Sunday, February 27, 2011

#22 and #23 - A two for one firesale

I'm not sure what the rules of blogging allow, but these two prompts are synonymous for me. They are pretty closely tied together, so I thought perhaps I could write one blog for both prompts. Is this cheating? If so, deal with it.

First off, my favorite city would be Boston, Mass. It is also my favorite vacation. It's my favorite city, although I've only been there once, for a few reasons. One reason is that it is the home of the Boston Red Sox; one of the biggest obsessions of my life. It is the home of one of the oldest and most famous baseball parks in the nation, Fenway Park. Now, while Fenway Park is not the most comfortable of all parks, one has to love it for the atmosphere alone. It is absolutely wonderful. The park, its' surroundings, the people.

Another reason that I love Boston is that it is absolutely beautiful. I should preface this with the statement that I am not a big city kind of guy. Columbus works for me, because of its' Midwest idealism and the fact that it is not that large in respect to say New York, Boston, Chicago, etc. The great thing about Boston, aside from its ease of transportation, is that it is extremely clean and I really appreciate that. Meg and I spent days just walking around and it was wonderful getting to see the city. It has some great spots, which can packed with tourists, but it is a thrilling city.

The reason it is my favorite vacation (and one of the reasons it has now championed being my favorite city) is that, while Meg and I were there, I proposed to her. I think moments like that change your ideas and impressions about a certain place and time. I had thought Boston was great, but it holds a special place in my heart after this moment. I can't wait to go back.

Preferably, to see another game.

Friday, February 25, 2011

#20 - picture

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-"invictus" William Ernest Henley

I like this picture, because I look like I'm the captain of my soul. I like to look at it and imagine someone is chaffeuring me around to my next destination. I almost look like a mobster, but I would settle for something far less sinister.

#20 - What's in a name?

"You're not allowed to give yourself a nickname. This holds true in life as well as in poker." -Richard Roeper

Ah, nicknames. Those gifts given that can either be a blessing or a curse. For instance, during a temporary substituting stint I had a kid in class who was lovingly dubbed "Binky" by his friends. Here's the story: He came in one day saying that he would now be referred to as "Nuke" (we all know we can't choose our nicknames). The problem was that he proceeded to write it on the board and spelled it "Nuk" (which apparently is the name of a pacifier). Hence, the nickname.

I myself have only had one for the majority of my life and that has been "D. Reed." Original, right? Some brief ones that made an appearance during high school: "Marshall" because I had bleach blond hair and was dating a girl named Kim. "Coach" given to me by a few of my black friends because I always brought them to practice (think about it: one white guy driving a car with 4/5 black kids sitting in it...kinda looks like a basketball team, right?). Somehow, around the time of college, a friend of mine starting calling me "The White Devil." Not sure where he even came up with that one, but he's the only one that refers to me as such. For the most part, it's been "D. Reed" and always "D. Reed." So much so, that everyone from brief stint at Otterbein College may not have even know my first name or at least never used it.

Aside from my nicknames, I wanted to convey the immense number of nicknames I have given out over the years. It's just something I do. Here's a short list:

Megan (my fiance) - Curlhead
Megan (my sister) - Ria (one of our cousins couldn't say her full name "Megan Reed" when she
was younger, so it came out as "Megan-a-Ria." It stuck. Also, my sister
had the unfortunate name of Porkchop, simply because her brother was a goofy idiot.
Bethey - Freckles
Katie R. - K. Rob the jewelry store, tell 'em make me a grill
Judith - J.Ho
Grace - Prez Keplinger
Lacey - Grace/Buzz
Eric - E.coli
Phil - Fat Milk
Anokh - Brown Cow
Ashley G. - Twinks
Ashley Rill - The Rilla in Manilla
Randi - Trips
Emily Whipple - Redi-Whip
Kaitlyn Hoobler - Hooberific

Thursday, February 24, 2011

#19 - Days spent missing the days we never realized we'd someday miss...

Today's blog involves something that I miss....Well, other than the obvious (family members who have passed away, days where I had no responsibility, days where I didn't worry about not finding a job, etc.), I would have to say I miss the summers with my closest friends. The long days and nights where we hung out with one another every single waking minute. The nights where we partied well into the morning and got up only a few hours later to go to work. I was talking with a friend of mine, who shared a summer job as a camp counselor/aide sort of deal with me, about how we used to stay up so late hanging out with all our closest friends, knocking back a few drinks, just to wake up at the ass crack of dawn to stumble into that job at 7/8 a.m. We honestly could not figure out how we were able to do that day in and day out. I mean, nowadays, if i only get 6 hours of sleep my body feels it and, as a result, so do those around me.

I miss the days where we all used to sit around and play this card game entitled "casino" for hours on end. Ironically, not one of us can remember how to play the game anymore and we have yet to find it on the internet, because apparently we just made that name up. Those same nights were filled watching terrible horror movies such as "Sleepaway Camp," "American Gothic," "Night of the Demons 2," "Basket Case," "Mikey," etc. I remember our friend Brittany's mother stocking the cupboards with Poptarts and Fruit Roll-ups for the group of us that would inhabit her house everyday. I remember one night, partying out in some field and losing one of our friends only to find out he had tripped in a hole and twisted his ankle. He felt that just laying there and not calling for help was the best option.

One of the things that I miss the most about those times were the cabin trips that my friends and I took where it was just the guys out in the middle of nowhere. Playing cards and drinking...becoming one with nature (HA).

These are the things that I miss and they still happen from time to time, but with age comes responsibility and with responsibility these things often get lost somewhere in the ether. I wish I had those days back, but I'm looking forward to the things my life has in store upon the horizon.

P.S. I don't feel like editing today, so deal with it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

#18 - Regret is six letters of pain, but an endless supply of self-help.

The Past is the textbook of tyrants; the Future the Bible of the Free. Those who are solely governed by the Past stand like Lot's wife, crystallized in the act of looking backward, and forever incapable of looking before. ~Herman Melville, White Jacket

There are plenty of things
I could regret in my life though it gets me nowhere. The largest regret I have would be not telling my stepfather that he was a great person, one who did all the fatherly things that he never really had to, and that I loved him. I struggled with this after his death, despite those conversations with my mother reassuring me that he already knew whether I ever told him or not. The fact remains that I let our pissing war over who was the man of the house and my immature adolescent attitude get in the way of enjoying the all too brief time he was on this Earth.

I also regret the martyr-like ways I pursued relationships in the past. I seemed to find myself in relationship where I felt like if I cared about someone enough that I could help them through their internal issues and emotional hang-ups. In the end, I found that, more often than not, this is not the case. I did learn a great deal from these somewhat awful experiences and I have been able to apply what I've learned, so maybe it's not entirely bad.

There are other regrets. Some of which I am not entirely comfortable providing for all my devoted readers. So, we'll leave it at this: A person can regret any number of things, but they can also learn a great deal from these instances of regret. Regret should be for learning; not mourning.

#17 - Look forward, with blinders about the past

“Life is all memory except for the one present moment that goes by so quick you can hardly catch it going.” ~ Tennessee Williams The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

I guess there are plenty of things I am looking forward to in the coming future. For one, I’m looking forward to the day where I have started the profession that I have sought after for so long. I envy the time where I have my own room, my own students, my lesson plans, and everything that comes along with teaching. But my faithful readers have heard that gripe time and time again, so I will leave this comment at that.

I look forward to the simple things in life; a wife (partially there), kids (not yet…as far as I know), a dog, and a house. It doesn’t have to be perfect because life rarely is, but it has its’ moments. I look forward to my attempt at being a great father who can provide my children with the life lessons that are a result of plenty of emotional and physical hardships I have endured during my short stint on this earth. I want to educate them on literature, music, film, life, etc. I want to watch my boys (if I have any) wrestle and see their progression. I am just excited to witness that point of my life.

I look forward to being old and gray with my old lady. You know, sitting on the porch reading or just sitting there without saying a word. Simple things.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

#16 - Life as a House

"I always thought of myself as a house. I was always what I lived in. It didn't need to be big. It didn't even need to be beautiful. It just needed to be mine. I became what I was meant to be. I built myself a life. I built myself a house." ~Life as a House

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Gone with the Wind is my mother's favorite movie and I spent countless hours watching it as a child (even though I didn't quite understand what was going on), but I've always had this fascination with southern plantation houses. Especially, the house from the 1939 film.

A few musts for my house: a library for all my nerdy tendencies. I want one of those libraries where the shelves go to the ceiling. I’m also partial to having one of the cool ladders that move along a track and allow my short ass to reach the top shelf.

A movie theater. This can be done on a relatively cheap budget give all the advancements and price reductions in concerns to digital electronics. I’m a huge fan of movies. I have tons. Really, it’s quite ridiculous how many movies I still have in plastic. Last time I counted, the number was around 100+.

A man cave. I would be completely satisfied with having this room consist of the other two rooms along with some Boston Red Sox memorabilia. Perhaps, a Fever Pitch poster for good measure to encompass two aspects of my hobbies (no matter how atrocious the movie might be). I feel that having a room such as this one is crucial to my happiness as an individual; despite how lame or ridiculous that might seem to some people.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#15 - Bible Verse

"The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qua'ran is mute; if you burned them all together, you'd be close to the truth." - Conor Oberst

I might piss a few people off with this post and I'm going to keep it short to avoid being too preachy (no pun intended).

I don't really buy in to the whole "organized religion" thing. Don't get me wrong. I do not intend to pass judgment on those that do. It has helped many people through very trying times as well as gives them sort sort of faith in something which, given in the right manner, can be a wonderful thing. It has kept people alive. It has helped others grieve with passing. It has offered redemption in some and hope in others. On the other hand, it has also led to more war and strife than anything in the world.

I chose the above quote, because it comes closest to what I believe. I am not an atheist, but rather an agnostic. I believe in a god, but his appearance, vision, philosophy, etc. is not certain. To me, the documents mentioned within the above-stated quote are merely works of faith written by someone and followed by millions. This may be stretching it, but I find more insight through a novel that has been knowingly made up than I do within the thin pages of the Old Testament.

Again, I have faith in a god and he/she may or may not be omnipotent or all-knowing, but it helps to talk to that person even if he/she doesn't take action.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

#14 - We All Live in Pictures, My Love Lives in This One

I adore this picture. Two of my favorites in one photograph. That's my fiancee and my nephew taking a nap on the couch; something both of them know quite a bit about. I guess what makes this picture so wonderful is that this photographic was not forced; it was honest and natural. As much as I love my nephew, Meg adores him and spoils him just as much. He loves his Auntie Megan and she just goes to pieces over him. She gets jealous when I Skype with my sister and get to see the little guy when she's not home. She even pouts a little. Another reason these two are so similar.

But as much as I love the little man my sister brought to this world, I love how comfortable Meg is around young ones. It makes me certain that she will be a phenomenal wife and parent. Really, who could ask for more? I just look at the two of them napping or playing around and it makes me smile like a big, dumb idiot.

#13 - Goals

I have some silly goals that mostly have to do best-of lists, but there are a few things I consider to be fairly serious when it comes to the goal making department of my brain.

As I've stated before, I want to write the next great American novel. I want to write something that lasts. Something that means something to someone (sort of like how Peyton's art mattered to Lucas....oh my lord, did I just use that reference?). I want to write something honest using the experiences I've had along with those of my friends without alienating anyone or pissing them off. I just want to leave something of worth to this world, to my family, to my not yet existent children, and the best way I believe I can do so is through words. The problem is that I am overly critical of myself and I often beat myself down by thinking what do I have to say that has not yet already been obsessed over, dissected, and brought to the literary public. I like to think I have something, but again overly critical of myself. The best advice I often offer myself (as well as to students) is to just write for you. Write often, write sporadically, write on a schedule, write about nothing, writing about everything. It doesn't matter; just write for you. Take your advice, Danny. Get to it.

This may sound like a silly goal, but I would also just like to provide a safe, happy, and caring existence for my family. To be a great father and show my family that they are loved every day is something of great merit to me. I know this seems silly to list as a goal, but I see parents every day that are considerably lacking in this department, so I don't believe it's that strange to set this for myself. If for nothing else, to at least remind me of how grateful I should be to have a family and to be loved.

One last goal, I plan to receive my doctorate in education. I had never considered this possibility until a few professors at Otterbein pulled me aside and asked me if I had ever considered the option. In their opinion, it is definitely something I should consider, because supposedly I have great insight into how teaching should work. I'm not sure if I would go as far as some of these professors did when analyzing my educational worth, but it definitely got me thinking. So, once I find a teaching job and have worked a few years, I plan to return to school in order to someday receive my doctorate.

Have I bored you yet? I mean, honestly, other than perhaps your mother or your significant other, who wants to read about a person's individual goals? I doubt I have inspired you do to something with your life, which is the only reason I could imagine talking about one's goals would be relevant or beneficial. Regardless, you may now stop reading and go about your own pleasant lives.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

#11 - What I believe ...

"We have advantages. We have a cushion to fall back on. This is abundance. A luxury of place and time. Something rare and wonderful. It's almost historically unprecedented. We must do extraordinary things. We have to. It would be absurd not to."- Dave Eggers

Could this prompt be any more vague? I'm not certain how to even answer this question, which is not posed as a question at all. I believe that people are good for the most part. I believe family is the most important aspect of life. I believe in the Boston Red Sox. Seriously, I could go on for days about something I believe in. So, I guess I'll respond with a favorite quote of mine and some half-assed analysis of said quote.

I believe we have advantages; some a few more than others. I don't take these advantages to mean anything in terms of wealth, but instead the advantages needed to leave a lasting mark on this earth during the span of our lives. Sure, Eggers, in this context, is talking about a luxury of place and time, but I've always taken this to mean life. We have life and the luxury of free will...of choice. We can choose to be or do something "rare and wonderful" or we can choose to stand idly by. Humans are the only beings able to do something extraordinary and we should live our days striving to do so.

I have to say that, as much as I find inspiration in this quote, I find it easy to forget this motivation due to daily happenings. School gets in the way. Life gets in the way. Love gets in the way. Work. Spouses. Kids. We have a million things to focus on that can either deter us from extraordinary or further inspire us towards rarity. I guess an even better quote to include as a means of further explanation would be: "The person who really wants to do something finds a way. The other finds an excuse." This quote can be found in a Lowell, Mass. boxing gym where Mickey Ward trained and even if you know nothing about Ward (or opted to skip seeing The Fighter) it is a noble idea to live by.

I believe teaching is not only the means by which I can do something rare and extraordinary, something meaningful, but is an opportunity to inspire adolescents to do the same. To show them their worth. To value their input, their unique additions to the world. To push them to be rare and wonderful. Some people live their entire lives not knowing their worth, not understanding the importance their existence can have in the advancement of the world. They are programmed to see education as something they have to do. A question they have to answer. A test they have to take. An anxiety. A dictatorship. I want to show them that they have a voice and, although they may have to subject themselves to things they may not like for a small amount of their lives, they have the strength and individuality to create a lasting moment for a generation.

#11 - Favorite TV show

"Give all of us gathered here tonight the strength to remember that life is so very fragile. We are all vulnerable, and we will all, at some point in our lives... fall. We will all fall. We must carry this in our hearts... that what we have is special. That it can be taken from us, and when it is taken from us, we will be tested. We will be tested to our very souls. We will now all be tested. It is these times, it is this pain, that allows us to look inside ourselves." -Friday Night Lights episode 1

And with this quote, my obsession began. Friday Night Lights is the only show I am absolutely obsessed with. Now, when I first heard they were making a television series based upon the movie based upon the H.G. Bissinger memoir, I was less than enthralled. I thought, "This show is going to be the dumbest show on television." Then, as time passed, I kept reading about how great the show was and how it was very underrated. When I saw that the complete first season was on sale for $15, I decided to take a chance. I mean, even if it was bad, it was only $15. All it took was the pilot episode to hook me. I have since recommended this to everybody I know and they all seem to have a deep affection for it, as well. Great characters. Great dialogue. By far, the best acted show I have ever watched on television. Do yourself a favor. Watch the first season and I guarantee you will be captivated.

Honestly, I don't watch a ton of television shows. My interests heavily lean towards film. On the other hand, I do buy a lot of television series on DVD when they are on some sort of crazy sale that I cannot pass up. Netflix instant queue definitely dictates the television I watch, as well. Rescue Me is one of the many shows currently on that I am not caught up on, but enjoy a great deal. Dennis Leary is great as the show's main character, but it is the dialogue within the fire house that makes this show.

I think The Office is absolutely hilarious. I know some people are all gung-ho on the original British series, but I find this one equally entertaining. Meg loves the Jim and Pam love story. Personally, I just enjoy the banter between Dwight and Jim.

Call me a dork, but I love The X-Files. Not in a Friday Night Lights sort of way, but in an I watched this in junior high and am somewhat nostalgic about it. I will admit some of the plot lines are absolutely ridiculous and not all the episodes are as great as the majority, but a great show that was a pop culture phenomenon at one point.

Lost was one of the shows I watched religiously. I even got Meg to watch it and she ended up more obsessed with it than I had been. The problem I have with Lost is that, while the first two seasons kept me captivated, I found myself becoming rather irritated with the show as time passed. I was one of the millions looking for answers and receiving even more questions. I was of the side that was not thrilled or impressed by the series' conclusion. I felt I had watched a show that had had so much promise, but the writers had not had any idea where the show was going so they threw some stuff together for the final season. They explained none of the things viewers had been waiting to find out and then positioned the show as open for interpretation. Problem is, I don't believe they had any idea, but instead tried to convince everyone that they always intended the show as it ended. B.S.

Guilty pleasure alert: Although I do not watch this show anymore since the girl pictured below left the series, I was an avid viewer for a decent amount of time. I even own the first four seasons, because of this girl. One Tree Hill was a show my sister recommended to me and although I found it to be extremely corny I couldn't take my eyes off of the character below. She is the love interest of the show's main character (who is brooding and likes to read, kind of like someone else I know). Again, corny as all hell, but what can I say I'm a sucker for teenage melodrama.

Some other series of mention: Fringe, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dexter, and Californication

#10 - "Do the things that scare you the most."

That quote in its' entirety; "Don't do what you want. Don't do what you don't want. Do what you're trained not to want. Do the things that scare you the most." - Chuck Palahniuk

Ok so, I've already admitted to have a slight (and by slight I mean insanely overreacting lose my mind) fear of losing my toe or fingernails. Seriously, I wasn't kidding about getting shot somewhere that won't kill me, instead of losing a nail. In horror movies, I can deal with all sorts of blood and gore, but the minute someone loses a fingernail or it is even mentioned (say in The Ring where it shows that the little girl tried to climb up the well and lost them) is when I really cringe. Almost as much as my fiancee does throughout every horror film from beginning to end. Then again, I'm pretty sure she closed her eyes at some point in Transformers during the action scenes, because she didn't want to see them get hurt. Not a joke.

But I am fairly certain this prompt requires me to delve further inside my maniacal mind in order to bring to light some thing that which may or may not be unknown to the majority of my peers.

I would have to say that I'm afraid of letting people down more than anything, which is why my current professional position, or lack thereof, gets to me so much. There is a certain sense of pride my family holds in me not only for graduating from The Ohio State University (as I said would do since I was like four and didn't even know what college was), but for pulling the grades I did while at Otterbein College (now University) while doing things concerning teaching. I guess I just had this expectation that with all the hard work I went through, during my stint at the college where I focused on my actual profession, that I would have a great chance at finding something. Somebody would see my resume and jump at the chance to employ me as a young and enthusiastic teacher. They would see that I had a 3.9 GPA, that I had been inducted into a educational honor society for teachers, that I had experience working with at-risk students, and so on. The problem is that either schools are letting teachers go due to failed levies or that my resume gets lost within the thousands floating around Columbus. So, here I am debating my future in education, because I want to continue with my life. You know, get a house, dog, have some kids. Pretty much, I'm tired of the apartment life. Meg was able to land a job at the hospital she worked at while in school, so now we're just waiting for the second half of this relationship to land something. She's been great. Very supportive, especially considering the immense amount of pressure I put upon myself, which often leads to high anxiety, which sometimes leads to mild panic attacks. I think all of those are brought on by the aforementioned fear I have of letting people down.

So, I try to listen to the optimism dished out by Meg and my family. All the "things will work out's" and "something good will happen's," while the pessimist inside my mind yells, "Things don't have to work out and who requires them to." So, my faithful blogophiles, hope for me, pray for me, or even just think, "Damn, someone cut this man a break." Maybe, someone will hear it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

#9 - "Soco Amaretto Lime"

The title of this blog is the title of a song that has come to be the theme song for most of my friends from college. These same friends are people from my hometown (some I knew, some I knew of) who all migrated to Columbus for college. It's crazy to think that people you were acquainted with but never really hung out with could become your best friends when moving to college. I believe it had something to do with the common ground we shared being from a small town so vastly different from Columbus. I think there was some sort of safety in grouping together, as well. Not that we never branched out and met new people. Our circle of friends has grown immensely over the years. Aside from the friends I have here, I also have some great friends from high school that have since spread throughout the country. I keep in touch with them as much as I can, because they truly are some of the best friends a guy could ask for. I am truly honored to have the friends that I do; friends that would do anything for me.

First, my two wonderful sisters. I would include all my other brothers and sister easily into this equation but, unfortunately, I am having trouble locating pictures of us at this current time. My brothers and sisters are my everything. They put up with me and that is a feat in and of itself.

My friends from high school. Left to right: Babic, Dereck, yours truly, and Kevin (have no idea why he looks so feminine in this picture). This picture was taken at the cabin that we used to rent out during the summer. This tradition has since been put to pasture, but I think it should make a reappearance due to the fact we are so spread out. Babic (Cleveland), Dereck (Chicago), me (Columbus), and Kevin (South Carolina). The four of us (as well as a few other not pictured) have been through a lot. Far too much and secretive to include in this blog. I miss these guys dearly.

Another picture, some of the same, but the key addition here is my buddy Zac. My hometown hero. While I was home for a year, this guy kept me sane. I spent more time with this kid than I could imagine spending with any one person. He talked me through a lot while Meg and I were on a break. Ultimately, he was the one that said if you want her back, then go get her and don't let anything stop you. Great advice, man. I owe you. On the other hand, if you ever sat in a room with the two of us, you would think one of two things: A. we hate each other or B. we argue like a couple. Not too sure I should be proud of either of those options, but he's my balding, pointy-nosed loser friend.

Ahh, the Cagnoli clan. Night and day. Night and day. I met one of these guys before I moved to Columbus and was reunited with Fat Milk Phil (middle) as I like to call him sometimes (long and ridiculous story that doesn't even make sense) a few years later. At that time, I met his younger brother, Eric (pictured right), who introduced me to Xbox live amongst other things. I wholeheartedly blame the countless hours spent on Call of Duty on that jerkface right there. The three of became very close friends and experiences a great deal: karaoke at the Crown, Gordy's, apartment pond diving, the infamous SoCo night, the Silence of the Lambs photo opp that never saw the light of day, Hair Razor, Jesse Sinclair. I know most of you reading this have no idea what I just listed, but rest assured they were great and extremely hilarious moments in my life.

Herb the III. What can I say about this asshole? If I somehow have a long lost brother out there in the world, this guy is it. I have no idea how two people could be so much alike while being completely different. This guy was the devil on my shoulder throughout college. You know, the stereotypical friend that your girlfriend or wife worries about you hanging out with even though they love him. We could probably write a screenplay based upon the craziness that ensued during our college years. Matter of fact, that's a great day. The next Good Will Hunting, but probably more like American Pie.

My Otterbein English crazies. Some of the best future teachers of America right here (if only all of us could land jobs). Two out of the four of us have by what I've heard. That leaves two more, Ohio. C'mon! Anyway, in all seriousness, these people made classes and seminars a riot. I've never seen so many nicknames in one photo. D. Reed, C. White, Freckles, and K. Rob the jewelry store and tell 'em make me a grill. Miss all of you lunatics. Especially our time in Suzanne's class.

Last, but certainly not least, my best friend. The one I'm going to marry during baseball playoffs (that must be love). I couldn't ask for anyone better. The stuff she puts up with on a daily basis, only a special person could love someone as goofy as me.

Some glaring pictorial omissions: Anokh, Jeremy, Grace, Jason, Brittany, Arin, and a few others.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Skipped Day

So, I was glancing at this sad excuse for a blog and I realized I had completely skipped over a day. So, without further delay, because I know all of you are aching for this missed opportunity to see the light of day; here is what's been missing.

A picture of something that makes me smile.

Well, I chose a video instead, but this little one is what makes me smile on a daily basis. My nephew is probably the coolest little kid I've ever come across. That little dude doesn't even know how awesome he is, but he makes his uncle smile every day. It has been hard being away from him and having to watch him grow over Skype (he now waves when I say goodbye...well, sometimes) and it is a little devastating to see how much he's grown whenever I get a chance to visit my sister. My mom and sister tell me he gets to be more and more like me every day. This probably means he's a little monster, but I like to think it's because he is so devilishly handsome. Regardless, I know he got these moves from me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

#7 - "The great affair is to Move" - R. Louis Stevenson

I live in the belief that, if I am ever going to be the writer that I aspire to be, I should travel not only for the sheer pleasure of it but the influences those experiences might provide. I've only been to a few places so far: Boston, South Carolina, Florida (a long time ago), New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and London. The last trip is the furthest I've ever traveled and provides me with a number of great memories.

While I was at Ohio State, I heard about a class that concluded with a ten day excursion to London to see the places we had read about in the novels required in the class syllabus. Aside from these specific locations, we would check out some of the more touristy spots throughout London and some neighboring towns. To be admitted into the class, one had to apply by composing an essay explaining why we should be considered for the course. I decided that the best argument I could formulate for why I should be included in the course and its subsequent voyage would be that one of the best ways to improve my writing would be through experience. I valued such a trip for the experience it would provide. Somehow, I convinced them.

The funny thing about the class that preceded the trip was that I had roughly ten weeks worth of time to spend with the people I would be traveling with, but I was kind of quiet. Oddly enough, as outgoing as I am in my daily routines I am generally quiet throughout class. Unless I have something crucial to add, I'll keep to myself. As some of the people who know me from Otterbein will attest, this is exactly how I was during my initial time at the university while I attended to get my teaching certification. I just sat there in my black hoody and shaved head probably resembling something like the unibomber. Well, my time in the class of earlier mention went much of the same way. Except for one persistent blond who sat next to me who would poke me, nag me, and even draw on me, I pretty much kept to myself aside from one-liners every so often. I have often heard from those who had that class with me that, up until the plane ride on the way to London, they only knew me as the kid who said witty things from time to time. They would come to learn how loud and obnoxious I really am. I would venture to guess they even enjoy, considering a few of them have remained friends over the years.

I have tons of memories from this trip. Reading Weekly World News with Geraldine, Katie W., and Caroline on the plane. Laughing with Emily Rosen about the safety precaution pamphlet. Drinking in the middle of Hyde Park with the group until the park closed and some young hooligans helped us escape. Climbing the lions in Trafalgar Square. Going to see The Phantom of the Opera and meeting a couple from Texas (who kept buying me drinks because they had a son my age in college and I was also American). Going to a bar afterwards with my classmates and running into a guy who was a foreign exchange student in my small hometown (had to get a picture with him). The Jack the Ripper tour. Seeing Romeo and Juliet at The Globe Theatre. Visiting Cheers of London. Watching Geraldine chew a guy out for creepily hitting on her and making the mistake of calling her "Chinese." Perhaps the best was going to the original Hard Rock and sneaking down to the fault during our two hour wait to get a table. While there we met a stoner who was in charge of the tours who decided to let us hang out with him. He even went as far as to let me play the guitars of certain rock idols who I have already named in my fifteen facts (Vedder, Cobain, Hendrix, Vaughn, and Clapton). Later, I stood on the table and sang "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" and was able to get the entire restaurant to sing and clap along.

It was a great time. Almost too great to convey in this blog. One of my favorite times. I hope that I am able to return one day.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

#6 - "I didn't know Pudge was gonna hit a homer." Favorite Movies

I've been looking forward to this post. I am a movie fanatic. Old movies, new movies, award-winning movies, and guilty pleasures. I own a majority of the films on the A.F.I. best-of lists as well as most of the movies that have been nominated for best picture over the past couple of years. This, however, does not really shape my favorite movies list. There are a few choice selections on there where you might think "Jesus, and this guy watches classic movies? What the hell is this doing on his favorites list?" As I said, I like all kinds of movies, but my favorites are the ones that I escape within and they can be as corny or lame as I would like them to be.

10. Reign Over Me (2007)

Not the greatest cinematic achievement, but this is the first movie I saw with my fiancee. I think that warrants a spot on my top ten. Don't get me wrong, I believe this is an extremely underrated movie. Most of Adam Sandler's dramatic roles are. His portrayal of man alienation himself within himself and the music of his past after the death of his family on 9/11 is a definite accomplishment and shows that Sandler can do drama; if only he could get past the baby talk of his earlier films (no matter how enjoyable they are). Unfortunately, his voice always reminds you of this.

9. Garden State (2004)

Two words: Natalie Portman. She makes this movie. I love her. I love this movie. A lot of people liken my fiancee's appearance to that of Natalie Portman in this movie. I don't see. Frankly, I would find it somewhat creepy if my fiancee just so happened to resemble the actress I've been obsessed with since I was a young adolescent male. On the other hand, I'd be one lucky guy. Eh, I'm a pretty damn lucky guy anyway. P.S. I laugh my ass off during this scene.

8. Chasing Amy (1997)

Kevin Smith's film about unrequited love would seem like one that would hit home for almost everyone. Throw in that the object of the unrequited love is a lesbian and you have a specific instance from my college years. Long story short, I dated a girl who was battling her demons and I guess as a means of testing her feelings decided to date me. I ended up liking her a whole lot. She ended up kissing women and wanting to be "just friends." Wow. That sounds absolutely pitiful when written down. Well, laugh it up, folks. I'm here for you. Anyway, I loved this movie long before I met the above-mentioned female, but watching it now provides an even more entertaining few hours.

7. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

Absolutely hilarious. This film knocked Tommy Boy off of my favorite comedy list and completely out of my top ten. It has since went on to move up a few spots. Ridiculously raunchy. Crudely hysterical. This movie brightens my mood every time. Not too mention some of the most quotable lines ever. For Christmas one year, my friend got me a shirt that identifies me as a yo-yo master. Unless you've seen this movie, you won't get the joke. Steve Carrell is wonderful in this movie, but it is the supporting cast that makes this movie so wonderful. Some of my favorite scenes: here, here, and here.

6. Scent of a Woman (1992)

Al Pacino nails his obnoxious scream here. As a vet who has lost his eyesight, Pacino teaches Chris O'Donnell's character some valuable truths about life. O'Donnell, in return, provides the old man with friendship. The tango scene in this movie is absolutely wonderful. So much so that I purchased a collection of tango music just so I could have the song from this scene. The film's ending is inspirational and delightful. Again, providing Pacino with the stage to do that which has in recent years become somewhat of a parody.

5. The Apartment (1960)

Jack Lemmon's finest film. Billy Wilder made a number of great movies (Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, etc), but this, I believe, is his best. At its' time it was a bit controversial, but the movie concludes with one of the best arguments toward morality. Lemmon plays a office drone who loans out his apartment to various higher-ups and their extramarital affairs in hopes of, one day, moving up in the world. This seems well and fine until he learns that the girl he has eyes for is a member of one of these affairs. Most romantic comedies end with the hero getting the girl. This one ends with the simple statement, "Shut up and deal."

4. Life as a House (2001)

My friend Gay Corey recommended this film during my senior year of high school. With his recommendation came a warning. I had recently lost my stepfather and he warned that the film could offer two things; either assistance or agony. I felt both during the film, but I also found a sense of closure to some extent. I purchased this movie for my stepsister shortly after and she had a similar experience. I have since recommended this movie to a number of friends. Most of them were reluctant due to concerns it would be sappy; even corny. Every single one of them has since went on to rave about how great the film is. I don't want to give anything away, but as I'm sure you've figured out after reading what I've already jotted down this film involves the death of a father. I've included the trailer to pique your interest.

3. Closer (2004)

Based of the play by Patrick Marber, this film is chockful of the kind of dialogue that makes film and literature so fantastic. Like most Natalie Portman movies, I saw this movie solely based upon the fact that she was in it, but this film has solid performances by everyone involved. The story of four people (a photographer, a writer, a doctor, and a stripper) who have interconnected lives and relationships with one another, this film offers us an accurate portrayal of infidelity and deception, but more importantly issues of trust in concerns to relationships. Perhaps, the greatest aspect of this movie, in my opinion, is that of the four people depicted it is the one who can be seen as the least respected who emerges as the most morally sound character at the film's summation. This movie is not for those who love happy endings, but it is for those who enjoy realism and dialogue. Natalie Portman was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for this film. She should of won. For proof, look here. On the other hand, it is Clive Owen, especially in this scene, who sticks to your ribs after the credits roll.

2. Se7en (1995)

Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman at their respective bests. Kevin Spacey makes for one of the darkest psychopaths in fairly recent movie history. I remember picking this movie out the summer before I began 7th grade. My mother was not too pleased that my stepfather allowed me to buy it. My stepfather replied with something along the lines of, "Do you see what that kid reads already? Between Stephen King and Charles Bukowski I think this movie isn't going to change him one way or another?" Thank you to my stepfather for having the faith that I would not turn into some gun-toting, angst-ridden teenage psychopath lunatic. Thanks to my mother for being the concerned woman she always has been. This movie has it all; suspense, action, some of the best one-liners (truly good ones, not that lame C.S.I. garbage), and an ending that if you haven't seen it will knock your socks off. If you're not familiar with this film, check this out.

And the winner is....

1. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Hands down, my favorite film. One year, while at Ohio State, they had this movie channel where they would pick like two movies and play them over and over again for a week or a month, something like that. So, essentially, what you would have to choose from during any given week was say Goodfellas or Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. One month, one of the movie options was Good Will Hunting, which I had watched a time or two before. During this span of airtime, I must have watched that move a good thirty times. Not from beginning to finish, because, much like HBO, the movies just played continuously all day. So, I'd catch either the whole thing or the last twenty minutes. It didn't matter, I always watched it. I could probably quote you this movie line by line. Don't worry, I'll spare you the agony. I have two scenes that give me goosebumps every time I watch them. The first is when Sean (Robin Williams) tells Will (Matt Damon) how he chose meeting his wife over Game 6 of the 1975 World Series (arguably the greatest game in World Series history; it lives in lore). Being a die-hard Red Sox (though admittedly too young to have witnessed this game), I love this scene and can almost relate to it. The other scene is when Sean and Will are sitting in the Boston Gardens. Sean is telling Will that, although he may be a smart kid, he doesn't know anything because he has to first care about someone else more than himself. When my fiancee took me to Boston for my birthday this past summer, the bench in the park where this scene takes place is the spot I chose to pop the question. Funny thing is, although there is no one around in this particular park during the film's famous scene, the place was packed full of people (which is usually the case I later discovered). So, here I was with this moment, which was intended to be intimate and quiet, amongst hundreds of other people. Did I mention I love this movie?

There you have it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

#5 - Siblings Without Rivalry

"I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at." - Maya Angelou

I'll try not to get too sentimental when discussing my siblings. We are not a sentimental bunch. I have one younger biological sister named Megan. When my mother remarried the marriage brought along another Megan, also younger than me. Both girls sharing the same middle name, as well. This prompted years of referring to them simply as "Megan R." and "Megan K." due to their respective last names. It was a small calamity. Years later, I met the girl I would go on to be engaged to and can you guess her name? That's right. It almost cause
d me not to talk to her, but she was an insisting little thing.

My father remarried to a woman who had four children. Two boys, two girls; all older than me. So, let's get this dynamic. At my mother's house (she had custody), I was the oldest. When I went to stay with my dad, I was
the youngest. The brother closest to my age (5 years my elder) used to beat the ever-living hell out of me for fun. He thought that was playing and I sincerely believe he thought I enjoyed. To be honest, I don't back down easily and am not the sanest of all people when it comes to pain, so yeah I probably did enjoy it to some degree. The funny thing about it, in retrospective, is that the oldest brother used to beat on him when I was getting knocked around. You know what though? I'm grateful for all of it. It makes great conversation at family outings and it made me one tough s.o.b. Besides, I got my brother a few times when he least expected it and I'm pretty sure I could take him now. I also think he knows it.

Those two guys are not only great brothers, but great friends. We have helped one another through way too much to convey in this simple blog. We've also had some pretty big rumbles in the past, but family means pulling it together. In the case of the aforementioned brother who used to bash my face in, as we got older he hit a few rough spots that put a definite strain on the close relationship we had developed over the years. He got into some trouble and, at times, was not the kindest person to the little brother who had looked up to him for years. I stuck around and we weathered that storm. Despite what the world throws at you, the fact remains that we are brothers. Bruce Springsteen said it best in Highway Patrolman, "I catch him when he's strayin' like any brother would, man turns his back on his family, he just ain't no good." The oldest brother and I were not as close when I was younger, due to the fair amount of distance between our ages. During my senior year, we began to get a lot closer and had some epic battles in Madden Football. He also always gave my friends and I a place to hang out. He's a fun guy, a great guy.

My sisters from that marriage are two wonderful ladies who have not only give me the pleasure of being a part of their lives, but have also given me wonderful nieces and nephews. I know that since I have moved to Columbus I don't get to see all of you as much as I would like to, but you are always in my thoughts and more importantly in my heart. There is no hyphenation in front of that. DNA
and blood does not define that.

My sister from my mother's marriage is quite the unique story. When we were kids, I thought she was a lot like my other little sister....a little bratty snot. Coincidentally, my two sisters must have thought this way about one another, as well. They were two typical girls; playing one minute and at each other's throats the next. There was one time where I saw them have a knock-down, all-out brawl over Barbies when they were 9 years old. I was something like 12 or 13 and they just tore into one another while I stood there laughing. My stepfather came rushing in, pulled them apart, and put them in separate rooms. Then, he asked me why I didn't do anything to stop it. My reply, "'Cuz it was hilarious." Needless to say, I got in the most trouble that day for litera
lly not doing "anything." When my stepfather passed away, my sister lost her father. We both went through a moment in life that was like no other we had ever had to deal with previously. Looking back, that time in our lives changed a lot of things, but more importantly I believe it brought us a lot closer. I feel closest to her when discussing that time. One year, I bought her Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, because I felt that was the first time I had read something that helped me cope in a way other than depression. Since then, she is my favorite person to buy for during Christmas and, although this might get me into trouble, she always gets the most well thought out gifts. Ones that are personal to me and I know she will value.

This brings me to the biggest pain in my ass; my biological sister. The girl who once called me a "dick" during an argument (which admittedly I provoked). During said argument, she went on to get so angry that she kicked a drawer in the house and broke it. She then proceeded to scream at me, because she kicked the drawer and was going to
get busted. Megan locked herself in her room until my parents came home and she heard them yelling at me. She walked out to find me taking the blame for the drawer. After I was berated and grounded, I turned to walk to my room (and my newly appointed sentence there) and smiled at my sister. That story sums up our relationship. That and the one where we had a lemon fight in the house and then spent twenty minutes hurrying to get lemon stains off the wall before our parents returned. She is my best friend. I miss her every day. Over a year ago, she called to tell me that she was pregnant. Fast forward awhile later. I have the coolest nephew of all time. He is awesome and he loves his uncle. I'm fairly certain he loves me more than his own mother. Yeah, I'm full of shit. Regardless, my sister and that little man bring more smiles to my world on a daily basis than most things. All it takes is a simple glance at a picture or a welcome Skype conversation.