Tuesday, May 1, 2012

the decade that was: 2008

“If I live every moment?
I won’t change any moment
That’s still a part of me and you.

I will never regret you!
Still the memory of you,
Marks everything I do … ooooooh …

Can’t waste time, so give me a moment –
I realize that nothing’s broken.
No need to worry about everything I’ve done;
Live every second like it was my last one.

Don’t look back – got a new direction!
I loved you once – I needed protection.
You’re still a part of everything I do --
You’re on my heart just like a tattoo.

Just like a tattoo?
I’ll always have you …”
-- “Tattoo” by Jordin Sparks, the 30th most charted song of 2008 according to Billboard ...


If I could rewind my life and relive any portion of it?  Well, if we’re being honest, I’d probably pick the fall of 1998, my last semester of college, as fun as fun can get*.  But in my “adult” life?  I’d pick that magical nine month stretch from early April to the end of December 2008.  I can honestly say, as I begin typing this latest “The Decade That Was” recap … that 2008 was a great year.  A year that began with Clinton and Obama staffers offering to carry my luggage to my hotel room … ended by seeing the Kansas freaking Jayhawks win a second consecutive bowl game, against former Jayhawks coach Glen Mason’s Minnesota Golden Gophers in some bowl game in Arizona. 

(*: I am so overdue to post a “fall of 1998” rewind post.  Between spending the “Monday Night Meltdown” at the official denver broncos watching party, the “greatest beer run in history”, and the hysterical “Cocoa Vineet” that sat on top of the entertainment center, yeah, the fall of 1998 was the funnest period of my life.  But the last 9 months of 2008 are at least in the ballpark ..)

The 360 some odd days in between?  Were unquestionably the funnest 360 some odd days of my life.  Save for that whole “eviction night” deal we dropped on “Deadbeat Ex Roommate” … but even that wound up with a fun, hysterical result in the end …

* The year began (shockingly, I know) with me on the couch, watching Strokey Dick Clark, clutching the bottle of champagne like it was my best friend, and he was a wounded soldier.  What can I say, I’m pretty boring and uneventful on New Year’s Eve.

* The year really began two days later, on my 31st birthday, as I loaded up the Blazer and took off mid-afternoon for my cousin Brooke’s wedding in Milwaukee that weekend.  My original plan was to leave early, make it to Milwaukee (or as close as possible), and then hit the hotel bar to watch the KU / Virginia Tech Orange Bowl that night.  I didn’t get out of the office until 3ish.  After enduring three of the most boring hours drive known to man, “highlighted” by listening to Sean Hannity* interviewing Terry McAuliffe on his radio show, I finally reached the suburbs of Des Moines.

(*: in the interest of full disclosure, there is NOONE in the national media I despise more than Sean Hannity.  In case you don’t know me, I’m a political moderate – I’m a Clinton Democrat.  Left leaning on social issues, hard right on economic issues, and I can see both sides on foreign policy.  Sean Hannity?  Is an asshat.  Seriously, his picture should be next to the word on Wikipedia.  The man is an asshat.  Cue even my right-leaning friends nodding in solid agreement at the statement that “Sean Hannity is an asshat” …)

The full recap of the weekend can be read here.  Do not, however, read my “joy” in Mrs. Clinton losing to be an endorsement of Mr. Obama.  It was anything but – I just thought it was hysterical that he played “99 Problems (But the B*tch Ain’t One)” to “celebrate” his triumph.  I have donated to exactly two campaigns in my life – Mr. Gore in 2000, Mrs. Clinton in 2008.  Hillary, chica?  Anytime you’re ready to run again?  I’ve got the checkbook ready, and the pen in hand …

* Upon return home from a great weekend in Milwaukee, well … uum … gee … how to put this delicately … between Dusty and I, we’d finally had enough of “Deadbeat Ex Roommate”.  I had been living at the Stubbs house for almost 9 months at this point … and Ben had paid exactly $0.00 towards his share of the rent and bills since I moved in.  (To his credit, he did somehow come up with $75 once for groceries.  Not sure how or why that happened … but I believe in being fair.  And he did chip in that $75.  Once.  In nine months.  Excuse me, I need to pour a stiff cocktail to continue typing, considering he still hasn’t paid $0.00 towards either me or Dusty since “Eviction Night” … or before “Eviction Night” for that matter …)

So me and DJ took him out to dinner (if I remember right, we went to Applebees on 350 in Raytown), and made him the most fair, generous offer two guys struggling for money could make to someone screwing them over when it came to said money.  We offered to forget every cent he owed us … provided that, going forward, he didn’t miss any payments.  Ben owed me hundreds of dollars, he owed DJ thousands of dollars, and here we are, willing to forgive and forget, provided he pulls his weight going forward.  He agreed, and we figured the problem was solved.

Christ, were we wrong.

* MLK weekend, I watched some hoops (I vaguely remember a Boston / San Antonio game), and at some point, DJ and Megan got back from a weekend at her folks’ lake house … with happy brownies!  To be fair, DJ making “brownies” is like me making a libation – it’s gonna be too strong for the average bear, but perfect for myself.  Uum, let’s just say, I don’t recall the rest of Monday, Tuesday, or most of Wednesday after eating two brownies, because as I (stupidly) noted after eating the first one: “it’s not working, I still feel normal”.  Note to self: when “The Kid” makes a brownie?  Stick to one, and ONLY one, if you want to avoid forgetting a solid 72 hours of your life.  Six months later, I’d “repay” the “kindness” of DJ at the 311 / Snoop Dogg concert … but we’ve got a ways to go to get there.

* (pure sarcasm voice) Not much noteworthy happened over the next month.  Or at least, noteworthy enough to type about as I, uuh, type this.

* (more pure sarcasm voice) The biggest thing was January 31st: the return of “Lost” from its seven month hiatus.  Megan and I planned a huge “Lost” party for the season premiere, right down to me buying Skyy Vodka (since it was a plane that crashed, after all … and only because Berbiglia on 103rd didn’t have any Polar Ice).  We actually managed to get Dusty to watch the show for a whole season (and season four is the most grousely underrated season of the show, especially the epic ninth episode, “The Shape of Things to Come”, which in my currently underway re-watch of the series on Netflix, I’d argue is “Lost”’s finest hour (and a couple minutes).)

* The only thing from February I can recall* is the last weekend of the month, I get home on a random Friday night, it’s snowing, it’s cold … and we have no power.  (Let me shut up the peanut gallery early – YES we had paid the bill).  So DJ and I wound up heading over to Megan’s for the night – DJ for legitimate reasons (he was dating her, after all), me for completely personal reasons (she had a heater that worked).  The night wound up being the three of us watching my Incubus DVD on the laptop while, uum, getting in the proper mood to listen to Incubus.  Read into that what you will.  (Fine, fine – we might have smoked something.  Ok, DID smoke something.  Let.  It.  Go.) 

The funniest thing I remember about that night?  Was Dusty randomly asking “you mind if I smoke, honey?” about 50 minutes after he’d lit up, and we were all enjoying what he had.  Way to think ahead champ.  Way to think ahead!

(*: this is an abject lie.  Come on, nothing major happened in February 2008?  That’s an abject lie!  I remember every detail of Thursday February 21st, when “My Special Little Guy” was born.  I got a call driving in to work that morning that it was “go time” … and three hours later, I was crying while holding my nephew for the first time.  As of this posting, I have no kids of my own that I have been made aware of, or that I am financially providing for … so holding the A-Man for the first time, was the happiest moment of my life that didn’t involve a member of the opposite sex, but still only lasted a minute or two (rimshot!)  Oy.  Told ya I can make a sex joke out of anything …)

* The other thing from that last weekend in February?  Is that we never saw the other roommate.  He was there when the power went out on Friday, opted to go to meet some friends at a bar instead of head out with us … and (jimmy buffett voice) come Monday?  It was not alright.  Turns out he got popped for a bullsh*t DUI, and spent the weekend in jail until someone bailed him out.

That weekend put him on the clock – since he hadn’t made good on January and February’s costs, we told him he had to be gone by the end of March.  I thought we were very fair.  In hindsight?  Should have kicked his ass to the curb the second we met him*.

(*: in the words of Richard Marx, “I should’ve known better!”  I’d had two encounters with the guy prior to moving in, and he’d flaked on me both times – he backed out of the Projekt Revolution concert, then after lobbying me for two weeks, I somehow got Nancy to sign off on giving him Randy’s ticket for the Colts game in the fall of 2004.  Yup, he flaked, about ten minutes before kickoff.  Excuse me while I bash my head repeatedly against the wall …)

* March was relatively uneventful.  DJ and I were trying to milk the DirecTV bill (in Deadbeat’s name) as long as we could.  Sadly, service got cut off a week before we booted him … so of course I had to once again pay the bill (as I had the previous ten months).  Had to pay it – KU was making its run at a championship of a lifetime, after all.

* The last weekend of March, was the last time I saw Deadbeat until a completely out of left field meeting four years later*.  We watched the KU / Davidson game together.  When KU won, I reacted exactly as Bill Self did – I stood up, threw both fists into the air in celebration, then knelt and pounded the floor.  The monkey was off the back – KU had FINALLY returned to its rightful place amongst college basketball’s royalty.  I was one happy monkey.

(*: he somehow managed to get an interview at “current employer” last year, because my boss at the time and I both knew him, and what the hell, why not.  The look on his face when I walked into the interview?  I wish to God I’d had my phone on me to snap a quick pic to send to DJ.  I swear to God, he shit his pants, and I’m not editing that, he shit his fucking pants.  I think he knew he wasn’t getting the job.  Still, I wish I’d had something to capture his facial expression.  Let’s just say, when someone says they had a “Come to Jesus” moment?  His expression at the moment he saw me, was a “Come to Jesus” moment.  The sad thing is, if he hadn’t lied his ass off in said interview?  I would have hired him.  He’s a deadbeat in real life, but he knows his sh*t.  That, and if I decided to sue him for moneys owed, at least I would have known who to file the garnishment order with …)

* So we finally reach “The Day” … Monday, March 31 …

* I get home about 6pm.  I fully expected to see at least a U-Haul in the driveway.  Instead, I walk in, and find nothing has been moved, and “Deadbeat Ex Roommate” is leaving to go play softball that night.  Uum, you’re supposed to be vacating the premises dude?  So, being the passive-non aggressive person I am, I text Dusty that “he’s off to play softball, hasn’t moved anything yet”.

Not even 2 seconds later, my phone is ringing.  I try to rationally, calmly, sanely explain to DJ what’s going on (namely, “Deadbeat” was calling our bluff).  What happened next?  Was arguably DJ’s finest hour.

(stevo) so that’s where we stand.
(dusty) (audible sigh of disgust)
(dusty) (audibly pissed as hell) can you do a favor for me?
(stevo) (somewhat scared) uuh, sure champ!
(dusty) (very audibly pissed off) meet me at Lowe’s in 20 minutes.
(stevo) (trying to confirm the request) Low –
(dusty) (loses last semblance of composure) ARE YOU F*CKING DEAF?  LOWE’S!  20 F*CKING MINUTES!  (click!)
(stevo) (to priest and dukey) guys, outside!  I’m going to Lowe’s apparently …

Gotta give the Kid credit – he wanted me to meet him because I had the Blazer, and could transport a new storm door home safely (along with three sets of locks).  Also, he’d reached his breaking point – it was (nsync voice) “bye bye bye” time for “Deadbeat Ex Roommate”.

* That night, Megan came over to “supervise” replacing the basement storm door.  I use that term as “loosely” as I can … because I was completely hammered, and DJ was so pissed off that he couldn’t see straight, while Megan got a good laugh at both of our expenses.  Eventually, they made their way upstairs, and I volunteered to wait up for “Deadbeat” to show up.  (I knew exactly what he was planning to do – he knew both DJ and I were usually asleep by 11ish, so he was going to “wait us out”.  Sucks for him that we knew his plan, and changed every lock on the house).

DJ wrote out a note on the Owe Board on the fridge that outlayed BC’s options – either he could move everything out right then, or come back over the weekend when one of us would “supervise” the moveout.  Either way, he wasn’t staying another night.

And to this day?  I have very few regrets in life … but damn, I wish DJ had stayed up until Ben got back.  About 11:45, I saw the headlights in the driveway.  I heard the key in the (changed) lock.  I finally let him in, and this was the conversation:

(stevo) read the owe board.
(ben) what?
(stevo) read the owe board, then let me know what you want to do, because I’m f*cking tired and have to work tomorrow.
(ben) (reads owe board message)
(ben) (in genuine shock) really?
(stevo) you said you’d be out March 31st.  It’s March 31st.  (in an extremely rare show of spine on my part) Get out!
(ben) (in genuine “what do I do?!?!” shock)
(ben) well, what am I supposed to do?
(stevo) shit if I care.  Just get out.

And with that … he actually cried.  It’s one of the proudest moments of my life – I made “Deadbeat Ex Roommate” cry.  (OK, fine, that’s a lie – he actually started crying after he called his sister, and his sister basically said “hell no!” to him staying with her for a few days.  But still, it was a neat moment, if you’re into people getting what they truly deserve.  And after a few thousand wasted dollars, I was all in on the “getting what he deserved” part of the night.)

He spent the rest of the night moving his stuff out (he managed to find a few friends to assist him), and with that?  The debacle was over.  Look it, Ben is one helluva nice guy, and to this day, if he showed up for a tailgate, I’d at least say hello and offer him a beer.  (Before cold-cocking him.  Yeah, sometimes, you gotta rely on the sucker punch … especially if you’re not quite six feet tall, barely 160 pounds, and haven’t lifted weights a day in your life.)  But he’s the biggest deadbeat I’ve ever had the misfortune to know.  And booting him?  Was an absolute good.

* Also an absolute good?  Was the end of the week, aka “Saturday”, aka “KU vs North Carolina”.  I made an executive decision on that Saturday morning – I woke up, walked into the main room … saw the TV we were using at that point (DJ’s bedroom TV), and decided “I can’t watch KU / UNC on this”.  So off to Target I went, and wound up buying a brand new flat-screen that fit perfectly on the bay window ledge in the old main room.

(It also didn’t hurt that I’d won $700 the previous night at the Isle playing pai gow.)

* Possibly the finest moment of my career as a KU fan:

(ku) (leads 38-14)
(billy “fudge” packer) it’s over Jim!  This game is over!

I blew off the TA reunion get-together / poker night at Hadley’s to watch this game by myself, because it meant that damned much to me.  And to see the Rat Bastard blown out of the building not even twelve minutes into the game … was pretty sweet.  But not half as sweet as what was to come 48 hours later.

* Because KU faced Memphis for the national title.  Trailed by nine with 2:12 to go.  Trailed by 3 with :09 to go.  Then forced overtime, and won it in overtime by a comfortable margin.  Again, because I believe in being honest about all things … here’s how things unfolded to Mario Chalmers’ tying three pointer, as best I remember it:

(stevo) (collapses to floor, curls up in fetal position)
(stevo) (pounding floor with closed fist)
(stevo) (crying uncontrollably for four minutes)
(dusty / megan) (looking on with a “is he really this happy … or is he retarded?” look of confusion)
(stevo) (after four minutes of crying) (raises fists and starts pumping them) YES!!!!!
(megan) he’s kinda scaring me.
(dusty) no shit.

I know I’ve “joked” for years about how I’d react if the Chiefs ever reach a Super Bowl, especially if they do it at Arrowhead.  (Long story short: you’re gonna need a forklift to get me out of my seat … and that’s three days after the win.  Cue “The Voice of Reason” also needing a forklift to get him out of his seat, 9 rows and one section to the left of me … and yes, that is probably the only time “to the left of me” will ever be used to describe Gregg.)  Let’s just say, KU’s epic victory over Memphis is the closest I’ve ever come to living out my ultimate sports fantasy.  (See folks, I’m not greedy – I’d settle for a Super Bowl appearance.  I don’t need the win, just the appearance.)

* The next morning (Tuesday) was opening day for the Royals … and it was miserable.  It was in the 40s, raining, not the kind of day you want to spend outdoors.  So of course, a huge group of us headed out to the K to tailgate and enjoy the day.  And it was a fun day – in many ways, it was the third-to-last “great tailgate” for the original “Family”, as we took to calling ourselves for awhile.  (I know it’s been four years, but I still forget if I’m the husband or the mistress.  Either way, son of a bitch, was 2008 fun at times …)

* You’re damned right Kansas City’s finest won “American Idol” in 2008!  David Cook, take a bow! 

* Indy time!  Scott Dixon won the 2008 500, and it was a pretty sweet race.  Poor Vitor Meira – yet another second place finish at the greatest place on earth.  (I believe it was his fourth.)  Unlike the prior year, Indy was gorgeous in 2008 – about 70 degrees, not a cloud in the sky.  The 2008 500 is the last time I’ve been to a race in Indy (to now, anyways).  Hey, today is May 1st!  I still have time to make this year’s 500, if I can find someone up for the journey …

* The second-to-last great tailgate of “The Family”?  Was a random Sunday in early June.  I know we met Heath and Sarah out at the K at some point that morning, and I polished off a full bottle of Cuervo margaritas.  I also remember this morning, because for some reason, I couldn’t sleep the night before, and wound up making a trip to the gas station to get the paper, and wound up being Mr. Anti-Social and reading said paper on the front deck for like an hour, until DJ was like “uuh, where’s Stevo?” as he was cooking breakfast.

* So allow me to use that, to segue into the greatest compliment I can pay someone (ok, fine, it’s not, but work with me), and it is this: you have not lived until you’ve had one of Dusty’s eggs benedict.  I’m not really sure how or when he started making them … but sweet f*cking Jesus, are they good!  I (allegedly) joke with “The Kid” that so long as I get one weekend a year where I crash at his place and get some eggs benedict for breakfast, all is right in the world … only, it’s not a joke.  I miss those things so freaking much.  If I ever win the lottery, I’m tossing a couple hundred thousand Dusty’s way to open a restaurant that makes eggs benedict, lasagna, and dark meat turkey.  Whatever you may think about “The Kid”, and God knows I’ve had my moments where I want to take a tire iron to his skull … the dude can flat out cook.

* Hey, wait a second … some second-rate drunken stoned hack launched a blog in early July of 2008.  Oh.  Wait.  That’s me.  I mean, that’s me!  Who knew that nearly four full years later, I’d have exactly ONE member that follows me!   In all seriousness, I know a lot of people read this (thanks for the emails, seriously), but feel free to become a subscriber of this site.  If only to stroke my out-of-control ego.

* The highlight of the summer of 2008 was one of two things: either (a) me and Dusty spending two straight 105 degree afternoons baking at the K for meaningless Royals / White Sox games (ok, that ain’t it) … or (b) the 311 / Snoop Dogg concert at Sandstone.  I recapped it here.  It was the last great funday for the original “Family”, and damn, did it rock.  Right down to Brent wearing his t-shirt like a freaking terrorist turban.  I opened this post by noting that if I could relive any point in my life, the middle six months of 2008 would be at the top of the list?  This night, would be one gigantic reason why.  It was epically fun.

* Sadly for me, happily for her, Megan left for a two year teaching gig in Berlin in August.  You can read the recap of her fun adventures here.

* As always, I’m a political junkie, and you can read my thoughts on the DNC and RNC from four years ago by clicking on the various links referenced in this sentence. 

* Also going on at that time?  Team Safari Bushwhackers was winning the south OP regional trivia championship, thanks to the category I was born to sweep (“TV Sitcom Theme Songs”), and because between me and Gregg, you ain’t beating us in a trivia contest.

* Then came the perfect day: Sunday, September 28,2008.  I can’t put it any better – it wasa perfect day.

* But did I say “perfect day” to describe September 28th?  Well, three days later, was even better, as this conversation had gone down the week before:

(dj) hey, wanna join a bowling league?
(stevo) sure, what the hell.
(dj) they say there’s some hot girls in this league.
(stevo) (jaw hitting floor) uum, you’re aware we’re joining a bowling league, right?
(dj) I trust my source.

* Also going down that first week of October?  My worst week professionally of all time, resulting in me telling our regional VP to literally “go f*ck yourself!” in our week end meeting.  You can read the recap here.  (Note: I kinda like how I’m recapping a year, where over half of it is easily available for anyone to click and read.  Definitely keeps the page count on said year’s recap down …)

* The rest of October was kind of non-descript … other than we took an idea hatched in a bar in Wisconsin, and applied it to our real life.  Yup, we adopted a NBA team!  In this case, the Milwaukee Bucks!  You can click and read why we decided on Milwaukeeor click and recap our first Bucks watching party, whatever’s clever.  (And yes, “shut up and NO!” is still one of the damned funniest phrases Dusty has ever come up with in his life.)

* Obviously, the major news from early November was President Obama’s historic victory, as this incredible nation we call home overcame every ounce of racism and restraint it knew to propel into office the first non-white male in its history to hold ultimate power.  I didn’t vote for Mr. Obama in 2008, and I sure as all hell won’t be voting for him come November … but good for us, for proving that anyone truly can be President of this nation.

* Mid November saw an epic concert at the Bottleneck in Lawrence: 2 ½ hours of Matt Nathanson, with me, DJ, Damien, Mallory, Meghan, Heath and Sarah, and Dana, and God knows I’m forgetting someone. 

* The other highlight of November was the KU / MU showdown at Arrowhead.  You can read about the epic KU victory (the final one, football wise, over Mizzou, and God bless it, is that a painful admission to type, please, KU athletic department, reinstate this rivalry!) by clicking on the link, as well as the awesome Thanksgiving weekend that preceded the game. 

And yes, I still get a little tingle of excitement when I get a “we need brown sugar” text …

* I guess the first “Stevo Looks Back On His Life” post I ever, uuh, posted, was on the 10th anniversary of the only legitimate decision I’ve ever had to make in my life.  I’ve made choices since that day (and before that day as well) that I ain’t proud of … but the decision to move back to KC?  I still wouldn’t change for anything. 

Especially because of the two chicas I had the honor and privilege of meeting on October 1, 2008. 

* Mid-December saw huge change come to one aspect of my life: Carl Peterson “resigned” as the Chiefs general manager.  My thoughts on the resignation can be read by clicking on the link.  Today?  I feel about the same as I did on that late December day, riding home with DJ: I wanted to grab a bottle of champagne to celebrate … all that Carl meant to this team.  Yes, he overstayed his welcome, to be honest, by probably two years, maybe three – he certainly should have resigned after the 2006 season, and probably should have left when Dick Vermeil left after 2005.

But here’s the inescapable truth Chiefs fans – we’d be rooting for another team right now (or, worse yet, our own team playing somewhere else) if Carl hadn’t arrived when he did.  Carl (and Marty) saved the NFL in Kansas City.  For that, I will always love Carl Peterson.  And that’s that.

* Me and DJ got one last visit from Megan over the Chrismukkah holiday, as she swung by one night to shoot the sh*t and … well, just be there, since she was home for the Christmas holiday.  Look it "Self Proclaimed Champ" ... I loved LP, and I adore Kellie … but Megan will always have a special place with me.  Maybe it’s the love of “Lost”, maybe it’s the love of “Friday Night Lights”, definitely it’s the “wait, a night seeing Jimmy “JJ Evans” Walker AND playing games at Dave and Buster’s afterwards?  I am SO F*CKING IN!” night from October 2007 (what can I say, I remember good memories) … but somehow, her last visit totally ended the year on a perfect note.

* The year ended with a stunner – I wasn’t sitting on my couch at 8pm, ready for “Strokey” Dick Clark!  I was actually on Brent’s couch, watching the KU / Minnesota Insight Bowl.  I made it to 10:30pm before heading home, to close the year out as I always do: on the couch, champagne bottle in hand, “Strokey” Dick Clark on the television.  God bless it, I am not ready to let go of this yet …

* So to close, let me say this: 2008 was the best year of my life … even though, in many ways, it should have been my worst.  We evicted a roommate and good friend.  Senator Clinton not only lost the nomination, she probably ensured she will never assume the role (that I) believe she was born to play, the leader of the free world.

But my favorite cousin (sorry Kristin) got married to the guy of her dreams (in a brewery to boot!), my brother and his wife gave birth to “my special little guy”, someone who even to this day draws tears in my eyes every time I see him, and he asks me “’Teve, can we …”  Yes, yes we can champ.  The Chiefs / broncos game?  As epic as they come.  And October 1st?  If I was to rank “greatest days of my life”, October 1st, 2008 has to be in the upper ninety, to steal a soccer term there.  (dusty voice) nice one Stevo!

“You’re still a part of everything I do,
You’re on my heart just like a tattoo,
Just like a tattoo,
I’ll always have you –
I’ll always have  you …”

If 2012 is even half as great as 2008 was?  It’s gonna be one helluva year …

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