Sunday, April 17, 2011

#12 "Weekend Update!"

Hey all, (that's the northern version of Y'all). So it's been a while since I wrote my last blog. The reasons for this are threefold.

First, I wanted to give some distance between when I wrote my last blog and the next one I'm going to write. The last one was, obviously, very emotional and it didn't feel right to go into the absurdity that my next one is going to be.

Second, I've been planning out my next blog and it's just going to be a lot of work, and I'm not really looking forward to it. It's probably going to take me 3 times as long to write as any other one I've done so I've been kind of procrastinating. I think I may have finally found a motivator though, we'll see.

Third, my bestie, and one of the major motivating factors of moving to California, Denise (See blog #10) moved with her fiance to Pennsylvania, so I've been dealing with the emotions that come with that. I knew they were moving when I wrote blog #10, but she hadn't told a lot of people yet so as per her wishes I didn't mention it. Now that it has been almost a month since they left I can say, I'm happy for them, it's a major step in their lives together, but it sucks. I miss her constantly and can't wait until August when they come back for wedding stuff to see her again. I think it's time I figure out Skype.

Anyway, as always, digression. Loyal readers (all both of you) may have noticed that I went back and numbered all of my blogs. If you didn't, I went back and numbered all my blogs. This is mainly just so if I need to reference a previous one (see above) that i will make it much easier. Plus I figured out how to make them hyperlinks so that helps quite a bit as well. Also I feel they need to be read in order and I hope that the numbering points that out better.

Ok, that's all for this quickie. I shall be back soon with the monster of all blog posts. I'll give you a hint, (also the title) "Did I do that?"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

#:11 Chapter 4: "I'm sorry"

This is a repost of a blog I wrote on MySpace on February 6th 2006.

It amazes me how your life can be changed completely with just one statement. Before middle school my life was changed when I was talking to my mom about what classes I wanted to take and I decided to take band to learn to play the piano. She said they probably won't teach that. We had a clarinet in one of the closets so I said, "then I'll play clarinet". That statement pretty much shaped every aspect of my life, and still affects things today. Maybe someday I'll go into more detail about that, but that's not what today is about. Today is about Michael Allen Belew.

To grow up with a brother who is 4 years older then you is kinda strange. You're not close enough in age to hang out and have the same friends, but your not young enough to be the cool baby brother. Growing up, we'd do a lot of things. We'd play sports in the front yard, which I sucked at. We'd wrestle all the time. We generally got together pretty well, until he got a car. Once he got a car all he cared about was money, and it was usually me that had to pay. He would steal my Nintendo and Super Nintendo games and sell them. That really upset me quite a bit. Once he reached high school he slacked off a bit. He ended up going to 3 different ones just because he was so bored with it. It finally reached the point where he was getting ready to graduate. A week before he ditched a class, and his dean expelled him. She had warned him, and so had my mom. She said that if he got expelled he'd have to move out. She was just trying to scare him. The day he got expelled he came home, packed up his things, and moved in with his friends family. My mom tried to stop him, but he went.

For the next few years I didn't really see him that often. He got his GED, and got 100% on it too. He decided then to move to Texas and live with our dad and go to school there. He went to the Art Institute of Dallas and got a degree in video production. I went down and visited a few times, which was actually the longest time I'd ever spent with my dad in my life. After 3 years, he moved back to Colorado. This was in 2000, so I was 19-20 and he was 23-24. Once you reach this age, the difference really doesn't matter, and we started to get along quite well. He had an idea for a movie that we would both star in, and that became his obsession. I have always wanted to be a comedian. On my 21st birthday we went to the Comedy Works and I got to see my first famous professional comedian live, Bobby Slayton. On Halloween 2001 I performed there on new talent night. I'd never really thought about being an actor though until he brought it up. He got a job working as the lead editor on the rocky mountain sports report on Fox Sports Net. It really seemed like everything was going amazingly well.

I met a girl at work that I suddenly became completely crazy about. But in December of 2001 she moved back to California with her mom, and I thought it would be the worst pain I had ever gone through because she truly was, and still is, my first and only love. That's what I thought until later that month. My brother hadn't really been eating much, and he was starting to lose some weight. He was waiting for his insurance to kick in from Fox before he went to the Dr. It finally did, and he finally did. What they found was a cancerous growth in his chest. There was some unknown tissue in his chest from when he was a fetus that was finally deciding to cause problems. He started chemotherapy in January. Things seemed to be going well. I was still grieving my loss. On February 3rd we watched the Super Bowl together. On February 4th, he had what was the best day he had had in months. He was feeling great and everything seemed like it was going to be fine. I've learned now, that's bad news when someone is sick. On the 5th I hung out with my best friend and I was taking him home when my mom called. She told me that my brothers girlfriend needed help getting him to the hospital because he was in a lot of pain. I took my friend home and went over. I helped him down the stairs and into the car. We went to the emergency room and my mom and step dad weren't far behind. We were in the waiting room for about 3 hours, everything seemed to be going good.

I was standing outside with his girlfriend and my step dad while they smoked, when my mom came running out crying. She said that a bunch of nurses had to run in the room. Her and his girlfriend went back in, and eventually they sent them out. They put us all in this family only waiting room. It was around this time his cancer Dr. showed up, and he couldn't figure out what was going on. Finally a nurse came in and said he'd stop breathing for a while but they got him to do so again. However, since he wasn't breathing for so long there might be some brain damage. I was so worried that with brain damage he wouldn't be able to attain his dream of becoming a film maker. I'm not a religious person. I don't really believe in the bible, and I don't really know who or what god is, or if he/she even exists. But at that moment, for the first and only time in my life, I preyed. "Please don't let there be brain damage. He's got so many ideas. He's totally pulled his life around. Don't do this please". All that really didn't matter about a minute later.

This is really the first time I've ever written this down, and it's really hard. It was at that time that the nurse came back in and said, "I'm sorry, we've lost him". It amazes me how quickly tears can burst from your eyes in extream cases. I never have and can't imagine ever will cry as much as I did at that moment. My mom called my dad who was driving home from somewhere and told him. I could hear him crying so loud through her phone. My step dad had to grab the phone and tell him to pull over. This really was the most devastating moment in my life.

So here we are, 4 years later. February 6th 2006. In April I will reach the day where I actually become older then my brother ever was. I have been to 4 major funerals since his, the last one pretty major, but nothing was as shocking as his. I miss him every day. I have continued to pursue acting, having been in a few productions around Colorado. But there's not enough here. I hope to move to California in July so I can get serious about it. It's because of my brother that I'll head down that path. Hopefully by moving to California I'll be able to regain my lost love as well. If he hadn't died we'd be living there already, so I feel it's right.

So when I'm excepting my first Oscar, and I'm thanking Mike Belew, now you'll know why.

So, now we're back to February 6th 2011. It has been 9 years since that day. I did move to California, and I actually worked in the TV and Movie industry for a year doing extra work. I then got into Video Game testing because I thought it was more stable (the joke was on me). At some point I lost the passion I had for stand up and acting. Maybe someday it will return, but there's just not enough of it right now for me to succeed in either of those endeavors. There are times where I feel I've let him down by essentially giving up on the dream, but I'm sure he'd understand that it's frivolous to pursue it if I'm not going to give it my all.

The pain of losing him never goes away, but eventually I had to learn to accept it and be thankful that I got to spend those last few years close to him. I will probably never win an Oscar, so I won't be able to thank him for that. However the dream is partly responsible for getting me to California in the first place, so for that I'm thankful. I've experienced a lot in the last four and a half years and met some of the most interesting people I'll ever meet because of that move. I find myself reaching a crossroads again very soon, and whatever decision I end up making, I know that he would support it so long as it makes me happy in the end.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

#10: Chapter 3: "I Know...Right?"

In the past 2 blogs I have told you about the statement that has affected my daily life for over 15 years, and I told you about the person that was most crucial to my growing up. So where did the affects of said statement and the loss of said person take me? Well for that, we need to discuss VIP #2.

I had been working at Blockbuster for about a year. When I started we had a store manager that everyone just loved and respected. However he had finally reached a point where driving way out of his way to reach a store that was extremely stressful to run finally got to him, so he asked to be transferred. They then brought in a new store manager that was younger then everyone that was working there and really shook things up. By the way, when I say the store was stressful, I mean well over 2000 rentals and returns every weekend day. If I'm not mistaken we would make at least $10,000 every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

This is the actual Blockbuster we worked at. It's amazing what you can find online.

One of the things that the new manager did was put me on the day shift. This sucked a little because all my friends worked nights. It was shortly after this that we hired 2 new girls that were seniors in high school. One of them was going to the high school that I went to (I was a senior when she was a freshman) and the other was the sister of a guy I had been in band with. She went to a different high school though. The ironic thing about them was that they were born on the same day, one in California, the other in Colorado. However that being said, they really couldn't have been much different. The girl from California that I essentially went to school with was named Denise Robb. I never really worked with her much because she worked nights. We would do inventories together and occasionally work together on the weekends, but I really didn't get to know her to well. One of the major times we worked together was on New Years Eve 2000/2001. Little did we know what that year was going to hold for us. Well, the end of it anyway.

In August of that year I went into work and she told me that we had to hang out outside of work. I having had no life (wait, having had no life like things are different now?) was fine with that. So we made plans and on August 15th 2001, we had a lunch date. We went to a hot dog restaurant she really liked called Chicago Mike's. We then went to the Denver Aquarium (Which has Tigers for some reason). Then we went bowling. I learned something that day. I had been working with the most fun girl I have ever known in life, and I was completely oblivious to it. It wasn't until later that I found out what the reasoning behind her saying we had to hang out was. Apparently, she would complain a lot at night about the fact that I was a horrible assistant manager. She actually rather despised me. Chris (my best friend, remember, from chapter 1) told her that she should get to know me as I wasn't as bad as she thought.

This is one of the tigers at the Aquarium. No they don't make them swim all the time.

Well she ended up learning that, and we ended up hanging out a lot after that. We really liked each other and I would dare say we ended up borderline dating (although we tend to debate about this to this day). We classified it as an Amish relationship at the time though. Everything was going quite well until about October. Her mother got laid off from her job, and not being able to find a new one in Colorado, had no choice but to move back to California. Denise had no choice but to go with her. I was devistated. For the first time in my life I had met a girl that I really liked, and who liked me back, and now she was leaving. In December of 2001 she moved back to California, and I had lost her. It was the hardest thing I'd ever gone through in my life.

Two months later the universe showed me what true devastation really was (that's Chapter 4, which will be written tomorrow). For the next year, I just kind of went away into an emotional haze. At some point I ended up going to California with my family, and I hung out with Denise for the day. She was dating a guy I really knew nothing about at the time. That ended up being a really bad relationship in the end. She came back to Colorado once to go to a friends graduation and we hung out. We'd talk online every now and then, but we weren't really as close as before anymore because we'd drifted apart.

Then in 2004, she invited me and Chris to go to Vegas for her 21st birthday. She was single at this time and I was finally back on the planet from my haze. I had it in my mind that we were going to pick up where we left off. Of course, that wasn't the case. She was a different person at this point. Still the most fun girl I've ever know in life, but things were just different. We did however end up seeing each other more after this though. She came to visit and stayed at my house in January 2005, (which was hard to explain to a grandmother with Alzheimer's) and I went and visited her in the summer of that year.

Chris, Denise, and I in Vegas. She's drinking out of a skull.

She had recently started dating a new guy when I went out there. While I was visiting I caused a few problems because he was a little jealous of me. I always find that hard to understand because if there was ever going to be anything between us, he wouldn't have existed in her life. But I digress. The two of us went to Disneyland and had a blasty blast. It was on the way home from that trip that I decided I couldn't keep saying goodbye to her. I knew I had to figure out some way to see her more often.

We got dressed up and went to Hollywood to see Dane Cook on Jimmy Kimmel Live. We didn't get in and ended up going to hooters and Ripley's instead.

It was then in December that my grandmother passed away. Two months later Denise came out to visit. On February 24th, 2006 our bond pretty much became cemented with each other. The two of us and Chris were going to go to an adult convention that was in town just for a few laughs. However when she woke up that morning, her stomach wasn't feeling to well. We went to a med center that her insurance was associated with, but they were getting ready to close so they gave us the run around and wouldn't see her. She was so upset about it that she just wanted to go back home. I called my mom and she convinced me to take her to the emergency room. We went to the hospital I was born at. An hour or so later I was on the phone with her mom telling her that her daughter needed to have her appendix removed.

Denise is an only child, and the most important thing in the world to her mother. She was flipping out and telling me to go tell them she needed to get on a plane and get home before any surgery was done. I did my best to calm her down, then went back in and stood by Denise's side. That's where I stayed until she went into surgery, and as soon as she got out, I resumed my post. Her family is forever greatfull for that, and her mom will always love me for it. For me the thought of leaving was never an option. Who would do that? Her mom ended up getting to my house about an hour after we returned from the hospital, and the next day they flew back to California.

Now we've reached the point where I needed to find a way to move as I had decided to do. Well if you remember I said my aunt bout me out of the portion of the house I had "owned". It was with this money that I made the move. So in July of 2006. I packed up my car, and with Chris's help, drove to California, with a stop over in Vegas.

Chris took this picture as we were driving to California. It's the reflection of my car in the hubcap of an 18 wheeler.

I ended up living with her and her mom for my first year and a half here. I will admit that I had the hope that things could go back to the way they were in 2001, but that just wasn't possible. Especially once August of 2006 rolled around.

This is one of the first pictures taken after I moved to California.

It was in this month that she went on a blind double date her friend had set up. It was on this date that she met Justin Hewitt. They got along quite well. In fact they started dating. I, being a bit more immature and delusional at the time, had a problem with this. We ended up having what I think is the only fight we've ever had because I was being a bad friend and not being supportive. Once I started to get to know Justin though, I really had no choice. I don't think I've met a nicer more caring person. After getting to know him is when I finally realized that there is no way a relationship could have ever worked between me and Denise. I'm nowhere near the man he is, and she deserves no one other then him.

When I moved out of their house, I actually ended up living with Justin in two different places over the course of two years. They are now engaged and will be getting married in October. I'm going to the bachelorette party...Jealous?

So, wait, what? Oh right. You see, once again if that whole Chapter 1 thing hadn't happened, I never would have worked at Blockbuster, never would have met Denise, and never would have been sitting here right now in an apartment in Long Beach. And if my Grandmother hadn't passed away when she did, I wouldn't have had the money to move here and bare witness to what is easily one of the greatest relationships I've ever seen in my life, and I wouldn't have been able to hang out with my bestest friend ever in life for the past four and a half years. Her, her mom, and Justin aren't just friends anymore, they're my California family.

This picture was taken just a few months ago outside the Irvine Improv. I just noticed I'm always on the left and she's always on the right.

P.S. Oh, yeah. So she is the first person I ever heard say "I know...Right?" Just one day her and her friend started saying it at work and I ended up adopting it as a result. It was after that that I started hearing it everywhere! That's not the first time I've hear her say something then a few months later it's everywhere. Coincidence? Well, yeah. That'd just be weird if it wasn't.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

#9: Chapter 2: "Hallelujah!"

When I was 6 months old, my parents had their differences and ended up getting divorced. My mother then found herself as a single 25 year old with a 4 year old and a 6 month old. What choice did she have but to move back in with her mother. 4 years later she met the man that would be my common law Step-Father (they've yet to get married but they might as well be). Needless to say, my grandmother was pretty much a major part of my life. When my mom ended up moving out, my brother and I stayed since we were in the best School district in Colorado. My brother left when he was 17, so it was just me and her. But in all honesty, I've never known a better person.

My grandmother grew up during the great depression in a house of 4 kids. She had 2 brothers and a sister. The 3 of them, plus her father all ended up being alcoholics. My grandmother was very much against drinking as a result, and believed that a majority of the country's problems were because of FDR making alcohol legal again. That's where the majority of my never having a desire to drink comes from, her constant hatred of what alcohol does to people. She married my grandfather who got polio in WWII. They had 2 daughters, my mom and my aunt. They didn't exactly have the most happy of marriages. I heard many times the story of the day it ended. My grandfather had fallen in love with his nurse at the VA hospital. He left a note on the kitchen table one day telling my grandmother that he had left to go be with her. As she would always tell the story her reaction was that she raised her hands in the air and yelled, "Hallelujah!"

My family pretty much consisted of 2 sides. I never met her older brother, and the other one died when I was young. Her sister though was the other side of the family. She had 4 boys who between them had I think 8 kids, give or take. Even though my great aunt had the most kids and grand kids, my grandmother was still the matriarch of the family. She was the strongest of all of us. No one ever met her that didn't like her.

I'm going to be honest right now. I have no idea where I'm going with this blog. I came up with this idea last week, but really didn't think it all through. I wanted to talk about my Grandmother, and what a huge influence she was on my life. About how she was really the most important person to me growing up, and how she was the strongest person I've ever known. But sadly, all of that is hard for me to remember. You see, all of that is very unfortunately overshadowed by one of the worst things that exists in this world. Something that I truly hope someday is cured.

It started slowly. In the 90's it seemed innocent enough. She would forget little things here and there. I was in high school by this time, so I wasn't as dependent on her as I had been. She was long retired by this point and was living off of social security and retirement benefits. She would go to all of my band competitions with my mom, and a lot of the football games at my school as I didn't get a car until I was 18 (my mom wouldn't let me until I had a good enough GPA for an insurance discount, and as I said in my last blog, not the best student). Slowly it seemed like more and more little things would slip her mind.

Once I graduated I had no idea what I was going to do. The summer after that I ended up spending a year at the Art Institute of Colorado in hopes of becoming a computer animator. One day in my Color Theory class (yes, that is a thing) when we all turned in a project we'd been working like a month on is when that all ended. I looked at my project, this weird pipe cleaner creature thing. Then I looked at everyone else's. There were paintings and sculptures and just all these amazing pieces of art. It was at that time I realized that I would be competing for jobs with these people, and I wasn't the artist I thought I was. I dropped out, and just kind of concentrated on working at Blockbuster.

My grandmother had always said that when she died, I would get her house, the house I had lived my entire life in. Since this was pretty much the plan, we all decided that I would just stay there, especially since it was becoming obvious that she needed someone to be there. Well, I say it was decided, but really, non of this ever came up because at no point did I ever consider moving out.

As the years went on, her memory got worse and worse. In the early 2000's it started to reach the point where she would repeat questions minutes apart from each other because she didn't remember asking them. In 2002, the most devastating event in my families history occurred (we'll be getting to that 2 blogs from now) and we all just went numb for a while. 13 months and 4 funerals later, we had finally leveled out for a while. We really didn't want to deal with much more. Luckily we got a little break from sorrow. My grandmother had basically stayed at the point she was at for a while now. It was frustrating yes, but you kind of get used to it after a while, and you just have to be patient. She didn't know she had a problem and she was happy.

It was in 2005 when things took a turn. He memory really seemed to be slipping worse. Then one night, well, I can't write about it. It's a very private and sad moment in my life that shouldn't be shared in a blog like this. I'll just say that dementia started to set in. I called my mom hysterical. I didn't know what to do. She ended up eventually calling my aunt, who was living in Florida at the time and told her that she couldn't deal with it on her own anymore. Since my aunt had had her world destroyed in Florida (that is part of 2 blogs from now also) she decided to move back to Colorado to help out. (By the way, these are the events as I had understood them to take place. That may or may not be exactly how things occurred, but the end result is all the same.)

In November of 2005, things really started to take a turn. My grandmother started spending a lot of time in the bathroom. I mean a lot. I probably shouldn't talk about this part, but it's kind of important because it was the catalyst for the end of this story. For some reason, in her mind she seemed to think she had to go to the bathroom, however she'd forget that she was already in there all day. This went on for 2 days before I said something to my mom about it, (I know, maybe to long). My aunt ended up coming over and trying to figure things out. Finally at the beginning of December they took her to the hospital to get things figured out. They ran tests on her, did a few procedures on her, and for whatever reason, this ended up being too much. The next day when I went to see her, her mind was pretty much gone. No longer was the strong matriarch of my family in front of me. She had finally been fully claimed by the disease that had been eating away at her for 10 years. Essentially what had happened was her body started forgetting how to work properly.

It was then we all decided it was best to put her in a hospice care facility, and take her off any life support. It wouldn't be fair to her to live in this condition. I believe she was there for less then a day when, on December 7th, she passed away.

I was, for the first time in my life, left all alone in the house I loved. I knew however, I was by no means ready to be a home owner, and it didn't really matter anyway, as the house was owned by not just my grandmother, but my mom and aunt as well. It was shortly after this that I came to the decision that I wanted to move to California (the reason for which is next blogs topic). My aunt wanted to move in, so she bought me out of the share of the house that I theoretically owned.

I try to remember my grandmother as the woman who was always there for me when I was growing up. As the woman who, really is most responsible for raising me. As the woman who was so strong and was the head of our family. But it is very hard to do at times. Alzheimer's Disease is a horrible thing to watch someone die from, because it takes a very long time. By the time they finally do pass, it becomes a blessing. The person you loved died years before that. If I were to ever become wealthy, that's the charity I would donate to the most, for no one should ever have to experience that. Alzheimer's is unfortunately one of the few diseases that in the long run effects the people who love and care about the person who has it more then it does the person themselves. It is a psychologically traumatic thing to witness, and I fear everyday that it might be hereditary. I do not want to see the same thing happen to my mom or my aunt, because they have all the best qualities of my grandmother, and to see them slowly wither away like she did will be so heartbreaking. I strongly hope that anyone who is reading this never has to go through that, and that someday a cure can be found.

Ok, I don't know how to end this one. It is a little different because I didn't post any pictures. I don't really have any that would fit this blog. As I was writing the blog last week I just got this urge to write about her. Once I sat down to actually do it, it didn't turn out exactly how I thought it would, but it came out how it needed to.

Next time we will get into a roller coaster of a relationship in my life that might end up being hard to publish. If I end up writing it as well as it needs to be though, it shouldn't end up being awkward at all...Oh just wait and see.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

#8: Chapter 1: "Then I'll play Clarinet."

I am going to spend the next few weeks writing blogs about 3 of the most important people in my life's history. However, today I'm going to write about the statement that completely shaped almost all aspects of my future from that point forward. There isn't a day that goes by that isn't touched by the path that was set fourth when I made this statement. If I had never uttered this phrase, there is no doubt in my mind that my life would be completely different. Friends, experiences, future decisions, careers, every aspect of my being stems from one four word answer.

Now, to reach the point in my life where I made this life changing event, we need to talk about something I had when I was in grade school, a brother (VIP #3) who was in high school. When you have an older brother in high school, they tend to start changing their wants. They have things they will have bought on impulsive whims, but later decide they want money for it. This happened quite a few times, and I would always end up buying things from him, with my mothers help of course as I was 11. One of the things I bought from him was a large keyboard. We had had a 17 key one made by Casio for years, but this one was much larger then that. I always wanted to learn how to play piano as a result of it. In the 5th grade my Elementary School had a band. I went to the audition or try out or interest meeting, whatever it was, and asked if I could play piano. They said they don't do piano but the instructor gave me the number of a woman that teaches piano. Nothing ever came of it.

The one from when we were kids was a step below this.

The next year I entered Middle School. We were given a choice of what music class to take, band or choir. I once again wanted to sign up for band in hopes of learning piano. My grandmother (VIP #1) asked, "well what if they don't teach piano like in grade school?" We had an instrument sitting on the top shelf of the closet in the living room that had been played in school by my mom, my aunt, and my brother. So, not realizing what I was about to do to my life I said something.

At that moment, 2 new realities were created. In one I said, "I guess I'll do choir then." I was in choir for 3 years of middle school, had no friends the day my social structure came tumbling down, had no where to fit in once I got to high school, never made any new friends, became a complete and total loner and ended up committing an act of violence that wouldn't even be overshadowed by the horrible massacre that occurred a few years later in the same state of Colorado... I am of course just taking wild and dramatic guesses as to what happened in that reality, because it's not the one we live in. All of this of course is only believed if you accept Einsteins theory of multiple realities caused by every decision made. I do because I've watched "Sliders".

Jerry O'Connell at his best!

No, my response to the question was, "Then I'll play Clarinet". This didn't really do anything major to my life until the second year of middle school, but we'll get to that in a moment. First we have to talk about the aforementioned crumbling of my social structure, as that really did happen in this reality. My best friend growing up was a kid that lived on the corner of my block. We hung out a lot at school and sometimes outside of school. It was really a friendship of convenience. When we got in the first grade, 2 sets of twins moved into our neighborhood and started riding our bus. We all ended up becoming friends. By the fourth grade, the two twins I was more friendly with ended up moving to Florida. The remaining twins ended up becoming close friends with a kid I really didn't get along to well with. I didn't know that things were starting to change.

As I've heard it called, "The Wooden Penis".

I had always been kind of an outsider. I was a painfully shy child and didn't talk to much until I got to know people, I still do that. Since I got glasses in Kindergarten, everyone assumed I was some kind of book worm. Actually that couldn't be further from the truth. I hated homework, and never really cared about school work. I was always an average student because I just really didn't care...I'm really getting side tracked here. Where was I? Ah yes, the day the Angry Birds hit the Pig fortress that was my social structure. One day at lunch during my first year of Middle School I walked up to my "friends" at recess. As I approached them, they all turned to me and said in unison, "Shawn, Fuck off". I questioned what they meant, they told me to get away from them, followed by the kid I didn't get along with mocking me. OK, so how does a sensitive shy 12 year old process this? By briefly trying to attack the kid, then running to a teacher in tears. This was actually the second time I had run to a teacher in tears as the first time involved a little incident.

Ya, that's exactly what happened.

It's actually kind of hard to explain but what it basically boils down to is my "friends" were spitting on this other guy for whatever reason, I don't know cause I came to the party late. Then I walked away from them because I really didn't want anything to do with it. It was at this point that the kid ran up to me, grabbed me, and spit directly in my face. Again, tears, run, teacher, dean. That's probably what made them not like me anymore.

Don't ever Google image search "Spitting face" with safe search turned off...Trust me.

So anyway, the next day when walking home with my "best friend" of 6 years (he was sick the day before) I got the strong impression that he was taking their side of it. So it was at that moment I was left with no one. I spent the rest of the year eating lunch by myself, and trying to ninja my way into groups I really didn't fit into. I got along with the popular kids and would sit at their tables sometimes, but I was never really part of the group. I was truly alone. Cut to the first day of the seventh grade. I got on the bus and there was a new kid who had just moved from Greece. He had a Fido Dido (remember him) backpack and a Clarinet. I started talking to him and we hit it off pretty good. We sat next to each other in band and eventually I ended up sitting at lunch with the other friends he had made. They were D&D players and were major outcasts. I really didn't feel like I fit in all that well with them as they had a made up god named "Horde Slayer" that they, well, didn't really worship, but they liked. (That is a pretty cool name though now that I think about it. I think I have my next City of Villains character.)

This is Fido Dido, not "Horde Slayer". Although, maybe he's both.

Finally it came to the end of eight grade. The band teacher from the High School came in and talked to us about the band program. It sounded like fun so I signed up. The first half of the year for High School band is devoted to the state marching band competition and various parades. I spent a lot of time dealing with that and getting to know new people. The biggest change though happened one day at lunch. I would eat lunch in the West cafeteria (known as the snootier of the 2) with the popular kids from my Middle School. One day as I was heading there I ran into a band guy (Jon Parker) that I had gotten to know for reasons that aren't important. (Editing for time, figured I should start). He asked where I was going, then said I should go to the other cafateria with him. I did, we sat at a table of other band kids, then did something I didn't know you could do, we went to the band room. It appeared that everyday band kids just went there to eat lunch. In the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth grade, you got to choose where your locker is. 95% of the band kids had their locker right outside the band room so it really was like a clubhouse. It was on that day that I met another guy, Fred Garlington. We started talking and really made each other laugh and liked a lot of the same things, most importantly he was a gamer. He quickly became my best friend. I finally found a place that I fit in.

Now, cut to the beginning of tenth grade. I walked into my first class, World History, and noticed a guy I had seen in band. I sat down next to him, found out his name (Chris Horan) and we started talking about the Simpsons and various other things. Two periods later I walked into Bio-Physical Science, and there he was again. Having two classes sitting next to the same person really bonds you together. So finally I had four close real friends, and a place I belonged, and it was all because I chose to play Clarinet.

This is my senior year band picture I was recently tagged in on Facebook.

Now, lets fast forward out of High School (Someday I may tell some stories from then, but that's really not the point of this blog...I know, "What is?"). Fred and Jon went off to College, and Chris and I spent the summer not sure what our futures held. It was really at this point that he took the title of my bestest best friend. He got a job at Blockbuster Video during the summer. I started working at the Cherry Hills country club answering the phones on the weekend. I hated that job though because it was a lot of pressure. Dealing with people who are paying over $100,000 a year to be a member was a little more then I could take. Plus it was only 2 days a week. I went and applied at Sam Goody, and got the run around with them until finally they said they hired 8 new people and didn't really tell me. I was pissed so I went to Blockbuster to vent. While there, the assistant manager overheard me and asked if I'd like to apply there. I did and about a week later I started my new job. This was in 1999. About a year and a half later, I was an assistant manager myself. It is at this point that I need to put the story on hold, for you see in 2000 a girl started working there that would eventually become VIP #2, so I will have to save it for 2 blogs from now when I get to her.

Needless to say, if not for making my life changing statement, I never would have been in band in High School, thus I never would have met Chris, thus I never would have worked at Blockbuster, thus I never would have met her. You will see how all of this resonates in my everyday existence once I get to her story, but for now I am done with part one of this loose four part blog ark that will culminate in a re-posting of a blog I wrote on February 6th, 2005 on MySpace. It will be an emotional end to this series.

Anyway, next time we will discuss Betty McDonald, my grandmother and VIP #1 in my 3 person VIP bloggy tribute. So until then...Um...I'm gonna go work on a sign off.

P.S. In High School there was a class called Piano Lab, which it never really dawned on me to take. I kind of regret that now what with Rock Band 3 and all.