Monday, September 11, 2017

Wobbly Toilets and Dancing Clowns

It's been a pretty eventful two weeks since I last put anything up here.


I remember when I initially said that I'd be posting once a week here. How quickly plans change when there's work involved...


That being said, I have experienced quite a lot since Vegas, so it's probably time to write some of it down.

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Last weekend, because of the holiday/four day weekend, I entered with the best intentions. I had a small list of things around the house that I needed to do, and by the end, I had accomplished very few of them. On the front end, the toilet needed to be fixed, the microwave needed a part replaced, my car needed to be taken in, and the yard needed to be mowed.

I fixed the microwave and took my car in.

Being a homeowner has been quite the humbling experience for me. I've learned that there are so many things that can go wrong, so few that I know how to actually fix, and that it typically costs a small fortune to have someone come set things right.

However, I've also learned that with a little determination, and thanks to the amazing people I have in my life (and youtube), there are typically ways to work around my own ignorance in these areas.

After having Kevin's dad take a look at the lawnmower, I asked Shelly's dad if he could help me figure out what was wrong with the wobbly toilet in our master bathroom.

Shelly's dad has done construction for pretty much as long as I've been alive, so there really isn't a job that he doesn't know how to do. It's also something special to watch him go to work on jobs that are intimidating to me, because when he starts in, he makes everything look so easy.

And I say that I asked him to "help me" with the toilet. I'd be remiss if I didn't clarify that Jackie "helping" me equates to me alternating asking how I can help - and if we're in over our heads. At one point, he realized the job was going to be harder than he originally thought and he made an exasperated sound. I asked "Are we going to need to call someone in to take care of this?"



...the look he gave me.

Like a mother who walked into the kitchen to see the dishwasher erupting with suds because her kid had used the wrong type of dishwashing soap. He knew I was trying to help, but eagerness does not equate to know-how.

While he's never been anything but nice, and has always patiently answered my questions, I can't help but think helping me with projects feels like "Take your kid to work day" for him - only I'm not his kid... I'm the man-child he let marry his daughter.

And every time he helps with something around here, I'm always stumped at how to repay the favor. It's like, do I offer to draw him a picture? Because other than drawing cheap little cartoon characters, my skill set is pretty slim.

Honestly though, I'm just so very thankful that he both knows how to do these things, and that he's never once acted put out. The insecurities I feel when he comes over are all in my own head, and not due to anything he's ever inferred - looks of pity notwithstanding.

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I had a doctor's appointment this week that I debated on chronicling here, but I promised myself that this blog wouldn't be just the happy parts of our lives, because that's not realistic.

While I was initially going in for a month check-in after starting a new medication, I ended up talking to my doctor about a lump I had found.

...down there.

I remember listening to a Mike Birbiglia standup comedy album one time, and he talked about his personal experience of getting diagnosed with a bladder tumor. He explained that one of the funniest things that can happen to a hypochondriac is for them to get cancer, because "... it confirms every fear you've ever had in your entire life."



What made matters worse was that when I asked Shelly for a second opinion - my ever-patient wife, already long-used to quelling my exasperated imaginative fears - she began crying.

She felt the lump, too.

I'd add an addendum to Birgbiglia's thought about hypochondriacs: It's less funny when the person who typically calms the hypochondriac down boards the belief train and starts to think something might actually be wrong.

I'm used to me freaking out over things, because I've been tightly wound my entire life. I know that me freaking out often ends with everything actually being fine. I'm sure not used to Shelly joining the team.

...and I'm not a fan.

And you know, it's strange. Going to the doctor for personal things is always an eye opening experience for me. As a therapist, I spend most of my day every day hearing personal things and long-kept secrets from people, and encouraging them to share. I can eloquently explain how talking about our fears can help us to heal - and how there's never anything to be embarrassed of, even when something is wrong.

When I have to go in to talk about something from my own personal life, I find myself slightly less confident in the powers of honesty and assertiveness.

But I'm no hypocrite. I did go in, and I did openly talk to my doctor about my fears - and after a little poking and prodding (well, more cupping and squeezing if we're being honest) he explained that my issue was nothing of concern, though agreed that I was still smart to seek professional input.



You know those moments in life where you do something so awkward that time seems to move in slow motion - the kind of things that when you look back on them later in the day (or year), you wince?

As a male, whenever a doctor checks you in that area, you typically have to help out by holding certain things... out of the way.

I dropped my slacks, aided Dr. Edwards in his diagnostic search, pulled my pants back up, and then finished the appointment.

Only, before I could get up to wash my hands, Dr. Edwards took off his gloves, talking the whole time about how he was retiring - and explained that my next appointment would be with his partner, Dr. Fell.

Without thinking, I instinctively stuck my hand out to shake his, thanking him for being my doctor for the last few years.

Now, you may not have ever had the experience of literally touching your genitals in front of a person and then trying to shake their hand - but I promise you, it's not in my top five life experiences.

....the look he gave me.

(I'm noticing a trend in my experiences).

Nevertheless, I left his office with a clean bill of health and a healthy dose of cringe. I guess the saving grace is that the one appointment that I embarrassed myself in front of my doctor was also my last appointment with him.

I mean, there's that...

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Saturday, we went to a pool party at the home of a doctor that I work with.


Dr. Hughes from the ER had a cookout/pool party at her house, and while Jaxon opted to stay home and use his Saturday free time playing Xbox, Jade chose to go with, and had the time of her life. 

She ended up befriending Dr. Hughes' five year old daughter Kate, and the two spent the entire party running around and playing together while Shelly and I got to visit with the adults. 

A handful of other people from the hospital were there, and as always, it's so nice to get to spend time with people from work - while you're not at work. Even though the hospital was bound and determined to be a member of the party itself, as Dr. Hughes' phone blew up the entire time we were there, reminding all of us that some things never take the weekend off. 

In the end, we talked, we laughed, we ate hamburgers and hotdogs. It was an awesome afternoon. 

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Sunday, my parents came to town to go see IT with us at the theater. 


I know it's happened before, but I've had a hard time remembering a movie that I was this excited about going to see. 

I think it's because I read so rarely that when a movie comes out based on a book that I HAVE read - and then I hear that it's a pretty faithful adaptation - it makes me super eager to see how things go down. 

And man, this movie is something else. 

I've been trying to get Shelly to read the book for some time, because even though she's afraid of clowns - the book itself is less about the clown and more about the kids that have to deal with him. It's this weird mix of genres, and ends up being more a coming of age story with a monster in it than an actual monster story. 

The kids in this movie didn't disappoint, either. I can't think of another movie that's this perfectly cast. Plus, it's nice to see movie studios not shying away from R rated movies. This movie is supposed to be scary, and the kids in it are supposed to act like real life kids. 

Poor Shelly, though. 

She's been afraid of clowns her entire life, and while this movie was at its heart 'Stand By Me' with a monster in it - for her, it was a bowl full of nightmares with a few dick jokes thrown in for comedy relief. 

...a dick joke/nightmare trail mix, if you will. 

I will happily pay full price to see it again, but I know full well I'll be going alone. 



After the movie, we went to Katfish Kitchen for dinner with my folks, and then back to the house for a few card games. 


We always have so much fun playing games as a family. I'm already excited for next month, because we will make our annual trip out to Lake Eufala to meet up with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins - and when we all get together, we have some of the best times playing card games. 

...save for the time that we played Cards Against Humanity and my uncle kept asking what certain words meant. 

...that was... less fun. 

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Other than all that, the week has been pretty normal. 

I've put the finishing touches on the inside pages of the Cherokee children's book that I've been working on, meaning all that's left is the cover. 



It's a book that I'm working on with my friend Brad, and we're still in talks on how we want to handle publishing. We're both working middle-class dads who don't really want to hire an agent - but we also want to make more than a dollar every time one sells (especially since we're splitting that dollar down the middle). 

Createspace has been nice this far, because it's taken most of the work out of the process. I draw the pictures and upload them. They print the books and handle ordering/shipping through Amazon. 

Though, with them doing the lion's share of the publishing, they take the lion's share of the profits. 

It would be nice to find a publisher that gave us a little more freedom and cut of the take. 

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For now, I think that's it. I lost the drive that told me I'd update once a week, but I will continue to update when there are things to update about. 

Hope your week is awesome. 





Saturday, August 26, 2017

What Happens in Vegas Ends Up on Social Media

So, I've finally had some time to experience solid ground under my feet, and I figure it's time to write about our brief experience with Las Vegas...

... or at least the six or seven blocks we had time to see while we were there.


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For those not in the know, last weekend we flew out to Vegas for my little brother's wedding. 


Adam's six years younger than me, and while we're not chronologically or geographically very close, we've always had a special bond. He and his girlfriend Kelsey had been dating for six years, and decided that it was time to make things official. 

So in larger than life fashion, they opted for Sin City as a backdrop to their special night. 

Having never been there ourselves, and knowing we wouldn't miss Adam's special day for anything, we packed the family up (sans kids - we chose to have them spend the weekend with their dad in lieu of learning a BUNCH of life lessons in a short amount of time) and we headed out West. 


Between Disney, traveling for work, and now going to Adam's wedding, I've been in more airplanes this summer than I have in the last five years combined. I've learned that no matter what the stewardess offers, I'm always going to want ginger ale - and that I really love Delta because their bigger planes offer free movies in the back of each seat. 

Even though most of my friends had been to Vegas already - and many told me what to expect, and what to look out for - it's really the type of place you have to see to believe. 

I swear, you can hear slot machines from the moment your plane touches down to the moment it takes off again. Also, every single store sells alcohol. You can argue with me, but I'm sure of it. 


Once we got there, we met up with my stepdad's sister Dena. Family titles get a bit tricky with step family members. I'd call her and her partner Cheri my aunts - Cheri refers to me as her "domestic step nephew in law". 

We made our way to the hotel, met up with my aunt, uncle, and cousin - and set off for dinner. 


Now, as I'm not usually a gambler - the slot machines didn't really hold that much appeal. I am however, an eater - and I'd done my homework. 

A few months ago, I had seen a buzzfeed video about the best buffets in Las Vegas and one stood out above the rest; The Wicked Spoon. 

As this was before Adam and Kelsey had announced their wedding location, I considered going there a pipe dream. But once we found out where the event was to be held, I could think about very little else. 

...and let me tell you, this place did not disappoint. 


In addition to being the biggest buffet I've ever eaten at, they had so many unique and nontraditional things offered. There was a phó station, tons of Asian food, a mound of crab legs pre-cracked, and the biggest dessert bar I've ever seen in my life - complete with an assortment of gelato flavors. 

I felt like I had met a celebrity. 

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After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel and spent time visiting and gambling a little. I had twenty dollars in my wallet from Dr. Young, a coworker - who asked me to "Put it all on Red 2!" - so after nervously watching other people play for a short while, I put his money down and quickly watched it disappear. 


(I couldn't find a table with a Red 2, so Black 2 it was.)


We met up with Kelsey's mom and little brother (she and Adam hadn't flown in just yet), and had a very quick meet and greet with multiple members of her family. 


While Vegas is definitely great for many things, I can't recommend the people-watching highly enough. For those interested in the human species, it's an absolutely remarkable cross section of all walks of life - with nudity, alcohol, and the incessant ringing of slot machines sprinkled on top. 


Seriously, this weekend I saw some truly fascinating people - the least of which being the two we lovingly named "The whore from the elevator" and "The ghost of the sixth floor".

...I'll get to them in a minute. 

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Saturday was a bit unevenly paced. We started off by going to Caesar's Palace for the "Living Statue" show - which Shelly and I misunderstood to think that it would be people spray painted like statues accepting dollar bills for pop and lock moves. It ended up being an actual "Living Statue" show, in that three statues came to life animatronically (Is that a word? My computer doesn't think so) and put on a short show reminiscent of Game of Thrones. 


Hey, who let Beric Dondarrian in here??


While we were at Caesar's Palace, we stopped to buy those tall frozen drinks that you always see people carrying in Vegas photos (because we were tourists, and it's polite to mark yourselves as such). Then in true tourist form, we went back to the room for Shelly to take a nap, because the tall frozen drinks that you always see people carrying in Vegas photos actually have quite a LOT of alcohol in them. 





That afternoon, it was time to get up and get polished for the wedding. Thankfully, Kelsey is fashion savvy enough that I didn't have to pick out an outfit on my own. When I got asked to be Adam's best man, it came with a full outfit including a pink bow tie, teal suspenders, and flamingo socks. 

We got dressed, headed down to meet the wedding party, and waited for the festivities to begin. 


Did you know you're not supposed to wear a belt with suspenders? I sure didn't. 

The wedding went off without a hitch. Adam and Kelsey wrote their own vows, the officiant had a personalized message for their service, and everyone in the audience got along (which due to a few wild cards attending, was a real blessing). 



After the wedding, we were whisked off to the Reception room (a small hotel suite with roughly 50 or so people crammed in) for toasts, cake, and then a few of us guys headed down to meet the girl bringing catered Chipotle. 


"How much Chipotle did you order?" 

"All of the Chipotle." 


As mentioned before, on the way down to meet the sweet girl from Chipotle, we happened on a very... special sort of girl. Imagine if you took a Disney Princess, soaked her in Boone's Farm, shook her off, and then dried her off with a combination of hair dryers and cigarette smoke. 

The four of us guys tasked with bringing the food back up rounded the corner to the elevator bank, and suddenly heard a very loud "Wow. That's a very... unique suit!" 

Intially, as Adam had changed into his very flashy post-wedding attire, this didn't come as much of a surprise. 


It wasn't until the point where she asked him why he was wearing such a suit that things got interesting. 

Now, I've thought and thought about how to recount this story to you, and honestly - every way I come up with just doesn't do the experience justice. 

So, let me just type out the conversation that went down:


Elevator Girl: Wow. That's a very... unique suit!" 

Adam: Thanks

(the group gets to the elevator where Kelsey's grandmother is also waiting on a ride down). 

Elevator Girl: What's the suit for? Is it your birthday? 

Kelsey's uncle (a groomsman): He just got married. 

(girl's face twists) 

Elevator Girl: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! YOU JUST SIGNED YOUR LIFE AWAY!

(nervous laughter)

Elevator Girl:(bending down to her purse in a very loose fitting tank top) Sorry, my tits keep falling out.

Kelsey's uncle's step son: (intently/nervously smiling) It's ok. 

Elevator Girl: Thanks, do you have a cigarette?

Step son: Sure, here you go. 

(the entire group gets on the elevator) 

Elevator Girl: Do you have a light?

Step son: Not on me, sorry. 

Elevator Girl: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

(silence - Kelsey's grandmother's floor dings, and she gets off)

Elevator Girl: Bet she's goin' to get some DICK!!

Kelsey's uncle: (points to step son) That's his grandmother. 

Elevator Girl: Sorry! (laughs maniacally)

(cue: awkward silence for three more floors)

- Scene -


Now, while I'm sure experiences like this are quite commonplace in Las Vegas, they do tend to stand out to those of us from small town Oklahoma. So, for the rest of the night, she was affectionately referred to as "The whore from the elevator". 


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After champagne, cake, and Chipotle, Shelly and I went back to the room to change so we could join the group to go on the High Roller - a ferris wheel of sorts, where the cars had been replaced with huge orbs capable of holding 40 people. 

On the way back to catch up with the group, we ran into "The ghost of the 6th floor" - though like a more adult version of Scooby Doo, this ended up just being a very inebriated shirtless guy hiding behind a door near the elevators, growling as he swung said door open and shut. 

Like, legit growling. Loud legit growling. 

Thankfully, we were able to get on an elevator just as his friends were rounding the corner in search of him. 

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The High Roller was a blast (for everyone but Shelly and my aunt Lisa who were both afraid of heights), though by the end, even they seemed like they were having fun. 


(Shelly and Lisa weren't as excited at the beginning of the ride as my cousin Emily.)


Then, as the wedding party went off to explore the strip in their wedding gear, Shelly, my cousin Emily, and a good friend of ours named Mark went off to Caesar's Palace for some tall, albeit strong drinks. 

...and food court ramen. Because that's a thing in Vegas. 



Also, as a coincidental side note - we ran into a guy with Adam's exact same suit on while there. I'd say "What are the odds?" - but I'm guessing that's a tough sentence to answer in Vegas. 


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All in all, the trip was an absolute blast - and there are multiple things that I'm leaving out here for sake of time and space. In the end, we woke up Sunday morning a little worse for the wear and buckled in for a long day of flights and layovers in order to get home. 

We explored a small section of Vegas, my brother married his best friend, and I got to see family that I dearly miss when they're not around. 

While my wallet wasn't as happy as I was about the trip, but my heart was full and I came home with high hopes for the new marriage we had just watched take place. 

.... AND I got to watch Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on the return flight. For free. 


Seriously Delta, you're ok in my book. 


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Until next time:











Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer's End

I haven't written here for a couple of weeks, and truthfully, I don't know why.

A lot has happened, so the material has been there - it's just, I haven't really had the motivation to sit down and document it all.

I came back from my last training so drained, and I wrote about that. These last two weeks, I've just found other things to do.

It's also been hot as heck out, which seems to drain my energy even in the brief amounts of time that I'm out in it.



But oh well, I'm sitting down at the computer now though, so here we go.

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Two weeks ago, Jaxon and I started going to the gym together. 

He'd been asking for a long time if we could start lifting weights together, and I'd put it off because of his age. I started lifting weights at 14, so I figured that was when I'd start taking him as well. However, he was persistent enough that I did some online reading, and checked with the CN gym and sure enough - as long we don't overdo things, 12 is an ok age for him to get started. 

So, starting last week, we've been going three nights a week to the Markoma gym, where we spend 30 minutes doing some form of cardio (typically me on a treadmill and him downstairs shooting baskets) and then we have a routine that I got from men's fitness that we can do in the Nautilus machines room. 

I'm not ready for him to start doing free weights yet, which works out because I don't think he's old enough to be in that room of the gym anyways. 


Working for the Cherokee Nation has been such a blessing for our family. On top of all of the other perks, it comes with free access to the CN gym - which is a really nice gym. I'm already spoiled by the treadmills that come with television screens built into them, and now having a place to take my son three times a week for "guy time" just adds to the pile of bonuses. 

And honestly, that's what it's been - guy time. 

While we don't visit much during our 30 minutes of cardio (either because we have headphones on or because he's in a different part of the gym than I am), we get to talk a lot while we're lifting weights. 

Also, it feels good to just be exercising again. 

...once I got over those first couple days' worth of soreness. 

I lifted weights pretty intensely through my high school years, and it's fun teaching him how to do something that held such a special place in my life. I've had to explain to him that the weight room is not a place to show off or be insecure (he really hated it when I tried to help him out the first couple of days while we were finding his appropriate weight limits) - but now that we're finding our stride - it's become this really special thing. 

And honestly, even when we're doing the cardio section of our nights, the gym is set up in such a way that I can look down and watch him shooting baskets while I'm on the treadmill, and that's been its own kind of enjoyable. 

I like watching him interact with other people. He's less awkward socially than I was at 12. Where I would have seen a group of strangers shooting baskets as perfect inspiration to find another form of cardio that night, he sees it as a group of people he can't wait to be a part of. 

I think that's really going to serve him well through his life. 

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Last weekend we went to Tulsa for a cookout at a friend's house. 

While it was still really hot outside, it was nice to get out and do something with friends. 

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before, but I have a small group of guys that I play xbox with and communicate through fb messenger throughout the week. They're some of my best friends, which is funny because we only get to meet up in person a very few times throughout the year. 

The cookout was a blast, and we got to catch up in person, which is something that just doesn't happen enough. 


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This week we had a little scare in the house, though thankfully it turned out to be nothing major. 

While home for lunch on Wednesday, I heard the sound of water running in the kids' bathroom. Though, nothing was turned on, so it was a sound that I shouldn't have been hearing. 

I ended up staying home that afternoon trying to trace the sound to its location. I even called in Shelly's dad for help because he's a wealth of information on all things house related - and even with his assistance, we just couldn't pinpoint the source of the running water. 

And it was truly bizarre. 

The sound seemed to be coming from behind the bath faucet, though when we pulled the panel off of the wall to get to the bath tub pipes, everything was bone dry. The toilet wasn't running or leaking, and the panel under the sink revealed nothing as well. 

Yet, the sound persisted. Turning the water off to the house killed the sound, and turning the water back on brought it back.  

Stranger still, the water meter wasn't budging. 

It had me so confused that I turned to google, which is never the most calming option when you think there's something wrong with your home. 

Much like WebMD always convinces me that my stomach aches are cancer, googling my house's symptoms led me to believe that I had a small "slab leak" - something that it would take hundreds of dollars to diagnose, and then potentially thousands to fix. 

In short, the type of money that would make things VERY tight around here for a while. 

Thankfully, before calling a leak detection company from Tulsa to come out I tried a local plumber - who came by Thursday morning and had the problem identified and fixed in under ten minutes. 

The source of my concern was a small rubber ring on the outdoor faucet just next to the kids' bathroom, and once it was replaced - no more sound. 

Ended up costing 110 for the plumber to come spend ten minutes in my house - but it led to a lot of peace of mind, as well as alleviated fears of something far more troublesome. 

And really, that's the homeowner experience. Putting out (or having someone else put out) small fires all the time, praying that each one doesn't have enough dry grass around it to become a catastrophe. 

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This next upcoming week is going to be a busy one. 

Today, I'm driving to Tulsa to have a small bachelor party for my little brother, who is getting married in Vegas next week. 

We're going to dinner at the Prairie Brewery and then getting drinks at the Max Retro Pub - which after looking at their facebook page has me pretty excited. 

Next weekend, we fly out to Vegas for the wedding, AND to eat at what I truly believe is the world's most amazing buffet. 

I mean seriously, just look at this thing:




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I'm also waiting for the perfect opportunity to prank Jaxon, but I'll write about that in a future blog. 

For now, just know that it involves a black morph suit,


a guy who didn't realize how unflattering black morph suits are, 


and a kid who pretends to be tough, but frightens easily.




Have a great week. 








Sunday, July 23, 2017

Could be, May be

What a week.

I honestly don't know if I've ever been this happy to be back in Oklahoma.



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For those not in the know, I got back yesterday from spending the last week in Omaha, Nebraska - or, as the Counting Crows put it, "Somewhere in middle America." 


I went there to learn how to train others in Youth Mental Health First Aid - the adolescent version of a program designed to help people both learn about mental health and learn how to help those with mental illnesses who may be in crisis. 

It's a wonderful training for those not well versed in mental health language and familiar with the signs/symptoms, but for those with a degree in the field, it's a week-long refresher course on topics most of us are still quite fresh on. 

The week is split into sections. The first two days, two instructors actually teach the course, modeling it for the people in attendance, so they can see what it looks like when led appropriately. The next day, the class is split in two groups (one group going with each instructor) and then the course is broken down into the smallest possible pieces, with the instructor going into painful detail over every single slide. 

The last two days are spent with every participant getting a 30 minute portion of the program that they are asked to present on in front of their peers, giving them an opportunity to speak to a live audience on a material they haven't spoken on before. We're critiqued, graded, and hopefully then graduate from the program, ready to return home and begin teaching. 


My group's instructor was a woman named Mary - a woman who has been with the MHFA program since it's inception - whose passion is only rivaled by her uncanny ability to unknowingly put her foot in her mouth. 

At different times this week, she inferred that returning soldiers were objectifying sexual aggressors, school janitors were uneducated (while, unbeknownst to her, a school janitor's wife was in her class), and that one woman in our group was so pretty that it would be distracting to her audiences - encouraging her to wear her hair differently and to wear a turtle neck while speaking. 


- all while not mentioning a thing to the other 10 women in the room about their looks. They all clearly had an acceptable level of beauty going on. 



It's a weird thing, silently judging someone who had the power to send me home empty-handed. 


...It reminded me of college. 


Regardless, it's a very full week, and by the end of it, you get to know your fellow participants quite well. 

And let me tell you, my fellow participants were a real cast of characters. 

Enter: Edgardo. 


Edgardo is a 6 foot plus, muscular, Puerto Rican Adonis. 

Through the week, Edgardo let us know more and more about his life back in Puerto Rico, and every story was more hilarious than the last. 

It started off as expected. He showed us pictures of him at the beach by his house. He showed us pictures of his supermodel girlfriend. He even had pictures of him catching lobsters near his home. 

Then he told us how his day starts at 4, so he has time to exercise. 

Then he told us that he makes his own rum. 

Then he told us that he has his own radio show. 

Then he told us that he'd been on a telenovela. 



As the week went on, being one of the only three men in the course, "Of course he does..." became my mantra. 

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The week was quite enjoyable, though. 

I traveled with two coworkers that I didn't know well before the trip, and we actually had a very good time. 

Living with a family of picky eaters, when I travel I like to eat foods that I can't get at home. Thankfully, the two girls from work that I was there with were as adventurous food-wise as I am - so we ate some really great stuff. 

We had Vietnamese pho, we had Indian food, and we even got Omaha Steaks one night. 

The hotel we stayed at was great, the staff was awesome, and the shuttle they offered saved us a fortune in taxi costs. 

However, by the last day of training, I was READY to be home. 

If I had only known what laid in store for me. 


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Friday morning, I got up and spent the first half of the day doing closing things for the training. Certificates were handed out, evaluations returned, and we got our mid-week test results back. 

I flew out at 2, so I left the hotel around 12 and headed to the airport. Everything went off without a hitch. Slightly hungry, I opted to wait for the Chicago airport because I was positive it would have better options. 

It wasn't until we were nearly to Chicago that the first of many mishaps happened. 

The pilot came on and explained that because of storms in the Chicago area, we couldn't land there just yet - and would remain in the air until it was safe to land. 

Only, that time didn't come soon enough, so we changed plans and landed on the runway of a small airport miles away. 

No problem, I had a three hour layover. 

After two hours of waiting on this small runway in a cramped airplane seat, I began to worry. It was starting to become clear that my plans of eating at the Chicago airport were probably not going to happen. 

No problem, I just want to make my plane. 

We finally pick up and get to Chicago with fifteen minutes to spare before my next flight boards. Though, as with everything else this day, I was literally as far from my gate as I could be. So, I hoofed it through the airport as fast as I could in order to get there on time. 

You know those moving sidewalks that they have in airports? I love those things. 

I never understood why some people get on them and STILL walk as fast as they can towards the end. 

Friday, I was one of those people. Though, silver lining there was that I felt like a damn superhero moving that fast while people next to me (off of the sidewalk) seemed to be standing still. 


Seriously, I'd go back and do that again if I could. 

But, luckily, I made it to my gate in time because the storm had delayed this plane landing. Though, the gate attendant informed us that we'd be boarding any time, and to not leave the gate area if we could avoid it. 

No problem, there was a cold sandwich shop right next door. 

And that's when I found this monstrosity: 




The package was marked "Chicken and Provolone", and through the clear plastic of the package I could see at least one piece of chicken and a round piece of provolone. Unfortunately, the brown paper portion of the package was hiding the asparagus. 

While I've since learned that some people actually eat asparagus on their sandwiches, I learned quickly that I'm not from that camp. I pulled the asparagus off after trying it, and finished my ten dollar sandwich that had two pieces of fajita chicken and one piece of cheese. 

No problem, I was still at the gate and was going home. 


The plane landed, and we boarded. Everything seemed to be going to plan, and we taxied away from the gate and towards the runway. 

Then, dead stop. 

The captain came on to inform us that because of the storm, all flights were grounded until things cleared up - OR until they could chart us a takeoff that got us around the weather. 

We sat on that runway for two hours. 

Eventually, the captain came back on and said that FAA rules said that they couldn't keep people on a sitting plane for more than three hours, so they were taking us back to the gate so we could have the opportunity to get off if we wanted. Mind you, they weren't sure that if we got off we could get back on - but to rest assured that they'd find out before anyone tried. 

With my phone at 25 percent, I began to worry. 

No problem though, the captain assured us that he and his crew had just come on, so if we were patient - we WOULD get to Tulsa. They were willing to wait it out if we were. 

I was. 


At the gate, I was able to charge my phone and visit with Shelly while people around me dropped like flies. Some left to get hotels because they were positive this flight would be cancelled. Some went to get rental cars because they had obligations they couldn't be late for. 

I learned many flights had actually been cancelled already, and started seeing cots appear in the airport hallway for people who couldn't get to a hotel. 



But not me, the captain promised that if I was patient he would be too - and I'm nothing if not tolerant. Especially when the pay off was going to be getting to see my wife and kids while also sleeping in my own bed that night. 

My plan of landing in Tulsa at nine and getting home at ten a forgotten dream, I hunkered down near the gate attendant and began my wait, all the while my phone kept beeping to inform me that my flight was going through a series of delays.  




No problem... storms don't last forever... right? 


Sadly, the gate attendant let us know just after midnight that the flight had in fact been cancelled - and informed us that we needed to go to the United customer service desk in order to reschedule for the next available flight. 

Even worse, hundreds of other people in the terminal were getting the same information, so the customer service desk looked like the line at an amusement park ride - if the line at an amusement park ride was full of sleepy, worn down people, many of whom were trying to wake themselves up by cussing. 


(that lady totally knew I was taking her picture)

Thankfully, the woman in front of me in line found out that she had been rescheduled already by checking her flight on the United app, which allowed me to find out the same information. It was 12:30 and I was to fly out at 12:15 the next day. 

Debating between staying at the airport and getting a hotel, I opted for the hotel when I looked around and saw that every possible comfortable spot was taken by people sleeping on the aforementioned cots or huddled up in corners. 

I called the hotels.com number to find out what hotels in the vicinity were available only to be informed that the closest vacancy was 20 minutes away. 


... and I took it. God help me, I took it. 


At one that morning, I was driven twenty minutes by the world's most talkative cab driver (not being sarcastic, I now know more about this dude than I do my own kids) to a Best Western that I was promptly informed had no hot water. 

I was given a complimentary toothbrush and toothpaste and went to my room to fall face first into the bed. 


All things considered - it was a shitty experience, but it could have been MUCH worse. 

I think it's always important to keep things in perspective. I was drained because I had been away all week and spent the better part of a day in an airport - but ONLY because I work somewhere that trusts me enough to send me to be trained. 

I crashed in a seedy motel, but it was available and I was able to afford it. 

AND, after spending the last week at a fancy hotel eating the world's lamest continental breakfast of bagel halves and fruit pieces - I was excited to find out that Best Western has a full breakfast bar (for free), with sausage, french toast, an omelet station, and much more. 




So basically - that's my travel story. The trip that I will now measure all other trips by when things inevitably go wrong. 

I got home Saturday exhausted and ready to fall asleep - but I got home. 


I had a blast of a week (minus the parts where I compared myself to a walking Puerto Rican statue), and came home after learning a thing or two. 



______________

Now, I'm going to finish this up, call my grandma to catch up with her since it's been over a week - and then we're taking the kids to Tulsa to spend a few days with my mom and step dad. 

I need to mow. I need to get my paperwork from the week in order for work tomorrow. I still need to catch up on a bit of sleep. 

But, I'm home.