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Coffee Shop Confessions

Losing our Way to a Better Life

loser

As I watch the NFL Conference Championship games, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the drama of it all. Today is a day of big moments and epic plays that will be shown time and time again for years to come. This is a day of bonding moments between father and son, big tips for pizza deliverers – if their team is winning – and screams of joy mixed with groans of rage and frustration.

So as I watched these monumental events unfold, I began to think of my own feeble emotional alliance with a professional football squad. That’s right; I am an Oakland Raiders fan. I use this blog not to justify my decisions – goodness knows my therapist and I talk on this very topic weekly to no effect. Rather, as I watched the game I began to think of the many benefits of supporting a team that, well, sucks. Here they are in no particular order:

More time to spend with the family – Instead of being inexplicably drawn to the television like a chemical addiction, we can do whatever we want with our Sundays. They don’t even show our games, so there’s literally nothing to get sucked into. So feel free to go out and enjoy your day with the fam.

Health Benefits – Since you’ve got all this free time on your hands, go ahead and invest that time in other pursuits. Instead of watching your health levels decrease while your cholesterol and blood pressure increase, you are allowed to get off the couch, put down the 5.5 pieces of pizza you would’ve consumed during the game, and do some actual work. Don’t just watch healthy people – minus the linemen; be healthy people. This also increases your odds of surviving a zombie apocalypse, which is a benefit that cannot be overstated.

Improved Children’s Mental Health – Since we don’t watch football – some of us have taken a vow of anti-masochism – our kids won’t be exposed to it. The brain is basically the consistency of warm butter. And now by not watching football, my kids have a fighting chance of avoiding the fanatical indoctrination of football. Hey, if my emotional pain can prevent their long term mental health, then my team doesn’t suck in vain.

Worry-free shopping – While everyone else is watching the “big game,” I get to roam the aisles unencumbered. This provides an awesome opportunity to purchase possibly embarrassing items, like Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles – the supposed “kid cereals”. Also, the odds are that employees are watching the game while on “break” in the back. So if you’re looking to test out the speed of the shopping carts in a TP aisle drag race, then feel free. It’s like the apocalypse happened, but only for a few hours. Take advantage of it.

Financial freedom – Adequately supporting a professional team is certainly a financial investment. Just as we spend money on those we love, we financially invest in our professional romance. It’s like every Sunday is Valentine’s Day. There’s the obligatory favorite player uniform investment – not to mention a secondary investment when they get injured and you have to buy their replacement’s jersey. Then there are the snacks – beers, chips, pizza, etc. – which you don’t have to buy any more, also aiding in the whole health benefit department. Also, you never really have to worry about buying tickets to see games. Yes, they are dirt-cheep, but the gas money just isn’t worth the trip.

Less Social Media Drama – There’s no reason to get in Social Media fights over whose team is better. The answer is simple; their team is better. So there’s no reason to jump on Facebook and trash anybody or try to defend your team’s honor – they pretty much have none. This allows you to keep more friends, avoid the succubus that is social media, and have a much more cheery disposition over the weekend.

Emotional Disentanglement – Last, and certainly not least, is the fact that you know you’re team will not let you down. Low expectations equal no disappointments. In fact, your team has done you a favor by not forcing you to become too heavily invested in their lack of success. And when the playoffs role around, there’s no reason to get anxious, angry, or develop an ulcer. You can just relax and be happy, because, well, you’re team’s not even in the playoffs. Why cry over milk that doesn’t even exist to be spilt in the first place? So smile, cause you just don’t know any better.

Go support a bad team today. There are many awful teams out there just searching for a good fan – or at least a fan who will just watch them every now and again; you could be that fan. It’s the perfect blend of low commitment and high reward.  You’re heart, family, body, mind, checkbook, and emotions will all be glad you did.

Magical Thumbs of Acceptance

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With great power comes great responsibility. So please like responsibly in 2014. It is your social obligation.

The core purpose behind advertisement is to allow us an avenue to inclusion. I learned as a kid that by purchasing a certain brand I could get instant admittance to a circle of friends that spans the globe. Once upon a time, addiction to Coke (the drinking kind), Frosted Flakes (They are Grrrrreat after all), and Pizza Hut (Making it so you don’t even have to leave the house to get access to massive calorie-storage devices) came with instant perks. All of a sudden, I was one of “them.” And even though I had no real clue who “they” were, I was quite certain they liked me. I mean, we ate the same stuff. Does anything bring people together more than consumption of mass quantities of food? I think not. We were going to achieve true cellulite together; it was destined to be magical.

Fast-forward a spell and now we live in the age of not just media consumption, but social media consumption. Translation: I can still get people to like me, but now it’s free. Within our grasp are daily opportunities for people all around the world to embrace us with their magical fingers of acceptance.  Inclusion is only a like button away. No longer limited by living in places like Idaho, people all around the world can now rally around the things that matters to us most; acceptance, with a dash of attention thrown in for good measure.

So with that unnecessarily long introduction in mind, here are a few tips for expanding your social influence. Just a few ways to achieve true social cellulite:

Try not to allow your post-count to exceed 37 times a day. Most of us aren’t typically looking for a workout when engaging in social media. In fact, oftentimes we’re trying to avoid work. Excessive liking could equal a thumb-workout, which limits your like-count. Also, over-liking could come across as rather stalkerish. And nothing about keeping track of people’s schedules, locations, relationships, latest hairdos, and people they hang out with should feel awkward.

Get married and/or engaged. Nothing spikes the like count like significant life events. If you get married too frequently, people may start picking up on your social strategy. But in the meantime there might be some FB gifts in it for you. Physical perks in a digital world? Take it and run.

Change your relationship status. You’d think this would be covered in the previous category, but not always. Randomly changing your status to single, even if you’ve been single for a while, allows you to cash in on some instant sympathy likes and comments. Might even get you a winky face or a “txt me!!” out of the deal. And winky face usually means a date, or at least an instant message flirtation – which is pretty much the same thing these days.

Keep it short. If we have to hit the read more button, we’re probably not going to do it. We’re an instant access society. (Translation: we’re lazy) As previously stated, we don’t go on social media for a workout.

Hook us in the first line. We have short attention spans. Nuf said.

Avoid gratuitous use of hashtags. Hashtags had a good run, culminating with their heyday in 2012. But over-use of hashtags just gets confusing. Plus, how can something simultaneously be #awesome, #superawesome, and #superduperawesome? Some are so random to arouse curiosity, but they also take valuable time away from watching YouTube videos of cats. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

Travel the world, or invest in greenscreen technology. We’re a visual culture, and we’re becoming less impressed with photos of people in their living room, bedroom, and car. (We don’t really seem to care that people should be driving instead of taking selfie’s. It’s just getting socially mundane.) So you could spice up your feed by traveling, which is an expensive but effective way to collect social media collateral, or you can just cheat. Sure people will be confused when they see you in Starbucks after you’ve just posted a photo in Dubai. But the social approval of your peers will make it worth the socially awkward sacrifice of the moment.

Poke the bear from time to time. Arguments can be social gold. Granted, this will turn a lot of people off to your stream of conversation. But we are designed for drama, and some social media peeps clearly thrive on confrontation. So picking a good fight will be the social media gift that keeps on giving. The more people you offend/confront the longer the thread will thrive.

Be a high school girl. This is either the easiest or most difficult one depending on your age, gender, etc. But if you are a high school girl, then there’s really no reason to read the rest. Just go post cutesy photos, or some cliché judgmental statement about how judgmental others are, and watch your like count soar. Don’t worry. Whatever it is people will like it. Girls will like it cause they’re socially wired for acceptance, and guys will like it cause…well, they’re guys.

So go out there and get your social media on. It’s a new year with new opportunities to be liked. And remember to use your magical thumbs of acceptance responsibly.

How KFC Saved Christmas

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It’s time to spice up the holidays. No, this isn’t’ another Starbucks advertisement for the Pumpkin Spice Latte. (Unless they’re willing to pay me, in which case we’ll talk.) But sometimes we get so wrapped up in doing the same things at Christmas each year that we forget to stop and propose an eggnog-laced toast to human diversity at this time of year.

So I went searching around the world (AKA Google) to find some of the most spectacular, odd, and borderline appropriate Christmas traditions the human mind has to offer:

Let’s be honest, fecal matter has always been part of the Christmas season since feasting became part of it. Not to be vulgar, but the days after Thanksgiving and Christmas are the busiest of the year for plumbers – that’s just science. We don’t talk about that side of things much, but the Catalan people of Spain have brought it into the public square with their Caga Tio, which is liaterally translated as the “pooping log.”

They fill the log with treats (nuts, berries, etc.) each night for about two weeks leading up to Christmas. Then on Christmas the children hit the log with sticks until it “poops” out all those delicious treats. Did I mention the log also has a face and legs added to it? Oh, and there’s a song they sing which says “If you don’t poop well, I’ll hit you with a stick.” Just walk into a public restroom singing that song and see what happens. But overall it just sounds like non-stop fun for the whole family.

And if the poop log isn’t quite your thing, then how about a romantic dinner with your sweety? Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Most holiday movies are predicated on the romantic nature of the season. And in that vein, Asia puts a lot of the focus on romantic love.  So what better way to tell that certain someone you care than to take her to KFC for some fried chicken? Forget about Jared and a new BMW this Christmas; give the gift of cellulite. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. But you’d better call ahead, because it fills up quickly. In order to get your friend chicken – because they’re short on turkeys there – you need to call weeks in advance. (It’s a real thing.)

Also, if you’re looking to add a little something to your Charlie Brown tree, don’t forget those classy, yet understated, accent of spider webs as part of your Christmas décor. It’s a great chance to use those Halloween decorations more than once a year. In the Ukraine, they actually use fake spider webs as decorations on the tree. It all goes back to a legend where a poor family didn’t have decorations for their tree, so the spiders kindly decorated it for them with what they had. Sadly, if the family had any daughters, the spiders were probably subjected to a high-pitched wail and summarily executed by shoe on the spot.

Looking for a little cardio to work off some of the Christmas goodies? Look no further than Caracas, Venezuela. Here they hold Christmas mass in a less than traditional, but boogeying sort of way. To get to mass everyone laces up their roller-skates and heads to church. It’s kind of like the running of the bulls, but instead it’s the skating of the full. This tradition has cheesy 80’s movie written all over it, and what could be better than that? I’m guarantee the Griswold’s would’ve skated on Christmas, and that’s the true mark of Yuletide acceptableness.

Having trouble properly motivating your kids to pull their weight around the house? Grounding them from Iphones and driving their Ferrari to school not working? Have I got a tradition for you! All you need to do is add the Icelandic Yule Cat to your festivities this year. As legend has it, the Yule Cat roams around for children who haven’t worked hard enough this year and he, well, eats them. The way to tell if they work hard is if they are wearing nice clothes. The lazy ones keep their old clothes, while the good workers get fancy, new duds. I suppose you could only give your kids nice clothes if they’re good and helpful this year. But what fun is it if there’s not some demented cat prowling around looking to eat you? Really makes you appreciate that lump of coal you got last year, eh?

And finally, don’t forget to put your brooms away and head for the hills! Apparently an old guy watching you while you sleep, then stealing your cookies – not to mention that demented cat – isn’t all you have to worry about on Christmas. If you live in Norway, there is a good chance you’re going to be attacked by witches on Christmas. The best course of action to take? Hiding the brooms. Unfortunately, this also means they won’t be able to fly away, which pretty much makes them permanent house guests. Instead of taking your brooms, they’ll have to stay around and eat your food; hope you’ve got some fried frog lying around. Oh well, I’m sure some of us have had worse guests over for the holidays. (Insert in-law joke here.)

I hope you add a few of these suggestions to your list of holiday traditions. I mean, what do you have to lose, besides a family member or two?

So go grab that bucket of deep-fried KFC wings, gather around the spider tree, lace up the skates, make sure to use sticks and not brooms to beat your poop log – or else the Yule Cat might just get you confused with a scrumptious Christmas goody – and have yourself a merry little Christmas.

I Come Bearing Fruitcake; Don’t Shoot

christmas truce
Christmas is a time of magic. It’s a time where Christmas movie after Christmas movie has told us that anything can happen. From becoming Santa Claus, to finding “the one” mysteriously wrapped in a gift under our tree (creepy, but cute), to rediscovering joy and magic in our lives, to learning how my big nose can save Christmas, and even learning how one baby boy had the power to change the world forever, we are drawn into the mystery and magic of Christmas.

Yet, in the midst of the retelling of those popular tales about overgrown elves, an old guy with a cookie habit who watches you while you sleep, and the “true meaning of Christmas” (which probably involves an Iphone, XBOX, or some other way to buy affection), one story has sadly been overlooked. It is a story true to the heart of Christmas.

In the winter of 1914 the world was entrenched in a vicious world war. It would be called “the war to end all wars” and over the course of five years would take the lives of over 17 million people, both civilians and soldiers. World War I was bloody, brutal and showed what human ambition and ingenuity had a dark side to it. Yet, in the midst of chaos and carnage there was a beaming light which shone brighter than at any other time in history of warfare. This isolated moment in 1914 is what we refer to as the Christmas Truce. And it was at this time that all along the western front men from both sides put down their guns, embraced their humanity, and at some cake.

Trenchworks covered over 6,000 miles of territory along the western front. Life in the trenches was chaotic, filthy, lice-infested, and ultimately short. There was little to look forward to and much to dread. The men who understood your lot in the life best – outside of the men around you – were the men in the trench across “no man’s land” from you. And they were trying to kill you. Sleep was sporadic, rest was nowhere in sight, and relief was but a dream. Soldiers on both sides had been trained that the man standing across from him was not just a member of an opposing force, but a beast; a monster who longed to not only take your freedom, but your very soul.

Yet, in the midst of death and destruction, humanity struggled to break forth with the type of magic and resurgence that only Christmas can bring. It started slow as most movements do. And it started as many of our Christmases do; it started with a song.

The specific details differ along the front, but the story remains constant. As each side was settling down on Christmas Eve to enjoy a few pleasures from home – some chocolate, a tasty cake, and even some champagne – a voice was heard beckoning from across the open air of the battlefield. Though the language was different, the voice sang of home; it painted a picture devoid of death, destruction, and filth, and overflowing with hope, love, and joy.

These voices heard all along the western front drew out the humanity that had been buried in the recesses of the soldiers’ survival mechanisms. And instead of shooting at the voice for being slightly off-key, the men would then join with their opponent in song. Echoes of “Stille Nacht” and “Auld Lang Syne” filled the air, where explosions and the sounds of rifle-fire had previously held both sides’ undivided attention. Having joined together in song, the men decide to venture out and get to know each other, thus leading to a temporary and unauthorized truce. In some places along the front, this truce lasts for a few days – spanning Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day. While in some areas the men ceased fire for weeks and even months.

The days of the truce are filled with fraternizing (a court-martialing offence), singing, exchange of gifts (from belt buckles and cigarettes to fine German chocolate), burying of the dead, and of course a traditional game or two of football – not the American kind. They even got to enjoy the grandeur and homeliness of a Christmas tree. The Germans, obsessed with Christmas as they were, stopped sending food and ammunition to their troops long enough to ship enough Christmas trees to place one every few meters in the trenches. I mean, who needs bratwurst and sauerkraut when you’re filled with the holiday spirit, right?

Men would write home to their families describing what one could have only imagined unthinkable before. Not only had they met their enemy, but they sang with them in “no man’s land” and they kind of liked it. Friendships would be forged in this serendipitous event that would last a lifetime, the effects of interaction that should not have happened.

Through this brief moment in time men from France, Germany, and the United Kingdom were able to experience the true unifying and transcending power of Christmas. It illuminated how there was far more to connect than separate them, and that we should all lighten up and sing some Christmas carols around the tree every now and again. In what seemed to be the ultimate pit of despair, life triumphed – if only but for a moment.

So this Christmas, be willing to bridge the gap. Get out the harmonica and fruitcake and spread some holiday cheer. Hey, if they don’t shoot at you for bringing over the fruitcake, you might just have a friend for life. It worked a century ago. Why not now?

Dressember to Remember

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It’s pretty bad when you’re known as the dress guy. Each week the audience would sit in giddy anticipation of what kind of dress you were going to pop out with on stage, all the while both intrigued and aghast at how well a giant goatee and a flower print dress accent each other.

Sure, it wasn’t exactly Shakespeare, but the number of tears I elicited – admittedly, both out of fear and laughter – on a weekly basis was substantial enough to reinforce the behavior. But thus was the life of a high school drama geek. No stage was too small, and no audience above cheap, psychical comedy. I mean who doesn’t like a hero who ironically gets saved by the Damsel in Distress he’s there to save? (Especially when the D.I.D. is 6’3”, the size of a tight end, bald, and has a jailhouse goatee.) Those were the glory days, anything for a laugh.

Now, don’t you worry. My dress days have passed me by, and my students are all the more grateful for it. So instead of spending more time talking about my high school drama geek days – which my therapist is more than substantially compensated for hearing me drone on and on about – I’d like to open you up to an awesome opportunity. No, this isn’t the opening sales pitch for some pyramid scheme (Unless it worked, in which case let me know so I can start working on writing the definitive “how to turn high school drama geek stories into millions” book before someone else wanders onto that goldmine.).

Just as Movember in November is a great opportunity to spread awareness and help out a great cause – not just fashion-deficient men – I have recently learned about a cause in December that is deserving of your time and attention. Dressember, like Movember, is a recent movement which is picking up steam, and rightly so.

What do you do for Dressember? If you haven’t already figured it out from the title of my blog, self-deprecating story, and the title of the movement, the purpose of Dressember is to wear dresses for the whole month of December. (I believe it is predominantly a female movement. But just as some women do get behind “no shave November,” I guess you get to decide your level of participation.)

The purpose of Dressember is not just to look dazzling on a daily basis, but to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking. My 7th grade students were shocked to hear that slavery still existed in the world. One even asked me, “didn’t they make that illegal?” She was even more shocked when I told her that over 27 million people today still live in bondage around the world.

My sister just got back from South Africa, where she met with people on the front line of the fight against trafficking. She said human traffickers go after the young and weak because they were easier to control. They are brainwashed into believing that their circumstances are their own fault. Destitute and abandoned, they are without hope.

So how does wearing a dress in December help fight the global tragedy that is human trafficking? Just as my students were shocked, there are many who are unaware of the modern slave trade, which far exceeds even the Atlantic Slave Trade hundreds of years ago. Doing something different is a great avenue to creating discussion and spreading the word. Knowledge is power; use it.

You can also donate and help raise funds for the International Justice Mission, which has worked to free thousands of victims over the years. Let’s be honest, for guys this is probably the safest option. To donate go to the official website of Dressember at www.dressember.net. And while you’re there, read and be inspired by the incredible story about how Dressember began. No action is too small, and no people are beyond our sphere of compassion.

Never underestimate what one empowered person can accomplish.

Me, My Selfie, and Iphone

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Oscar Wilde once wrote that learning “to love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” And we in modern, western culture have taken this concept to heart with the development of social media. Sure, social media is a great way to connect with old friends, flirt with new ones, and post photos of kittens doing all sorts of adorable things.

But more than that, social media allows us to fulfill Toby Keith’s greatest dream. Just in case you’re not from Idaho – and probably 99.999% of you are not – I’m talking about the immortal lyrics of his song “I wanna talk about me.” Social media lets us demonstrate to you all just how awesome we truly are on a frequent basis. Now if only there was a medium that could not only capture how truly spectacular we are, but also allow us to share instantly. Every moment counts; every moment must be captured or else they will fly away like a beautiful butterfly on the rays of the sun.

Enter the digital age and the Iphone. The world is saved.

The seflie craze has captured the imagination of a world. Now the world is able to experience the spectacularness that is us at an arm’s length. At any given moment the world now has access to our masterfully doctored facial images (These images sometimes include kissy-face, selfie-buddies, photobombs, and the occasional backdrop – but who cares about the Grand Canyon or Eiffel Tower when my head rightly takes up most of the shot?).  Notable recent members of the Selfie Club include: Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama, The Biebs, pretty much every junior high and high school girl across the world, and even Pope Francis.

This selfie movement has gone so far as to be named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year of 2013. Past renowned winners of this highly prestigious award include catchwords and phrases like: Not!, Y2K, WMB, metrosexual, tweet, app, information superhighway, plutoed, and truthiness.

To win an award befitting such a prestigious institution as Oxford, the origin of the word selfie must be profound indeed. After all this is the country of William Shakespeare, the man who coined over 3,000 new words in his own right. And I believe Master Shakespeare would feel good to know the origin of this phrase does at least come from an Aussie. Research by Oxford Dictionary allows us to see this brilliant moment of selfie’s first emergence onto the word scene. Like a proud parent watching its child take their first steps, let’s observer this serendipitous moment of creation:

2002 ABC Online (forum posting) 13 Sept.
“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

Brilliant, is it not? Another moment in history irrevocably changed by the influence of alcohol. As I pondered the effect of this one simple moment, a few more moments in history came to mind. Here are but a few events that could have been enhanced by the presence of a digital camera and an intense desire to share at an arm’s length:

George Washington crossing the Delaware: Hope it didn’t fall in the river; the army didn’t have rice yet.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall: Nothing says “let’s be friends” quite like a great photobomb opp.

Einstein’s discovery of Law of Relativity: The kind of face only a selfie could love.

The Signing of the Declaration of Independence: John Hancock? The largest selfie EVER.

Neil Armstrong on the Moon: One small click for man; one giant click for mankind.

Battle of the 300: Those abs just cry out for an epic mirror selfie.

According to a survey done in the UK, 50% of people have selfied at one point, with this percentage jumping to 75% in the 18 to 24 age range. This overflow of selfieness produces over 35 million new social media images each month.

So if we are looking to romance ourselves like Oscar Wilde says, then it’s clear what we must do. Selfie early; selfie often. The world can’t wait a single second longer to see your face.  Be the selfie you want to see in the world. We can do this thing together! But alone…cause that’s usually what a selfie is.

Pinky Swearing with no Pinky: Manhood in the 21st Century

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With perfect clarity we remember the most meaningful moments in our lives. Oftentimes these are the events that most define us. Having the ability to make or break us, these moments have the ability to fling us into the upper atmosphere of maturity and success, or bury us beneath the burdening weight of mediocrity and squalor.

With inevitable pain or success hanging in the balance, one might consider avoiding such precarious moments of potential transcendence. But manliness must be tested. It is a principle as old as time itself. A boy becomes a man not by purchasing a “man card” at Walmart (though they do have pretty much everything else), but by proving yourself to the other men of the tribe. These rites of passage are inherent in human culture.

We see rites of passage all the time in film. The Karate Kid must suck up the pain, dance like a flamingo on one leg for a bit, and give the bully a bloody nose to receive the respect of his peers. Zac Efron had to learn how to sing and dance while dribbling a basketball before he could make the cool squad in High School Musical. And Mulan had to teach a bunch of guys to sing in order to make them manly and bring honor to her family.

In America there are certain rites or rituals we view as demonstrating maturity – and possibly manliness. These life events include, but are not limited to:

Getting a Driver’s license – Although the bravery lies more on the side of the driving instructor.

Graduating high school – Not sure if taking Home Ec. is “manly,” but it gets you a diploma.

Getting tattoos/piercings – No pain = no gaining the trust of the local biker gang.

Growing facial/chest hair – Chest hair is the best, put your manliness to the test. (And it ensures warmth through the winter. Also, see MOVEMBER)

Receiving your first gun – In Idaho this could be as early as age 4.

Getting your first job – Flipping dead meat is definitely masculine.

Joining the Army – Apparently they just need “a few” good men, but are thankfully willing to take more.

These are just a few ways, and I’m sure there are many others you can think of. What this list seems to reveal is that we don’t have one distinct way to declare someone “a man.” It seems rather that we wait for a confluence of factors to come together before we distribute the ever-so-coveted “man card.” But in other cultures that is not the case. Here are a few examples I’ve found:

In Ancient Sparta a game was played between boys where they were to stand against a pillar and whipped while their adoring family watched. The first one to cry out in pain was the loser and had to wear the dunce cap. But to officially become a man you had to kill a local slave, called a helot. The trick was that you were beaten severely if caught doing so. But if you could handle your whipping and kill a slave quietly, then you were allowed to go kill people from different city-states.

To be a man in Vanuatu, a small island in the South Pacific, the men built 100 ft towers out of posts and take turns jumping with only a vine attached to their feet. The goal is to just slightly touch your shoulders to the ground. And I can’t imagine a group of guys who have ever miscalculated anything before. They’ve been doing it for over a millennium and surprisingly have not fully lost their male population.

In the Brazilian rainforest a tribe called the Satere-Mawa tribe has their young men wear a glove made of bullet ants. Apparently the bullet ant has the most excruciating sting of all insects. But don’t you worry. They only have to wear the glove for ten minutes, and I hear the paralysis only lasts for about 24 hours.

The Mandan tribe performed a ritual where a boy was suspended by a rope attached to rods which were attached to their chest and back. They did this until the boy passed out from pain and loss of blood. All this seems good and fine, but then they were required to sacrifice their pinky to the gods, adding insult to injury. How can you pinky swear with no pinky?

Some Aborigine tribes in Australia send their boys on a 6 month journey alone through the desert and bush. They must spend the entire 6 months in total isolation, living off the land. Armed only with a boomerang the boys return triumphantly and with a few more imaginary friends than when they left.

After looking at these other worlds I could have been brought up into, I have become quite happy with the caliber of manliness required in the U.S. Is it possible that I couldn’t hack it in any of these scenarios? Possibly. But do I value my chest muscles (limited as they may be), hands, and cranium in one piece? Definitely.

So instead of killing slaves and bungee jumping minus the bungee, I am content with my man-hair, jailhouse tats, and glamorous Drivers License head-shot. And I am ever so much more grateful to have both my pinky’s fully intact.

How to Avoid the Monday Morning Zombie Dance: In 5 Easy Steps

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It always happens the same way. You wake up; it’s staring you right in the face. Oddly immune to your morning breath defense system, the excited bundle of pain just sits there waiting to pounce on you. He owns you, and you both know it.

Now, give yourself some credit. You have at least put forth a valiant effort to keep it away. Just last week you chewed it out on Facebook (even gave it a frowny face emoticon – the king of all emotional communicators). And the week before, you give it three big sighs and shrill “WHYYYYYY” before even getting out of bed. But, despite your best efforts, the end result is the same. Monday always comes around.

So if you’re in need of help getting through the most heinous of weekly rituals (the realization that Monday has breached your lack of awareness perimeter), then here are a few helpful tips to surviving Monday:

1)      Avoid Social Media. If you’re reading this blog on Monday, this means you’ve already failed today. (Granted, it is Monday, so I’ll cut you some slack.) The frequenters of social sites on Mondays tend to be real Negative Nancy’s. Humans, having a herd mentality, believe about 73.9% of what we read on these sites, (Also, 15% of you will believe that stat, while the other 85% realize that 90% of all stats posted in blogs are made up on the spot) and easily mimic their emotions. So avoiding negative input, and hang out with that one annoying guy who loves Mondays.

2)      Run from people with a “case of the Monday’s.” If you see someone with a “Monday face,” run the other direction. First, this falls in the avoiding negative input category like tip #1. Secondly, it gives you a great cardiovascular workout, which releases endorphins (AKA the natural happy drug).  Third, if you see the “Monday” people as zombies, you can make a game out it without even needing to purchase an app. And finally, you may end up in a part of the building where you’ve never been and have to find your way back to the cubicle from whence you emerged. And who doesn’t like a good adventure?

3)      Hate something else. According to Wikipedia, transference is “the redirection of feelings…toward a new object.” On Mondays find something else you hate and hate it more. For example, like the over 478,000 loyal Facebook followers, you can hate clowns. Sure, this is the equivalent to stomping on your foot to avoid feeling the paper cut on your finger and is by no means a long-term fix. In fact it may just give you more to discuss with your therapist in the long run, but will at least deal with the present adversary.

4)      Make a list of things you like about Monday and add something new each week. The first week it might only be that you get to make a list on Monday (for the OCDers out there), or you can add in ceremoniously burning the list when you’re done (for the pyros). List-making and positive associations are both effective therapeutic tools. Yet, it also just gives you one more thing that needs to be done on Mondays. So number four is really a give and take.

5)      Lock yourself in the room for the day. Sensory and time deprivation techniques have a long-standing tradition as effective brainwashing techniques. And who’s to argue with results, eh? So lock yourself in dark room with no time-telling devices, give someone you trust a key, and tell them to let you out on Tuesday. Not only does this allow you to avoid Monday altogether, but it may eventually lead you to believe that Monday does not even exist. (Time/sensory deprivation is easily combined with tip number three; it’s pretty easy to hate someone who locks you in a room without light or time for a day.)

So go ahead and cue the Rocky music and classic 80’s victory montage. You know how to conquer Monday, and you didn’t even have to fight a Russian to do it.  No longer must you cower in the dark (unless you’ve chosen number five) repeatedly hitting “snooze.” You don’t even have to do the Monday morning zombie dance as you inch up the line at your local caffeinating hole. Monday can be defeated, and you can do it. Dust yourself off, brush your teeth (for the sake of your coworkers), and show Monday who’s in charge.

(In the hypothetical situation where one of these techniques does not work out, just remember you’re only expected to experience about eleven years worth of Mondays in your life. And you can put with just about anything for eleven years, right?)

Is Failure just Success Leaving the Body?


failed

You squirm in your desk as the moment draws near. Staring at the clock, it crawls to an angry snail’s pace (not like those happy snails you see in the movies). Each passing second clangs louder and louder. The hands on the clock now form a smiley face; it’s mocking you. And of course, why wouldn’t this Dickensian controller of time laugh at your pain? It knows what comes next. The bell rings…it is time to face the music.

The music of which I speak sadly has little to do with Beethoven, Bach, or even Weird Al Yankovich. No, the music you’ll hear is the ominous tapping of your mom’s fingers on the counter as she slowly reads your report card. Each individual tap is an accusation, sending shivers through your entire body. Even the shivers don’t last long; they know what’s coming, and it’s every man for himself. Time to get out of Dodge, son.

You can literally see your life floating out the window before your very eyes. In times like these it’s best to recall the cavemen. I mean, poor dental hygiene and some gnarly BO meant that they didn’t exactly have what we’d call a robust social life, but they still made it through, right? Oops. Not so much. So instead of focusing on the woolly mammoth-backed cavemen and the impending ice age about to emanate from your mom’s nostrils, you decided to throw a Hail Mary.

Hey mom:

Albert Einstein couldn’t speak until the age of 4 and, by the looks of his photos, stuck his finger in a lot of light sockets. And he ended up giving a speech to accept a little thing we like to call the Nobel Peace Prize.

Thomas Edison broke a lot of light bulbs. Then he stopped all those shenanigans and created one that worked. Students everywhere thank him for giving us more lighted hours to do homework.

Winston Churchill lost every election he participated in. Then someone decided to make him the Prime Minister of America’s favorite colony.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” I’m pretty sure he used that editor as inspiration for Cruella Deville. Then he started a park and got to ride rollercoasters whenever he felt like it.

Colonel Sanders’ recipe was rejected by over 1,000 restaurants. Now there are more than 15,000 KFC’s worldwide making sure doctors will never be broke or bored.

Dr. Seuss’ first book was rejected by 27 publishers. Being broke, he ate some rotten eggs and ham, wrote a book about it, and now they let his cat be in movies.

Isaac Newton failed at running the family farm (I’m assuming because he just sat around watching apples). But he eventually found a way to use those apples to help people. Not by feeding starving countries, but by teaching them science.

And finally, Abraham Lincoln went to war as a captain, but came back a private. Then we put him in charge of our whole army. You also see copper engravings of him covering the streets in pretty much every city around the country. So you know he had to have done something right.

So you see, mom, my failure is really setting me up to be successful later on in life. The more I fail, the more successful I’m likely to be. And judging by my report card, there is no limit to what my future might hold.  So what do you say we just put this whole report card thing behind us and move on?

No go? I see. Making me fail even at failing? You’re setting me up for an extra dose of success later on. I get it. Touché, mom.

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