishes last. I will have run the race of knowing who I am and being ok with the knowing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Your momma don't dance and your daddy don't rock n roll

I’m the proud father of two beautiful children. My daughter is seven and my son is five. I was driving with them in the car the other day, when a great hard edged heavy metal 80’s hair band song came on the radio. I couldn’t resist. I threw caution, self respect, and restraint out the drivers side window and did what every child of the eighties would do; now some songs require class, sophistication, and reflection, but there are some songs that reach down into your aged soul and stir up the passions, emotions, and adrenaline of an age long gone by. Some songs require extreme volume and a good portion of lunacy. This song begged for both. I reached for the volume knob of my 98 Saturn and turned right until my car was enveloped in the hard driving rift of a bunch of rebels who had spent their youth on over indulgence and who have became the subject of a sad rocumentary on VH1. Have you ever lost yourself in a song? Have you ever given yourself over fully to the music you love? I entered into this parallel universe with unbridled abandonment. It was me, the song I love, and the volume to make your ears bleed. The rest of the world momentarily faded into a rock and roll dream as fist were pumping, my head banging, and my melody challenged vocal cords pounded out a tune from an era long gone by. Like a cup of ice cold water down your back when you least expect it, I was awaken from my rock and roll fantasy by my screaming daughter trying to be heard over the magnitude of volume pouring forth from the rear cheap speakers of my 98 Saturn . Reality and common sense slapped me across my face as I reached for the volume knob. Turning sharply to the left, my daughter’s voice trailed down with the music as I had just played her some kind of a practical joke. Embarrassed; I asked her to repeat the words she was previously screaming from the top of her lungs. “Daddy that hurts my ears, can you please turn it down?” These words brought me back to my youth as this annoying mantra was the theme of my parent’s survival of my awkward teenage years. I looked in the rear view mirror to see my boy, wide eyed and mouth dropped. Their quite, respectful, conservative, Daddy had just become a crazy lunatic right in front of their innocent eyes. I had crossed over into a world that was foreign and strange to their perception of Daddy. How would I recover? How would I explain my peculiar behavior? How could I regain my dignity, self respect, and status as the dad they knew and loved? I confess right now that what I did next was rather pathetic. I uttered the four words that would make all right with the world; the words that every daddy knows will bring exuberance and joy into the heart of a child, and the four words that would help me save face;” Who would like ice-cream?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

An Ode to Fashion...

I would like to personally thank the genius inventors who created stretchy pants. Yeah I know what you’re saying, “Stretchy pants! Only old people wear stretchy pants”. I would like to proudly proclaim to the civilized world that I wear and love stretchy pants! What’s not to love? For those of us who are fashioned challenged and who don’t mind a little ridicule, the stretchy pants provide amazing freedom and comfort. Never in all of human history has the elastic waist band been utilized with such skill and craftsmanship.
The great genius of the stretchy pants is that they expand and contract with the seasons of life. My size 34 waist stretchy pants made me feel good about myself when I expanded to a size 36. I could brag to my friends that I was a sleek 34, when in reality my waist was several super sized combo meals bigger.
Another great benefit of the stretchy pants is that in wonderful times of being able to eat your body weight in the cuisine that makes you stomach balloon to over capacity, the stretchy pants allow you to stay buttoned and zipped. No more embarrassing trips to the bathroom or the refrigerator in which you’re bulging hairy navel and your Speedo style red undies are on display for your horrified family members.
My loving wife and several co-workers have expressed great distain for the stretchy pants. They simply refuse to see the tremendous benefits to mankind. If we all could just embrace this amazing apparel, we could ease the extreme discomfort and suffering of bloating and over indulgence. We could free ourselves of the old people stereo-types and from the bondage of fashion.
I imagine those who despise my stretchy pants are secretly jealous of the great freedom I enjoy. They sit in judgment over my fashion sense and mock my elastic waist bands. I personally refuse conform to their unforgiving fabrics. I will proudly wear my miraculous apparel and proclaim to the world my love for my stretchy pants.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Please allow me to flush.

Choice and convenience. We love choice and convenience. They are essentially woven into the fabric of American life. When we grocery shop we are inundated with both choice and convenience. Convenient one minute meals with hundreds of meals to choose from. Five hundred TV channels to choose and TiVo to watch them at our convenience. Choice and convenience walk hand in hand and make life easier. So tell me who was the person who forgot to tell the inventor of the electronic toilet about the immutable law of choice and convenience? Some laws were never made to be broken, and I'm afraid the makers of the electronic toilet have violated humanity.

How did the concept of the electronic toilet ever enter into existence? I imagine some guys with engineering degrees sat around a table and pondered the multiple ways that we can make the bathroom experience more enjoyable and less stressful. I'm sure the laziest guy in the room said " I really hate to flush, the last thing I want to do after I dodo is exert myself by turning around to push the button. Perhaps we can invent a toilet that will push the button for us?" Convenient, sure; choice; I think not.

There are at least two disastrous scenarios that can occur with the flush-o-matic, and unfortunately I have been a victim of both. The electronic toilet at my work is a wonderful example of why the electronic toilet violates the law of convenience and choice. (Please forgive me as I describe bathroom rituals. I know such things should never be spoken in public, but I'm at the end of my rope and I beg you for grace and understanding.) So I go into my favorite stall at work, let's just say that time is of the essence and I'm very anxious to have a seat. The first rule in public bathroom etiquette is of course to lay down the protection. (Just a side note about the protection. Life would be both convenient and far more enjoyable if the perforated protection center was actually not a part of the protection. I hate removing the unnecessary center, especially in dire circumstances. Sometimes the unnecessary protection circle is a great and mighty hindrance in times of desperation. Please go the extra step and sell the protection without the unnecessary protection circle.) After the protection is laid down "the" electronic eye now notices that an object has moved away from the seat and even before I can have a protective seat the electronic toilet flushes. Now when the toilet flushes it does two annoying things. First it flushes down my protection, and second it sprays nasty toilet water over my seat. This is when I delude myself into thinking that I'm smarter then the electronic toilet seat. My plan is sure speed. First the protection, and before the great electronic eye has a chance to respond I sit with speed and urgency. Someone once told me that I can't move faster then light. I should have listened because the electronic eye hates me and wants to make my back forty glisten with the dew of others dew. At first the nice cool mist is rather refreshing until you begin to think about the refreshing source. By this time I'm totally committed. There is no getting off this ride until it is done. The only sound my stall mate can hear now is my cursing of the great electronic eye. I have lost the flushing battle once again.

The second disastrous scenario occurred in the same stall. For some reason the geniuses who invented the electronic toilet never put in an escape hatch. After completing my transaction and putting all the pleasant sundries behind me, I stood up waiting for the great electronic eye to faithfully do its part. But low and behold the electronic eye has foiled my bathroom enjoyment once again. The electronic eye refused my deposit and would not flush. I then spent the next five minutes trying to figure out how to make the electronic eye obey my commands. I sat down. I looked for every button I could possibly find. I stood up. I sat down. To no avail. I had to leave my stall in defeat, leaving behind the fruit of my failures. I sprinted from my stall hoping someone would not soon take my place.

So my first blog is dedicated to the geniuses who have violated the basic laws of choice and convenience. I'm a simple guy. All I'm asking for is a lever to pull or a button to push, and for my life not to be humiliated, again, by the great electronic eye.