Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Safety Goggles

When I first moved to Chicago, church was about 40 minutes away, but we just moved to a rented space a little closer to downtown, about 15 minutes from my apartment. The building we're renting is actually an elementary school, so it's fun to sit in small chairs and have the periodic table of elements handy if I ever need to understand the facsimiles in the Pearl of Great Price. We have Sunday School in the science room and I saw this poster hanging next to the instructor.

It's the kind of poster I wish I had come up with. I like how it elicits fear while still maintaining its awesomeness. I kind of want to make it into a t-shirt.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dan, the Shoe Shine Man

The other day I was walking home from work on Columbus Street and a big, burly black guy in a Chicago Bears jersey approached me and said, "Shoe shine, sir?"

My shoes actually did need to be shined, but, to be honest, I was in a poorly lit part of town and I just wanted to keep moving. "No thanks," I said and kept walking.

Then he said, "Wait, sir, I jus' needa tell you sometin'. Da bes' shoe shine polish you can buy is da kiwi shoe shine polish. You also need to buy one of dese here Kiwi buffuhs to get da nice shine. My name's Dan the Shoe Shine Man." He extended his hand and I took it. "I shine shoes domestically and internationally. Let me show–" Dan squirted polish onto my left shoe as we're talking and got down on one knee and patted his knee a couple of times, inviting my shoe to take its spot while he shined it. "–you somethin'."

I put my foot on his knee and he rubbed the polish all around my shoe with his fingers and then pulled out a dirty towel and started polishing away and singing while he worked, "You gotta look real nice and neat while you out here on Columbus Street." It made me crack a smile. Okay, enough with the rhymes. I didn't even want my shoes shined in the first place. But there I was. It looked like he was doing a good job. I peered over my shoulder periodically to make sure I wasn't going to get mugged. I felt like a sitting duck with my laptop bag and one shoe up on Dan's knee.

He started telling me all this other stuff and then paused before he used the Kiwi polish finisher. "I like to bend the tip of the shoe to make sure it all goes down in the cracks," he explained. He finished polishing and then had me compare the polished shoe with the old shoe. I was sure that he was going to say, "Okay, now, if you want the other shoe done you've gottta pay," but he didn't. He just grabbed my other shoe and started polishing. Then he started telling me about how he shines shoes globally and domestically again, so I said, skeptically, "You shine shoes internationally?"

"Yes sir," he said.

"Where do you shine shoes internationally?"

He thought for a second and then started, "Well, you know, like the Hilton, the Wyatt Hotel, all around really." Oh yeah, all around Chicago. That makes sense.

He was a cool guy, though, and he did a nice shoe shine. As soon as he finished he said, "All right an' it's eight dolluhs a shoe and I'd appreciate a little tip because dis is how I feed mah family." I knew that one was coming. I didn't have much cash on me but I figured I valued that shoe shine to the tune of $3, so I gave it to him. I reminded him how I didn't want the shoe shine in the first place and how he squirted polish on my shoes while we were talking, so he reluctantly said, "Okay, no, dats cool. You have a nice night, sir."

I felt bad. I had just shined Dan the Shoe Shine Man. But let's face it–if I'm gonna shell out $20 it's going to go towards a new shoe shine set, not Dan's shoe shine shenanigans.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Joy in the Journey

Nope, I'm not blogging about Chicago yet, but soon. I just wanted to share the evidence of my brush with fame in the Philippines. Ryan and I ate dinner at the table next to Arnel Pineda, the new lead singer for Journey. He's a Filipino guy who was singing in a band in Hong Kong and a couple of YouTube videos of some Journey covers helped to catapult him into Steve Perry's old spot. You can read his story here if you're interested.

Ryan and I had both left our cameras back at the hotel, so Ryan hurried and bought a disposable. By the time Ryan came back Arnel had already left, but we chased him down after dinner and snagged a picture with him right before he turned the corner. He's a nice guy. He even offered to give us tickets to his upcoming concert in Manila, but the concert was happening a couple days after we were scheduled to come home.

If you're interested in hearing what he sounds like compared to Steve Perry, Journey's original lead singer, you can watch the videos below. The last video is the original music video for Separate Ways, which is awesome for so many reasons. If you only have time to watch one, watch that one, at least until you witness the air keyboard. And if you liked that music video, then you'll love "Hooked on a Feeling" by David Hasslehoff.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Farewell Utah

Tomorrow afternoon I'm headed out to Chicago for the next few years to work for PwC. Last night I went to Porcupine Grill with a bunch of my friends and just tried to soak everything in.

We were going to go to a movie, but the movies showing either didn't look good or had already been seen by someone in the group, so, we opted to rent a movie.

We walked into Blockbuster and, let me tell you, that place was a ghost town. We commented on how empty the store was and Joe Boyer sheepishly asked the lady at the counter if the store was open at which point one of my friends responded, "Joe, don't insult them!"

Finding the right movie proved to be quite the challenge. I thought we were making some headway and then Cole approached me with two movies in hand: Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls and G.I. Joe.

"Which one do you want to watch?" he asked. The word 'neither' came to mind.

"Hmmm...that's a tough one," I said. I knew he wanted to watch Indiana Jones.

"Well, pick one. Or does neither one sound good to you?"

"Well, the newest Indiana Jones movie isn't good and neither is G.I. Joe."

Dave Smith chimed in, "Why don't we watch Million Dollar Baby? It won four academy awards."

Now we're talking. I had actually been wanting to see that show ever since I saw the "Hundred Dollar Baby" spoof they did on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Cole was trying to strong arm me into a mistake of a movie, but I was unshakable. Million Dollar Baby it was.

We got up to the check-out and asked Kristy, the lady at the counter, "Is Million Dollar Baby a good movie–like a movie you could see five dudes watching?" She affirmed.

Then Cole asked, "What about Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls?"

Without hesitation she said, "No one should watch that movie. That movie's awful." I was loving it.

"What about G.I. Joe?" Cole asked.

"Same boat as Indiana Jones," she replied. "Its' terrible."

"Kristy's a tool!" Cole muttered after exiting the store. As we were walking into Cole's house to watch the movie he said, "Well, I'm glad my last memory of Bob will be about how he ruined my night." It made me laugh really hard.

Maybe it was just because the movie was really sad, but as I was leaving Cole's, everything started to hit me. Moving to Chicago felt real for the first time. I was saying goodbye to my group of guy friends I've been best friends with for the past 11 years. I was saying goodbye to Salt Lake City. My college experience at BYU. Family. Basically everything familiar.

I didn't have a car at Cole's, so Joe offered to give me a ride home. As I walked outside Cole's house, I glanced back at him for a second, but quickly turned back towards the dark night to save myself: I was on the verge of tears.

I got into Joe's car and wondered if he could tell. I tried to subtly wipe away the occasional tears that strayed from my eyes and traveled down the sides of my face. Could he tell that the power in my voice was fading and starting to sound a little shaky?

Joe started reminiscing with me about how our last two years at BYU living at Jamestown 14 were some of his favorite memories. Staying up late with all of the roommates, hosting parties. "The times when all four of us were together were my favorite," he said. Oh no. Not now, Joe. Maybe right after we ate dinner, but not now. I can't handle sentimental now.

I did a good job of warding off the tears welled in my eyes by telling a couple of funny stories, but then I tried to be sentimental for a second and my voice completely gave out. I managed to get out a barely audible "sorry" and then my eyes unleashed an onslaught of tears I'd been bridling back for the first five minutes of the car ride. Joe turned down the radio and we just sat in silence for a few minutes. I alternated between crying and laughing, listening and talking for the last stretch of the ride. I knew a good cry was bound to happen, I just didn't think it would happen in front of people. But what better friend to have with me than Joe.

I'm probably making it sound like someone is dying or like I'm going off to war or something. I'm not. I'm just a kid about to go out on a new adventure, who doesn't know what the future will bring. A kid who knows that even though I'll probably be back in Utah every few months, things will never be the same. But they never are. Change is everywhere; but, I can choose to come out on top with some hard work and optimism. And puns.

I'll miss my mountain home, but I'm excited about Chicago.

I'm excited about the people in Chicago. I have a lot of close friends in the city and I'm so excited to be near to Johnny and Kica and their kids for the first year. Having family there will make the dearth of nieces and nephews and Sunday dinners a lot more bearable.

I'm excited about my job in Chicago. I'm a glutton for pain and decided to work for PwC Chicago from January to March 2009 so that I could experience the winter and the busy season. I figured if I could handle 80-hour weeks and a 20-below windchill that everything else about living in Chicago would be a pleasant surprise.

I'm excited about the growth opportunities in Chicago. I'm not talking about all the weight I gained during my winternship–I'm pretty sure the added girth can be attributed to my work paying for all of my meals. For a while I felt like I was on a cruise ship and kept ordering sandwiches and burritos with extra meat and extra cheese, but then I realized that I have to live with my body and simmered down a little bit. But, too little too late: the damage was done (the jamma jin jen?). Luckily for me, the weight I gain goes to my face first and leaves my cheeks last (still talking about my face), so the weight gain was barely noticeable to the average observer. After four months.–I'm talking about spiritual and maturing growth. I think I'll get a lot of life experience living in Chicago and that I'll learn a lot about making decisions, managing, relying on myself, but most importantly, relying on the Lord. I'll probably still need to solicit Mary's opinion on new clothes, though. Let's be honest.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Watermelon to the Head, Anybody?

My friend Liz showed me this clip from The Amazing Race today and I laughed uncontrollably. I'm still laughing between every sentence I write because I still can't believe that what I just saw actually happened. You've gotta see this. Her capi was de-tated.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sunscreen Self-Application

I gave my freakishly double-jointed shoulders too much credit in the Philippines and decided to slather sunscreen on my back by myself. My camo-back is living–soon to be peeling–proof that it was not a good idea. To showcase my ineptitude, one part on my back features finger-shaped peninsulas of white skin salvaged from UV carnage, surrounded by a bay of burnt brown skin. These sun-stenciled splotches are a reminder that it's always good to get a second opinion when applying sunscreen. At least I didn't get burned as bad as the time I went snorkeling in Jamaica and I asked Johnny to rub sunscreen on my back and he told me I wouldn't need it because my back would be under a layer of water. That layer of water, essentially a magnifying glass, helped facilitate the burns that would soon hatch a layer of tiny blisters on my back.

Scattered Showers

In the summer, when you're wearing shorts and flip flops at the urinal, you yearn for the winter months when you'll be protectively clad with slacks and shoes. Ignorance was bliss.

It's not something I'm just making up either. The splash zone is a real thing. It's a phenomenon that any man can attest to, however subtle the spray may be. It became even more apparent to me after traveling in shorts and flip flops for the past two weeks.

The splash zone doesn't take the urinal cake, though. Back in the 90's, when LaVell Edwards Stadium was Cougar Stadium, the stadium's arsenal of urinals was preceded by a solitary urine trough attached to the washroom wall. Tommy and I walked in one day and saw a man using the trough, and much to his chagrin, his toddler placed a hand on the lip of the trough and started making an airplane sound. The revving of the airplane engine confirmed the father's number one fear. I could sense the urgency of the situation and could read the terror on the father's face, but it was too late. It all happened in one fluid motion. The father desperately reached out his right hand and screamed, "NOOOooo!" as his son's hand slid across the entire sickening stretch of the 10 yard urinal. First down! Trough luck. Urine trouble.