Let’s Get Presidential, Shall We?

I’m not nearly as bad ass as Wyclef Jean. If so, and if I was President, I too would getelected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday, buried on Sunday, and back to work on Monday.

Alas, I am not the President. And good thing, too. Because once I returned to work on Monday, everyone would have nothing to argue about. I’d make this country damn near perfect with my plan.

Isn’t that what everyone with an opinion on politics thinks? I know it’s easier said than done to fix a country with problems as monumental as ours, but can we agree that the last four years have been a large improvement over the preceding eight?

I’ll start this blog with a disclaimer – I am officially registered as a Democrat and voted as such in 2008. That being said, I align myself with certain ideals of each major party, and despise certain aspects of both as well.

The most important issues to me will never be decided by a debate. Candidates have far too much at stake to be completely honest with the public. I would pay attention to the political banter on TV that so rudely interrupted New Girl a couple of weeks ago, as long as the candidates were being fully truthful.

I understand that they can’t be. They have to appease multiple demographics of voters and ooze political correctness. But any insight on the issues I care about might as well have been answered in Swedish; it was like sign language to a blind man.

Again, I know that politics have come to this. It’s the only real way for candidates to survive. But can we get a little honesty out of these guys, please?

Regardless of who you are voting for or why, just make sure to exercise your right to go to the polls tomorrow and make a difference. The results will directly affect you and your family, whether you like it or not. And if you DON’T go vote, then you have no right to complain about how unfairly the government is treating you.

I wrote this blog simply to outline the six issues I personally feel most strongly about in this election. I know who I’m voting for, and I might move to Canada if he loses, mostly because I’m a sore loser.

Just kidding, it’s because I think the other guy will ruin this country. Now that I’ve had my moment of extremism, let me get to the meat of this blog:

Gay Marriage

I’m not going to harp on this one too long, because I just wrote a full blog about marriage equality a week ago. Please go through and read that if you want my full take on the issue. All I will say is that I believe denying the LGBT community a basic human right is more than selfish. And regardless of what anyone says, it is the same as racism and prejudice were during the Civil Rights era. African-Americans were persecuted for their skin color, something they had no choice in, just like homosexuals are being denied their rights for their sexuality.

Education

I have been fortunate enough to go through pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school, and four and a half years of college without paying  a dime of my own money. My parents saved up for years to put my sister and I through school because they knew the value of a good education. Both of us are looking at B.A.’s in our desired fields and are slaying job interviews along the way.

There are a ton of families who did not save enough money, or more likely, COULD not save enough money for that same opportunity. If these politicians truly want to improve this country’s education and start catching up to all the nations who have surpassed us, they should stop forcing the firing of teachers, cutting of school programs, raising of taxes and tuitions, and the emphasis on testing.

Economy

Oh, boy. Everyone’s favorite topic of discussion. It is my understanding, as a human with common sense, that if you have a certain amount of money, you can not spend more than that limit and go unpunished. The United States have certainly kicked that rule in the nuts and laughed over the years, huh? When you are zillionbillionkatrillions (it’s a number now…) of dollars in debt, you’d think the process of re-paying would be much more urgent. Yes, there are hundreds and thousands of things that government money needs to fix, but you’re telling me in a trillion-dollar annual economy, our government can’t stash away money in order to get us back in the black? Where has all the money gone? Damn you, A-Rod. Damn you.

Defense

Don’t forget, people. George W. Bush got us into Iraq, Barack Obama is getting us out. That doesn’t necessarily get the U.S. off the hook in my mind, though. Since when did we become everyone’s way-too-overprotective big brother? We have troops in nearly every country in the world, and we wonder why the U.S. is hated. Spending money on the military is great, as long as they are protecting us at home and abroad – nobody in their right minds wouldn’t appreciate what our troops do for us. But as the most powerful and dangerous military in the world, do we really need to test the limits of this? I want to be safe, but I don’t want to build a barbed-wire fence around a croc-infested moat, around a wall.

Global Warming

There is no denying the facts; hurricanes and storms have gotten bigger, faster and more devastating in the past few years. Ocean levels are rising, polar ice caps are melting and nobody seems to give a damn. Was the environment a topic even touched on publicly by any candidates this fall? It is our responsibility as citizens of this planet to make sure there is a livable home for future generations. Stricter measures on clean energy, reduced use of oil and pollution must be taken. Ignoring that the Earth is changing and getting sick is like being an elderly who visits the doctor for a check-up, gets diagnosed and prescribed for multiple illnesses, and goes home saying “Ah, it’s natural. It’ll cycle out. I’ll be fine.”

Healthcare

If I had it my way, everything would be Canadian…er…free. But I know that’s never going to happen in America. I’m not saying insurance policies should be more lenient or that healthcare should be less expensive, but am I supposed to believe the people who say they care about American citizens, and then don’t go to the greatest lengths possible to protect them? What is more important than your people’s’ health? All I’m saying is somehow, some way, healthcare needs to be affordable for anyone.

I’ll spare you my thoughts on abortion, gun control and immigration, which I also consider huge issues. You’re welcome. You could finish the entire Harry Potter series twice before I would be done with that.

Anyway, that’s just my take on the issues that I read into the most. I’d like to compare our country to the plight of my alma mater’s football team. Bear with me here.

In 2002, Washington State University went to the Rose Bowl. By the time I arrived in 2007, they were struggling to win two games, let alone be in the bowl conversation. After last season, along came Mike Leach to coach, and it all changed.

The 2012 version of the Washington State Cougars is still pitiful, but much improved. We used to lose 69-0 (no joke – at home to USC my sophomore year). Last year Stanford beat us 44-14. This year, we came within 10 seconds and one play of beating them.

Leach brought hope and a YES WE CAN attitude to that team, and they are finally, slowly climbing their way out of obscurity. Yes, there are bumps and bruises along the way, as with any rebuild. But he’s done a great job so far with what he was given.

If you don’t get the allusion here, I can’t help you. When a team has hit rock bottom, you can’t expect a new coach to come in and snap his fingers to suddenly fix everything in one season.

Have patience, people. Eventually, under this coach, we will return to glory.

These are my opinions, nobody else’s. Feel free to agree, disagree or argue with me. No matter what you do, get out to the polls tomorrow and exercise you right to VOTE! Follow Jeremy on Twitter @Jamblinman and follow this blog if you like what you see.

Shouldn’t Men Be From Venus Since it Rhymes With…?

I’m not going to lie…I only titled this blog in such a fashion because it forced you to think the word “penis.” Hah! Suck on that! Wait. No. Don’t really su–oh god, what have I done?!

For some reason I write about things I can’t personally understand or identify with. My first novel, which has been started and stopped more than your car in a friendly Los Angeles freeway commute at any given hour, will be from the point of view of a 20-something female.

I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but I’m not a girl. I do have a sister and a mother and a girlfriend and plenty of other female friends though, from whom I can draw inspiration and make educated guesses. So you may wonder how a straight guy is really going to write a blog advocating gay rights and get you to buy in, believe in it and change the world one opinion at a time?

Insert “lives in San Francisco” jokes here. Now insert joke about the association of the word “insert” to that previous sentence…done? Okay, good.

Let me start with an admission. When I was younger, I knew I was a boy, but I didn’t realize there was anything wrong with enjoying Shania Twain and The Secret Garden. When I was about 10 years old, walking around the house singing the only part of Shania’s song I could remember (“MAN! I feel like a woman. Dun dun duh nuh nuh DUN DUN!”), my Mom stopped me and said:

Jeremy. Don’t sing that part. It’s…weird.

Boom. Just like that, a dawn of realization hit. Society says NO!

It took me a while after that to realize I just didn’t care. I like that song, I liked Kelly Clarkson, I still like Call Me Maybe. I can out-quote anybody, white, black, Lebanese, male, female, gay, straight, or Mormon when it comes to Mean Girls.

Whatever. It is what it is. But even minor differences and preferences like that are considered “queer” or strange. Yet, I’m the most stereotypically average human being on this planet. So why are homosexuals and other LGBT individuals considered so different that they shouldn’t get to enjoy the basic, lawless human right of falling in love and being wed?

I’ve yet to see a good reason from anti-gay groups on why gay and lesbian people shouldn’t marry. The most common “reasoning” I see goes like this:

1. The bible prohibits it.

2. Because it’s weird and doesn’t make sense.

3. It’s bad for children.

4. It’s like a gateway drug.

5. It’s against nature.

Allow me to enlighten. First of all, it’s okay to admit our past generations were ignorant. They won’t be offended, trust me (They are dead; sorry not sorry.).

In the bible, which is a completely fictional (Okay, really? Prove me wrong then.), yet very important and relevant (There. HAPPY?) collection of stories, other “rules” would outlaw speech by women, eating a ham sandwich or seafood (People in New Orleans and Boston read that and went Oh, HELL no!), and football. 

How many people just read that sentence and thought “Screw that, dudes can marry dudes as long as Adrian Peterson keeps dropping 25 points per week for my fantasy team!”? That’s what I thought.

The bottom line is that LGBT individuals are among a large group of people who are getting pushed around because they are a minority to those who believe in whatever God is.

In America it’s the “norm” to be a white, Christian family. Yet we have the most diverse, multi-cultural community in the entire world. Out of the 312 million citizens in the United States, about 9 million are LGBT. So what I’m hearing is that even though nearly 4 percent of Americans are a part of the LGBT community, that group does not qualify for basic human rights.

THAT law of God can be accepted and enforced. But we can ignore those silly rules about football and ham because it’s fun to watch or eat.

Right. That makes sense.

And you know what else is “strange,” “confusing,” or “weird?” A black President, a CongressWOMAN, people skydiving from space, volcanoes, how Hunter Pence physically functions, why flapping the Airhead in the wrapper until it’s a tiny square makes it taste better, Christmas music before Halloween, why Nicolas Cage still lands acting roles, and public transportation in major cities.

Shit happens. Things change. Adapt, as you do with your fall fashions and taste in music.

The argument that it’s bad for children infuriates me for many reasons. Yes, a “standard” upbringing is a mother and father for the child. And in more than half of these “standard”  marriages, the mother and father end up separating.

Possibilities of divorce in a homosexual marriage is also there, but they will take their chances. The argument that children need to be raised in a standard family is completely moot, given how often that standard family is ripped apart – forget if a child is born from birth, test tube or divine intervention…as long as the parental guardians devote themselves to loving and raising that child, I see no problem with it.

The fact that I even have to dispute the gateway argument is a bit disturbing. If people truly think that pedophilia and bestiality would suddenly have a shot for legality based on gay marriage being legalized, they are more insane than I thought. Having sex with animals and dead people is, arguably, rape. It sounds silly, but seriously, where’s the consent?

Lastly, being gay is not unnatural. Different? Sure. But I won’t take it back to the minority argument; I’ll simply leave you with this list of common animals that have been scientifically observed to display homosexual or transgender behavior:

Cats, dogs, giraffes, elephants, dolphins, lions, horses, salmon, lizards, frogs, snakes, chicken, ducks and penguins.

Try explaining that to your straight, religious, “normal” children as they cuddle with the family cat in bed, clutching a stuffed penguin.

To anyone who believes religious doctrine suggests gay rights should be denied, talk to one of your own HERE. Point, set and match.

Now that I’ve successfully proven that the anti-gay marriage reasoning is stupider than trying to surf in Hurricane Sandy, enjoy trying to come up with more excuses as to why a basic human right is being denied to millions of people.

I’ll be waiting. And when those people realize that they are essentially telling LGBT couples not to breathe, maybe…just maybe…it will change.

You don’t have to listen to me, but take my opinion for what it’s worth. Vote for marriage equality and gay rights in any aspect of the upcoming elections. You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @Jamblinman.

Public Service Announcement: Thumbs and Driving Don’t Mix

This is a friendly reminder to not pick up hitch hikers, no matter how friendly they look. Even if he or she has a six-pack of Bud Light, obliging the thumb is a move that will likely result in an axe to your head, then the car cascading off a cliff into a fiery mess at the bottom of a canyon, suicidal hitch hiker laughing menacingly all the way down.

Then again, it could go right – you could make a new buddy from picking up a wandering soul on the highway. Hell, you could even meet the love of your life. It’s happened before.

Since I literally have nothing else to write about hitch hikers, let’s stop easing into a sensitive topic and get on with the real meat to this blog sandwich: Please. Please. PLEASE. For the love of human existence, stop thumbing your phone while driving.

Yes, I used to be guilty myself. There was a time when a well-timed “LOL” to a girl I liked was far more important than my health, let alone anyone else in my general driving vicinity. I was convinced I was so good at texting, I never even had to look at the phone because I knew where the numbers were.

Problem is, you still have to read the text that you got in the first place and then double-check yours makes sense before sending it off through cyber space. You may think it only takes a second, but it’s long enough. And no, the “LOL” to that chick didn’t pay off; thanks for asking.

I can’t even pull the “older and wiser” card on you guys here. Technically I’m older, the wiser part is debatable, but I’m still only 23. I just know better. A story I got in an email was what changed my ways for good – whether or not it’s true is irrelevant. The story went that a guy in a smart car was texting, swerved into oncoming traffic, and died instantly due to being sliced in half by a big rig. I’m assuming he never got to send that text. Here is one of many pictures of the aftermath, according to the email (WARNING: VERY graphic, please ignore if you expect rainbows and butterflies…lots of blood, metal and body parts).

My mom sent the email to me in her desperate attempt to make her son a well-rounded citizen (it worked…I’m freakin’ awesome). As if it wasn’t worrisome enough that there are human beings and fire hydrants and mailboxes and deer everywhere we drive (readers in or around Walnut Creek – how fearless are those damn deer that are trying to re-stake their claim to the land we built our neighborhoods on? I see packs of them driving home every night. What if they were zombie deer? Holy shit. I’d never leave my house after dusk. There are hordes of them standing in ditches and on sidewalks everywhere, just waiting for the chance to jump into my windshield or shit on my lawn. THEY FEAR NOTHING. Blood-sucking little Bambi’s…sorry…got carried away there).

Where was I? Right! As if it wasn’t worrisome enough that all those obstacles exist on a normal day, we have to worry about other drivers on the road. On highways there are gigantic, loud, terrifying trucks everywhere you turn.

If you think looking down at your phone to send a pointless text is worth slamming into the back of one of those trucks and leaving your head stuck to the bumper, leg to the axle, and ass to the exhaust pipe, you’re sorely mistaken. Keep challenging the facts. Keep laughing in the face of emoticon-fueled danger. Have fun in prison.

Just ask this guy. He’s one of the lucky few who you COULD ask.

When I see people scrolling through a text, tweet, Facebook message, email, etc. on their phones while driving, I want to give them a not-so-friendly bump with my right headlight just to make a point.

You know what I do when I get a text while driving? One of three things: I ignore it until I’m done driving, I give it to my shotgun rider/navigator/partner in crime (title pending, based on who is sitting there) and ask them to respond for me. I can dictate a quick sentence to them and keep both hands and eyes on the road. Or if it’s really that urgent, give them a call on speakerphone.

Honestly, I’m no angel. I still do it once in a while. I lose focus. But it’s like training yourself to do anything else: eating vegetables, flossing your teeth, chewing with your mouth closed, not picking your nose, only farting in front of your family and close friends. You know, normal stuff. Mind over matter. Make a concentrated effort to stop. 

You can’t make this stuff up. Students were asked to navigate a driver’s ed course while texting in a study done recently. The results were conclusive – driving while texting is equal to driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08. Or the legal limit. The number all tipsy drivers fear.

Do you really need any more convincing proof than that? Ignoring a statistic of that magnitude would be an ugly display of priorities…and make me hate my own species a lot.

Look, all I’m saying is texting is a dangerous activity while behind the wheel of a car. The only time there should be something so urgent is in a legitimate emergency situation. And in that case, if you’re texting, you suck at urgency. That’s why god invented speed dial.

This is how people get cut in half. It’s no joke. And next time this blogger sees you texting and driving, there will be a pre-meditated fender bender coming to a highway near you.

Try LOL’ing at that, sucka.

Mapping the Crowd: That Chubby Guy Totally Just Farted

I originally planned to only review the Allen Stone concert I went to last night when I started this blog. But observations of the crowd dominated my brain as I began typing. Therefore, it will be part review, part exposé on a groovin’, soulful, stinky, drunken crowd.

Let’s start with some good news! Mr. Stone was leaps and bounds better than advertised – from the music, to his insanely talented band, his showmanship, and of course that VOICE, it was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.

The show was at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Fantastic little place, plenty of room to move around but still a sold-out crowd, and two different bars with reasonably-priced beers. The only complaint is that it’s on O’Farrell St., close to Hyde, which as the hip kids say (okay, I’m the only one who says this, but still…), is “ticklin’ the Tendy.”

That’s the Tenderloin District for you non-natives. As if you needed to look any farther than the District’s name itself, it’s not a fun place to walk around.

You’d never know it by the crowd inside the Great American Music Hall though. Mixed in among the usual suspects (we’ll get to that here soon), were 50-somethings in sparkly shirts dancing on the balconies. There were 10-year-olds sitting with their parents on the sides bobbing their heads innocently. And even some young adults who looked like they wandered in by mistake and stumbled in on a pleasant surprise.

Then of course, you had the following:

1) The awkward, making-out-all-night couple in the middle of the floor. Nothing like a sweaty hippie jammin’ about his problems on stage to get those two turned on!

2) The awkward, trying-to-be-sneaky stoner who “hides” his joint behind his ear. Dude, you didn’t sneak that past security, they just didn’t care. They are actually laughing at you right now.

3) The awkward, middle-aged man dragged here by his wife, standing with arms crossed barely bobbing his head all night. He’s paying his dues. *Men everywhere nod in mutual understanding*

4) The awkward, WAY too drunk chick spilling beers before the opening act even finishes. Granted, she’s tiny and of a race that is normally bad at drinking excessive amounts of alochol-related beverages. But damn, really? The doors opened at 7. It’s now 7:32 and you can hardly keep your eyes open? 

5) The awkward, WAY too drunk guy trying to hook up with the WAY too drunk chick, eventually just stumbling to the bathroom with her so she doesn’t puke on anyone. You’d think the fact that WAY too drunk chick can hardly hold her head up would be a stop sign for WAY too drunk guy. He shall not be denied!

6) The awkward, screamy chick who only came to see the opener (not to knock on Yuna – she was incredible!). It’s always a little bit difficult to actually hear and enjoy the music when one crazed fan is hitting the high note with her shriek through the entirety of a four-minute song.

7) The awkward, can’t-shut-up-for-more-than-30-seconds girl in the back, who fights back when the performer is playing by talking loudly enough for everyone around to hear. It doesn’t help when the guy she’s with is going “Uh-huh. Yep. Ya. Totally.” while clearly trying to shut her up to listen to the damn show he paid for.

8) The awkwardly tall dude with the fedora, who insists on swaying right into your line of vision every half second. Like, you’re already at least nine feet tall, what’s with the big hat? And how did you manage to stay in front of me, even after I moved all the way to the other side? Shouldn’t venues have a tall-only section? You know…like, against the back wall?

9) The awkward, angry guys who almost get into three fights for getting bumped into. God forbid that would happen in a crowded public space…

10) The awkward boyfriend who is embarrassed to sing or dance with his girlfriend so just does a goofy, clearly-exaggerated dance and then nods at her and laughs like “Hahaha this is so much fun, see what I’m doing, I’m being funny!” to cover at his lack of skillz (contrary to popular belief, that guy was NOT me for once).

11) The awkward guy who does the lighter-holding sway to every song, regardless of the rhythm. This is the same doofus who would hold up lighters at a hip hop concert or to Call Me Maybe.

12) The awkward, ignorant one who failed to see the approximately 376 signs on the way in that said “NO CAMERAS, FLASHES, OR RECORDING DURING SHOWS” and insists on taking a picture with his phone, flash on, until Allen Stone is legally blind.

13) The worst. The absolute worst. The short, chubby guy who thinks the more people, the less his rank ass farts will be noticed. Note to short, chubby guy – don’t eat Moroccan food before the show, and don’t look behind you every time that gaseous state erupts in a fiery death for anyone within a half mile of you.

Basically, what I’m trying to say, is everyone at the concert aside from myself, my girlfriend and the actual performers on stage, SUCKED. Just kidding. But these are very common types I have observed at multiple concerts. Sometimes there are more, sometimes less, usually there’s at least one of each.

It’s something I find entertaining (except for the last one) for the most part. It makes the concert experience complete in my mind. Luckily, there didn’t have to be any extras with Allen Stone on stage. Right, back to your regularly scheduled review now…

…you have to respect the musicians in this show for a few reasons. Allen Stone and his band clearly are madly in love with music and the opportunity they have. They were extremely open about being grateful to the crowd for paying for their show.

And we were rewarded enough with the show of a lifetime, but keeping the crowd engaged for two solid hours was a bonus. Allen split the floor in half and made us have a dance-off. He made sure we sang the choruses of a couple of songs (impressive, people, impressive). He did a birthday toast and “Happy Birthday” sing-along to his trumpet player. He let his band mates have solo time (that drummer – WHOA), and genuinely had a great time on stage the entire time.

Don’t even get me started on the way the show was set up – the keyboard player coming out as an emcee and introducing himself as “the host of the show” while the band played some soul-style beat and got the crowd pumped up for Allen to come out. Or the pianist playing a chord with his foot, while standing on top of the piano on the last song. The unbelievable Bob Marley cover…the list goes on and on.

All around, just an amazing show by Allen Stone. I highly recommend seeing him live if you ever get the chance. And if not, at least go check out a video on YouTube. The man deserves every penny we paid to get into the concert.

Oh…and just in case you wanted a visual on the crazy crowd creatures I described above? Your wish is my command (numbered for your convenience – corresponding to the numbers listed above):

Random, Awkward, Shower-Inspired Epiphanies

I’ve been meaning to make this blog a weekly thang – a departure from the one-track mind I tend to publicly display via Facebook, Tweet, and Jam Shot. Because believe it or not, I’m not only…always…thinking about sports.

Yes, it fills a significant portion of my lobes. But I promise there is more going on in this head of mine. I’ve been told I can write, so I’m here to do so about topics that matter in the grand scheme of things.

You know. Dreams. Emotions. Travel. Charity. Drunken samplings of gnarly crustacean delicacies.

Just one problem. Writer’s block – the bane of my existence. And by “writer’s block,” I mean laziness, non-motivation, finger cramps, whatever personal problem you want to pathetically disguise behind a clichéd veil.

It’s no excuse. A writer who has “writer’s block” is like a singer who claims to have suddenly gone mute. Or a hitter in a horrific slump (I get ONE sports analogy…come on!). The only way to break out is to keep on writing, singing, swinging and throwing.

For some reason, I’ve been able to keep writing my daily-but-turned-to-weekly sports blog, and my assigned Bleacher Report articles, and my contributions to Three Up, Three Down (the next great baseball podcast, co-host and co-creator…at least that’s what I imagine the business cards will say when we hit it big), and even a piece here or there for Lasorda’s Lair.

Yet between all that and the shameless self promotion that just occurred (I’m really hoping there’s an opening at a major magazine and the Editor happened to peruse through that previous paragraph), I haven’t been able to just sit down and hammer out some thoughts on this digital piece of parchment…

…until NOW. And I really do have a couple of thoughts I want to etch into the blogosphere tonight.

While I was showering away a more-painful-than-usual two-mile run earlier tonight (I swear the wind was against me both ways…), I got into one of those awkward “why am I thinking deeply about life and such while scrubbing my armpit with a soapy loofah” moods.

Whatever the reason, I realized how much I miss college. Which led to me reflecting on the last five years of my life. Since the day I decided to go to Washington State at age 18 1/2, to today…almost 23 1/2…just, wow.

I mean, how else do I describe it? Do I sacrifice how I really felt to make it read better? Or keep as is. As it came to me when the memories started flooding in. I literally, audibly, muttered the word, “wow.”

See, I consider myself a decently lazy person. To the point that I’ve spent no less than 2,500 hours over the last five years watching a full game or match of baseball or football or basketball or soccer. Factor in 12,750 hours of sleeping and approximately 5,000 hours working over that same time span, I’ve spent nearly 50 percent of my 43,830 hours of life since age 18 1/2 doing things that require no more than basic physical functioning.

This doesn’t even include the infinite hours I’ve spent Tweeting, Facebooking, YouTube-ing, Sporcle-ing, Stumbling, and any other form of procrastination ending with “ing” that you can think of.

I’ve spent 5,000 hours answering phones, writing emails, asking for donations, taking payments, making trip reservations, washing dishes, serving food, tutoring fellow students, teaching baseball. Nearly 13,000 hours dreaming of whatever my crazy brain dreams of while sprawled across beds, futons, hammocks, hardwood floors, rocks, car seats and trampolines. And 2,500 hours cheering, screaming, analyzing, moping, stressing and moaning about any combination of the Dodgers, A’s, 49ers and Cougars.

You’d think I’d have time for nothing else. And sometimes it seems like I truly don’t. But when I stopped to consider – I was floored at the realization that despite half of my time being devoted to sleeping to recharge for work, to work for money, to pay for activities that make me tired again…I have done so many things without really trying.

Since turning 18 1/2, I’ve received two college degrees. I’ve been hired by the fourth-largest sports website in America. I’ve quit my job at the fourth-largest sports website in America. I’ve been named one of the Top 50 baseball fans in the country, out of 22,000 hopefuls.

I’ve traveled the Mediterranean by sea, Europe and Africa by foot, and America by car. I’ve visited New Orleans, and Boston, and Canada, and Mexico, and St. Louis, and Orlando, and Breckenridge, and Las Vegas, and Chicago.

I’ve snowboarded at Whistler, and sun bathed in Puerto Vallarta, and blacked out on Bourbon Street, and skinny dipped in Barcelona, and hiked the coastline in Italy, and witnessed evening prayer during Ramadan at a Moroccan mosque.

I’ve watched movies that made me laugh. I’ve read books that made me cry. I’ve written stories and poems made of fiction based on truth. And memoirs and papers of fact based on fiction. I’ve written things that made me feel good, and made other people cry.

My work has been published. Multiple times.

I’ve learned to like sushi, and wine, and traveling by train. I’ve even tried raw oysters and fried calamari (see, gnarly crustaceans!).

I’ve helped raise a puppy. I’ve sung Whitney Houston in front of 500 people at a karaoke bar. I’ve milked cows. Hell, I’ve even grown a beard.

I’ve ridden a camel. I’ve run a sub-five minute mile. I’ve gone shirtless in 23-degree weather. I’ve watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, and not from land. I’ve survived a plane ride through bolts of lightning. I’ve mastered the most terrifying, exhilarating river rafting trip on this continent.

I’ve succeeded grandly. I’ve failed miserably.

I’ve changed people’s lives. I’ve had my life changed.

And most importantly, I’ve physically distanced myself from my family, yet never been closer to them. And in my movements, I’ve met hundreds of people from around the country and around the world and formed friendships and partnerships and romances that will never die.

All these things have come about from the sheer will of curiosity. A poster in my Humanities classroom caught my eye. A friend’s texted suggestion piqued my interest. A deep love for baseball forced me to make a video on a whim.

I’ve been to a hundred new places and met a hundred new people and learned a hundred new things and eaten a hundred new foods in that short, five-year span.

And it’s all been done on a tight budget. I can’t remember the last time the number in my bank account made me feel secure. I’ve had the wonderful support of my generous, hard-working parents and a lot of loving family and friends help get me to these places. To meet these people I’ve met and learn these things I’ve learned.

So. I’m not here to preach. Or throw morals at you. Or brag about my successes and find sympathy for my failings.

I’m here to realize that if a somewhat lazy, semi-penniless, totally average guy who literally spends half his life either staring at a TV, a work-supplied computer, or the back of his eyelids can do ALL THOSE THINGS in five years…

So can you. And I hope you do. Go meet people. Go see places. Go learn things. Go eat food. And drink drinks. As our elders say, these are the best years of our lives.

And now that I realize those former hippies were right all along, I’m going to embrace it. I’m going to try to make my life as awesome and interesting and memorable as the last five years have been. And this time it won’t take a random concoction of curiosity, luck and happenstance.

In five years, since turning 18 1/2, I’ve seen and done some incredible things. I call some unbelievable people my friends. People I never would have known existed, in places I couldn’t pronounce the names of, doing things I couldn’t dream of.

And if I can actually set myself down that path instead of just stumbling onto it from here on out…I may just knock out two or three full bucket lists by the time my next half decade passes.

Check back in with me in June of 2017. I’ll be 28 1/2 then. Five years richer, five years smarter and five years happier.

Hopefully, the writer’s block has subsided by then.