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Tough Mudder Wasn't Tough - July 21, 2013

So, I did the Tough Mudder Tahoe Event on the 13th, and I have a confession to make. Before I did the event, I said to my buddy Dough, that I was doing it with, I already know the title of the blog I’m going to write about this... Tough Mudder Wasn’t Tough. He laughed, and asked how I could possibly come to that conclusion before I participated in the event. All I could say is, I just know it.

Truth be told, I had a little more to go on than my gut feeling. In preparation for the event, I decided to train like an animal... No, not really, in fact the only thing I was worried about was what to wear. I mean, I didn’t wan tot show up looking like an idiot that had no idea what he was doing. In fact I watched a video on what to wear and, as a matter of fact, the guy was actually making fun of people who were wearing bad clothes. Ultimately I settled on getting a pair of sneakers from Target, and wearing some gym shorts and a compression shirt that I already had.

Then to physically prepare I ate a bunch of ice-cream, for the energy, and also had some McDonald’s. That was it. Honestly, and I kind of feel bad for this, but I had a mocking attitude towards the whole thing. I mean, everything about it seemed silly. The website really hyped it up and made it really seem tough, and I just knew it wasn’t. None-the-less I ran the event.

It was cake.

So, basically this is how it goes: You stroll along the trails, and from time to time you casually do an obstacle. Or at least that’s what most people do. Sure we saw some people jogging every now and then, and a few more running, but you know what? We just caught up to them every time there was a line for an obstacle, or when they were catching their breath.

Okay, so like I said, I did have an attitude of mocking the whole time, but I wasn’t even the worst. At the start line I saw a guy wearing a polyester suit. I kid you not. A polyester suit on a hot day in Northern California. That guy was may more into the mocking thing than me, and he was like sixty years old.

I suppose I should speak to some of the obstacles. Nothing was really that tough. I’m not going to talk about all of them since, honestly, there isn’t much to say about some of them. I’ll only comment on a few. For your reference you can find the full course map that I did here. It was just over 10 miles with 19 obstacles.

I’ll start with the first obstacle, Glory Blades, not because there was anything remarkable about it, mostly because it was a sign of things to come. A sign of a lot of cake. It was a wall about seven feet high leaning towards you. A shorter person might need help getting up that high, and someone that couldn’t do at least one pullup might need a boost to get over it since you really couldn’t use your feet at all. I basically jumped up, grabbed it, and with not too much difficultly got over it. In all fairness to saying the whole thing was cake, it was actually kind of tough.

From there, basically there was a lot of crawling through muddy arenas of sorts whether it be through tubes or under barbed wire., There was plenty of mud on the obstacles. It even included a bath in ice-water to wash off all the mud. None of that was really too challenging, though, unless you didn’t like getting dirty.

The toughest obstacle was something called Lumberjacked. It was basically some really high logs that that pretty much required a boost to get over. There were two of them. On the first one I tried to make it over by myself, but it was pretty hard to get a grip on so someone ended up pushing my feet up. I wasn’t even going to try to get over the second one by myself, but Doug said, This one looks a lot easier, just get a running start. So I was like, Okay, and made a run for it, and actually got over it by myself. Doug had quite a bit more trouble than me and ended up doing some weird somersault over it and then fell on his butt, and he was super angry and embarrassed for the next mile. Ultimately that was the toughest obstacle, especially if you decided to do it by yourself.

Another kind of fun one was the Berlin Walls. On the website it says that are 12 feet tall, but my guess is that proved too dangerous in times past, because it most certainly was not 12 feet high, more like 9 feet, maybe 10. This was one that I had no problems doing solo either. It was fun to watch other people try it though. Some basically just smacked their faces in to the wall. The seemed to be jumping forward and not up. Others walked around, and plenty more got boosts up. Doug ultimately needed a boost too since his leg was cramping up. So that was that.

Of course I must mention the scariest obstacle which was the electrocutions. The Electric Eel was the first of two of these. Which was crawling under wires, occasionally getting shocked. Really the scariest thing about it is because you didn’t know when to expect a shock to occur so it was basically just a shockingly surprising jolt that you all the sudden felt. I only got shocked twice that I could feel on the Electric Eel and the second shock made my leg kick, and I may have kicked the person behind me. The second electrocution obstacle was Electroshock Therapy, which was also the last obstacle. You run through this one, and I think the idea is that you are running and then get a shock and it ends up knocking you down because your leg muscles spasm or something. I only got shocked once on this one, right at the end, in the arm. Not enough to knock me over, but it would have been hilarious to have gotten knocked over. Like the I said though, really not that hard, just you didn’t know when to expect a shock.

In conclusion, it was basically just really easy. Doug said that he though the obstacles should have been three times as long, and then it might have been tough. And I decided that it might have been tough had the obstacles been back to back. I mean it was really just some hiking, then a fun obstacle. You really couldn’t even go fast on the obstacles if you wanted to because there were so many people on them. Also, I will admit that we didn’t make it particularly tough. If you actually ran the whole thing and tried to do it in an hour and a half or something like that it would probably be pretty tough. But taking four hours to do it, no way is that tough.

As for preparation, eating some ice-cream was fine, and you don’t need to bring anything with you. They have Clif Bars and bananas and water all along the way for you. Doug ended up saying that the toughest obstacle was that there were no bathrooms for the last two miles, and we both had to go, so we just held it.

Apparently some people get tattoos, I have no idea why. You don’t prove anything by doing this. I mean it literally was just a walk in the park on a nice sunny day. Ultimately I will say this, despite the fact that it wasn’t tough, it was fun. I’ll give them that. What you should do is just get as big a group as possible and do it. Anyone that can hike 10 miles can do it, and since they have snacks for you it’s hiking without a backpack which makes it super easy. So do it, and have a blast! And last of all there is absolutely nothing to worry about. You can skip whatever obstacles you want, and the only thing you have to deal with is your self sense of shame. I had one buddy that I invited to do it, and he was like, Man, I’m not in shape. And afterwards, I was like, Man it wouldn’t have mattered. I would say this though, if you do do it, sign up early. I paid almost $200.00 to do it, and seriously that’s a lot of money to pay to go hiking.

My Life Didn't Flash Before My Eyes: A Lake Tahoe Adventure! - July 2, 2013

I saw a mass of blue barreling towards me like a semi-truck that had lost it’s brakes. The wind coming off it’s surface became stronger with every passing millisecond. Never in my life had I experienced such a gamut of emotion: fear, exhilaration, and anticipation to name a few. Death was seemingly on the line, and yet, I couldn’t help but think of one thing: My life wasn’t flashing before my eyes. No regrets came to mind. No past experiences. Pretty much all I thought was that I was going to hit that mass of blue, and it was going to happen soon.

Adam and I were too excited to take photos, but luckily this particular cliff diving spot is popular, so here are some pictures of some other people for your reference. The rock is known as Mohawk Rock at DL Bliss State Park. Another link to someone else jumping off the same cliff:
I went cliff diving at Lake Tahoe at DL Bliss State Park. Some say that before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. They’re wrong. No such thing happened to me. Okay, seriously, I don’t know that they’re wrong. It’s very possible that your life does flash before your eyes when you’re about to die, or even when you think you’re about to die, but in all reality, I knew I wasn’t going to die. I’d seen others jump off the very same cliff, and they lived. So why would anything be different for me?

And yet, I can’t help but think, what exactly would I want to have flash before my eyes had I been about to die? What does one really want out of life? There’s probably a lot of things that people want, for me adventure comes to mind. One time when I was a little boy I was hanging out at my dad’s apartment, bored out of my mind, and he gave me a book about some guy’s travels, it was called The Royal Road to Romance by Richard Halliburton. I ended up reading quite a bit of it. I’m not for sure, but I believe my dad gave me that book because he wanted me to do some traveling, and thought that it might inspire me. In a lot of ways it did. It at least made me want to go, but then reality sort of set in. Travel isn’t the easiest thing, it’s basically really expensive, and also the prospect of it scares me.

Why is it that travel is what we think of when we think of adventure, though? Probably because that is what the adventurers of old did. Did not Columbus and Magellan travel? They did. Were we not taught about the conquistadors like Cort├ęs in Elementary school? We were. True, these men had travels, but was the adventure just travel? No. I say it isn’t. When one goes to Europe, they come back and say, I went to Europe, it was awesome. Then when you ask them what was awesome, they show a bunch of pictures of stuff that everyone else has taken pictures of. I guess that was a little adventurous, but where is the story? When Columbus discovered America, he didn’t come back and say, I saw a beach, it was awesome. He said, I discovered a New World!

So I jumped off a rock at Lake Tahoe, so what? Lots of people have done that. While it was thrilling for me, and I even made a little story out of it when telling it to my friends, it was hardly an adventure. I’m going to spend the rest of this post talking about the adventure that I did have at DL Bliss State Park, and part of the point to this is to demonstrate that adventure can be had anywhere, not just in foreign lands.

All-in-all there were about twenty of us hanging out in a Cabin near Tahoe, so naturally we split into different groups to do stuff, and I ended up in a group of seven that decided to go to the beach and do some hiking on Saturday morning. The plan was simple, walk a loop trail, see some sort of lighthouse that was marked on the map, then end up back at the beach and lounge around and go swimming and such. Basically, nothing too adventurous, but good company, none-the-less.

Seeing a lighthouse that looked like an outhouse was a real adventure!
So we saw a the lighthouse, and it was just about the lamest lighthouse I’d ever seen in my life, so I was like, I say we bust it. And someone was like, No! It’s a landmark! And I was like, I was joking about busting it. So we marched along, and we were up pretty high on the side of the cliffs above the lake, and I said, Let us walk off the path. So we did, and we looked down the cliff-side, and more pictures were taken. And a few feet away from us the cliffs ended, and it was more of a really steep incline, and I was like, I bet we could make it down that way. And so about half our group walked to the edge, and it was steeper than it had looked, but it still looked like we could make it, so I said, Maybe it’s a little dangerous, only the most adventurous of us should go. And so everyone in the group except for this dude named Adam backed off, and Adam said, Yeah, I think we can make it.

We went hiking and had someone take a picture. Like, please.
And so the adventure began with me and Adam. The rest of the group went back to the trail with a farewell, Don’t die!

I’ll admit that there was quite a bit of hesitation about going down there. I mean it was steep, but not that steep. The most dangerous part of it would be that we had backpacks on that might throw us off balance. I could see some ropes and cables further down, so I knew someone else had been down there. In any case, I figured that if we did decided to go down there, we weren’t coming back up. So I said to Adam, If we go down there, we’re going to have to flag down a motorboat to get a ride back. Adam seemed to think that was an alright idea. So we started down the slope.

It was a bit sketchy, or as Adam called it, Sketch. Naturally it was quite slippy due to the loose rocks, so we were basically sliding on our butts and using our hands to brake. The ropes and cables helped us on the way down, and while I can’t condone trusting your life in ropes you know nothing about, I did it anyways. There was one part where Adam jumped across a four foot chasm to get to the rope on the other side. He tossed me the rope before I made the the same jump, so it wasn’t nearly as scary for me. At that point it was basically a fifteen foot drop to the next landing, so I said, If I drop my backpack we’re committed to going all the way down, and before Adam even responded I dropped my backpack over the edge, and went down the rope after it. From there it wasn’t far to the water’s edge.

Since it was basically cliffs in the area there was no beach to speak of. Just some big rocks by the water’s edge. So we lay our gear on some rocks, and Adam said, We jumping in? And I was like, I guess. So I changed into the swimsuit that was in my backpack, and put on some sunscreen. I wanted Adam to jump in first, because I was scared of how cold it was, but ultimately we counted to three and jumped in together, and the cold was actually pretty tolerable.

Then after a few minutes, I was like, Okay, let’s flag down a motorboat so we can get off this rock. And Adam was like, Okay, go ahead. In that moment, I realized my fatal mistake. When I had I suggested to Adam that we flag down a motorboat to get a ride back, I kind of figured he’d be perfectly willing to flag down a boat. I was wrong, he was just as afraid as I was to flag down a boat. And so, we basically spent half an hour saying to each other, Should we hike back up? I dunno, maybe we should wave our arms. I don’t want to look like an idiot waving my arms. We should hike back up. And so forth. In the meantime we watched various motorboats cruising around, and even one that looked like it had run out of gas. Another boat was just sort of drifting nearby, I thought they might be a good prospect but they didn’t seem to be responding to our arm waving, and they were out of vocal reach. In all honesty, we weren’t stranded. It wasn’t really going to be that hard to get back to the beach if we didn’t get a ride, but we had our backpacks with us, and we didn’t really want to get everything inside them wet because there was really no beach, so we would be swimming part of the way.

Then, we saw some cliff divers, and Adam was like, Maybe we can swim over there, make some friends, then ask them for a ride. That seemed reasonable, so we left our packs behind and started making our way to the cliffs. Unfortunately by the time we got half way there, the cliff divers left. So I hollered back to Adam, I think we’re screwed. The cliff diver’s are gone. What should we do? And he was like, I dunno.

Fate must have been smiling on us in that moment, though. I mentioned that there had been a motorboat drifting nearby. Well it so happened that two little girls had gotten a rubber rafter out of it, and had rowed to the very same rocks where we had left our backpacks. I said to Adam, You see that boat over there. Two little girls just got off of it and rowed up to our rocks. And he was like, They did? And I said, Yeah, maybe we can ask them for a ride. And he was like, Yeah, maybe we caught a break. And so we made a swim back to the rocks, and I was like, in a very creepy (though unintentionally so) manner, Hey girls, can you ask your parents if they’ll give us a ride to the shore? And they were like, What?, and quickly got back onto their rubber raft and rowed back to the boat. And I was like, Great, we’re screwed, and I look like a creepy idiot.

We motorboat hitch-hiked with two little girls. Kind of creepy, I know, but we had to get back to the beach!
Then Adam was like, Screw it, and he hollered out to the girl’s parents, who had drifted significantly closer, Hey there! Can you give us a ride? And the dad was like, What? And Adam was like, Can you give us a ride? And the dad was like, Where are you going? And we said, We don’t know the name of the beach, but it’s just up there. The first one up that way, and we pointed. And the guy didn’t really want to give us a ride, but he agreed. And so he sent his girls back out on the rubber raft, and we put our backpacks on the rubber raft, and then we swam out to the motorboat, and I thought I was was going to drown right there, but I didn’t.

And so we got a ride back to the shore. And basically, it was really awesome. And definitely pretty creepy, and the dad made the little girls sit far away from us. And we were gone for such a long time that Adam had gotten a text that said, Are you alive? And I was like, I’m glad they cared enough to be worried. Then we told everyone the story. No one else had much to say about their adventures going around the hiking trail the usual way. Yeah, it was an adventure, and all we had to do was ignore the rules that society had set for us, and walk off the beaten path. After that is when me and Adam made our way over to the same rock where we’d seen the cliff diver’s and made the jump ourselves.

I Was a Genius, Once - April 28, 2013

I would have like to have been a genius. To have been one to accomplish something great. I studied mathematics in college. The history of mathematics is full of geniuses. Of course there is Newton and Leibniz who seem to get most the credit for inventing calculus, and if you know anything about mathematics, it seems like everything important is some kind of calculus. So basically these guys laid the foundation for all of modern mathematics. Speaking of calculus, I heard a broadcast on NPR about how President Obama has been using calculus, and I was like, What is he even talking about? The calculus of the situation? What exactly is he integrating to figure this stuff out? I mean I know about some real world applications of calculus from some physics classes I took, but political stuff, that is way beyond my meager knowledge. I don’t even know what you would do the calculus on, the statistics or something I guess.

In any case, I studied mathematics, and so I’m aware of the work of geniuses. And believe me, it boggles my mind. The mere fact that someone can invent that stuff blows me away. That’s what I liked most about mathematics, I suppose, knowing that it’s invented. Mathematics doesn’t really occur naturally in nature. There is no cosmic force that says 1 plus 1 is 2. I know you probably think that, Of course 1 and 1 makes 2. If you have 1 apple then put another 1 apple beside it, then you have 2 apples. I can agree that you do have 2 apples, but the only reason we call it 2 is because that is how the mathematics was designed. Did you know in some worlds 1 plus 1 equals 10? Yes indeed. In a world not too far from our own it is 10. What I’m saying is that there is all sorts of different mathematics for all sorts of different applications, and all of it exists because someone invented the mathematics to apply to that situation.

Anyway, I digress. What I really want to write about is genius, because I was a genius, once...

When I was young, my mom had a couple of train sets. They were just sort of sitting in our basement, all boxed up. I don’t know if she wanted to make miniature landscapes like so many people do or what, but she wasn’t doing anything with them. I was just a young lad, so naturally I saw them as toys and wanted to play with them, but my mom told me and my brother that we couldn’t play with them because they weren’t toys and we’d break them. One day, however, due to our excessive begging, or the fact that she realized she was never going to do anything with them, she caved and told us we could play with trains.

And so we set them up. They were broken by the end of that day. Yeah, my mom was right. We broke them, and then we had no trains to play with. It was very sad indeed. In all fairness, though, it was better that those trains had the little life we gave them than the lack of life that they would have had, had we not taken them out of the boxes.

And so the trains remained motionless, the tracks sitting in our playroom, the trains just sort of laying there on their sides. Boy did I want to play with them, though. I loved trains, and I especially loved trains that I could control. And so me and my brother were sitting in the playroom one day, and I stood up and declared, Eureka! I’m going to get those trains to work. We will be running them by nightfall. Okay, so I didn’t say exactly that, but I really wanted those trains running.

As a lad, I didn’t really understand how things worked. My brain wasn’t developed at all. I understood simple concepts like unscrewing things, and putting pieces together that obviously matched, but beyond that I had no knowledge of electric current or anything. What I did know was that things had to be plugged in or have batteries to work.

The trains themselves didn’t have batteries. Instead the tracks were plugged into the wall. I therefore deduced that somehow the tracks gave the train power, and if the trains weren’t working then maybe it was because they had no power, and if they had no power, then something must be wrong with getting power from the tracks to the train. And lo! I noticed that on the bottom side of the train engine was a little piece of metal that was supposed to make contact with the track, but it had broken off. And there I had it! I knew what the problem with the train was.

I realized that somehow that piece of metal needed to make contact with the tracks or the trains wouldn’t move. So I did the only logical thing to do. I bent what little metal was left so that it would make contact with the track, and sure enough it worked! The trains were running, and my brother declared, You are a genius! And I said, I am? And he said, Yes, a genius! And I was like, What’s a genius? And he was like, Someone who does smart things. And I was like, I’m a genius!

Now I know that in reading this you might be thinking my brother was speaking sarcastically. Understand that he wasn’t. He was genuinely happy that I had gotten the trains running again. We both wanted them running, and they were, and hence, as far as he was concerned, I was a genius. I loved hearing that word, Genius! I hadn’t even known what a genius was, and there I was, being called one. Me, a genius! I said the word over and over again. I liked the word. I wanted it to be true.

We broke the trains again that very day. They were pretty fun, fragile, though.

I never really was a genius again after that, sadly. I mean in high school and college people thought I was smart, but I always reflected back to that train. When I fixed that train I truly discovered something on my own. I didn’t have a teacher or mentor or book to show me what to do. All I had was what was before me. All I had was my own observations of the situation, and I seized the moment. I’m okay with not being a genius now, though. To have been a genius in the eyes of another once, is enough for me.

Was I really even a genius then? I don’t know, probably not. I kind of wonder what a real genius is. I’m loathe to give out the word to anyone. I don’t think it’s enough to have an eidetic memory or knowing a lot of things. I think a genius is one who sees something that other people haven’t been able to see. To solve a problem that no one else has solved, as the mathematicians of old did. Before fixing that train, others had probably fixed trains as well, but I did see something that, at least, my brother didn’t see. If there had been only two people in the world in that moment, then I was a genius. I wonder if there really are people that are geniuses or if it’s just moments of genius that people sometimes have, like I did.

Categories: 1988-1995 K-6

I Wrote a Letter to Myself 10 Years Ago - March 31, 2013

I have this envelope with the words, Don’t Open Till Oct 7 2008, written on it. A letter that I wrote to myself. I assume I wrote it on October 7, 1998, because I remember that when I wrote it I wasn’t supposed to open it for ten years. It was an assignment to write this letter when I was in Mrs. Adams’ 10th grade English class. While I don’t remember the specifics of the assignment, I think we students were supposed to answer specific questions such as, Where will you be living? and What will your job be? Mrs. Adams also told us that it might be a good idea to keep it in our underwear drawer since we would always have underwear.

Well, I went ahead and wrote the letter and put it in my sock/underwear drawer where it remained for several years. Later I moved it to a safety deposit box. In 2009 or 2010 I was thinking that my ten year high school reunion was coming up, and so it had probably been more than ten years since I had written that letter and it was about time I read it. At the time of this writing, another three or four years have passed.

In the years between writing it and opening it, I thought of it from time to time. I’d see it in my drawer and be like, I sort of remember what I wrote. I remembered that I wrote that I would be driving a Ferrari, specifically the car that Magnum P.I. drove. I remembered that I said I would be living in Hollywood, and that I would be a movie star. (Which I have no idea why, since I never really wanted to be an actor, I just wanted to be famous. Also, I remember that the girl behind me had said, Hollywood! as soon as the question was presented to us, and that seemed alright to me.) And I remember that I wrote that I would be married to this girl I had a crush on named Julie.

Let me get to the actual letter, which I’m sort of reading for the first time again, since it has been so long since I last read it. The thing about it is that I’m pretty sure that those three things, car, job, and wife, were the only three things in the entire letter. I remember that before I read it, I was like, I wonder what things are in the letter that I forgot. And then I read it, and I was like, Absolutely everything I remembered was in it, and nothing else! So, anyway, I’m about to write the full body of it right now, so we’ll see what’s in it. Here goes...


Ten years from now on October 7, 2008, I suspect that I am reading this. Jack, by now you ought to be in Hollywood, where all the rich houses are. Married to the hot, foxy babe Julie S. By now you should be making about 10 million a year. You work as an actor. Mostly in mystery and spy films. Most people like the movies you are in. You’re not in any perverted movies, but violent ones. Yes, you live now in Hollywood in a 2 million dollar home with a butler named , anyways he’s cool enough. You have one room in your house that is a pure trampoline. No, actually you just have a real good one in your back yard. You have only one child, a girl which has a funny name, or a boy’s name, but either way, weird. You should now be driving a Ferrari, the same year that Magnum P.I.’s was. You should be rich, happy, never hungry. Your wife doesn’t cook. Your cook does.

You sometimes ride in a limousine, and have a chauffeur with a french name. You have visited England, France, and Egypt by now. You also sing rather well. You play no instrument, and you obviously are stupid for reading this. If none of this ever happened then you either became a professional killer, joined the army and will fight, or already fought and died, in World War III.

Wow! That was freaking weird. Especially the ending part, it got a little dark there, didn’t it? Where did that professional killer stuff even come from? I must not have been taking it seriously at all, I mean I remembered that I was considering going into the Army when I was in high school, and I kind of figured that World War III was going to happen.

The rest of it, though, was pretty much what I remembered. Hollywood actor, Magnum P.I. car, Julie. I mean I used a lot more words, but that was the gist of what it said. I guess I also seemed obsessed with money and being rich, but that kind of went along with the whole Ferrari and Hollywood thing, so I’m not surprised that I didn’t remember that specifically. Also, for reference’s sake, I literally wrote quote-unquote for the butler’s name. I have no idea why. I guess I couldn’t think of anything.

So what was I actually doing ten years after writing the letter? Career-wise, I was a student. Financially, I made about $12,000.00 a year working part time. Relationship-wise, I was single, and Julie was married to someone else. Vocabulary-wise, I still use the word fox to describe attractive women. (Speaking of which, let me tell you about Julie, she was one of those girls that was a total nerdy-looking, dare I say ugly, girl in the 8th grade, then when 9th grade started she wore contacts, did her hair, used at least some makeup, and stopped wearing baggy clothes. Like a butterfly out of the cocoon that was the summer between 8th and 9th grade, she emerged, and I had a crush on her right away.) I do remember that I wanted to give my children unusual names when I was that age, and that has changed. At this point I wouldn’t even give them unusual spellings of common names, such as Rebekah for Rebecca, since I think that’s pretentious, and everybody’s doing that these days, it seems.

I suppose that’s the real irony of the ten years later thing. Not much changed. I was a student when I wrote it, I was a student when I read it. Basically I did all the same things I did then. It’s actually kind of depressing to think about.

Years before I wrote that letter, when I was an even younger teenager, I thought life was hard. So hard, in fact, that I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to even begin to figure out how to approach it. I was hoping that I would just wake up one day with amnesia, and it would be ten years later and I would have my whole life figured out. Yeah, just wake up one morning, have a wife, a job, a house, a car, and children. Everything that one needs to make life worth while. I’d just wake up, find a woman next to me and be like, I guess that’s my wife. Get up, go to the bathroom to shower, look in the mirror and be like, I guess this is my house, and I guess that’s me. Sit down at the kitchen table for breakfast, and be like, By the way, wife, I can’t remember the past ten years. That’s why I just called you wife instead of your name. Also, children, what are your names? And the children would be like, Mommy, daddy’s being silly. Then as I left for work I’d give my wife a kiss as I walked out the door, just assuming we did that every day, then I’d just drive around for hours since I didn’t know where work was. Yeah, that’s what I was hoping for as a teenager. Heck, I was going to write a novel about it entitled, Ten Years Later. It seemed like life would just be easier that way. I wouldn’t have to figure anything out. Now I realize that you still got to figure out life. It doesn’t happen automatically, just because you will get amnesia in the future. So that’s my plan, figure out life, then get amnesia.

What’s weird about my amnesia fantasy as opposed to what I wrote in the letter, though, was that in the amnesia fantasy I didn’t care at all about being rich and famous. I wonder why? Even today I still fantasize about being famous. But in the amnesia fantasy all I wanted was an ordinary life. The amnesia fantasy predates the letter by a few years, I think it first crossed my mind when I was twelve or thirteen. The letter was written when I was fifteen. So maybe that was the difference. Of course the amnesia fantasy was all in my head, I never wrote it down. I only thought about writing a novel about it, about some other guy that had amnesia, and not me. The letter was written down, it was about me. It’s possible I didn’t want to write down some fantasy about me living some ordinary life, I mean this girl in class was saying, Hollywood! when the question was posed. I wasn’t about to write down something less exciting. I kind of wonder what happened to that girl. Maybe she did end up in Hollywood.

Perhaps I should write another letter to myself to be opened in another ten years. Certainly my life has not yet come full circle, there are still things to come. I do have more practical expectations of where I want my life to go, where it will probably go, and where it might go, and certainly I could make more interesting predictions, but, on the other hand, I don’t think I’ll write down such things. I don’t want to jinx myself. You know what I mean?

Categories: 1999-2001 High

I'm Ashamed to Admit It: I Tattletaled - March 20, 2013

I was thinking about bullying recently. It wasn’t too long ago that I saw the film Cyberbully, one of the worst films ever made, and also I heard on NPR that some Gangsta Rappers were speaking out against bullying. This got me wondering if I was every bullied. Definitely I was a prime target for bullying, skinny, small, shy, and a good student. I wasn’t really bullied, though. Not really. I was an easy target to be made fun of, still am in some regards, but all of that was in good fun. I do have one experience where I was bullied, and shame followed: I tattletaled. I’ve never shared the following story with any person. I’m that ashamed of it... That, and I didn’t really think about the story until recently.

I was 12 years old, in the culture I grew up in that’s when you begin to become a man. It was my first year in middle school. The 7th grade. It was pretty much the worst time of my life. I was scared to death, knew nothing about anything, pretty much hated to go out in public. You know the score. It’s a horrible time for everyone, really. On a side note, just to emphasize how awkward a time this was for everyone, I want to tell you about this girl in my English class at the time: She always wore an sweatshirt inside out. And I mean, always. Every single day. Even during the warm months. And I may be wrong, but I’m 90% sure that she wore the sweatshirt because she was embarrassed about her maturing body, and that she wore it inside out because there was some dumb logo on the sweatshirt. I mean, I sympathize. I once wore a Mario sweatshirt inside out because I was embarrassed. I wonder if that girl had it worst than most. Definitely in her attempt to be less noticeable she stood out, and didn’t even know it. She was an attractive girl too, I mean at least as far as twelve-year-olds find other twelve-year-olds attractive. So it was an awkward time for all. And I was no exception, so back to my story...

I was eating lunch one day with my usual posse, of which the only person who I remember being in it was my buddy Aaron, but there were a few others that varied from time to time, this kid named Jared comes to mind... In any case there were about five or six of us total. We were all eating lunch. Talking about video games, most likely. And suddenly I feel this wet thing in my right ear. And I was like, Gross somebody just stuck their tongue up my ear. And it was this dude who’s name I didn’t even know, but I’d seen him around. And it wasn’t his tongue that he stuck up my ear, it was a french-fry with some fry sauce, a Utah institution, on it. I have no idea why this kid targeted me, because I didn’t even know the kid, like I said, I didn’t even know his name.

Anyway, what I should have done was laugh it off. In fact everyone at the table was telling me to laugh it off. Alternatively, what I should have done was start a fight with the kid, no one at the table was telling me to do that. But I think it would have been a fair fight since we were both about the same size. So definitely it would have been a good story had we gotten into a fight, but instead I never once got into a fight, so I don’t have that story to tell. Well enough about what I should have done, here’s what I did do: I went through the rest of the day totally upset about this event. I was so angry at this kid all day. And here’s the part I’m ashamed of... Nay, here’s the part I’m doubly ashamed of, and I sort of hinted that it involved tattelaling, but it’s even worst than that... I went home crying. Yes indeed! I went home and bawled my eyes out. Crying to my mom, as I told her about the experience. It was doubly bad. First I was tattletaling, and second I was crying. Crying! Me, a twelve year old boy. Twelve! The first stage of being a man. And there I was crying to my mom. I wonder if I’m more ashamed of that than I am about tattletaling.

Okay, about now you’re probably thinking, That’s not really tattletaling, you just told your mom, it doesn’t even matter. I tell my mom everything. You are right about that, but it get’s worse. Way worse. So I was totally upset the day it happened, but the next day I go to school and I’m sort of over it. I mean I remembered it, but I wasn’t crying anymore, and then I get called to the vice-principal’s office. And I was thinking, What could I have possibly done? Was this because I was late for school like two weeks ago? And so I found myself in the vice-principal’s office, scared to death. And he’s like, So your mom called the school... I died right there. Literally died, for like 30 seconds, then came back to life, and I was like, If there is any mercy in this world, get me out of this room, let this event be erased from everyone’s memory. Indeed, it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. My mom called the school and told them I was crying because of some kid... I was devastated. I wanted to disappear into Oblivion. I never wanted to be seen again. I was like, Why mom? Why? I was already over it. I mean, sure, I had some resentment for the kid, but I didn’t want anyone to know about it, least of all the vice-principal. I can’t even begin to express how ashamed I was in that moment. Trying to explain that some kid stuck a french fry up my ear, and the vice principal being like, Well, there’s really nothing we can do about it, since you don’t even know the kid’s name. And I was like, Good. I don’t want you to do anything about it. I don’t want anyone to know it happened. I don’t want anyone to know I was crying to my mom.

Somehow I lived. Even though I had died for like 30 seconds, and then I got out of that office, and went back to class. And when some of my peers asked me why I got called to the office, I was like, Oh, it was just (think of some dumb excuse that if you told an adult they would know you are lying, but another kid might not question you).

So yeah, I’m pretty ashamed of that all. I had indirectly tattetaled on this kid to the vice-principal. To the vice-principal! I’m not mad at my mom. I never was. I mean, she was this single mom, and her baby was crying, and she didn’t know what to do, so she called the school. If I had had two parents things might have been different. Certainly I would never call the school because my kid was crying about something as unimportant as that. Certainly I wouldn’t want to put them through the embarrassment. My mom didn’t know, and so I had to experience the shame.

But there, I said it. I admitted something I’m ashamed of. It actually feels kind of good to get that off my chest. I kind of wonder what happened to the kid that stuck the french fry up my ear. Maybe he’s a doctor or something now, but being that I’m not sure what his name was, I can’t even facebook cyber-stalk him to find out.

Categories: 1995-1998 Middle

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