Monday, March 30, 2009

GDMF'n MLM'ers

You know who I hate? Multilevel Marketers (MLM'ers). Want to know who I hate more? MLM'ers who won't admit that's what they are. They will tell you all the reasons why their 'plan' isn't MLM. If there is anyone who shouldn't get uppity, it's someone begging for my money. If you are curious about whether or not you are being scammed by a MLM'er, here are some of the signs:

  • If someone you know in passing suddenly wants to 'meet with you', watch out.
  • If you hear the words 'plan', 'downline', 'monthly commitment' or 'small investment' - run fast!
  • If someone says they are 'working for a new company and you'd be a perfect fit!', write that friendship off.
Living in Utah, which seems to be the epicenter of fraud and MLM'ing, I've been accosted many times by 'friends' who get involved in these things. Put the word out: anybody that approaches me and tries to get me involved into one of these can save their breath. If they still think they can 'help' me 'understand', that friendship is done. Good friends do not take advantage of each other. Good friends eat steak together (or vegetables if they are so inclined). They raise kids together. They take vacations together. Nowhere on that list do the letters M, L, and M appear together.

Whenever some 'friend' of mine tries to hit me up with one of these deals, I instantly put a red mark on their name on the file in my mind. Everything that person does from then on is shadowed. If they think the Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl, I think to myself 'this coming from the guy who thinks selling his friendships is a good idea'. It's like I mentally handicap them. When I talk to these people again, I mentally pat them on the forehead like I would a 7 year old. I don't care if you sell soap, vitamins, financial services, legal services, or anything else: I don't want to sign up, make a commitment, join your downline, or even so much as see the plan, discuss my future, or take a look at your company. I know that you have your handbook with comebacks for my top 10 objections. You can try to convince me how much you are just trying to help me, but at the end of the day your dignity will be gone and I'll still have my money.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More Things that are Awesome!

In continuing with my commitment to improving the world by pointing out to it the things that are worthy of their attention, here is the latest installment of Things that are Awesome! But first, a short rant:

Kids, don't listen to those anti-smoking ads. I hate that it is not politically correct to trash on almost anything and yet smoking/smokers are still held up to ridicule. There is a series of ads playing here in the state I live that make fun of smokers. Understanding that they are trying to tip the scales of today's youth to stay away from smoking, they are still effectively slandering an entire group of people for choices they are making. Imagine the repercussions that would occur if we saw ads trashing on a group of people that chose a certain religion. It interests me to know if any of my tax dollars go into these ads. If we would all focus on ourselves instead of trying to change other people by making fun of them, we'd get along a lot better. And on that note :

Cigars are Awesome!

With cigars you get the best of both worlds: you get the thrill of holding a stick of fire up to your head without actually inhaling. If you want, you can get deep into the world of cigars where you can talk about earthy overtones and smooth draw. If you just want to look and feel like a man's man, that's okay too.

Garages are Awesome!

Since the dawn of time (or at least the dawn of garages), women have held sway over both the decoration of the house and of certain marital privileges. In his continual effort to have a place of solace and perpetuate his species, man has gone to the garage. Here you'll find no flower paintings. No pink rugs here, unless you're talking about the one on the girl on a poster on the wall. Just the smell of gas, oil, and manliness. Common accoutrement here include tools, posters, vehicles, and the occasional dart board. Some men are lucky enough to have room for a couch and a TV. For the rest of us, though, a couple of lawn chairs and bar stools suffice. In this era of metrosexuals, it's nice to know that there is a place where men can find refuge.

(In a side note, when you combine the awesomeness of cigars with the awesomeness of the garage it adds up to something that is too cool for some. My wife, for instance won't let me smoke in the garage. I think it's because she's afraid of that much awesome coming together. Maybe she thinks I might be overcome by it all and spontaneously combust)

Barbecue Grills are Awesome!

This one goes along with another one of my favorites, steak. You, too, can enjoy a steak whenever you want to. Just buy some meat, fire up the grill, and bada bing bada boom- steak!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Tides are Turning

There have been 2 situations in my life in the last 2 weeks that lead me to believe that my attitude and countenance have improved. Both of them left me scratching my head. I'll let you be the judge:

1) 2 weeks ago I went to a 6:30 meeting for the first time. I think the main reason I did it was that I knew I was going to have to go to a meeting a day and I wanted to have some nights available to relax. It turned out to have an added bonus: I came to work after that first morning meeting. I had arranged to be into work about 15 minutes late so I could catch the meeting. I got to work at 8:15. In my mind, I came in and kept to myself like I usually do. At about 10 o'clock a co-worker came up to me and asked 'Are you okay?' I was confused. I tried to think of why she was asking me. I drew a blank, so I answered honestly. 'Yeah, I'm fine. Why?' She says to me 'You just seem like you're in such a good mood. It's weird.'

2) So last night I go to pick Katie up at the airport. I'd had 4 days off in a row. I went to meetings, hung out with guys in recovery, cleaned the house, and took naps. Anyways, I'm at the airport and Katie comes down the hall to the waiting area. I see her and I stand up to meet her. It's at this point that I notice that besides her brother, it turns out she was flying back with the friend I referred to towards the end of my posting before this last one. She walks up to me, hugs me, and before I even have a chance to open my mouth she says to me 'You've been drinking! You're drunk!' If my coworker caught me off guard, this situation knocked me on my ass. I had nothing to say. Eventually I regained my balance and told her 'I probably deserve a lifetime of being accused of being drunk. This time is one where I'm actually NOT drunk' Eventually she realized I wasn't drunk, but I was curious about why she thought I was drunk. Her answer? 'You just seemed so relaxed and happy.'

The part that jumps out at me from both of these is that I hadn't even said anything. I must have exuded anger and unhappiness before I started making some changes about 3 weeks ago. Especially with the 2nd situation, where I was caught off guard and didn't have any time to adjust my behavior it shows that a significant change has taken place in me. It is a welcome one to say the least. I hope one day I'll be able to look back on the days when I was so angry and wonder how I did it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I May Need Counseling After This

This weekend Katie and I went with some friends to a local comedy club to see Marcus. We went out to dinner before the show and were among the first to get in the club an hour before the show was to start. While Katie and most of the others went in, I stayed behind to smoke a cigar with my buddy Jared. When we finally made it in, I found out that we were on the first row. And they had left the spot closest to the middle of the stage for me. A bad feeling hit me as I sat down, and as it turns out it was not unfounded.

The warm up comedians mainly stuck to their own material and didn't pick on the crowd too much. When Marcus got up there, he started off with his own material. As he got warmed up, though, pretty soon he was interacting with the crowd. At one point a cell phone went off. He went into the audience, took the phone, and hid it on top of a speaker on stage. When one lady was laughing obnoxiously, he mercilessly made fun of her saying 'Somewhere there is a horny dolphin wondering where that noise is coming from'. Yikes! Shortly after this, Marcus was grabbing a drink of water. I took the opportunity to stifle a yawn, except that he turned and saw me doing it. I knew I was in for it at that point. I was wearing some glasses, and he asks me 'You like TV, don't you specs?' I nodded yes and he went on with his routine. I breathed a sigh of relief thinking that I was off the hook. Maybe that was his plan.

He was setting up a joke about David Bowie's...lack of underpants in the movie The Labyrinth. He started it by talking about movies and 80's movies in particular. When he got to the point where he was joking about David Bowie flapping in the breeze like a flag in a storm, he hung the microphone around his waist and started bouncing it back and forth between his legs. We were all laughing when I realized he was coming for me.... As he climbed my chair and started bouncing the phallic microphone about my head and shoulders I tried to shrink away. There was nowhere to hide, though. My face was about 2 inches from his junk and I kept thinking it would end any second, but he kept going. At some point the joke turned into how long he could make me uncomfortable. The answer, for me, was FAR too long. All things considered, I thought I was a pretty good sport about it. I think I've learned my lesson with sitting in the front row and daring to yawn.... Here we are - post molestation.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Recovery Update/ Kids in the future?

This will probably be boring for most people. This blog has been tough at times, but for the most part a fun way to vent. For those friends and family that are interested in where I am right now, this is the answer:

I'm now into my 20th month of continuous sobriety. 20 months seemed like such a long time to me: until I got it. If a non-alcoholic sees a person who drinks and always seems to get in trouble, it seems logical and obvious that if the person stops drinking things will get better. Some of the more obvious problems (hospitals, jails, etc) do go away at first with just not drinking. From experience, I can tell you that they will always come back unless the alcoholic can find a way to deal with things differently.

At 18 months sober, I found myself the very same person I was when I started - sans booze. All the same fears, the same ways of dealing with things. Even the same results (witness my last post). How tough it is to hear from your sponsor 'You're suffering from untreated alcoholism'. He said the same thing to me 36 hours hours after my last drink. My excuse then was that I had a drinking problem. What's my excuse now? I haven't had a drink in over a year and a half. It's safe to say that drinking is not my problem. Living life sober is my problem. I won't say it's all been for nothing: all the meetings I've done and all the work this time around has kept me sober long enough to become willing to completely surrender myself to staying sober. For the last week and a half, I've been going to a meeting every day. I've been calling my sponsor every day. I've been praying every day. I talk to other alcoholics every day and still work with a guy or two. My willingness now extends to losing sleep: I've been catching a 6:30 am meeting this week. The first couple of days have been really hard, but it has been paying off. Starting my day off in willingness and recovery has made this the best week I've had in some time.

This is where the rubber meets the road for me. I am a good mimic and can talk a good game. When it comes down to it, though, only my actions will show how much I really believe this program can help me. I think I've caught some people by surprise. Myself included. Katie has already commented on being surprised I was willing to get up early. I wasn't a guy that was willing to go to a meeting a day. Look what that got me. I don't have to be too hard on myself, because I'm showing a willingness to stay sober I didn't know I had. For that reason this whole experience has been a good one for me.

* * *

In the past I've written about not being able to have kids naturally. When the denial and anger subsided, I was left with shame and hurt pride. Sometimes situations force us to be bigger than we really are. This is one for me. Despite the tough emotions that still sometimes arise, Katie and I have moved forward in the process to becoming parents. Together we chose a donor online (man, you really can buy ANYTHING on the internet...) and a couple of weeks ago I accompanied her to the doctor for the first insemination. I joked with some people that I wanted to be there so I could say I was there with my wife when she got pregnant. The truth was that I wasn't sure I wanted to be there at all. I felt like I could almost handle having children this way, but having to be there would just be too much. In the end, the responsibility I felt as a husband and potential father outweighed the shame I felt at being inadequate. I think this is the definition of being an adult. It was made tougher when it turns out the nurse doing the procedure was a friend of Katie's and someone who I'd been to dinner with before. My humbling was made complete when the nurse mentioned she'd told another friend of Katie's that we were trying to have kids this way. A friend that Katie has somewhat of a history with and I've had trouble accepting because of it. For Katie it was comforting to go through the procedure with a friend. For me it felt like another test to be endured.

Despite my feeling to the contrary, we both made it through the first procedure. Chances are that this won't be the last insemination before Katie gets pregnant, so I'll get another opportunity to stay humble. I hope that it gets easier.