Monday, July 25, 2011

Life Lessons: A Mission Statement (sort of)

I was at Starbucks the other day (okay everyday) and some lady was hogging up the cream/sugar area - had her fat ass parked right in the middle of the stand and was in no hurry to finish up while ten other people (including myself) waited patiently behind / around her to jack up their joe. How long does it take to cream/sugar your coffee anyway? She didn’t even have a fucking coffee – had one of those milkshake concoctions masquerading as coffee (just what her huge ass needed – more empty calories). Anyways it got me thinking about how fucking rude and self-centered people generally are these days (as opposed to the “good old days” I’m always hearing about – which may very well be a myth / urban legend like Bigfoot, UFO’s, and blowjobs after marriage). I digress… where was I again? Oh yeah, it’s not all about you bitch – how about some consideration for your fellow man? As I fixed up my coffee and did my best to give her the stank eye as she exited the building, I started to think about basic things people could do to make life more pleasant for everyone. I then noticed a “mission statement” on the wall of Starbucks and decided I would write a mission statement for living a happier, more fulfilling life. What started out as a mission statement got rather lengthy and soon turned into more of a list. It’s not all encompassing by any means – just a stream of consciousness of simple things people could do on an everyday basis to make life better for them and the people around them. Here's what I ended up with:

Life Lessons: A Mission Statement (sort of)

1) Don’t talk about yourself too much, unless your name’s Oprah you’re not that big of a deal

2) Keep your vanity in check, remember metrosexual is just another word for gay

3) Give people the benefit of the doubt and try to see the good in them (even though sometimes it just ain’t there)

4) Don’t care so much what other people think, embrace your individuality

5) Listen intently when others are speaking, don’t interrupt

6) Be honest with yourself and the people around you

7) Remember: wearing a Bluetooth headset is no different than wearing a nametag that says, Hi my name is… douche bag

8) Practice moderation in all aspects of your life, don’t let one think dominate your existence

9) Think of others before yourself, nobody likes a selfish asshole

10) Don’t forget to spend time with your older relatives, you’ll miss them when they’re gone

11) Always put your wife before your Mom. One can give you a guilt trip, the other can withhold sex – no brainer

12) Be a good friend, call or write for no reason whatsoever

13) Keep the fun lamp lit, if you’re not having any fun what’s the point?

14) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but be sure to learn from them when you do

15) Keep an even keel, avoid the high-highs and the low-lows

16) Have opinions but keep them to yourself

17) Use people’s first names on a regular basis, behold the power of acknowledgement

18) Call in sick every once in a while, unless of course nobody will miss you when you’re gone (in that case you better show up early and stay late)

19) Words to live by: just because you can doesn’t mean you should

20) Remove the word “hate” from your vocabulary, unless you’re talking about TJ Simers - I hate that guy

21) Remember that spontaneous road trips are always a good idea

22) Laugh often and look for reasons to celebrate (keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge at all times just in case)

23) Be self aware, know your strengths but more importantly know your weaknesses

24) Lead with actions not words

25) Never tolerate racism, prejudice, or bigotry of any kind, and don’t hang around people who do

26) Don’t fixate on death, live in the moment and appreciate the time you do have

27) Learn to embrace fear, fear more than anything inspires greatness

28) Never feel sorry for yourself or expect anyone else to either (boo fuckin hoo – get over it)

29) Don’t get bogged down in the details, stay focused on the big picture

30) Never make important decisions on Mondays (when you’re too depressed) or Fridays (when you’re too happy)

31) Don’t make excuses or blame others for your problems, own your shit

32) Play the hand you were dealt – never spend time dwelling on the things you don’t have

33) Realize that perfection is a myth

34) Regularly show gratitude to the people around you and don’t be stingy with compliments

35) Experiences trump possessions so don’t be a slave to yours

36) Don’t hit “Reply to All” on e-mail unless it’s appropriate or necessary to do so (which is RARELY the case)

37) Build a portfolio of unique experiences, just because you’re average doesn’t mean you have to live a life full of average experiences

38) Sex tape = bad idea (always)

39) Get informed, ignorance and apathy are very unattractive qualities

40) Give yourself something to look forward to (always have a vacation on the books)

41) Don’t push your lifestyle choices or your religious beliefs on others, if it’s good for you that’s good enough

42) Never become complacent with any aspect of your life

43) Be cautious to give advice, even if somebody asks you for it

44) Don’t ignore your ethnic background but don’t let it define you either

45) Remember: you can never use too many sports analogies

46) Strong body = strong mind, get your sorry ass to the gym

47) Always cook with a cocktail in hand

48) Don’t give more information than necessary, less is more

49) Get outside and experience nature as often as possible, remember cages come in all different sizes and shapes

50) Marry someone who’s your moral superior, it will increase your chances of getting into heaven

In summary just be cool and remember that it’s not all about you.

Now if only I could start following my own advice…

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On Death and Dying

I’m 37 years old which is way too young to be thinking about death, right? I’ve now lost 3 friends under the age of 40 within the past 6 months so I’m starting to wonder. To clarify none of them were close friends – just people I’d spent time with at some point in my life. Honestly if not for Facebook I probably would’ve lost touch with them all years ago. Not because I didn’t like them or have anything in common with them, but because after marriage and children life tends to get in the way of old friendships. Given the passive nature of our current relationships the news of each death while shocking wasn’t something that rocked me to the core. Instead each time I was left with a quiet sadness to reflect upon the brief moments we’d shared. I definitely feel sorry that I’ll never see them again, but I’m more saddened for the young families that each left behind. I guess I need to face it – life is fleeting. And whether we like it or not we have little to no control over when it’s our time to go. As I somberly looked through the Facebook profiles of Brian, Justin, and Christine, and read through the notes of sympathy left behind on their walls (I know, it seems strange to talk about FB profiles and wall messages at a time like this, but I guess this is our new reality) I was struck by a couple of quotes from Justin and Christine:

From Christine Cook Gajda who bravely battled breast cancer before succumbing to the disease on July 17, 2011: "I just wish everyone had my perspective...don't sweat the small’s all so all doesn't mean anything when it comes down to it. Just appreciate all the people you love and leave behind the ones that cause strife...there's no time for that."

From Justin Yates who tragically died in a plane crash on June 1, 2011: “Life is like the weather. One day it's Sunshine and Blue Skies and the next day it's Thunderstorms, Rain, and Wind and then back to sunshine and blue skies. No matter what you are going through.......just know that sunshine and blue skies are right around the corner. We have to appreciate the dark to enjoy the light.”

I was moved by their words and just wanted to share. I’m convinced now more than ever that life is beautiful, and we should enjoy every minute. I tend not to get too serious on this blog but there’s a time and a place for everything. Three bright stars who burned out far too soon. RIP my friends.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How Coed Softball is Like Life

My wife and I started an adult coed softball team last year and it’s been quite the experience. Being new to the process we decided it would be a good idea to join a competitive league. Every member of our team is in relatively good shape and has a background in athletics so how hard could it be, right? After being “mercy’d” (a game is called when one of the teams is losing by 15 or more runs after the 4th inning) in our first two games we quickly realized that the teams in the competitive leagues mean business, coed or not. Heading into game #3 we changed our team name to “No Mercy” (you see what we did there? very clever, I know) and haven’t been mercy’d since. The fact that we started practicing and knocked the rust off our bats and gloves didn’t hurt either. While humbling in the beginning competitive coed softball has turned out to be a very rewarding experience and we now spend every week looking forward to Friday nights (game night). Some nights we’re able to recapture shades of glory’s past… and some nights we just look old. But regardless every night we have a lot of fun and we learn something about ourselves and about life. What follows are 15 ways that coed softball is like life:

1) If you’re going to draw attention to yourself you better be able to back it up

2) The fit people tend to perform better and have longer playing careers

3) When you make an error your wife is always the first person to pile on and give you shit

4) It’s way more fun to play when you’re drunk

5) Swinging for the fences almost always results in an out

6) Winning matters – losers stay home for the playoffs

7) The hot chicks get all the attention

8) Youth has its moments but experience prevails in the end

9) If you don’t take an at bat you have absolutely zero chance of getting a hit

10) Sometimes you fall down and you’ve got to dust yourself off and get up (except for that fat lady who broke her arm a couple weeks ago – she got carted off on a stretcher)

11) Differences are best worked out at the bar after the game is over

12) Nobody remembers what you did the game before – to stay great you’ve got to prove yourself every week

13) If you don’t plan ahead there’s a slim chance you’ll make the right decision in the heat of the moment

14) There’ll always be some asshole you want to punch in the face

15) Losing f*cking sucks

And there you have it. Sport imitating life one high-arching, slow pitch at a time. See you on the diamond.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Observations from Cabo

Spent the better part of the past two weeks in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and now I’m back home suffering from a major vacation hangover. God I love Cabo. The weather is perfect, the scenery is beautiful, the fish are gigantic, the people are hospitable, and most everything is reasonably priced (relative to other resort destinations). It’s why I come back every summer. For all its glory though Cabo does have some quirks. In no particular order of importance what follows are my observations from Cabo.

1) Why is the price of everything in Cabo negotiable? Can you imagine walking into the Gap in America and haggling with the sales lady over the price of a pair of khaki’s? $50 dollars? No, I’m sorry that’s too much – I’ll give you $40 plus you throw in a pair of cargo shorts… and some chicle (I love that shit).

2) How come the cabbies in Cabo never carry any change and when they do it’s inevitably in pesos? Um, I’m no math major Jose but I’m pretty sure you owe me more than 20 pesos considering I just gave you $20 USD for a $7 cab ride. Nothing like ripping off the drunk Americans, I guess.

3) Why is the music played in every Cabo bar and restaurant always 20-30 years old? No offense to Brian Adams, Rick Springfield, or the Miami Sound Machine but come on. Would someone please enlighten the good people of Cabo that they can download CURRENT songs from iTunes for just $.99 a pop?

4) Why is the first thing they always show you at a Cabo car rental place where the spare tire and jack are located in your vehicle? I’ve rented a car in America at least a hundred times and not once have they shown me where the spare tire and jack are located. I always laugh and say but I’m sure we won’t need it, right? And they always smile back with the same sheepish grin – you’re screwed gringo.

5) How were the Cabo contractors / construction workers able to build a five star resort into the side of a solid rock mountain (Capella at Pedregal) including a lighted tunnel right through the bottom of the f*cking mountain, but they were unable to build streets with drainage? On the third morning of our trip it rained about a quarter of an inch and no lie every street in downtown Cabo had 2 feet of standing water for the rest of the day.

6) I know the term “Mexican minute” exists for a reason but does it really need to take two hours to serve me tacos and beer? What the hell are you doing back there anyway?

7) I’m fascinated to know if there’s a pecking order of seniority amongst the multitude of beach vendors? For example do the newbies get stuck lugging around blankets, ponchos, and heavy pottery while the seasoned vets get to rifle through friendship bracelets and those light-up-shoot-em-in-the-sky-thingies? Seriously – who’s gonna buy a blanket or a poncho when it’s 105 degrees outside, and what the hell are you going do with a ceramic salad bowl while you’re snorkeling and jet-skiing on the beach?

8) Why are there no child labor laws in Mexico? My daughter wanted beaded braids in her hair and I swear the little girl who put them in was like 5 years old. Not really sure if a Mexican parent’s motivation is to grow their family or their workforce.

9) Of the 3 channels broadcasting American television I'd be curious to know who's making the programming decisions. "Friends", "The Simpsons", and a show called "The Doctors" run on a continuous 24-hour loop. Is this bizarre grouping what they think is representative of American culture? I didn't even know "The Doctors" was a real show until I saw it on Mexican television.

10) How come everyone in Cabo’s an activities broker? The slime bag dudes pimping time shares at the airport, the fast talking guy with the bullhorn at the marina, the “concierge” at the hotel, the dude selling pineapple on the beach, the checker at the grocery store – they all want to “hook you up” with an activity whether it’s swimming with dolphins, zip lining across a desert valley, deep sea fishing, or under water basket weaving – you name it they’ve got access to it, and everyone wants a cut. Strange.

11) Speaking of strange if Mexico’s supposed to be so dangerous nowadays why has absolutely nothing changed in Cabo over the past 10 years (outside of the explosive development)? This was the tenth summer in a row I've taken my family to Cabo for vacation and never once for a even a single second have we felt threatened for our safety (less the time I drank a glass of ghost pepper habanero sauce but that's a different story). Don’t buy into the hype people – Cabo’s just as great and safe as ever. Being the furthest point south from the Mexican / American border certainly doesn't hurt either.

Until next year Cabo. Estancia de oro mi amigo.