Monday, December 2, 2013

Standing right in front of you

Sometimes things in life are hard.

Sometimes a goal is so difficult to achieve that it makes you wonder to yourself, “Why am I even trying.”

Sometimes, there are roadblocks and obstacles at every turn that make you jump and swerve only taking you farther and farther away from your objective.  As if everything has conspired against you to prevent the words, “I’m happy”, from ever reaching your lips.

There are a lot of these “sometimes”.

Occasionally however, there are the times in your life where something is presented to you in the easiest, most plain way possible. 

They say “when something is too good to be true, it probably is.”  To that I say, Bullshit.

Most things in my life have been hard to come by.  I’ve had to work, and work hard at that, to get to where I am today.  In no way, shape or form am I saying that I’ve reached my pinnacle, but hard work is one of the cornerstones I have shaped my life on. 

From the day I was born it was impressed upon me that hard work is the only way to keep yourself afloat in the ocean of life.  My grandparents and parents instilled a value in me that to this day, is a part of how I define myself as a man. 

The real challenges in life are no longer the things I have to work hard at, probably because I’ve become so accustomed to them.  The toughest things for me to handle are often the easiest. 

When something is so blatantly obvious that it is the right choice and yet, you refuse to take it.  Why?

Let’s be honest.  It’s because you are scared.

 Maybe you have been hurt in the past, maybe there has been someone telling you what you are feeling isn’t right.  Whatever the case may be, you are scared of taking what is right out in front of you.

In its simplest form, fear boils down to a barrier you put between yourself and happiness.  Don’t let that fear ruin your life, furthermore, don’t let the fear run your life.

This dread is just fabricated ideas we put in our own head, things to prevent ourselves from getting to where we want to be.  Few people know however, these hurdles can be removed from the track of life.  If you put them there, well, then you can take them out.

If you want something so badly, if that one thing, whether it is a job, a life, a change or even a lover is going to take your life in a positive direction, go out there and take it.  Especially if it is standing right in front of you, don’t let fear dictate what you can and cannot do.  Stand up and refuse to let a chance pass you by.

As lame as it may seem, a classic family movie may have said it best.  In an exchange between the main character of “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” and the character known as the Birdlady, the young Kevin McCalister teaches a lesson about being afraid of putting yourself out there. 

Bird Lady: I’m just afraid if I do trust someone, I’ll get my heart broken.

Kevin: I understand. I had a nice pair of Rollerblades. I was afraid to wreck them, so I kept them in a box. Do you know what happened? I outgrew them. I never wore them outside. Only in my room a few times.

Bird Lady: A person’s heart and feelings are very different than skates.

Kevin: They’re kind of the same thing. If you won’t use your heart, who cares if it gets broken? If you just keep it to yourself, maybe it’ll be like my Rollerblades. When you do decide to try it, it won’t be any good. You should take a chance. Got nothing to lose.

Whether it is your heart or not, it’s true, you have nothing to lose.  

So go for it, take a chance, a leap of faith.  Make a plan and figure it out.  A goal without a plan is just a dream, but when you take fear out of the equation, you can make a dream reality.   

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The story of my Blog: Where the name comes from

It has been sometime since I've posted anything on my personal blog.  Lack of insipration?  Nah, not really, I've been busy.  Occupied with things that kept me from jotting down my ideas.  I'm happy to say, I'm back in the game!  This entry is entirely centered around why my blog is named what it is.  True story.  I can't make these things up.  Hope you enjoy!

The following story is true; the names have been changed to well, you get the idea.

When I opened the door to her apartment it was as if someone slapped me in the face with a two-by-four of stench.   

Alexa and I had been dating for somewhere around three months.  She was an interesting girl that I had thought was smart.  Clearly I was wrong.

Coming out of a number of relationships that seemed more like an episode of a sitcom than real life, I can’t say that this, in the long run, really surprised me.

It was late summer, right before the beginning of September.  The leaves were getting ready to change, the hot days were beginning to vanish and most importantly the school year was about to begin. 

One afternoon while hanging out in her apartment that she newly moved into she asked me “would you wanna go shopping with me for school stuff?”  Alexa attended Penn State, she was an English major, and this is another reason why I felt she was smart.  Over the years I’ve found that these people are anything but that. 

They seem to carry an arrogance with them that can never be explained.  As if they are entitled to something.  Let me tell you, Alexa fit this to a Tee.  Half of our arguments ended because I got sick of her correcting my grammar.

I decided to accept her offer of school shopping as I was headed back for the fall semester as well.  The date was set and we were supposed to meet up the next day, after she got out of work.  I assured her I would be there no later than four o’clock. 

On the way down to her apartment I took the time to call her and let her know about what time I would be arriving.  She simply said, “Okay! Just let yourself in, I’ll be in the shower.”  Who the hell leaves the door unlocked while showering?  To me this just seems like a bad idea, no matter what way you slice it. 

When I arrived I began the long trudge up the stairs to Alexa’s second story apartment.  They were the sort of steps that were sideways because they were built over 30 years ago.  The kind that throw you off when walking up them, mostly because every third one is a different size.

I climbed to the top and walked through the door.  That is when the stench hit me.  The only way I can describe the smell is by a combination of week old garbage, shit and barbeque Fritos.





Have you ever smelled something so bad that it made your head hurt?  I have.  And this was the day it happened.  Couple the stench with the fact that it was 85 degrees out that day and you literally had a perfect storm for stank.

As a man I find myself with a constant need to fix problems.  It’s what we do; we are just wired that way.  Right?  Since Alexa was still in the shower, I took it upon myself to pinpoint the problem and eliminate it.  This way I could stand tall in front of my girlfriend by proclaiming, “I have fixed the problem!”  Sort of like that scene in Castaway, the movie featuring Tom Hanks.  When he finally started the fire and ran around screaming, “I have made fire! I, MAN, have made fire!” 

I began searching the rooms, one by one, determined to find the source of this evil stench.  Walking around checking many different places, I found myself legitimately sniffing the air, much like a dog would do.

In the kitchen, I sniffed in the fridge, which smelled surprisingly okay.  Moved over to the garbage can and even sniffed that!  Nope.  Even the garbage smelled better than the migraine-causing odor.

 Exhausted, I slumped down into the couch.  I had failed.  I failed to fix the problem.  I had single handedly let down my grandfathers, father, friends and the entire male race.  Way to go Russ.

Luckily I remembered the bottle of Febreeze I had purchased for Alexa earlier in the month.  I purchased this item for her for one simple reason.  She had a dog.  A dog that constantly went to the bathroom on the carpet, as it was never properly housetrained. 

I’m told that you should only scold a dog immediately after it goes to the bathroom.  Then clean it up and spray it with some sort of scent masking spray.  Thus the reason for the Febreeze. 

I grabbed the bottle and began to walk around the apartment, spraying the odor-eliminating liquid into the air.  All this was an attempt to mask the smell that was plaguing the apartment.  What was this smell?  How in gods name did Alexa not notice it? 

When I finished and had the apartment smelling slightly better than it was, I was able to again fall into the couch and wait for Alexa to finish her shower.  Not long after I heard the water turn off and the sound of rings clinking together as the shower curtain slid open.

When she opened the door, Alexa was still drying her hair with a towel.  She looked at me on the couch and said “Hi.”  I waved back and she began to walk across the room towards her bedroom.  Around the halfway point of her journey I mustered up the phrase, “Hey, can I ask you a serious question?”  To which she said, “yes.” 

Alexa stopped at the door of her bedroom.  Still drying her hair.  I can still see the sort of turban she had made out of the towel.  Rubbing the towel into her scalp trying to dry her long blonde hair.

At this point my filter is off.  Why?  Because how in the hell do you not notice a scent this bad? 

I guess that’s why the next phrase came as no surprise to me.  I looked at her and said, “What.  The fuck.  Is that smell?” 

Much to my surprise she responded calmly with, “Oh, it’s probably the garbage.”  Now I knew it wasn’t, so I furthered the conversation by adding, “It’s not the garbage, I know this because I smelled the garbage.” 

Just before she shut the door to her bedroom.  She said, “Well it must be the dog poop over by sink.”  The door shut.




Now I was worried.  I was over by the sink! You know the way people always check their shoes after they step in shit?  Lifting each foot to check.  That was me. Only picture me doing it while sitting on the couch.

Both shoes, there was nothing there.  I went to the sink and checked the floor, nothing there.  I checked the entire kitchen floor.  Nothing.  What in the hell was she talking about?  There was no dog poop.  I was baffled. 

All there was left to do was wait.  Wait for Alexa to come out of the bedroom and have her explain to me what she meant.  I sat on the couch and waited.  It must have been the longest five minutes on the planet.  I began to zone out, thinking about all the possibilities that it could be.  After what seemed like an eternity, my consciousness came rushing back to me all at once.  When the door swung open and she said, “What’s up?” 

            I looked at her and wondered how she didn’t know what was up.  The smell, that’s what’s up.  I immediately sprang forth with “What do you mean dog poop?”

            She seemed to be taken back with me asking.  Sorry babe, I need to know.  She responded with, “It’s over by the sink.”  No it wasn’t I was sure of this again, because I checked it.  I am a very thorough researcher.

            I felt like a detective questioning a criminal, or a lawyer question the all-star witness.  The spot light was on her and I was going to get the answers I wanted.  The answers I NEEDED. 

            “There is nothing over by the sink,” I said.  Alexa looked at me as if I just insulted her grandmother.  She looked almost disappointed.  Looking back at it now, I don’t think she was disappointed in me for asking, but more so with her self for not handling the issue.

            Alexa put her hands on her hips, slumped to one side and let out a long drawn out sigh.  “It’s under the sink,” she said.  “In the cabinet.”  Excuse me?  What did she mean the dog shit was in the cabinet?  My whole world was thrown askew. 

            She then began to explain the story to me.  She was running late for work.  At that time she was working part-time at a local grocery store.  She had just enough time to get into the car and head to work, however there was one problem.  Her dog, Stella, took a number two on the floor. 

            Alexa was now presented with a problem.  A problem that really only has one solution.  Granted there are a number of ways she could have reached her solution, but she decided to choose the most wrong way I can possibly think of.

            Ideas like picking it up with toilet paper and flushing it down the toilet, or scooping it into a bag and throwing it outside never dawned on her.  Instead she decided to grab a bathroom towel and use it as a pooper-scooper.  Alexa then placed the towel into a plastic bag and put it in the cabinet under the sink.  She explained that way she could dispose of it easily after work. 

            Is this real life?  What bizzaro world does she live in that made that seem like a good idea?  This is where the argument began. 

            There are a number of unexplained mysteries on the Earth.  Easter Island, crop circles and even the Pyramids of Egypt, but there is no greater mystery than how much a woman can love her stupid dog. 

            Don’t get me wrong, I own dogs, I love my dogs, but there is something different about a woman and a dog.  That dog could be the worst behaved mutt on the face of the planet, but it is still “Mommy’s widdle baby!”  I’ve literally heard women describe their dogs as smart, only to witness them run into the wall or chase their tails.  I’ve been in a number of relationships since this and frankly I’ve seen this almost every time. 

            Women love dogs.  Period.  You are better off if you don’t question why.  And for the love of god, don’t ever.  EVER.  Insult the stupid dog. 

            This is where I wish I had my own advice years ago.  Then again, don’t we all?  All the time?

            I made the mistake of mentioning how maybe she should get rid of her dog if she doesn’t know how to take care of it.  Talk about throwing rocks at a hornet’s nest. 

Direct Hit!

“Don’t tell me how to live my life!” she said.  “I’ll put dog shit in the oven if I want to!”  I responded snappily with, “that’s a bad idea, it will probably melt.”

Apparently this was one of those times where my sarcasm only added fuel to the fire.  The more wise-ass comments I added, the more pissed off she became.  After all, I was right.  Right?

            Of course I was, how can expect to win an argument when you put a turd in a cabinet.  Let me tell you, there is something extremely gratifying about having already won an argument and not even needing to prove your points.

            The door slammed again.  I was alone again, with the stench.  As I sat in the chair thinking about what I’m going to do now I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. 

            After later explaining this story to family and friends, by the way it’s a real party favorite, I realized how that was one of the rare times where I was actually on the right side of an argument with a girl.

            Needless to say Alexa and I broke up not to long after the “shit in the cabinet” incident.

I’ve had my fair share of relationships.  I’ve had love and lost it, I’ve been the “other guy”, and even had my heart broken.  No matter what I encounter in the future, my relationship with Alexa was undoubtedly the shittiest relationship I’ve ever had. To this day, whenever I introduce a girl to my mother, she always gets me on the side and asks me, “She doesn’t put shit in her cabinets, does she?”  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The royal who gives a crap.

So as you have all probably heard the royal baby has been born.


It has become increasingly more apparent to me in the last few years that Americans are obsessed with the absolute dumbest stuff on the planet.

First it was the whole “royal wedding” and now this.

Over the past two days alone, I have seen about 14 trillion Facebook and Twitter updates about the baby, the Duchess, the Prince and the Queen.  I think I can speak for most of the sane people and say, “who the hell cares?”

I do agree it is part of history; the royal family is carrying on their line, okay.  Beyond that, who cares?  Why are Americans obsessed with what Kate is wearing, what hat the Queen had on and especially what the name is going to be? 

I find myself becoming increasingly infuriated with this nation’s idea of pop-culture.

The American Colonies spent years, resources and lives to separate themselves from England. I do understand that times have changed and we are allies now, but the whole reason behind the revolution was due to the royal family.  (Please don’t take me for a narrow minded fool here; I understand that the form of government has changed as well.)

I’ll never understand why people find half of these things considered pop-culture interesting. 

15 minutes with a program like Inside Edition or Extra can teach you why this country has fallen as far as it has.  People are obsessed with the most stupid things, anywhere from a skateboarding squirrel to what Kanye West’s baby will be named.  I can find humor in everyday stories, but to think that people actually make money to take pictures of celebrities and report on how many times Brittany Spears has shown her privates, boggles my mind. 

I feel like if more people spent the same amount of time on local government issues or community problems that they spend on “Keeping up with the Kardashians” the world could be that much better of a place.  Think of all the parks in your area in need of a sprucing up.  Or the old woman down the street that has to struggle to cut her grass.  Even in your own family things can be changed, work on a family garden, teach your kid to play catch, for god’s sake get out and take a walk together. 

The point I’m desperately trying to make here is:

There is a whole world out there; it needs people to help make it better.  There are communities that desperately need volunteers, kids that need mentors and lives that need enriching. 

Rather than waste our time on petty things like the royal baby, why not get out there and make a difference in something that matters?  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

WTF with Olive Garden

So I have had a question in my head for quite some time now.  It’s not that important, but it has been nagging me for quite some time.  What is that question?  Well it’s simple.

What the hell is the obsession with Olive Garden?

I’m sure we have all seen it and wondered the same thing.  It could literally be a Tuesday night, at four PM and Olive Garden will have a full parking lot. 

This thought really hit me a few weeks ago when my girlfriend and I had decided to go out to eat.  Choosing a restaurant is sometimes more difficult than it should be, however that night we both agreed on Olive Garden.  That is when the ridiculousness started.

Upon arrival to their Wilkes-Barre location, somewhere around seven PM, we found that the place was jamming.  After several trips around their parking lot, with no spots open, I pulled into the adjacent Lowe’s Parking lot.  We parked and sat for a moment discussing the situation. 

While sitting there we noticed that there were a lot of cars at the end of the Lowe’s parking lot.  As it turns out the cars belonged to people that were parking there, crossing the street and going into, you guessed it, Olive Garden.  WTF?!

Why is this place so popular?  I understand that their food is not bad.  I don’t mind going there as they do have a decent menu.  I’m not going to bash their food as I have eaten it many times.

I have heard that pretty much all of their food is just microwaved.

A friend of mine told me that his brother went there for an interview as a kitchen staffer.  “He asked me, you know what was missing?” said Jeff Brown, a friend from work.  “An oven, he said all they had were microwaves.” 

I literally think that they could build an Olive Garden right next to another Olive Garden and that parking lot and restaurant would be full too.  Granted it was a Saturday night, but there were no activities going on in the area.  No hockey game, no concert, etc.  Why are so many people there all the damn time? 

Since we wanted Italian food, my girlfriend and I decided to try Leggio’s on 315 in Wilkes-Barre.  This was just about the best decision we ever made. 

There was a small wait, only about five to 10 minutes, but it was well worth it.  The staff was a lot friendlier and the food was way better.  They actually cook the food and it is actually delicious.  They bring you free garlic knots and it is nowhere near as loud as it is in Olive Garden.  Sometimes I feel like I’m screaming to talk to someone at my table in that place.

We enjoyed the food, tried one of their homemade desserts and even had leftovers that I took to work for lunch the next day.  The bill was pretty much exactly the same as it would have been at Olive Garden, but everything else was better!

So I suppose what I’m getting at here is that bigger isn't always better. 

We decided to try something local and new to us and it really paid off.  We found a place we really like to go that has great food.  Not to mention we are supporting a local business, not a large company that probably cares very little about the area that it’s in. 

Next time you decide on a restaurant, choose something different than the old chain restaurant.  You just might find something you like and avoid a lot of hassle in the process.  

Should you want to try Leggio's they now have two locations.  One at 1092 Rt. 315 in Plains Township (Phone number 570-822-0861) and the other at 64 E. Center Hill Rd. in Dallas, PA (Phone number 570-675-4511).