Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Edge of 17... errr... 30

Just like a white winged dove sings a song it sounds like singing wooo baby woo. woo.

(Surprisingly close to the correct lyrics. Thank you Stevie Nicks for your appropriate segue into my 30th year.)

So I started writing this blog, which I continued to do spottily at best. The last time I submitted something for your consideration it was regarding my 4th anniversary, which was in August.... buuuuuut to be fair and in my defense, I also spent a bunch of time writing for Kick James and for Little Baby Chew, both of which I will comment on in a little bit.

So I started writing this blog three days after I turned 29 years old.
I started writing as a motivation to do the things I always said I wanted to do, but didn't set aside the time for. In retrospect I think I looked at the last year of my 20's as an opportunity to frantically accomplish all the things I wouldn't be able to accomplish when I was too old. AKA 30. Oh one year ago Tom Chew, you were one dumb son of a gun. When you take into account the list I made myself to accomplish and how my year actually went it's pretty hilarious. To me at least, but in general I think I'm really funny.

Hopes for year 29, from the first post of this blog:

Brewing So I brewed a few batches of beer with my buddy Brian and they turned out pretty alright. I still have a bunch of brewing equipment in my basement, where it goes unused and Brian still brews regularly. I'm glad I did it and I'm glad I have a better understanding of how the beer I enjoy oh so much is made. I'll most likely come back to this one randomly.
Get in shape I'm no Paul Ryan or anything, but compared to where I was at a year ago, I'd say it worked out. A few friends and I started a little weight loss competition that lasted two months and I lost over 20 pounds and worked out much more regularly throughout the year. In now way has it been perfect and I have definitely gone up and done and been in and out of it, but overall I eat better. I move more. I feel better. I can do 1 million push ups and I don't wear a blindfold in the shower anymore to hide my shame. (Now I wear a blindfold in the shower to challenge myself. I have not been completely clean and my shaving has been remarkably shoddy for months. I smell terrible.)
Fighting I didn't get into any fights, but I think I could totally take you.
Podcasting This just didn't happen. I also had a fantastic idea for a documentary I'm going to get on top of sometime. Long shot, but I'm also hoping to write or direct one of the new Star Wars movies.
Writing Like I said, I didn't write a blog post every week like I wanted to, but I did continuously contribute to three blogs and I'm proud of some of the things I got down on internet paper. I was just reading over a few of the old blogs and they made me happy and smile.

Favorites maybe you'd like to go back and read 
(or you could spend the next week at work reviewing our year together):
Why Your Mid to Late Twenties Suck and Are Awesome
The Buffalo Bills are Amazing For All the Wrong Reasons
Parson Brown Infuriates Me (this one isn't for everyone, but it should be)

In general I wanted to talk about all the cool shit I think is cool and the zany misadventures I think I get into (I don't).

So here it is. It has been a year and oh what a year it has been. I wanted to actively live my 29th year and I honestly can't believe it is over. I intermittently thought about it throughout the year and I went back and forth on whether I was happy with how it went or not, but that was absolutely ridiculously stupid because the last year of my life has been fucking amazing.

I have little to no concept of time, so the following might not be in any sort of true or honest time line, but it all happened and it all has been amazing.

The first couple months were consumed with the idea of this blog and living actively. I got less fat, I gained energy, I decided to be a better me. In all honesty, I don't think I could have accomplished nearly as much this year without starting the year with that mindset. I've been happier. I've been better. I've been so much taller, it's amazing!

This way of thinking made me better at my job. I'm not perfect and I get apathetic sometimes, just like everyone else (right?), but I know my students need the best me and I try to give that to them. I know how easy it is to take those years for granted, believe me I wasted a lot of great moments, but I didn't have someone trying to help me see these things, or if I did they weren't loud enough to overcome my drunken yelling and big hair and black Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt.

We bought a freaking house! And it's a great house. We saved, we skimped, we worked really hard and with the help of some of the amazing people around us (thank you Jesse and Sandy and Fordy and Tim and everyone else who went above and beyond to help us make this our home!) we bought a house that is warm and welcoming and inviting and beautiful. Jenna has been amazing at making it ours and a home we are so proud of. The new couch on the third floor is one of the last big pieces of the puzzle unless someone wants to give us 20 grand to put an addition on the back, because we will take it!

My favorite room has to be the nursery. Oh you didn't know, I don't talk about it enough, you haven't seen Jenna, you haven't read the other blog, no not that one, but you should it's funny, this one, the important one my beautiful wife and I have tried to share with everyone we love.

We are having a Chew! When you think of living your life actively, nothing puts your life into perspective more than the fact that you are not nearly the most important thing to live for. Mabel Jayne could be with us any time and that is both terrifying and the happiest thing I have ever read. I look at Jenna and smile. I feel her tumbling around her momma's belly/uterus and it changes me a little more every time. You think you know love or responsibility or fear or commitment or anxiety or joy or utter amazement? Well then you must have either been to Tibet, have a baby, or have one on the way!

I've written, probably exhaustively (I know because they all tell me they fall asleep while reading it), about the friends I've made or kept in my life. I've written about Rochester and how she has opened her arms and hear to us. I've written about the changing dynamics of family and friendship and all the different ways love and life effect our every day and alter our perspectives on existence.

Author's Note: I'm not sure if I've ever actually written about the last sentence you read, but if I didn't I think I should. That sounds like blog gold! That stuff is right up my alley and is such a big part of growing up and living your life. I really can't remember writing it, so let me know if I did... and if I did I hope it was prophetic and helped change your life and you, my loyal reader, are a better person because of it. But if I didn't, then I just put a lot of pressure on myself to write a blog post equivalent to the song Bill and Ted are destined to write that changes the future and leads to their Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey. So if you read this and I haven't written that, or you'd like to read that, and you see me around give me a friendly reminder to change the world. I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point on my own, but until then, thanks for the reminder

Our families and our friends who have become our family are so ingrained in our lives that one of my biggest concerns with the growing family and the growing up is how to balance all of it. I spend so much time thinking about Mabel and Jenna and all the exciting things we'll accomplish together and teach each other that these side thoughts have sometimes turned to worries, but recently, while reflecting, I've realized that it doesn't matter and I need to stop worrying in general. I am a bit of a quiet worrier, but look at our life. Look at your life. We are who we are because of the choices we've made and the decisions to do this rather than that and because of the people we choose to surround ourselves with. Our lives should make us better people, and if they aren't then we only have ourselves to blame.

Life is work. Life is hard. Life can be sad.

But life is fun.

Living presently and consciously isn't always easy. It can force us to confront uncomfortable situations or answer hard questions. We face hard truths and persevere (that word is incredibly difficult to spell) through harsh realities that can either become a blip or the catalyst to becoming better people. I've said it before, but I think it is important to push yourself to learn life lessons every day. Sometimes I'm a dick. Sometimes I think I'm funny when I'm not. I still crave attention and want to be a part of everything. I know I can't do those things anymore and as soon as I'm a dick I typically realize it and try to stop or make up for it. I know it doesn't always work. I know when I'm not funny it isn't my fault, it's definitely my audience who doesn't get it and they need to start asking themselves those hard questions. Just kidding... see there we go, that wasn't funny and I accept that.

We all have our reasons and motivation for doing what we do when we do it. It would be easy to say my daughter or my family were my motivation, and in a lot of ways they are, but we still have to live our own lives just like Mabel will have to learn how to live hers and learn her lessons. I live this life for me. I hope unselfishly. I want to be a better person and live a better life so I can help my daughter and my nieces and my nephew and my parents and wife and brothers and sisters and friends and everyone I come across live a better life as well. It isn't hard. You just need to want it and take responsibility for it. Beyond speculation we only know for sure that we get one chance. Within the grand scheme of that one chance we make a billion choices and each day is a chance within a chance to live, let live, or let life pass you by.

I'll be thirty years old in four days. I feel and believe that I am better for the life I've lived over the last 51 weeks. I hope, if you're reading this, that I have made you smile. I hope you go to bed happy more often than you don't. I hope the people around you appreciate and respect you. If any of these things aren't true in your life, I hope you know I'm here for you and that I'm happy to help any way I can.

If you are reading this I probably have some sort of love for you. Thank you. thank you for helping me become me and throughout all my many flaws, thank you for helping me want to be a better man and live a good life. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your trust. Thank you for your truth. Thank you for being a part of my first thirty years.

Cheers to the next thirty. I hope we're a part of each others lives and we bring each other a million more moments filled with love and smiles and hugs.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's been a while (4th Anniversary Edition)

So three a few of you took notice that, though what I wrote at the beginning of this blog was pure genius, I have been less than consistent in my blogging.

I blame a few things, which will serve as updates to my life.

1 - I bought a house, which leaves a man pretty occupied.

A garden like that doesn't garden itself

2 - I played a whole lot of kickball (or did it play me... no I played it. The other way doesn't make any sense). Which I also dedicated  some blogging time to http://kickjames.blogspot.com/ if you want to hear all about the season.
This picture should be Instagrammed
3 - My wife and I found out we are having a baby. This also took some blogging time away, though not as much as it should. Those thoughts can be found, with the help of my beautiful Jenna at http://littlebabychew.blogspot.com/

So, I can hear you asking, why now Thomas? Why are you coming back to us? What has happened in your life for this re-emergence into your writing endeavors? I'll tell you.

If you've followed the life and times of Thomas Chew at all, you know I am married to a lovely little lady named Jenna. Today happens to be our fourth wedding anniversary. On August 16, 2008, we gathered in Weston's Mill's at her mother's old house on a gorgeous day to celebrate our lives together. It really was a gorgeous day. It was sunny, but not too hot, bright, but not blinding, there was a breeze that made the air smell good. There were butterflies for god's sake.


Butterflies I tell ya!

I've been thinking a lot about the last four years, which made me start thinking about this whole 29 thing again. I wanted things to be put into perspective, but I'm starting ot think there just isn't any perspective to be had. I'm going to keep getting older. We all are. We're going to watch cool shows, terrible movies, travel to strange, exotic, boring, fascinating, scary, relaxing places. We're going to make mistakes. We're going to learn. We're going to love. Ideally there will be a significant amount of hugging involved.

Through all of this, and in retrospect of the last eight months and the last four years, I am absolutely lucky to say that Jenna has made me better. I haven't always been a perfect husband, nor she a wife. But that's because we're people and people are inherantly flawed. What makes us a great couple (in my opinion), and what has moved us forward and helped us along throughout our relationship is our willingness to be together. We fight until a fight is over. We discuss until all the details are on the table. We call each other out when it needs to be done. Jenna and I are completely different people than we were four years ago and thank christ.

We're growing up. It's scary. Buying a house was scary. Deciding we wanted to have kids was scary. Getting married four years ago was scary. It would have been really easy to say, nope, let's just keep having fun and see what happens down the line. We didn't do that. We took that challenge and it has not been easy. To be honest it hasn't always been fun. Sometimes it has sucked.

Then, four days later I don't even remember what sucked so much, I get to look into the eyes of the woman who has positively changed me and has been such a unique and loving influence on my life and say that she is my wife. To know that the next  time something amazing happens to me, she will be the first one I tell. To know the next time I am being an assbag about something, she is going to be the one to tell me. The next time I'm not being the person I want to be, she will help me find my way and love me throughout it all. The one who is holding my hand when I wake up. The one who tells me I need to brush my teeth in the morning so I can lay in bed and talk to her without my ass breath ruining everything.


I still smile every time I play with my ring.

I know I have influenced Jenna. I hope it has been for the better. I know I want to do for her all that she has done for me and more (so I can win a challenge of who has done more for the other... just kidding). This year of living my life actively. Embracing 29. Trying new things (bone marrow was phenomenally tasty), and being a conscious objector to letting life pass me by has been successful so far. I can do more. I can always do more. I can try harder. I can always try harder. None of it would matter without her. I tried to imagine it this morning and just the thought made me sad. More importantly, I couldn't do it. I have a fantastic imagination for a 29 year old dude, and I couldn't do it. I didn't want to. My life is too amazing with and because of her to want anything else.

Being thankful is part of living ones life actively, so I want to thank my wife, Jenna Lyn Butterbaugh, for loving me, letting me love you, and for making me a better person every single day.

Happy Anniversary love!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Remember the Ice Breakers you hated in college... I loved them!

In the summer of 2001 I attended orientation at St. Bonaventure University.

Pictured: Teen Defiance
I wore a white t-shirt my friend Dustin made me with the Weezer =w= on it.

I did not want to be there.

I grew up around Bonaventure and I wanted to get the hell out. I was too cool. I was meant for the big city. I was going to lawyer everyone about everything constantly.

My orientation leader was named Kara and she did a fine job, but in my teenage angst in homemade t-shirt, I was not into it.

Flash forward one summer. I was an orientation leader.

Flash forward six months. I was named Orientation Coordinator and I was charged with helping hire my new supervisor. I thought it was awesome. I was excited to be a part of it and thought I was so cool for having my position and being so important to the very fabric of Bona's.

(Author's note: I really thought too much of myself back in the day. I know this. For all the good I tried to do, I know I must have driven people crazy. I know sometimes I still do. Working on it (...))

I had no idea at the tender age of 20 that through that interview I would meet one of the most influential and supportive people of my life and my aspirations of lawyerin' the law out of everyone would float gracefully in a drunken waddle out the window.

Flash forward a couple months. Spencer and I checked in at the Seattle Hyatt for the Annual National Orientation Directors Association Conference. He had started the job less than a month beforehand. He had never worked in orientation and from his first day on campus he told me, "you teach me about the program, and I'll do my best to learn it."

There were a few hundred people at the conference, but in my mind it was thousands. Everyone was nicer than the person before them (Except for one lady the first night that had the gall to ask what I was doing drinking at the President's social when I wasn't even 21 and I wasn't a professional staff member... that bitch!). The second day of the conference I turned to Spencer, wide eyed and ecstatic himself, and I pronounced my plans for life.

"This is it," I said, "this is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life."

It was all over. I had had my epiphany.

Flash forward six months. Saratoga Springs, NY. NODA Region IX Conference. Spencer and I had met so many people in Seattle and so many of them were in Saratoga. We were celebrities. We were a part of it... I was enrolled in a program called ROLI. It was the second year of the program and I was in a group led by a man named Aurelio. My stiffest competition (for attention) was a kid called JoeGuy. I was intimidated by his confidence, so I threw myself into becoming his friend. I had lunch with a woman named Robin who was, still to this day, the nicest person I've ever met in my life. The type of person everyone wanted to be around. The type of person that inspires people by saying hello. The type of person I thought I was, but really was eons away from and still hope to become.

I didn't know at the time that Aurelio was the founder of ROLI. I didn't know he would eventually hire me as his Graduate Fellow and start my career.

I didn't know that Robin was the Vice-President of NODA, a nation wide organization with thousands of people. That lunch led to her reaching out to me the next year to offer me a column in her, From the NODA Vice-President. Apparently being published in a national review at 21is a big deal. I was just doing a favor for a lady who inspired me over terrible hotel food.


I know this is probably a boring story for you if you're still reading. I understand for those who gave up already (my throngs of readers are fickle at best).

I'm sitting in the back of a room in Burlington, Vermont. The Assistant Dean of Students at Cornell University is giving a great presentation to 40 students during the morning session of the second day of ROLI. I'm in the last four hours of my two year appointment as Co-Coordinator of the program.

Spencer is four feet to my left. I brought him in as one of my mentors for the new students. JoeGuy is four feet in front of me. I brought him in as one of my faculty members. He gave our opening session on a ROLI alumni's perspective, utilizing the program to enhance you're position and future. I smiled throughout the presentation and started writing this blog in my head.

I have been a part of NODA for 9 years. I have been a ROLI student, faculty member, mentor, and no coordinator. I have been to 7 regional and 4 national conferences. In our opening ice breaker everyone had to introduce themselves and share one word that described how they were feeling. Joe went right before me and and used the word I had been planning on using through the other 48 people.

Reflective.

I've always known, but I've never truly acknowledged how influential this has been for me. I have grown up, both literally and figuratively, through this organization and through these people.

This will be my last NODA conference for the foreseeable future. I don't work in orientation anymore and I'm happy to be where I am. But reflecting on my time here and with these people, I am filled with gratitude and I am humbled.

The kid in the homemade Weezer t-shirt was terrified to be humbled. He expressed his gratitude, because that was what he was supposed to do and people would like him more for it. The kid who hated his orientation never would have guessed that he would be where I am. It isn't big enough. It isn't flashy enough. I don't get attention. I don't get credit. The limelight is extinguished.

That kid was a fucking idiot.

For all the good things I've tried to do throughout my life, I know I've done harm, I've done wrong, and I've done things poorly.

The first time I acknowledged that I was 21 years old. I had a panic attack one night. I was alone in my bedroom. I called my dad at 4am, a man I had rarely spoken with personally. He got me through the next few hours, which got me through the next few days. I hadn't slept, gone to class, answered my phone, or eaten in four days when I went to Spencer who made fun of me for looking like shit and then asking what I needed. He didn't ask what was wrong. He didn't ask what happened. He asked how he could help.

I spent two days on his couch watching movies. Spending time away from the place I loved where everyone knew me. Where I was important. Where I was so involved that the President of the University had my cell phone number and I cut the ribbon of the new athletic facility, and had the second biggest office on campus. Where I was sad, lonely, and miserable.

That kid walked into a Seattle hotel on a rainy October day and he fell in love with an idea. He spent the next three years feverishly chasing that idea by embracing everyone. Yes, I'll help. Yes, I'll lead that group. Yes, I'll run for this. Yes, I'll drink that. Yes, I have plenty of time, I can do anything.

That kid was an idiot, but he wasn't dumb. I know, now, at this point in my life, that if it weren't for the ambition I had as a teenager I never would have put myself in that position to break down. I needed to be broken and I needed to learn those lessons. Just like you need to fall in love. Just like you need to be heart broken. Just like you need to be humiliated and triumph and shine and fall and you need to live life. I was so scared that everyone would figure me out. I had it all together and everyone knew I was that guy.

I don't want to be that guy anymore. I just want to be happy. I just want to make my wife happy, be with my friends and the people I love and sincerely try to help the students I work for.

I see myself in all these students. The good parts and the bad. I hope they find a Spencer. I hope they find someone who will challenge them, call them out, and support them unconditionally.

I lost the focus of this rambling a while ago, because my heart is pounding and I'm awkwardly smiling while I type. I am so happy and so lucky to have had the opportunities I have been given. Even the ones I squandered and the missions I failed miserably. I'm actually more thankful for those, because without those, without Spencer, without the kids I'm looking at and the mentors I'm working with and the inspired students I'm watching grow by the minute.

I'd still be that guy. Fun... not effective.
Without all these things I never would have found myself. I would probably be either a lawyer making a shit ton of money. Going home to an empty apartment with a gigantic bank account and an even bigger drinking problem. Either that or I'd be in a gutter. I'd have ridden it until it broke and then broken down with it. I know that about myself. It is what I feared most of my life, but wasn't strong enough to acknowledge until it started happening. Then, only by the grace of goodness, was I picked up and sent to Rixford, PA to sit on a couch and play with a chocolate lab.

Without those things I would never be here, never have my life, my wife, my friends, my family and I certainly wouldn't be proud of who I am. When I was living that life I wasn't proud of who I was, but I am now. The good, the bad, the shameful, the glory, the bullshit. It was all worth it... just so I never have to live through it again.

This is my very long, very arduous thank you to orientation. For what it has taught me. The lessons I've learned, the people I've met, the places it has taken me, and, most of all, for humbling a little shit in a homemade t-shirt.

I wish I still had that t-shirt.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Paul Goodman Changed My Weekend

 Friday night Jenna and I went to the Eastman Theatre (I am spelling theater with the "re" rather than the "er" to show how classy that joint is) to watch a documentary for one of her classes. The documentary:

Paul Goodman Changed My Life — A film by Jonathan Lee

Was really good. I'm guessing most of you have never heard of Paul Goodman. I hadn't. I had heard of the Psychotherapy model he helped invent and develop. I had heard of countless individuals he helped influence. I had heard so much about the movement he was crucial in defining, but never about him.

One of the signs called him the most influential man you've never heard of and I can see why.

In the late 20's and early 30's Goodman was the definition of a radical. He was a Jewish family man, poet, writer, anarchist,  bisexual, pacifist, rabble rouser. I won't go into his whole story, but if you have time to read a few things about him or go see the movie at the Eastman, it's worth it.

So, to the point Thomas! A lot of what I've written and the reason I have written it was because I wanted to live my life more actively and be aware of the world around me. I'm having a shitty day today, but overall, I think I'm doing that significantly better than I was 2 months ago. That is exactly what Goodman wrote about.

Neither John Hughes, nor Johnny Depp would
ever lie about juvenile delinquency.
Ricki Lake on the other hand made a career out of it.

Paul Goodman recognized a lost frustration in the youth of 20's and 30's. He wrote about and for what people called Juvenile Delinquents. The post war / changing world left many young men without a purpose, a goal, or an individualistic path. So they found strength and purpose in unity. Dancing street gangs started popping up all over town. He challenged them to recognize and combat their situation by bettering themselves and their world. Question the system and use your power for good.

What really hit me was how Goodman constantly challenged himself and those around them to think about how they think, what they do, why they do it, and the reasons behind them. His thought were logical. His ideas were revolutionary. His approach was unorthodox. He was basically a freak of a man with an amazing mind that was well ahead of his time, but too vain to last long.

Like everything else, the movie and the night got me thinking. I made the decision to buckle down on my personal... the only word I can think of is... academic, but I don't think it's really what it is goals. I don't want to waste as much time is what I'm saying, and I want to challenge myself and not get lazy and complacent. Yes, I realize reciting facts from a Cracked.com article is not a brilliant feet (but I am good at it!).

Pictured: Art. 80's Bateman style!
I am the kind of guy who thinks too much about everything. Who tries to find the message behind old episodes of Dawson's Creek. Find the art or genius in a Bugs Bunny cartoon or random terrible Indie movie or teen comedy. I don't see television as a waste of time, because a lot of the time I can really get something out of it, even if it's just random pop culture trivia. At least that's what I tell myself. Truth be told, Son's of Anarchy is just a really cool show. It's not going to change my life (I mean, it's not Lost). The reason for this rant is that TV and movies are fun and I love them, but for me they are the easy way out.

I have been saying I want to read. I want to be productive. I want to do this and this and this and this and no where on those lists were getting caught up with the second season of Boardwalk Empire.

Note to self: Get caught up with the second season of Boardwalk Empire.

In all honesty I've done a lot of that. I've been gymming. I feel pretty great. I have been eating way better. I gave up on The Governor because it was just pretty bad. I started reading Game of Thrones and it is awesome. I have pretty much kept up with my blog (give or take/thanks for those of you who responded last week. According to my poll, 6 people have read my blog almost 1000 times). I've done a lot of it, but I'm still not doing as much as I want.

Break down of stuff on my mind right this instant.

We're trying to buy a house.
Kickball starts in April.
I'm a really adequate bartender and I'm having a ton of fun doing it.
My job has been driving me crazy and making me do a ton of shit, but I'm really good at it.
I have friends I look up to.
My wife is smarter and more motivated than I am (which is saying a ton, because I think I am really really smart, just ask me, I'll tell you!)

I have a ton going for me. Some would say I am blessed.
I would say... whoa whoa whoa... blessed seems a little strong of a statement.
When they insisted, I would say, alright, I'm blessed. Then I would anoint the shit out of everything.
Others would just say I'm lucky.
Some would say, he worked hard and he's gotten to where he is. (Truth: Never really worked that hard, I just sweat a lot at weird times and people assume the best of me because of my non confrontationally chubby cheeks).

Spoiler Alert: Your mind will be blown!
So I am giving myself a goal. I want to read for at least two hours a day. 2 hours is a completely arbitrary amount of time, but on random nights when Jenna is at class or doing work, instead of being destroyed by 11 year olds who are better at video games than I am, or watching Netflix movies, I want to get some solid reading in. Doesn't mean I can't do both, but once I start with the TV or video games, it's hard to stop, so books come first. It helps that I am reading Game of Thrones, based on a show I've already watched, but the book is way better.

So this blog entry could have been really good, but I don't think it was. Like I said, I'm having a shitty day and I think I'm off. Also, the dichotomy of feelings toward Parson Brown really threw me off my game. I haven't even made a joke mocking one of my best friends all week. I guess my mind just isn't all there right now. Maybe this post will put an end to my creative impotence. Then I won't be surly and bitter towards the world like an accountant. That way, besides marrying way way way beyond my means, I won't end up like Peter. Oooh, there it is! Peter burn! He doesn't even read the blog, but his wife does!

(Surly, bitter, accountantish and creatively impotent were all jabs at Peter... just so you know, Tina)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Readership and a Review

I need to make this relatively quick, because work is really busy and I thought about this at home last night, but I didn't do it. Which means I will not be proof reading. Jenna will do that, make fun of me, then I will go back and fix things in shame.

Sadly it will look like teenage Clooney
... but with graey hair.
I started this blog as my public display of the motivation I started to feel after turning 29. I'm not sure if motivation is the right word, but it's either that or intense fear and self loathing for getting old and grey and becoming worthless. I'll stick with motivation. (and that mini rant isn't true, I'm not scared of any of those things and I'm way too unreasonably confident and self satisfying to be self loathing, plus as soon as I go gray (I used both spellings) I'm going to look just like Clooney.

But anyways, I write the blog as a way to keep me in check and potentially, albeit briefly, entertain myself and the few friends I know who routinely read the things I write.

More often than not I know people simply "skim" the blog because they don't care about me or our friendship at all *cough cough* Lrian Boughner and Lim Joughner (no relation).

Then, out of nowhere, I get comments from people who like the blog or read the blog or had the blog forced upon them by facebook telling them it was available to read because I told facebook to tell all the people I know.

Facebook really does bring the world together and forces us to read or look at things we typically would have no interest in. Totally worth $100 billion, I mean did you see that Kristen Bell sloth thing, how funny was that. Oh Ellen!

Okay, so yes I put it out there. I'm confident enough in my opinions, views, and ramblings that I don't mind who reads what I write. I'll happily discuss my ramblings with anyone (please talk to me!) and I think they are ridiculous enough that if anyone is offended and they continue reading they will find a sentence or phrase within seconds that is so stupid they'll say, "oh this guy isn't a jerk, he's just an idiot."

Idiots get away with everything, just look at the Republican primaries.... OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHh political burn!

So the point of this already pointless blog. Last weeks "Parson Brown" post was, in the history of all the world's blogging, the second most controversial blog every published. The first being the classic KickJames post about Casey at the Bat, found below:

The Chronicles of Kick James: No Kickball In Mudville: Hubris, Unhealthy Expectations, or the Ball is Too Small:       A Scientific Analysis of Ernest Thayer's Casey at the Bat . 

Some people, some very dedicated readers absolutely hated both No Kickball In Mudville and Parson Brown. The funny thing about this, is when I typically write a blog post I either black out and don't remember doing it, or I anguish over how stupid I think it is and think everyone is going to hate it. I have literally only looked at three blogs upon completion, smiled, nodded my head and said, "Good job Tom Chew. Gold. Solid Gold!"

Bet you can't guess what two of the three are? Oh, you can? Yeah I guess that makes sense, since I'm talking about them right now.

I thought this picture was going to be a part of a
funny adult blow up pool mishap, but that's just
Jacob...
                                                                 getting baptized.
Back to it. God this was supposed to be quick. Superbowl, huh?

Oh yeah, I'm getting into pretty good shape and my brewing has increased. When I say my I really mean Brian's, but he is kind enough to talk to me about it and he let me pick out the last recipe. He also has kegging equipment now, so we will be in a blow up swimming pool with a fire roaring and mini keg  readily available before we know it. It'll probably be warm enough by March, so that's good.

Seriously, back to it. I try to write so people enjoy it. When I write a contentious blog or something someone just doesn't get or doesn't connect to I feel bad for wasting their time. Contrarily, when I write ridiculous ramblings that lead to nothing, I don't feel bad at all. Hmmm... I'm sure some famous psychologist or another would have something to say about that.

So what I am saying, through all of this, is who are you? I have almost 1000 hits on the blog and I really don't know who even reads it or what you like. Tell me who you are, comment or email me or say it on facebook, I don't care how you do it. But who are you and what would you like to see more of. I will cater to your needs and leave my other opinions and thoughts to the bleeding ears of my poor wife.

I also wanted to say thanks. Thanks for giving me your time and reading. Even if you do just skim, I feel validated. I don't feel loved and I hate you, but at least I feel validated... Let's talk about passive aggression (Just kidding, that's its own blogpost).

So without further adieu, I meant for this blog to be the paragraph about who reads and what you'd like to read about and the following.

Here is probably the best response to any blog I've ever written: and it is in support of Parson Brown. I was surprised at the mixed reviews, because I think everything I do is amazing people were so honest and genuine with their "meh feelings," which I really appreciated. I asked my friend Mike, who I know reads every week what he thought and here is his response. See you this weekend readers.


I spoke (updated my status) without thinking earlier, by saying should I read it twice?, because truthfully I had to read it a few times, and reference the lyrics, wikipedia, and almost a real encyclopedia, to understand it.  

Kudos, it was over my head, partly because I know none of the lyrics and partly because it was so reference rich.  Skip to the point; it was awesome in every way.  

As a literature minor (Babs Epstein always thought legal studies majors were essentially lit minors, as our curriculum requires almost as much lit as it does law) I understand the importance of drawing comparisons from the literal into the symbolic and back again, and making sure to distinguish the times and the cohorts and the individual feelings within the spectrum of populist appeal.  You managed to do this effortlessly and casually while simultaneously utilizing an astute perspective unique to everyone else.  

The great authors wrote what everyone knew but were unconscious of, what everyone felt but could not articulate, and what everyone became to know as common, while revealing a point destined for revolutionary change. Ok, forget the revolutionary change as it regards to your blog about Parson Brown (Xmas lyrics will suck forever I'm sure, despite my addiction to Christmas music between the last week of November and January 1st every year). 

Gold Mike, pure gold!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Parson Brown Infuriates Me

So let's get this straight, Parson Brown didn't do anything wrong in "Winter Wonderland." He didn't do anything wrong because he didn't exist. He was a snowman the stupid couple built, called Parson Brown and then proceeded to have an inane conversation with an inanimate object.

I've been thinking way too much about this lately because I have had this demon spawn barrymore of a song stuck in my head, seemingly for weeks. I find myself whistling it in the shower. Everytime I step outside my voice drops to its rich baritone (more likely a painfully off key and crackly girly alto) and out it comes, "walkin' in a winter wonderland."

It's awful. I've read articles potentially heard about people who have perpetual hiccups. A lot of them end up going a little crazy or killing themselves because they can't handle constantly and uncontrollably hiccuping. My situation is literally, exactly like, if not worse than, that.

So let's do something you should never ever do: Think too much about the lyrics and meaning of a holiday song.

Starts out strong. Listening and glistening is an excellent rhyme and I have to admit "walking in a winter wonderland" is some solid alliteration and a catchy chorus.

But that's our only respite... the very first verse.

They jump right into it. Coming out strong replacing the very specific blue bird with the completely non-defined generic "new bird." What exactly did they mean when they said new bird? We know it's a song bird, but apparently there aren't any song birds with a one syllable name? I did some research and according to Google, if you ask "what is a new bird", four of the first ten search results are about the addition of a brand new bird to the Angry Birds franchise.

What else did they predict?
Walking in a Nuclear Winter Wonderland?
I'm choosing not to go down the path of explaining how Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist) predicted the world domination of Angry Birds and may, in fact, have been the original inventors of the smart phone. Geniuses stuck in the wrong time. The technology of their era failed them, so they chose the next best thing to get their message out... to ensure future generations would be excited for the new birds of Angry Birds... they chose to predict the future through holiday themed music! (Or they were idiot hacks.)


So I'm not going down that road, instead I'll move forward to the worst verse of the Christ forsaken calamity of a song. 

First they build a snowman. Fine. Great times. We've all done it. 

Then they name the snowman Parson Brown. Hmmm... excessive maybe? I've never named a snowman to impress a girl, but I'll let it slide.

"He'll say are you married?" - So when they build him they said they are going to pretend the snowman is Parson Brown. That's pretty specific. Almost like snowman Parson Brown is the persnowification of a real person whom they know. Wouldn't he know if they were married? What a shitty Parson, doesn't even know his flock.

Then their response is "We'll say no, man." 

Have some respect you little pieces of shit. This is 1934 (thank you Wikipedia). First of all, you're both probably considered tramps and trollops for romping around in meadows together when you're alone and not married. Then you have the audacity to talk to the Pastor, even if he is a terrible person (probably an abusive drunk) who doesn't care about the people he represents, with no respect. 

(Or maybe Bernard and Smith were foreshadowing again to the hippy movement of the late 60's and early 70's, knowing a young Steve Jobs would be engrossed with the culture and go on to develop ground breaking technology that would eventually allow Angry Birds to be invented).

Pictured: Parson Brown
Follow up to their ignorance... "But you can do the job when you're in town." 

How non-commital is that? First of all, do they know this guy or not? Is he just some rambling gypsy who jumps from town to town? 

Maybe he's really busy and they should sit down and make a real plan with him. Weddings take preparation and can be a time consuming portion of a Pastor's duties. Whenever you're in town swing in and hitch us up is not an adequate wedding plan. 

Are they orphan trollops and tramps? They don't want to include any friends and family? Are they gypsies too, just in a different gypsy troupe? These F'n kids are ridiculous.




That's as far as I could remember when singing the song to myself. I'm not proud of my terrible memory, but before you read further, give it a try. I knew half the next verse, but not the whole thing. Can you remember the whole thing hot shot? Bet you can't!


Either way, the next verse is about laying around a fire conspiring about the haphazard plans they made with the snow built man of the Lord. They are dedicated to pursuing these plans unafraid. Maybe they should be afraid? Maybe they're not thinking very logically about this whole thing and they should take a step back and sober up. 


This is where the song really goes off the rails. 
The next day these kids build another snowman, but today it's a circus clown.
If you're really ready for Gypsy Brown to drive his wagon scattered with bells and jingly trinkets into town to marry you, why are you playing with circus clowns?

Circus is over I guess... wedding still on?
They have a grand old time with Snow Clown Brown until the other kids in town, who inevitably spend most if not all their time picking on these idiots, come around and murder Reverend Bozo. 


Our main characters don't even care. The physical representation of their love, their religion, their marital bliss, their joy and love of clowns, and their merriment was just snuffed and without a blink they finish the song with a completely irreverant thought and some pretty racist stereotypes about the Inuit peoples.


"When it snows / Aint it thrilling /
Though your nose gets a chilling / We'll frolic and play

The eskimo way / Walking in a winter wonderland"

Snowman's dead.                                 Let's frolic.                               My nose is cold.  

Hey, did you know that the northern natives who have a very rich culture of traditions and amazing, practically unparallelled, perseverance when compared to any other modern peoples is made up of a bunch of chumps who just play in the snow all day, live in igloos and have chilly noses. How are they even still around?


Worth it.
The moral of this blog: The 30's were filled with psychics, warlocks, and divinely touched demi-gods amongst man. Instead of preventing the second world war or preventing the AIDS epidemic... they wrote songs for Irving Berlin (pictures right).


Thank you for wasting however long this just took you to read with me. That song has been haunting me. Feel free to suggest new songs I should obsess about and break down line by line for the sake of entertainment/wasting minutes of the day.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I like setting up meetings for the following Tuesday...

So at some point either I or the student I'm setting up the meeting with types, "See  You Next Tuesday."

It makes me chuckle every time.

So this is literally my fourth attempt at writing this weeks blog. Yes, it's Friday. Yes I said I was going to do these things on Tuesdays, but I am really bad at this and my job has actually been making me work all week. The nerve!

One of the posts started out as a brief retrospective of my hatred of Tom Brady and the Patriots, ie Freedom and America. But I couldn't even get through the second paragraph. It was shit.

Then I had a couple of attempts at describing what makes a good kickball team.
That one actually came from a pretty solid base.
Bartending during the day at Marshall Street I have had the pleasure met four different kickball teams who play in the Saturday winter league.

Two of the teams are okay. The majority of them had never played kickball nor had they been to Marshall Street. So, you know me (or you don't, whatever), I was really excited to talk to them about all things kickball and to get them really drunk so they would like Marshall Street a lot (and so they would continue to talk to me about kickball).

It worked with one of them, and they're hooked. The second, not so much. Turns out I have absolutely nothing in common with pretentious, obnoxious, and extremely competitive young doctors at Strong. Okay, so I have two things in common with the pretentious and obnoxious things, but I'll talk about all the German Indie Garage Acoustic Metal I listen to and the foreign independent documentaries I watch in another blog... oh, you've never heard of them, yeah, I'm not surprised. (hipsters!)

The third was the worst though. (The fourth was inconsequential, they play for Dragonfly which isn't open during the day, but they'll never be back.) First they came in in waves, sat or stood under the projection screens while the playoff games were on, and then they made me come to them for their drink and food orders. Then they gave me shit about not coming often enough while I was the only bartender in a bar with 40 other people in it. (Woah is me!)

Then one of the dudes sent his burger back because he wanted it well done (without asking for it well done) and it was too perfect juicy and pink for him.

Then the dude demanded their team shot right before complaining that his free liquor wasn't very good and he'd like it sweeter the next time.

To top it all off the table of 10 or 11 ended up leaving me about a 6 dollar tip. F them so hard. I even smiled the whole time they were being awful themselves.

But all that got me thinking of how groups form and interact. Of the three groups, there was one or two obvious leaders in each crowd, but they didn't really dictate too much. The groups definitely had a shared persona and similar interests. I could see how they ended up together - Hey, I can't help notice that nobody likes you. Nobody likes me either, you want to hang out even though we really don't like each other. Yeah? Awesome! My dad never hugged me.

There must be a secret corner of the internet I've never heard of where all the D-Nuggets (Douche, not Denver) get together and decide they're going to stick together to try to ruin the day, night, week, hour of whomever they subject themselves to. Maybe they're all still on Myspace? shittymatch.com?

I will be the first to admit that I am not everyone's cup of tea. I know this and I've accepted it, it's part of growing up. I can be brash, I can be loud, sometimes I just don't shut the fuck up, but I'm also really nice to everyone the first time I meet them and give everyone a genuine chance while putting my own best foot forward (my best foot is my left one due to a couple of unfortunate surgeries when I was in high school).

You can tell me how much you hate that dude from work for doing all sorts of dickish stuff (STEPHEN, you forgot to put new toner in the God Damn copy machine! JESUS!"), but if he's really nice to me I'll probably still like him at least a little bit. I'll find something.

I didn't add the hearts...                          
but I'm not mad about it.
I'm not expecting everyone to fall in love with me right away.
Eventually, yes.
But right away, come on now, who am I, Fabio from Top Chef?  That guy's an angel sent right from heaven. When Padma met him she instantly told Salman Rushdie to eat a D and shove Satanic Versus up his B.

Designing, understanding, and navigating social constructs is one of the most usefulskills a person can have. Where we get messed up is knowing that very few people actually have those skills. Even the people whose occupations require them to excel in these areas, politicians, teachers, counselors, drug dealers; are often only adept at dealing with their target niche of constituents.

Think broad. Widen the spectrum. Nobody is going to make you happy 100 percent of the time , so we need to teach ourselves to find, hold on to and remember the best in everyone. Whether that means falling in love and staying together forever or simply not murdering them because you don't enjoy jailhouse showers (they don't rock) or they were nice to a puppy one time (it was a really cute puppy), we should all try to find that one thing.

That one thing can't define the relationship though.

Not murdering someone or briefly feeling intensely positive feelings for someone should not outweigh the sum of that persons actions. People change. Friends might have been positive figures in your life at some point and you'll always remember them somewhat positiviely and at least be cordial based on that, but that doesn't mean they have to be your friend for the rest of your life.

You'll change too.

I have. I used to be way less awesome. I still have room for improvement, I know it. I could totally be two inches taller and so many more people would respect me for it.

This took a twist for the ranting, but to get back to my initial purpose and point of view -

Not every kickball team is I'm Kick James. In fact, none have even come close. We just work, and we're just good at being together. Even when we get too excited, take things a little personally, and get intense, we always bounce back and remember why we're there (beer). Even the teams we've seen (the caped people, the birthday with the crowns, the generally nice yet totally forgettable people) did not understand us and they never will. They're not meant to.

If you're not affiliated with Kick James, you should really consider somehow getting your foot in the door... but you probably can't play because we already have 92 people on the damn team.
I'm an awful captain.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ramblin' Man

So it turns out it still snows in Western New York. The proverbial "they" says things like "when it rains, it pours" and "did you see Veronica, she looks like a whore," but in this case both of those things are true: if you replace rain with snow and pour with white outs and trucks in the ditch on the 390 and Veronica with your mother and whore with is such a nice lady.

I didn't die on that trip into work this morning, which I have decided is a good thing. Recently, besides being terrible at keeping a blogging schedule, I have been very consciously living my life.

No, I'm not going to spend abnoxiously long paragraphs explaining what I mean, but I will summarize it:
  • - I'm thinking about my day to day existence rather than floating.
  • - I'm working on getting healthier.
  • - I read a couple things the other day, so that was good... even though The Governor is not proving to be very good at all.
  • - Jenna and I got a food vacuum sealer for Christmas so I've been vacuuming the shit air out of things.
  • - I'm spending time looking to the future and making positive moves to make that future way better than bad.
Not too bad, right? That concise explanation proves that I'm not an insufferable windbag. If you are reading this and at any point in your life you have thought I am actually an insufferable windbag, well that is mean and I don't know why you would do something like that to me. Jerk.

This man can legally shoot you if you
look at him funny. That's a real law!
So, this blog will mostly be rambling, like the title suggests, but it's also what I've been thinking about. I talked to my buddy Joe a little bit this afternoon. Joey and I have been friends since 5th or 6th grade I think. He's a cop back home and still one of the funniest guys I know. You wouldn't guess it when he has a gun or when you're standing next to him in general, but he is.

This got me thinking about relativity. There was a time, when I lived in Boston, that I thought it was the greatest place in the world and tried to get all of my friends to move out there to hang out with me. Eventually I talked my girlfriend into doing that and then she became my wife and she started doing the same thing.

Looking back at that time I'm not sure if I really wanted everyone to move out to Boston because it was Boston or if I just missed my friends. I am in a strange situation where I am still extremely close with my high school friends despite the fact that we rarely see each other and many of us are hundreds of miles away. We talk. We keep in contact. We pick up right where we left off each and every time we see each other, even if it has been years. We will still come to Rochester to help me move or build things or fix things if the situation comes up.

Approachable means the same
thing as smarmy, doesn't it?
Another spawning factor to this slew of thoughts was the save the date I received in the mail yesterday from one of my other high school friends who is marrying one of my friends from college. This got me thinking about how strangely words collide. My group of friends in Rochester is an incestuous conglomerate of people in love with each other who have no real reason to even know each other. If it weren't for a sandwich shop with great soup, the close proximity of some pretty large party schools, a long lived mecca of welcoming on Vassar Street and Phil's approachability (pictured to the right), who knows who I'd be hanging out with most of the time.

Probably just my wife and that would be disastrous. She would get sick of me so quickly we probably wouldn't even be married anymore and then I really wouldn't have anyone to hang out with besides maybe my dog, but Jenna would probably take the dog, so I'd really only have the bottle so I'd probably start drinking a lot and then I'd make all new friends, but not the right kind of friends, these friends would be all into some nefarious shit like bootin' black tar heroin or thinking Drew Barrymore is a good actress, or like thinking Drew Barrymore is attractive, or like thinking being adorable in ET correlates to being a relevant actress/person of interest well into your 30's (man I hate Drew Barrymore).

So with that tangent being complete I get back to my original point.

Drew Barrymore is the worst.

The way our worlds combine, collide, coincide, coca-cola classic, and constipate into each other is really interesting. Thinking about how chance, circumstance, coincidence, and randomness comes into play in our every day lives can really make a person start questioning life. Fate. Destiny. Or it can just help you realize how lucky you are to be where you are in life. Even if you're pretty miserable or in a shit situation, you could have just as easily looked left instead of right and been leveled by a city bus. Or you could be Adam Sandler or Justin Long, forever stuck to the black hole that is Drew Barrymore. The Wedding Singer was funny, that does not mean you were Drew. 50 First Dates was the start to the end of the Adam Sandler I used to know and love and I blame her. Justin, Jeepers Creepers should have been the greatest mistake of your life, not this, not her, not ever!

I'm not sure if there was a single line of value in this entire blog entry, but I am pretty pleased with that picture of Joe and the Veronica is a whore thing. Hope you enjoyed! Be safe out there.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Motivational Resolve

No, I did not post last week.            Yes, I should have.              I'm sorry PJ and I'm very sorry Kyle.

A ton has happened in the meantime, quick recap:

My face and these actions are basically the
 perfect representation of the holiday Season
Two weeks off of work. I have no idea how tomorrow is going to go, but it's terrifying.
The entire two weeks spent with my favorite Swede.Oscar loves beef jerky, skittlies, Dinosaur, and Marshall Street.
Christmas: Three cities, four days, too many meals, drinks, presents.
Lancers game: Indoor soccer is awesome.
Amerks game: Talk to the guys at the door and you will get your Swedish friend on the ice between periods.
New Years: Opening up every bottle of champagne at midnight and then drinking straight from the bottle is not the most economical way to celebrate. It is effective though.

So much fun, so many great things and people, but I don't really want to talk about all that.

So I didn't start writing this thing as a new years resolution. I think resolutions are like diets, they don't work because they are our special little way of telling ourselves what not to do rather than encouraging ourselves in the things we do well. They're lifestyle constraints, not lifestyle adjustments.

Sadly, I'm not very good at working out. I'm an excellent eater. I am fantastic at watching tv and telling people about the things I've watched even though it's obvious they don't give a shit at all. I'm really good at hanging out with my friends, and my friends are really good at sharing meals and drinks and laughs. Little changes I dedicate myself to are going to be way easier to uphold than entirely uprooting my life.

So let's talk about a new year. 2011 was awesome. 2012 is giving every indication of being even better. For me it is things like this (nodding my head toward the computer, more specifically the keyboard). I've said it before, I'll say it again, I enjoy writing this swill. Sometimes I try to be funny, sometimes it even works. Sometimes I try to be sincere and that rarely comes off as anything but silly. It's writing this and changing small things that is going to make the difference for me.

I'm going to focus on the small accomplishments starting with this post right now:

Brian's Irish Curse: My beer is good! I should not be calling it my beer, because it's really our Beer, but Brian and I made an Irish Stout and it is actually delicious. It's encouraging as hell and I can't wait to do it again.

Getting Healthy: So a lot of my motivation comes from Jenna. When she is motivated and moving forward it is hard not to follow her. That's mostly because she is an unimaginable force to be reckoned with and is uncompromisingly dedicated when she says she is going to be.

I've worked out like 4 times and it f'n sucks. But I did it and I'll do it again today. Tony Horton is a sonofabitch. We're doing a biggest loser competition with two of our friends, just to help motivate ourselves and each other. Did you guys know salad is delicious? The hardest part for me, personally, is the fact that I used to be so much better at this stuff. I'm at almost the same weight I was when I was in the best shape of my life, but you could never tell. I'm gonna have to work twice as hard and long to just accept that I'm not that guy anymore and figure out what the new shape of Tom Chew looks like. I'm going to guess it will look a lot like Ryan Gosling.

Reading stuff: So, this one still hasn't been embraced. The Governor is still on the shelf and the Game of Thrones series will be behind it, but I don't know when. I do know a lot more about playing video games online thanks to Oscar and I got 11 kills in a Modern Warfare 2 online deathmatch, but no, I'm still on page 30 something.

Follow through: There is a lot I want to do in my life. A lot of traveling. A lot of personal and professional accomplishments I'd like to meet. I want to buy a house. We're going to start a family sooner or later. I want to do so much, but I need to realize that there is only so much time and I need to remind myself, like I tell my students all the damn time, you can do everything, but you can't do it all at the same time. We can only plan for so much. We can only save so much money and go on so many trips and there are only so many hours in the day, and that sucks, but it is what it is and we just embrace it. At least I'm trying to embrace it.

So if you're reading this, still, you probably know me and you're probably really bored. I will ask a favor though: help push me. I mean, you don't need to be like, "Hey Thomas, it's Tuesday, good luck with writing and working out, did you read anything today?" In fact, please don't do that, because it would be weird. But if you like the blog, let me know. If you're doing something fun, exciting, active, and want to get more people involved, let me know. If you want to do something new or different or fun and exciting and want help, let me know. If you don't think about any of this ever again, that is also fine.

If you want more fun stuff, that is much more light hearted, I'm going to add some stuff to the Nerdy Stuff for Nerds pages on the sidebar.