Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Toys 'R Us, anyone?

When you're a kid, people ask you: what do you want to be when you grow up? I've never had a really good answer for that. On more than one occasion I thought I had an answer for it. When I was younger, my answers were the normal kid answers. I wanted to be a pilot like my dad, I wanted to be a cop, a fireman, a soldier and a superhero.

When I grew up a little my answers changed a bit. I had more realistic, if not vague, goals. I started school studying Business Administration, but had no idea what I wanted to do with that degree, or even what I could do with it, but that didn't stop me from forging ahead one whole semester in pursuit of this goal.

When I came home from my LDS mission, I was talking with some friends and we had decided to move to Arizona and pursue our fortunes. Education was important to me, so I insisted we move someplace near a college or university. We learned that Arizona State University was a short drive from Phoenix and thus it was settled. We were moving to Arizona. Why Arizona? Why not?

After checking the tuition rates and realizing that I would be an non-resident student and would pay double for tuition, I shot that plan down. A short time later, I decided to change my major and my post-college plans to that of the field of Criminal Justice. This path lasted for all of a year and a half until I changed my major, yet again, to Psychology. At this time, I was "pot committed" (beware the link soft-hearted people). I finished my degree in Psychology, but couldn't settle down.

I planned to be a police officer in Phoenix, because I wanted to be a cop and I wanted to live in Arizona. Nevermind that my entire experience with Arizona consisted of a short stop in Tuscon (?) for a day (maybe two) when I was about 8 years old, planning a move with my friends years earlier, and hearing a song I now know is by Mark Lindsay, aptly titled "Arizona". The chorus of the song is all I really knew (and know) and it goes a little something like this: Ar-i-zohona (something, something), Ar-i-zohona (something else, something else). Profound lyrics.

After my brief foray into the police hiring process, I decided it wasn't for me. I felt lost. My life's plan of almost three years, the longest to that point, was gone. I didn't know what to do or where to turn.

It was this point that I started getting creative with my plans, and it hasn't really stopped yet. I wanted to buy a motorhome and a couple waverunners and move to Lake Tahoe and live in the motorhome and rent the waverunners to tourists seeking summer fun. When winter came, my plan was to buy some snowmobiles and do the same thing.

I wanted to own a dive shop and be a SCUBA instructor/tour guide in Hawaii taking people to old wrecks and WWII relics under water. Nevermind the fact that I'm not a SCUBA Dive Master, not SCUBA certified and have never actually been SCUBA diving, a dive shop in Hawaii was the plan.

These are just two examples of some of the more 'creative' life plans I've had. You'd think that now that I'm a college graduate, in a solid career and a graduate student in a program attached to a fairly prestigious college in a well known university, I'd grow up and settle down a little. Guess what? I'm still thinking and scheming for my life plan.

In recent weeks, I've wanted to live on a houseboat on the Great Salt Lake, be a flower farmer in Hawaii and have a ranch in Texas. Give me a couple of weeks and I'm sure I'll have at least one more plan.

I'm a stage in my life where most people would consider themselves "grown up", but I'm far from being grown up. Is there a rule that one has to grow up? I sure hope not, because that's one thing that is definitely not in any of my plans.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Waiting for the other shoe to drop...

On my way to work today, I saw a sight that probably everyone has seen at least once – a lone shoe sitting in the middle of the road. Despite the common nature of this, I was perplexed. Whenever I see a shoe sitting by itself, I always wonder, “Where is its mate? How in the world did it get there? Does someone know it’s missing?”

Folks, these are questions with no easy answers. I thought long and hard this morning to come up with some answers and I present them now to you. They are, respectively: don’t know, don’t know, most likely.

But, on a more serious note, let’s examine this phenomenon a little more and see if we can’t come to some conclusions regarding the shoes. The first thing I always think happened is that it fell off of, or out of, the back of a truck. But, then I start to wonder, “How does a shoe just fall off of, or out of, the back of a truck?” I’ve had plenty of shoes in the back of a truck and not one has ever fallen off, out or in any way become separated from the truck. This explanation is clearly not reasonable.

Another possibility that must be examined is that someone, out of sheer malice may have thrown it from a car. This hypothesis has some holes, however. When I was a kid and on road trips, my siblings and I would generally take off our shoes because it was more comfortable. Inevitably, I would get mad at a sibling (usually my brother) for such heinous offenses as putting his arm on my side of the seat, staring at me, pretending to touch me and calling me names under his breath. When an appeal to parental authority didn’t resolve the situation, I would take matters into my own hands – I would grab one of his shoes and threaten to hurl it out the window. I knew I would never actually throw my brother’s shoe out the window, but if it happened to somehow fall out of my hand…

Another possibility is that the owner of the shoe could have been wearing it when he was crossing the street and an inattentive motorist may have struck the individual, knocking him clean out of his shoe(s). He would probably not have the presence of mind, while being wheeled into an ambulance, to inquire about his missing left shoe. However, in the course of the investigation, I would hope some observant police officer might happen upon the shoe and return it to its rightful owner, thus removing it from the street before I have the opportunity to ponder it.

Lastly, a fourth, and decidedly more likely, possibility needs to be discussed. I realize this may be uncomfortable for some of you to consider. Out of my kindness to the sensitivities of my readers, if you are faint of heart or easily frightened, I ask you to stop reading now because what follows will surely be disturbing to my more delicate readers. What I will speak of next has to do with things some people aren’t comfortable discussing in an open forum.

We are being invaded by aliens; our vagrant population is being abducted. You see, the shoe I saw was not a child’s shoe, so the possibility that a kid would be mad at his brother for encroaching on his vehicular territory is not a plausible explanation. It was not a newer shoe; in fact, this very shoe (like many others seen on the road) had seen its fair share of use and was almost completely worn out, not a typical shoe that your average Joe-blow would wear. This was the shoe of a person whose home was the street.

Think about this people. If YOU were to be abducted by an alien spacecraft, people would know that you were missing, questions would be asked, investigations would be started, searches would happen, billboards and signs would be erected and after all that, when you couldn’t be located, people would start looking skyward for an explanation. The aliens are smart beings and they recognize this. They don’t want the attention, thus they target people that few would notice are missing: our homeless population.

So, my friends, the next time you see a lone shoe sitting on the road, do what I do: pause for a moment of silence, bow your head and remember those who have gone before. Then, adjust your tin foil hat and get the heck outta there!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Turn, turn, turn

Possibly the most important thing Mufasa taught his son, Simba, in The Lion King was that life had a circle. Things have a beginning and things have an ending. The Byrds also teach this important lesson when they sing, "To everything (turn, turn turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time for every purpose under heaven - a time to be born, a time to die..." I think they may have gotten that from somewhere else, though.

It seems that, for me, this has been a season of death more than birth. I already posted once about my alarm clock dieing (the first turn), but if that had been the only thing, I would have been fine. However, it's been a rough little while - you know what they say: bad things come in threes...turn, turn, turn.

If I'd been paying attention to that karmic adage I would have been on my toes, watching for the other two impending deaths. Unfortunately, I failed to heed the warning of karma and have suffered the consequences. Fortunately, I've completed the fatal trifecta and have lived to tell the tale.

As many of you know, I am in a graduate program working on a degree in Public Administration. Part of being in a graduate program entails the necessity of owning a laptop, which I affectionately call "Pam" (an anagram of MPA - the program I'm in). Well, unbeknownst to me, Pam recently started having health problems and on a sad Sunday a couple weeks ago, gave up the ghost...or the hard drive. The second turn. After talking to half of India (apparently where HP's customer service/tech support centers are located), I was able to get the much needed replacement hard drive and have since brought Pam back to life. However, it's a different Pam, a Pam who once was dead and now is alive, a veritable vampire of computers. A Pampire, if you will.

Shortly after Pam expired, I was laying on the floor in my living room, wearing a favorite pair of plaid pajama pants, watching television. I happened to glance down at my black plaid pants and saw a flash of white. Weird. Upon closer examination, I noticed that the white was coming from under the pants. I had split the seam and torn the area surrounding the seam without knowing it. The third turn. These weren't just any pajama pants, these were special. Growing up, our family had a Christmas tradition of getting pajamas on Christmas Eve and I had been given this pair circa Christmas Eve 2002 -- the last pair I'd been given in this tradition.

Using amazing powers of deduction, I determined that the splitting was caused by the pants' shrinking. Over the years, a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, and a slowing metabolism combined to shrink the PJ's approximately three sizes and created a curve-hugging pair of pajamas that had no equal. Shrinkage is no myth folks - it's a fact.

Julius Caesar was warned about the ides of March. Too bad nobody told me about the ides of April.