Friday, May 31, 2013

The Real World and Candy Divorce + Reconcilliation

Does anybody remember the Real World? That horrible show on MTV? Apparently, it debuted in 1992, when I was but a wee lad, and guess what? It's still going on. I guess people still watch MTV. "People" is a loose term, used to describe anything with appropriate chromosomes, though I think that many of the specimens who watch MTV, especially those who still watch The Real World, are more aptly described as "morons," "idiots," "the lowest common denominator," and "Flyers Fans".

In the show, a group of similarly-termed idiots leave home, and join similar idiots, to live together. I guess some of them look for jobs, some of them watch tv, most of them have sex and spread syphilis, and presumably, they all ruin their families' opinions of themselves.

While there are some realistic elements, such as the inclusion of breathing human beings and oxygen, very little of it is "the real world". The real world does not often provide stipends, pool tables, and Jacuzzis to idiots. Actually, I'm pretty sure Michael Moore owns a Jacuzzi and probably a pool table, so I might be wrong.
This is a picture I drew on Microsoft Paint. It is a manatee, sitting on a bench on a beach, sipping on a Bahama Mama (or some other festively-named beverage), enjoying a palm tree and rays of sunshine beating down upon him. This picture is perhaps more like the real world than The Real World.

From the moment I graduated about two weeks ago, my Mom has mentioned this nebulous idea of the real world to me. "Mentioned," perhaps, is not the best word for it. She's been harping on it. But she's right. However, it finally hit me today when I checked my bank account and saw how much money I have left in it, just how screwed I am. Here, let me show you what it was like.
I am playing the part of Brock Lesnar, while Hulk Hogan is planet Earth/the ATM at the mall.

Quick thought: I think ATMs should ask you for an estimate when they check to see how much money you don't have (which in my case is "almost all of the money"). If you guess too high, it will play the fail sound from The Price Is Right. And, much like The Price Is Right, if you do end up guessing too high, the ATM will not allow you to make any further transactions.

The safe bet is always $1.

The point of this whole post is that I just felt like writing something, because I'm sitting up, thinking about money. Not in a vain, greedy sort of way. Rather, I'm thinking such things as "I'm going to be living at home forever" and "I bet I'd be good at flipping burgers".

Of course, I have a few things on my mind, including looking into teaching abroad for a year, trying to get a job at the Almanac, and continuing to draw bad pictures and write aimlessly on this very blog. Two of these will result in money, and the third will get me nowhere, though my friends seem to enjoy it, which makes me happy.

But as I lament about my financial sorrows at the moment, I find solace in the story of two beloved culinary idols, known simply as Mike and Ike. You see, last year, Mike and Ike had a divorce.
And it appears that Mike got the rights to "and".

The official website described it as a split due to "creative differences," but in this day and age of marriage equality, I find it disheartening that Messrs. Mike and Ike did not take a stand for divorce equality. They could have been the first major public figures to bring the demise of holy matrimony in same-sex relationships to the forefront of the public eye, but they failed to do so. One can only hope that Johnson and Johnson will endure their own relationship issues in the near future.

After the split, it is rumored that Ike took half of Mike's stuff, as Mike had the higher net worth, due to his name coming first in the candy's title. When one thinks of Mike and Ike candy, alleged Ike's attorneys (ironically the same as Ike Turner's attorneys), the first name is the one which sticks with consumers, thus entitling Ike to half of Mike's belongings. So much for the justice system.

Mike, dismayed at the loss of his mansion and 1983 Ferrari, was driven to drugs and alcohol, eventually hitting his low point amidst binging on crack with Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

But what gives me hope for my future is this: in 2013, Mike checked himself into the Betty Ford Center, to seek help for his substance-abuse issues. There were many hard days in the Betty Ford Clinic for young Mike, as he went through the pains of withdrawal and wondered aloud why people can remember more about Betty Ford than Gerald Ford. About a month into his stay, Ike came to visit and the two quickly reconciled their previously-irreconcilable differences.

The two have sense restarted their whirlwind love, though business has taken a back seat to family. They adopted two children, Lem and Mel, whose delicious lemon and watermelon flavored candies I am currently eating. Things are looking up for Mike and Ike.

When all seemed lost, and the end appeared near for everyone's favorite semi-cylindrical fruit-flavored confectionery couple, crack addiction reared its ugly head, and through matrimonial and personal turmoil, the duo found new life. It is my new found belief that if Mike can overcome crippling addiction and reunite with his true love amidst great public pressure and scrutiny, I can certainly get The Almanac to publish something I wrote.

See? There was a point to all of that.
I should go to bed now.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Dramatic Retelling of Yet Another Time I Almost Died....WITH PICTURES!

Some people get injured in serious ways. Sometimes it's out of their control, and sometimes it is because of something stupid they were doing. Not me.

No, I have Will Schuster injuries.

A Will Schuster injury is when you do something really stupid, think you're going to die, and then end up without so much as a bruise, and people either don't believe you or think you're a wuss.

Recently, my friend was punching me because of a conversation we had months ago, in which I told her, a very talented boxer, that I'd fight her for her own amusement. I avoided the "confrontation" for months, until I finally couldn't anymore, and told her to please just stay away from my face, since it's very, very handsome. To her credit, she listened. I appreciated it.

The end result was that she bruised my ribs up a bit, and it hurt. Woe is me. Problem was, the bruises weren't visible, so she took no pity on me, nor did anyone else.

This is a Will Schuster Injury.

But the story I am going to tell is a Will Schuster Moment. A Will Schuster Moment is when I'm not injured, but due to some stupid choice I made, I almost died. The zipline story is one of those.

My friends and I decided to go to Presque Isle to enjoy the last warm day I would experience as an Erie resident. We slacklined for a bit, which is sort of like walking a tightrope, only you're supposed to vault off it and do flips or something.

As it turns out, I'm not very aerodynamic.

There's an old saying I love, which is that "a bumblebee's body is too large for its wings to support it. But the bumblebee does not know this, so it flies anyways". I'm like the bumblebee, except I know that I cannot fly, yet I try anyways.
I tried to do a frontflip several times, and each time, I landed on my spine. Smarter people would have given up, but I didn't. Then, on the fourth try, I successfully did a front flip! And then landed on my face. I promptly retired from the competitive world of obscure gymnastics with an 0-4 record.

Relaxing on the vacated lifeguard's chair after my retirement, my friends John and Whitney decided to go into the freezing water and swim to the rocks, which had "keep off" painted ominously on them. I decided to join my much-fitter friends in their quest for the rocks, like a backwards Christopher Columbus, and headed away from land, joined by the incomparable Jake Sturm.

The water was treacherous, my friends. Not only this, but it was cold. Too cold. I was worried I might never see certain parts of my body again. But I soldiered on, because I had to make it to those rocks.

Now, you know when you see a tall building and think "meh, that isn't THAT tall," but then you get to the top and scream "OH MY GOD, I NEED TO GO DOWN IMMEDIATELY"? Just me? Well, the rocks were similar. From the beach, they were close. In the water, they might as well have been New Zealand.

For the first bit of the journey, I was able to walk, but eventually, it got too deep, and I had to freestyle swim my way to these rocks. About 3/4 of the way there, my asthma started catching up with me. I had to make it to these rocks, though, because I couldn't turn back. If I did, I certainly wouldn't make it back to the shore.

So I'm kicking. And paddling. And kicking. And drowning. And paddling. And drowning some more.

My life flashed before my eyes. 22 years. Family, friends, things I never got to accomplish. All of it, gone. I was going to drown in Lake Erie, arguably the lamest of the Great Lakes to die in.

I raised my arms up to signal to my friends that I was about to drown.

Then I slipped under the cold Lake Erie water.


As it turned out, the bottom of the lake curved back up, and was only about 5 feet deep. All I had to do was stand up.

These are the sorts of things that only happen to me. Don't be a Will Schuster, and don't let your friends be a Will Schuster.

Because they might almost drown in shallow water.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Soundtrack Of A Lifetime

When Macho Man Randy Savage walked to the ring in the 1980's and early 1990's in the WWF, his theme music was "Pomp and Circumstance". I believe the tradition of entrance music was started with Hulk Hogan's "Real American," but that's neither here nor there. Savage's music is considered a classic, but it never really struck a cord (chord?) with me. In fact, it's a stupid song. In my mind, "Pomp and Circumstance" is just filler, to be played over in your own head with the one song that means the most to you, whatever that may be. Why is this song important? Because it's the song played at every graduation across the country. So what would I be playing over it?

"Paper Lanterns," by Green Day.

That was my song during my Freshman year of college. I was unquestionably and unapologetically unhappy. The song tells the story of a guy who's into a girl who doesn't like him back. The chorus? "To this day, I'm asking why I still think about you". It spoke to me in a way that few songs ever have. I was in a relationship I was extremely unhappy with, and it consumed me for the entirety of my Freshman year. I said horrible things to her, while she said some pretty bad things back to me. I think we both wish we could take them back. At least I do. Today, she's very happy and in the process of planning her marriage to her fiance, and I wish her luck. Things weren't great between us, but hey, you can't go four years with another person and not hope even a little bit that you both end up alright.

Problem? Getting to that, hold on.

"You Don't Know What Love Is," by The White Stripes.

Jack White is incredible, and in this song, he summed up my feelings for Sophomore year of college. You see, I'd spent over a year trying my hardest to do the impossible. Namely: make someone happy, who wasn't going to be happy until I was firmly in Pittsburgh to stay. I made a firm commitment when I decided to go to Mercyhurst University (then, Mercyhurst College), that I would stick out the bad times, and finish in four years at the place I chose. I am proud to say that I succeeded, and now have a bachelor's degree that I worked hard for. But at the time, I strongly considered leaving. I was never going to be happy in my relationship as long as I was in Erie. For every great night I had, it was going to be marred by a night of fighting on the phone with someone who didn't deserve the stress of having me so far away, and whom I didn't deserve making me feel so bad about it.

That summer, I went to a concert. My best friend in the whole world, bar none, was the person performing. I showed up late, and I was placed in a seat behind a wall, from which I couldn't see her sing. She has a beautiful voice and an even more beautiful face that could light up outer space. That wall symbolized everything that I hated in my life, which was a lot. On the other side of the wall was happiness, the one thing I craved more than anything. Just to be really, truly happy.  But I was blocked, and I needed to tear down that wall immediately. So, I drove to my girlfriend's house, who will maintain her anonymity right now, and broke up with her. I'm not proud of how I did it. In truth, I handled it worse than I could have if I tried to do it 1,000 more times. You live and learn. But as I said, we're both in better places right now. Much better places.

But after I did this, I was free. Free to do as I wanted. Free to live the life I wanted to have for over two years at that point. Free to tell my friend how I felt about her. Ah, to be in love. It isn't fun.

It didn't go according to plan.

You see, when you're a total asshole for a while, the girl you love doesn't tend to be in love with you back. Lesson to be learned, kids: if you love someone, don't hide like an idiot. Go for it. You'll always regret it if you don't. For a while, I regretted not going for it, but I finally did, and now I don't have to feel bad about not trying. I still love her and she's still my best friend. I'd give almost anything in the world to have her, but guess what? I don't. And that's alright, because I tried. Confronting my feelings for someone else has been the biggest hurdle I've encountered in my life, and I failed to do so at the right time. But inevitably, I did. So I have no regrets as far as that's concerned.

Don't be scared, just do it.

"Have a Drink On Me," by AC/DC

Hi, Mom. Welcome to junior year. I studied, and I did my work, but....I went kind of crazy. I'm sorry. You're not going to be happy to read this, but it's the truth, and I'm trying to get it all out. Well, most of it. I could ruin everybody's lives with fun facts, but out of respect, I shan't.

I was single, and...wait.....hold on.

*knock knock*

Dude, who is it?

"Alcohol. And fun. And being single."


Yeah, I drank a lot. I also went to parties. I also made a lot of friends.

I also found something I love. You might guess this from...well...this post. But, I love writing. I stumble over my words a lot when I speak, because my brain is going a million miles per second, and my mouth can only do around 100,000.  But when I write, I find that my words aren't slurred, aren't tripped over, aren't messed up. Raw, stream-of-consciousness, and candid. Deal with it, or don't read this. I write to get my feelings out, and even better, I write to make you laugh. I want you to enjoy what I have to say, and I want you to tell your friends to read my blog because I'm a funny S.O.B.

Note: please tell your friends to read my blog. I want to be a writer, and I'm going to starve if you don't. And if you've read this far, you probably don't want me to die from starvation. So please spread the word. I'm kind of funny, right? If not, let me know in the comment section, and I'll try harder.

Point is, through all the drinking, partying, and nonchalance of Junior year, I realized that there's one thing I really think I'm good at. I spent so long saying "woe is me, I'm not good at anything". Well, fuck you, high school Will, you can write pretty well. Just do that.

And so I shall.

"Burden In My Hand," by Soundgarden.

Welcome to senior year.

Why did I choose this song? Simply put, it's my favorite song of all time.

"Close your eyes and bow your head, I need a little sympathy. Because fear is strong and love's for everyone who isn't me".

That's not me. At all. I don't want sympathy, and I know love is the only thing in this world that I want. So why do I love this song?

Because it's so not me. It's a cautionary tale. It's powerful, and it isn't me. People love me, and I love them back. I've met incredible people in the last four years.

I've met a girl from the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, who truly (and I do mean truly) wants to save the entire ecosystem, and she would save the whole world if she could. She'd also kill me if she knew how many paper towels I use.

I met a girl from Pakistan, who came to America with her family, and is obsessed with the American government. Her ideas may not always be exactly in-tune with mine, but if she wants to run for President someday (once they change the rule about birth), she has my vote. She's more American than any other person I know.

I met a guy who wanted one thing, but because of something he couldn't help, had to entirely reinvent himself and become something that he wasn't planning on being quite yet, and has taken up the task admirably. He has my respect forever for what he's done so far to be the best man he can be.

I met a girl for whom life hasn't been great at all. Someone who's lost numerous friends too early, and not on her terms. But she's managed to still be beautiful, funny, and always worth my time. We fight a lot, but she's special to me, because she showed me that after everything that beat me up a bit, I can still care about other people, and I'll always owe her one for that. I constantly try to help her, but I'm not in her life to fix her. I'm just there to be me, and that's good enough.

Amazing people.

If you're reading this and saying "none of that sounds like me," don't worry. If you're reading this, chances are good that you're important to me. I just couldn't cover everyone's story here. Don't hold it against me.

But if I had to pick one song to cover everything, from start to finish, it would be "Crown of Thorns," by Mother Love Bone and covered by Pearl Jam.

Where am I headed? I have no idea.

The song talks about "Mr. Faded Glory," a guy who didn't "go for it" when he had the chance. He could've told that girl he loved her, but he didn't. He had those opportunities, but he didn't take them.

I spent all of college being Mr. Faded Glory. Not anymore. I'm trying for jobs, attempting to reach my goal. Maybe it won't happen. But at least if I go for it, I won't be able to say I didn't try.

I've told the girl I love her. I started a blog, which I share with several hundred people on a regular basis. I'm in correspondence with people who can help to get me where I want to go, and who see that my desire is genuine. But only I can get where I want to be.

Some people say, "if you want something done right, do it yourself". That's bullshit. If you want something done right, work on it yourself, but if you need help, ask one of the many awesome people you've met in your life. Maybe they won't be able to help with what you're trying to accomplish. But at the very least, maybe you'll share a pretty funny dick joke.

And in the end, if you can't laugh, you can't do much else. But I'm still laughing, and I've seen a lot in the last four years.