And That’s How It Ended


loserIt seems like I write these posts all too often and when I do, they always seem to bring me down.

This is the one time that I refuse to do that.

It was at about 2:45 pm on Friday when I saw one of the ladies from my staffing agency/employer walk in the building. As usual, she had her leather folder with her and as is normally the case when she arrives, all of the contract workers feel the hair on the back of their neck stand up because they never know what news she may be bringing.

She came into our little corner of the building and smiled, asking how everything was going. I gave her my input and then she asked if she could speak to me.

I was taken into an office where my supervisor was already sitting and waiting. Well, at this point it wasn’t hard to figure out that this meeting would have little to do with my getting a raise or an award for Outstanding Service. Kathy, the pseudonym I’ll be using for the agency rep, spoke first but not before she let out a sigh.

“As you know, the company has been going through some budget cuts…”

That was pretty much all I needed to hear and knew exactly what the next line, or at least the only line of speech that mattered, would be.

“As a result, your assignment is ending as of today.”

I sat there and showed no emotion. Kathy continued to speak which then turned into some spiel about how dependable and hard-working I was during my nearly three years on the assignment. She glanced over at my now-former supervisor as if to get some input from her.

“We’re really, really sorry to see you go,” she said. I spoke only two words to her the entire meeting and they were “Thank you.” I will explain later in the post when things get a little more…detailed.

The meeting ended without much else. I signed no papers, got nothing in return. It was over.

As is the norm, Kathy gave me a few minutes to gather my things and to say goodbye to the rest of the crew. It didn’t take me long to do either: as a contract worker, you learn to travel light and that’s exactly what I did. I stuffed what few personal belongings I had into my backpack and slung it over my shoulder. All the while, I explained to my fellow proofreader Lola what had just happened. She immediately burst into tears.

“You have my contact info. Give it to whomever asks about me,” I told her. I later texted her with a precautionary “Use your discretion when you give out my info. You know who I liked around there.”

It was always my wish that when the time came and I finally found another job, I would leave this place without a word. No news is good news; I figured it’d be best if they all found out as a group during the next painfully boring Monday meeting, which they will this coming Monday. Not that many would give a crap. I adhered to that wish but sadly, under completely different and unexpected circumstances.

Lola, still crying, asked if we’d catch up sometime.

“Karaoke Night, July 19th, 8:30. You know it.” I then shook hands with Grant, the other proofreader in our little nook of an office.

I then said goodbye to another fellow proofreader, telling her that Lola has my contact info if she wanted it. With that, I met Kathy and I walked out of the place for the last time – not a single regret, not one tear, no remorse.

Kathy later met me at the parking structure gate so that I could turn in my ID to her after I used it for the last time to leave. I walked to my car and gave Ann a call telling her the news. Naturally, she was upset but it’s nothing we hadn’t gone through before and nothing we won’t get through again.

I got in the car and made my way to Level One, where Kathy was standing at the gate. I swiped my ID, handed it over, thanked her, watched the arm raise and gave the Yaris some gas. I looked up at the Google building one last time.

And with that I was done. My time at this place was finally over. A contract position that was originally scheduled to last only from October 2010 to February 2011 nearly made it to July 2013. Not a bad run if you ask me.

Now if I may, I’d like to go into a few details about the job and why I show no remorse or pity toward my layoff.

In addition to traveling lightly, a contact worker understands that the chances of them being let go for any reason are exponentially greater than a regular full-time gig. That’s just how it is. I was there for almost three years; I’ve seen people get cut after only a few weeks. That’s the nature of the business.

As such, one of the things I decided to do was to not get too close to any of the permanent employees, most of whom had already dedicated a good portion of their sad, pathetic lives to this company. They will live out the rest of their working careers here in complete misery doing a mundane job and deal with the rigors of it because they have the safety of job security no matter which way the projects flow. Contractors, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen and when one is let go and another big project begins, the list of potential candidates is long. While I did associate with the permanent people, I didn’t get close – for my own safety and privacy. Many of them would be hard-pressed to tell you more than five things they knew about me if anything at all.

Let me put it to you this way: it’s highly unlikely I will be receiving any Facebook Friends requests from any of them and in the likelihood I do, they will not be approved. Aside from the few coworkers I’ve trusted to connect with on Facebook, nobody from there needs to know anything else about me.

There is a strange dynamic between temps and permanent workers. I had always felt that the temps were treated like second-class citizens who knew little to nothing about the job and could be replaced a moment’s notice. This is even more true when you are proofreader, rushing to get projects done only to have all of the glory go to the project manager or content owner. You try proofreading a foreign language like Bulgarian or Greek or even Chinese for 40 hours a week, in some cases under deadline pressure and people breathing down your neck, knowing you will get no glory or even the proverbial pat on the back.

Nothing.

Then there’s my supervisor. All I will say is that from the moment I met her, she was cold, unfeeling and robotic, which is why I only spoke two words to her during the meeting. Praise from someone like that is absolutely meaningless and if anything, insulting. During the meeting her eyes were cold and steely and said nothing just as they always did. I didn’t say a word or even glance at her as I walked by her office toward the exit. She’s just as over me as I am her.

On the job itself, one word: tedious. Okay, maybe two: tedious and boring.

Let’s kick it up a notch: tedious, boring and monotonous. You will never find a less rewarding job than this one. “Proofreading” in terms of this company meant comparing two copies to each other and noticing any differences. It was very similar to those children’s cartoon drawings where you have to find the difference between the Easter Bunny on the left and the Easter Bunny on the right.

“Oh, look! That egg only has one star but THAT one has two! Daddy, there’s a difference! I’d better circle it!”

That’s about how exciting it was to do my job. In addition, I can’t tell you how inconsistent things were around that place. What was correct on one document wasn’t necessarily correct on another and there were no style guides to refer to. We couldn’t mark up anything unless it was absolutely, positively, 100% wrong. All corrections had to be noted with a sticky and our notes on said sticky. We were not free to edit, suggest, do anything outside of count whiskers on the two Easter Bunnies. And when we did, The Old Guard of Proofreading came into our office and pontificate about what we did wrong and usually in a condescending manner. There was no reward here, ever.

The Monday Meetings were always a joy. What they usually came down to was how low the coffee supply was and what needed to be ordered for the next time. When work was discussed, it was always a “Me! Me! Me!” mentality. Every single one of the people in our department thought their project was the most important and always placed the blame on someone else when things didn’t get done. The Blame Game ran rampant around there and I will not miss it. The level of incompetence was astounding and I’m surprised anything got done at all. Way too many chiefs and not enough Indians.

The new boss, who still lives on the east coast and flies back and forth frequently, seemed more interested in assembling teams designed to manage our workload using PowerPoint presentations filled with Venn diagrams and business acronyms useless to anyone outside of management. I swear, if I hear the word “kaizen” again I’m gonna puke. We knew she was not the same as our old boss the moment she arrived: we never had a meeting announcing her arrival and she rarely spoke to us. I will not miss her. At all. There’s nothing to miss. At least our old boss was a fire-eater at Burning Man.

But I will miss my fellow temps — just not the commute. Not at all. It was an absolutely crappy drive, day in and day out for almost three years. Someone else can take it from me and I won’t complain.

Finally, there’s this. I was on the job for nearly three years and there were plenty of opportunities to move to different departments. Not necessarily a promotion but a chance to get away from proofreading. During my time, I saw many, many people (some of much less seniority) get placed into open positions and even taken on as permanent employees. I can’t think of a bigger slap in the face than that, even if I had no intentions of accepting any of these open positions. A little recognition, like perhaps inquiring with me about the position, would have gone a long way.

But it never happened. Thanks for nothing, yet again.

So with that all done, now what?

In the past I would have cried and gotten really upset over a situation like this, but today it’s different.

I pick myself up. I dust myself off. I move on. We have gone through this before and we will make it through again, this time with less financial difficulty. We recently refinanced one of the cars and with our last tax refund, paid off all of our credit cards. We have very little debt outside of utilities and we have a little stash in case of emergency. It will work.

I refuse to let this nightmare of a job make me shed one tear over its decision to let me go. If anything, it forces me to look at other opportunities I may have never considered and perhaps work outside my comfort zone. No, it won’t be the fantastic summer we had planned but we will still be able to go through with some of the things we wanted to do.

In my studying of Buddhism and meditating some evenings, I’m finding that there are things to worry about and things not to worry about. This, while certainly monumental, will pass as all challenges do. I will overcome it and things will continue because they must.

To quote the Dalai Lama:

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.

Wise words. And it’s what I’ve chosen to do at this point in time.

Dave v2.0 is obsolete. This is the beginning of Dave v3.0, and I like it. I will pick up and continue on Tuesday. But why not Monday?

Because shortly after I got home last night, I started calling the casting line for Central Casting, my background acting agency. This has always been my backup, my go-to, my last resort for income should I ever need it.

I found a call I thought was a good fit and had the CD submit my headshot.

Then I waited — and got the call.

So the reason I can’t do anything on Monday because I was cast for a TV show. It’s my first background acting gig in years and it’s less than seven miles from home. Sure it’s only a one-day shoot but I get fed and paid to do nothing but walk around.

My layoff isn’t the end of something. It has already proven to be the start of something better than I ever imagined.

Namaste, my friends. And here’s to brighter days.

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Why I Can Never Visit Japan – Or Why I Must


madayadeOn Saturday, Anthony had another golf event at a local golf course that we hadn’t been to. It was hosted by the SCGA, the organization that hosted the 100 Hole Marathon earlier in the year.

After the event (where he was complimented on his form/stroke by a PGA pro instructor), we decided to head over to our latest, greatest, most favorite grocery store: 99 Ranch Market, a place which specializes in Asian products. One would think that with the area it’s in and their specialty/niche items that the clientele would be mostly Asian. That’s far from the truth because I saw people of all ethnicities shopping and enjoying their experience. As I posted on Facebook, this is how the world should be: one people together for a common purpose. It was honestly quite beautiful.

CAM00959But before I witnessed this wonderful display, we happened upon another store on the way in and it was all over for me, at least. From a distance I really couldn’t tell what it was but when as we approached, it became more obvious.

The store was called Daiso Japan. They sell stuff from Japan. Most of it sells for $1.50 or sometimes less (and in some cases, more). I was immediately lost.

As my eyes glazed over their wares displayed in the window, I told Ann that we HAD to go in there. Right now. NOW, I tells you.

See, I have this strange affinity toward all things Japan, whether it’s J-Pop, their culture, or just cars. I wouldn’t consider it an unhealthy obsession as much as I would a curiosity; it’s simply a glimpse into a place I’ve never been would love to visit sometime.

But above all, I can’t get enough of Japanese craps, as in items one would find in a place like Daiso. And if I ever won the [insert jackpot game of your choice], I would go to a place like Daiso and buy one of everything whether I needed it or not. Then I would book the next flight to Japan and either go nuts buying more Japanese craps or end up not coming back and taking up residence in a capsule hotel where…I wouldn’t have room for all of my craps.

Okay, maybe it is a bit unhealthy. But hear me out before you judge. Take a look at some of the assorted craps I found in Daiso and why me going to Japan would be a dangerous, dangerous proposition.

First, upon entering the Daiso, I discovered that J-Pop was being piped into the place and could be heard all over the store. My shopping experience was already at a 5-star level. As I made my way through the store I started to notice why I love crazy Japanese craps.

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Here we have a pair of training chopsticks with some kind of animal face on the top. Hey, whatever gets a kid to learn how to use them is fine with me. But look at the packaging! Aside from “Training Chopsticks” there’s no other English on it and that’s what I find so intriguing. Sure, I would know what they were if not for the English but still, the packaging on all Japanese items is insanely pristine and damn near perfection.

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And what do we have here? Oh, nothing but some kitchen sponges SHAPED LIKE CAKE SLICES! Note the precautionary “Do not eat” on the bottom right of each sponge-cake.

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Enjoy the softness! Aside from the “WTF?” factor, here’s another reason I love Japanese products: Engrish, which is Japanese translated into English that produces humorous results. What you see above isn’t the best example of it but still, it’s pretty funny to read on the pack of…grape candy.

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Now this here is some great Engrish. Historically, kings have worn crowns and as such, were…well, kings. Maybe he was Super King.

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These happy little guys will make sure your mundane task of sweeping up that pile of spilled Yan Yans will be a joyous event!

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I almost slapped this on my face and started singing Music of the Night.

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The “frip-top” made me laugh so hard that I had to buy this. It is now my daily container for the snacks I take along with me to work.

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Aside from the chuckles I was getting, I did buy stuff that wasn’t amusing and too cool to not pass up. I ended up grabbing two of these really bitchin’ battery-powered, color-changing LED stars which we used as décor that night for the Supermoon viewing from our front yard. I love goofing around with artificial lighting and taking pictures with my phone. The results are always interesting.

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But I’ve saved the best for last. While walking down the aisle that had party goods, Ann pointed this out and almost fell on the ground laughing.

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This place has everything, even inflatable boobs that, according the package, are “Sopresa Bomba Sexy”! Well, maybe not on a guy with a necktie around his head or any guy in general but you get the idea. I think.

But sadly, as strange as this item was, it has NOTHING on the next one which is still leaving me, for the lack of a better term, curious.

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You know, there are some terms I never thought I’d search for in my life. But after seeing this item, I had to go to Google and search for “inflatable swan penis” to find out exactly how this thing worked and what it did because the instructions on the top of the box didn’t really help me.

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So after researching it, here’s what you do.

  1. Peel off the adhesive backing and stick the flaccid swan-penis to your crotch.
  2. Squeeze the swan’s neck-testicles which will activate the inflation mechanism.
  3. Stand back and watch the swan-penis become erect.
  4. Stand around like a perverted old man with a sheepish grin on your face.
  5. That’s pretty much it.

If you follow the instructions on the box cover, you can also opt for putting on a tutu and sticking the swan-penis to the outside. This would obviously be my choice. Go big or go home, yo.

(Note that the bewbs also inflate using the same kind of chemical reaction.)

Man, I don’t know what kind of partying they do over in Japan but I’d wager that they are pretty crazy, which kind of scares me and excites me at the same time.

In the end, here’s what we hauled home.

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Candies, bike reflectors I didn’t need, cookies…but nothing inflatable.

And this, my friends, is why I should never visit Japan. But do you know what the sad thing about all of this?

We’re going back on Friday for more.

My name is Dave, and I have a problem with Japanese craps.

And music. Now everybody do the Monkey Dance! Berryz Koubou, take it away!

Releasing My Inner Rock Star


Linbrook Bowl in Anaheim, CAOn Friday night, I did something for the first time: karaoke.

Me and a coworker I will call Lola (her Facebook pseudonym) had planned this night at least a month ago and invited a handful of fellow office drones to come along for the ride. We figured it would be a great time and a way to let loose and BS about the garbage we deal with in the office.

In the end, what was supposed to be a group of us turned out to be only myself, Lola, her boyfriend, a former coworker and his girlfriend. Ah, of mice and men…

But despite their absence, the plans went through and we all had a good time. It’s also worth noting that Ann and Anthony came because Ann’s mom, who was supposed to watch him that night, had fallen ill in the days prior to the event. Stupid mice and men. And because karaoke takes place in the bar of the bowling alley, he was not allowed in. Instead, they spent their time doing some bowling while I made a fool of myself on stage.

The bowling alley, Linbrook Bowl in Anaheim, is one of the rare places that has nightly karaoke which starts at 8:30 pm in the Kopa Room. I had read some online reviews about the place just to get an idea of what I was getting myself into and they were mixed. Some complained that the KJ (karaoke jockey) played favorites to the regulars and there were a few other not-so-nice reviews about the place overall.

I found that not to be the case once the ball got rolling. In short, we had a blast in the few hours we were there (it could have been longer if we didn’t have Anthony with us). About the only thing I could complain about was the song selection. In the week leading up to Karaoke Night, I had compiled a list of songs that I wanted to give a shot and much to my chagrin, many of them were not available. Not only that, here was there entire Depeche Mode song collection:

Weak!

As you can see in the dead center of that list, there were only four Depeche Mode songs and probably none of them I would ever want to karaoke. Come on, those are really bad choices!

Glass HousesI had been looking through the book with Lola and her boyfriend before the KJ arrived to get the party started and noticed that a good portion of the songs on my list were not in the book. Fortunately, some of my preferred songs were so once the KJ put out the sign-up sheet, I was about third in line with my first choice.

I had originally planned to kick it off with Eve 6’s “Inside Out” just because I’ve always liked the song and let’s face it, it sounds like a karaoke song. Or not. Maybe it was because I had heard a cover band in a Las Vegas casino doing it years ago and I liked the energy of it live, or maybe it was just within my vocal range. Either way, it wasn’t in the book so I had to opt for another opener: Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right.”

After the first two singers did their thing, I was called up to the stage to give my first song a go and boy, did I screw it up! Maybe it was the anxiousness of being on the stage and singing in public for the first time that made do it but one the song started, I sort of started singing along right away instead of waiting a few measures and following the words as they were highlighted. Rookie mistake. I honestly didn’t need to look at the screen for the lyrics because I’ve known that song since I was a kid which could have led to my know-it-all demeanor when it started. But once I recovered from my flub, it was smooth sailing with my group cheering me on.

Then a few other singers went up and flexed their vocal prowess (or lack thereof). That’s when it occurred to me that I may not be the best singer but holy crap in a pita, I’m one hell of a lot better than some.

Except for the girlfriend of former coworker Derek. She has won karaoke contests in the past and belted out Alicia Keys’ “No One” perfectly, leaving us speechless. It was incredible.

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The second song on my list was “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors. This was chosen more for its vocal range being in the same area as mine than being a good live song. I figured that it would be a good karaoke choice as well.

The only thing about it was that it was a severely edited version of the song, leaving out a full set of lyrics:

Ashen lady, Ashen lady
Give up your vows, give up your vows
Save our city, save our city
Right now

This totally threw me off because it was replaced by the first part of the song, making it extremely repetitive. A bit disappointing. But don’t take my word for it. Watch the video!

So yes, as you may have heard, it sounds like the same thing over and over. Not cool. But hey, I did include “Do it, Robbie, do it!” and looked over at the KJ playing an inflatable guitar when I did.

Then, after publicly embarrassing myself with that tune, I put my name on the list for a third song: “Back in the U.S.S.R.” by The Beatles. And yes, there is a video of that, too!

This seemed to work out better all the way around. By the way, that’s Lola singing along and giving me some encouragement as well. That’s how she rolls.

And yes, there were singers worse than me.

Overall, it was a great night to hang out and have some fun. Here’s the takeaway:

  • I sing with my eyes closed if I know the lyrics. It’s not that I didn’t want to make eye contact with the crowd; it’s just something that felt natural.
  • If you ever do karaoke, let it out! The mic can handle your voice at a high volume level better than struggling to hear you at a low level. Trust me, I was singing pretty loudly in those clips and there was no distortion. Singing comes from the gut, not throat.
  • Holding the mic with two hands while on the stand also seemed appropriate for the songs I did.
  • Tip the KJ. I left without doing so and felt pretty bad since he was a cool guy who chatted with us a few times while others were singing.
  • This was only the second time in my life that I had set foot in a bar. I kid you not.
  • I have no shame. What you see was fueled purely on adrenaline and my own self-satisfaction. Since I don’t drink, the only thing I had was a raspberry Smirnoff Ice and those things are just a step above a soda. I assure you that you don’t need to be inebriated to do karaoke; just confident.
  • Dropbox is great! It seems off-topic but it really isn’t. In order to get these videos to me, Lola uploaded them to her Dropbox account and shared the folder with me, giving me the opportunity to share them with you here. Before Dropbox (or the cloud-storage service of your choice), they would have had to be emailed – if your server could even handle such huge files. Now it’s a breeze.
  • By the way, that shirt really makes me look big. I assure you I haven’t gained back a ton of weight; it’s an XL shirt that Ann bought me for the night. And the stripes don’t really help either I suppose.

So it turns out that my first Karaoke Night was more fun than I could have ever imagined. Will there be another? I can practically guarantee it, and this time I’m looking to do some ‘80s tunes since Friday seemed to be Classic Rock Night.

And I’m sure there will be video evidence as well.

Rock on, peeps!

Twenty Years Ago


180924_495738254117_7000895_nAh, 1993. Grunge was slowly taking over the airwaves, Prince made a huge marketing blunder my changing his name to a symbol and most importantly, I meet a then-teenager by the name of Ann.

She sort of came out of nowhere when I think about it. While driving home from work, I happened to come across Bonnie, the mom of an old friend by the name of Bill who had moved away a few years earlier. In his haste, Bill departed without much fanfare and didn’t call me with his new contact info. He was pretty much gone without a trace as was Bonnie.

But I wanted to stay in touch with him so seeing Bonnie zooming down the street, I followed her burgundy VW Beetle with the white paint spots on the hood (or trunk, if you please) to the next stop. Remember that this was a time before the Internet was commonplace and obviously way before social networking, which meant that getting in touch with that long, lost someone meant that you had to have a connection with one of their friends/relatives.

I pulled into the space next to her and called her name. Not knowing what to think after witnessing some stranger trail her into a parking lot, she was surprised to see me standing there smiling at her. We spoke for a few minutes and then she asked the following question.

“So are you seeing anybody?”

I was taken aback as it seemed like an unlikely question, especially coming from someone’s mom. I said I wasn’t and without hesitation, she spoke again.

“I’ve got the perfect girl for you. She works with me at House of Fabrics in the mall and her name is Ann. If you want, I can let her know you are interested and give you her phone number.”

“Uh…okay,” I said stupidly, not knowing what in the world was going on just yet. Rather sudden, I thought.

Note: In this whirlwind of a conversation, I never got Bill’s number from Bonnie. I did, however, recently contact him via LinkedIn and he didn’t seem interested in taking the conversation beyond his confirmation that he was who I had been looking for. Oh well. I guess his not giving me his number was intentional.

A few days later there was a message on my bed taken by Mom. It read “Ann 555-1212. Call after 3 pm.” And that’s exactly what I did.

While I don’t remember the nuances of our first conversation, I do know that Ann was every ounce a shy teenager but not quite introverted, if that makes any sense. We had arranged our first date that night: miniature golf at Golf N Stuff where The Karate Kid was filmed, and dinner at her restaurant of choice.

The date was awkward to say the least. I hadn’t been on the dating scene since, well, who knows when and my dates never amounted to anything other than the usual “Let’s be friends” ending at the end of the night on the front porch. But this one seemed different.

As we played our round of miniature golf, there were moments of affection: gentle hugging after a good shot, high-fives that led to hand-holding, the simply looking directly into each other’s eyes and having them dart the other way. Awkward, yes.

But something more, definitely.

At the end of our games, I asked Ann where she wanted to have dinner.

“We can just go to McDonald’s if you want to,” she said. And as I’ve told many, it was under the romantic glow of the Golden Arches that I knew I had made the right choice. (The McDonald’s we went to is down the street from Golf N Stuff and is the oldest operating location in the world.)

The dating continued for months – 6 in total. And then, while leaning against my red 1991 Nissan Sentra under a full moon in the driveway of her parent’s house, I asked for her hand in marriage.

The ring I gave her wasn’t fancy but she loved it – and said “yes.”

Within a month, we had made plans to go to Las Vegas and become a couple for life.

I arranged for the date of June 19, 1993 at 2:30 pm at the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel. Russ, a friend from high school whose parents were already living in Las Vegas, was the only witness to the event aside from the minister.

Before the ceremony, we had to go downtown to get a license which were being issued like hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts on a Sunday morning. I remember seeing men — more like teenagers — in uniform, standing with their girlfriends and blank looks on their faces as they waited in line. It was such a powerful moment because you know that these couples were taking the plunge right before deployment, with them not knowing if they would ever see each other again.

With license in hand, we went to the chapel. The ceremony was quick and all I can remember is standing there, looking through welled-up eyes at Ann’s smiling face and holding her hands, knowing that this was the woman I was promising to spend the rest of my life with.

By the way, what’s with men fainting at their wedding? I see it all the time on AFV was just wondering. Man, if you can’t handle it, don’t go through with it!

Sadly, the memories of the get-them-in-and-get-them-out ceremony are all we have: an audio recording of it has somehow gotten lost as have our original wedding certificate and license, and worst of all, the Silver Bell Wedding Chapel was destroyed in a fire about 10 years after we exchanged our vows. While it was in the process of being rebuilt, it caught fire again and was shelved altogether. And while Russ did take a few photos of us, finding them has been next to impossible.

Also memorable: seeing an Elvis impersonator and a showgirl enter the chapel after us. Whether they were getting married or were part of another ceremony was anyone’s guess but I do know this: only in Las Vegas…

We began a new life that day and since then, we’ve had our share of challenges, wonderful moments, ups and downs. I’m pretty sure we’ve endured sickness, health, better and worse. And despite it all, we’ve come through alright.

Then in 2004, after nearly 10 years of trying, the gift of a child was given to us and our roles as parents began. While a child definitely added to the stress of our daily lives, like everything else, we’ve pulled ourselves through and have discovered ways to get by.

Oh, and there’s also this: Ann and I have never fought. We may have disagreements but we have never raised our voices at each other, except perhaps when one couldn’t hear what the other one had said. Getting old will do that to you.

So after 20 years of wedded bliss, things are great. We have our health, a fantastic son who is as funny as he is smart (as well as one heck of a golfer), and it appears we finally have our finances in the best shape they’ve been in a very long time.

We are by no means The Cleavers nor do we have a white picket fence around our house, but what we do have is our commitment to each other and a houseful of love, a love that is as strong today as it was when we first looked into each other’s eyes and shared our first kiss.

Mushy, I know. But it’s something I’m very proud to share with anyone who listens. We’ve outlasted the marriages of many friends and relatives (sometimes two of theirs) as well as celebrities (not shocking). And it’s always a treat to brag about it, especially when we could potentially reach 60 years of marriage.

Granted, I’ll be 84 and Ann 79 by then but no matter what, she’ll always be my one love.

Happy Anniversary, Ann. Here’s to many, many more years of fun that can’t be measured.

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This song is one of my favorites. I want this played at our 25th anniversary. That or I will sing it and embarrass her 🙂

UPDATE: While cleaning in preparation for our garage sale, I found pictures from our wedding day. Here we are, age 19 and 25. Nothing has changed, eh?

wedding day

Slippery When Wet


On Saturday, I decided to take the family out to a local spot that I had frequented as a kid but they had never been before.

The tide pools at White Point Park in San Pedro, CA are simply amazing. Not only is the scenery beautiful but so are the creatures that call it home: starfish, sea anemones, and what seemed to be an endless supply of crabs. I swear, you took one step and you could literally see them scatter way from you. But before you even had a chance to get near the sea life below, check out the view from above.

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There are two ways to get down there: you can find a parking spot on the street and walk down (our initial plan) or pay the $10 and drive down. While I would have had no problem walking back up, the family overruled me and made me pay. That decision turned out to be the right once as you will find out later in the post (and the reason for this post’s title).

One you make you way down, the view gets even better.

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This is southern California, not Hawaii.

As you make your way into the tide pools, that’s when you start to discover nature in all of her beauty: irregular-shaped rocks and shells are only the beginning. Walking closer to the rocks, the creatures that call the sea their home start to appear and are they something else.

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I have to admit that this thing sort of freaked me out but I went ahead and touched it anyway. It was definitely alive; its body trembled when I placed the tip of my finger on its back.

Despite seeing some wonderful animals in what is essentially Mother Nature’s Touch Tank, Ann wasn’t going to be satisfied until she saw a starfish. I told her she would but to get closer to the water and look closely under rocks since they like to hide.

And once she did that, she was not disappointed.

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The starfish sightings were becoming about as frequent as the crab sightings, but much more serene. Those crabs are punks and like to run as if you are going to take their secret stash of food.

So this post’s title. Let me explain. As Ann was slowly navigating her way over the rocks, she came across one that was really slippery (as some are) and warned me about stepping on it.

Perhaps the excitement of finding yet another unique sea animal got the best of me and I had forgotten her words of advice because as I was making my way back to shore, I stepped on said rock and slipped on it and I fell — hard. My right leg took the brunt of the hit while my left foot lost its grip, throwing my left leg onto the surface of another rock. On top of all that, in the midst of breaking my fall, a corner of the camera slammed into the rock and my face nearly made contact with another. In short, asses and elbows everywhere.

I was very fortunate to not have my face slam into the rock because my legs were damaged enough. While my left wasn’t too bad, the area of impact on the right one swelled almost immediately and to golf-ball sized proportions. I’d never seen anything like it. I won’t post the images here but if you are interested in seeing the carnage, click here and scan through the next few images. It wasn’t pretty but in the end it was just a minor setback. Fortunately, a lifeguard showed up as we were going to the car and Ann asked him for a few bandages. I cleaned the wounds and covered them up. All was well.

Once we had our fill of ocean exploring, we figured it was time for lunch. And if you’re in San Pedro and hankering for a sandwich, Busy Bee is the only place to go. The sandwiches are huge, the selection is great, and the people are all friendly. A definitely small-town vibe going on here.

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Sandwiches in hand, we then headed to a place I wrote about over a year ago: The Korean Bell of Friendship. It’s one of my favorite local places not only because of the scenery, but for its history and symbolism. Granted with the way things are in North Korea, the hopes of the two nations being buddy-buddy (as long as Korea remains divided) seems like a lost cause, but the bell remains a symbol that it may one day happen.

The hilltop view is stunning with views of the ocean in almost every direction. So fantastic are the views that this was what I saw as I decided to take five minutes away from the family and meditate.

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With a slight breeze blowing, I closed my eyes and let everything drift away for five minutes. It was quite an experience and I must do it again.

It was a busy day but one that the family most certainly won’t forget. In fact, Anthony is already asking when we will go back. He collected quite a few shells and cool rocks during this little excursion and wants to add to it.

I have no problem in fulfilling his request.

If you are ever in the area, by all means stop by and check out the tide pools of White Point. Getting in touch with nature – literally and figuratively – is good for the soul.

To view all images, visit the Flickr set.