I wish you were a stranger – I could disengage.
Say that we agree, and then never change.
Soften a bit, until we all just get along.
But that’s disregard.
Find another friend! Then you discard,
As you lose the argument in a cable car,
Hanging above as the canyon comes between …
Everyone knows? I’m in
Over my head!
Over my head!
With eight seconds left in overtime?
She’s on your mind!
She’s on your mind! …”
-- “Cable Car (Over My Head)” by The Fray … the number one song on the adult contemporary charts, ten years ago this week.
Different religions judge things on different timelines. For example, the Jewish faith teaches things in a seven year cycle – that every seventh year is a “Year of Jubilee”, when things for all intents and purposes reset to zero.
I’m not Jewish. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
So … I tend to judge things on a ten year cycle.
In case you doubt me, one of the very first posts on this site, was looking back at a decision I made ten years prior, to shun remaining in the Metroplex post-college, and instead return to this incredible metropolitan area most of you reading this share with me, known as Kansas City.
Ten years ago last week – Wednesday, July 5, 2006 – I received a phone call that, for better or worse, changed my life forever.
Even if it took, until four days later, for that epic change to kick in.
Ten years ago last week, I received a call from a company then known as Universal Underwriters Group *, informing me that they wanted to hire me, for the reinsurance specialist position I had interviewed for, exactly one week earlier **.
I immediately said yes.
And a couple days later, on Monday July 10, 2006, I began my tenure with “company I work for”.
I walked out the door ten years later on July 5, 2016, a little bit before 4pm, knowing that I was going to be off on PTO until next Tuesday. My official ten year anniversary occurred during my mini-summer staycation ***.
I’d be lying to each and every one of you, if I said that I thought I’d officially hit ten years, as recently as six weeks ago.
(*: as of July 1, UUG no longer officially exists. In the interest of seeing part of year eleven, I will keep the new name private, and simply refer to who I work for as “company I work for”. Although for once, I think this post is going to be a positive reflection, on my opinions of “company I work for”. Jesus, there’s an upset for the ages.)
(**: I have NEVER nailed an interview, like I did that one, with my former boss Steve, and former co-worker Carol. I knew the moment I walked out, I was getting that job. And sure as sh*t itself, when I got home about twenty minutes later? HR was on the phone, asking me to agree to submit to a drug test. As opposed to the interview with another reinsurer back in late March 2013, in my attempt to move back to Dallas and leave the ugliness of a few years behind – I knew the moment that interview began, it was not going to end well. So kids, here’s a lesson for you: when a sh*ttacular interview isn’t even in the Top Three Worst Moments of a Weekend ****? You KNOW it’s a bad weekend.)
(***: this past weekend was beyond awesome. Thanks for asking. Half our Sioux Falls friends came in for four days of beer, whiskey, poolside chatter, and trips to everyone’s favorite Lounge. I had no complaints. The other half get in in two weeks; my liver is already threatening to go on strike.)
(****: topping said interview gone horribly wrong, in order: (3) worst cold / flu I’ve had since at least 2009, that knocked me down for half the week to come, (2) KU blows a 7 point lead down the stretch, and falls in overtime to Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen, and (1) “The Fatal Conversation”. (It's Number Ten.) As Vice President Biden would say: “that’s a failure! That’s a helluva failure!”)
When I started, I sat on the seventh floor, right across from the bathrooms, between Storm and Pat. As I noted a couple months ago, I was Number Eighty One in accounting and finance … the last new hire UUG made in that department, before the layoffs began in February 2007.
When I started, “The Voice of Reason” and I were in (hang on, carry the six …) year seven of the “Joey and Chandler” years of our lives. Mrs. Reason was in the picture, but not yet engaged. My parents had both just retired after decades of public service.
(I recapped 2006, which gun to my head, is still the best year of my life, a long time ago on this site. As opposed to 2012, which not only is without question – (allard baird voice) without question! – now the worst (somehow topping 2004)? I wouldn’t recap that sh*ttacular 366 days if you did put a gun to my head.)
I was coming off one of the funnest weekends of my life – the final “Gregg and Steve Blow Up the Backyard BeerBBQ Bonanza”, in which yes, we literally did set the back yard on fire *****. That is not an urban legend – we literally burned not just the upper half of “The 23330” … we burned half our neighbor Gary’s yard too. Somehow, he was OK with it. Gotta love a man who can tolerate insanity in a cul-de-sac.
When I started, “Lost” had yet to premiere, “ER” was still going strong, “Grey’s Anatomy” was a bubble show, and “The OC” was still pop culture relevant. “American Idol” had Taylor Hicks as its champion.
When I started, the Royals were entering Year Twenty One in the Wilderness, the Chiefs were about to inaugurate the Herm Edwards Era, the Jayhawks were coming off their second straight first-round loss in the tournament, Eldrick T. Woods had just not only gone three straight majors without a title, he’d missed a cut in a major for the first time (at Winged Foot … where Phil blew his single best shot at a US Open Championship to date). Sam Hornish Jr. was your Indy 500 champion (still the greatest race I’ve ever attended), Tony Stewart was your defending Cup champion …
Folks? My way of saying, ten years?
Is a helluva long time.
(*****: Last Saturday was the tenth anniversary of that night. In order, the five greatest moments, as I recall them:
5. Normally, I’d credit both Mr. Reason and I for anything that happened at The 23330 … but this one is on me. Matchette Liquors literally sold us everything at cost for that party – not just the kegs, but the liquor too. In a not-even-remotely-surprising development? Matchette Liquors ceased to exist barely a year after I moved from western Shawnee to South KC. And in a not-even-remotely-surprising development? Barnyard Liquors is still going strong, nine years after I moved out to south KC. The lesson? Damned if I know.
4. The dogs. Poor Priest. Poor Phogger. Let’s just say, they didn’t like fire, as much as they liked snow.
3. The fire itself. I thought we’d hit the pinnacle when we blew up the watermelon the previous year with fireworks, and chunks of it landed in our neighbors yard across the cul-de-sac … when we shot it off in our back yard. But man, it’s not every day you can burn close to an acre, thanks to a roman candle war gone ridiculously right.
2. Mrs. Reason chewing my ass out for smoking a medicinally-legal product with our next door neighbor up on the deck that night during the festivities, because “can’t you see (a fellow party goer) is pregnant? Have you no respect?” Mrs. Reason said this? While puffing down a Marlboro. I love ya chica, I really do … but damn girl. #hypocrite. Also #yesalcoholwasinvolved.
And as an honorable mention, I also got my ass chewed out for “stealing Mrs. Reason’s Bacardi” the next morning. Ask anyone who knows me girl – hell, ask your husband! I do NOT drink rum, and I do NOT drink gin! Anything else? Blame me for it. Especially if it’s whiskey or vodka. But not rum, and definitely not gin. If anyone stole your Bacardi, it was Phil or Brett when they arrived for RaceDay a few hours later … but it wasn’t me.
1. And yes, this urban legend is true also – I was so drunk when I stumbled to bed about 2am … that I didn’t make it into bed. (I had to get up in four hours for the IRL race at the Speedway that afternoon.) I think I tried to fall into said bed. I failed. I passed out on the floor of my bedroom. Somehow, I set my alarm … because when it went off at 6am? Both Priest and Phogger were lying next to me on the floor in their usual position, like the floor was the bed. You gotta love those two. “Hey, if he’s so sh*t faced he thinks the floor is the bed? We’ll roll with it!”)
I worked in the initial position for a little over four years – from July 10, 2006, to July 31, 2010. I endured (I think) five direct report managers in those years: Belk, Teresa, Susan, Lucy, and Brad. Each of them made me better at my job, than I was before reporting to them. I think that’s a great thing. And each of them I’m still friends with to this day … albeit some closer friends than others.
I didn’t have to move on from that initial position. Despite some lows that would drive any person to drink, most of it was highs. I had (and still somehow enjoy) the respect of upper management from that area of the company ******. (Note: I think it’s because, as our former VP of Finance famously noted, “Not even God would volunteer to do your job!”. In his defense? He was right. He also sat about ten seats to the right of me at Chiefs games. I think that’s why I hate the 2007 and 2008 seasons so much – I couldn’t properly “deal” with a 6-26 squad, with my ultimate boss sitting within handshake distance of me.)
But in late May of 2010, my former boss from Transamerica ran into me in the elevator lobby. I had no idea she’d been hired at “company I work for”. She had no idea I worked there. We quickly arranged a lunch date, and she mentioned that “department I work for now” was about to undergo a radical change, and instead of being a runoff division, become a leading division. She needed a reinsurance person. Would I be interested?
I interviewed in mid June 2010. I started in my current position on August 3, 2010. And while I've cycled through a few managers these last nearly six years -- in order, I believe, it goes Sharon, Kathy, Belk again, Kathy again, Belk again, "Person in Mercer Island", and finally (at least for a few more weeks) Kathy yet again. (This is at least -- at least -- the fifth time I've directly reported to her, across multiple companies. The true irony? She hired my brother fifteen years ago, at the company he still works for, right before she left that company for Transamerica. (little kids voice) "It's a small world after all!")
While I've cycled through a few bosses, have risen to a low level position of semi-influence (a meteoric rise in sixteen years!!!), have managed to sit on at least four different floors over the last few years (amazingly, I've been in my spot on five for almost three years now ... after cycling through eleven different cubicles in seven years, across seven floors. The only
building floor in my office I have never worked on? The first. Figures), while I still somehow have at least most folks' respect in positions that matter?
I have to admit, in the words of U2: "I still haven't found what I'm looking for".
That, or (former friend voice) "The Frye!" are right: I am in over my head.
And that about sums up, the journey to the tenth anniversary.
(******: this is a very good thing, given the organization re-uuh-organization we’re going through right now. I’ll once again be dealing with the finance folks in Chicago, instead of Seattle. Come October 1? #stupiding is over! And please, everyone reading this, save for a couple people who know what #stupiding means? Be damned glad you never had, to deal with #stupiding.)
I have a lot of flaws in life. At least one of them will eventually be fatal. (#yoquierobooze)
And you can say a lot of negative things about me. Most of them are probably true.
But if there is one thing I can never be accused of, it is that I suck at what I do.
Let me be clear – I made it ten years in this job, because of the people I work with, and because of the grace of God allowing me to draw breath and remain off the target list. I’m not responsible for this accomplishment. I’m no different than anyone else, no more special or gifted or talented than anyone else. We are stronger together *******. And fall apart, when we’re, uuh, apart.
I made it ten years in this job, because my former boss at TA, reached out to me to take a risk and jump departments. Because the folks in Seattle somehow decided I was the one worth keeping, when the layoffs came again three years ago. Because ten years ago, the person interviewing me somehow didn't put two and two together, and realize my mom was someone who had taught three of his four kids ... and they mutually despised each other after about the first week, with the first kid.
But what does it say about me, that I report to a department head who detests me (and the feeling is mutual), yet respects the job I do enough, to tolerate me and evaluate me fairly (and that feeling is mutual as well – I can’t stand “The Chairman” … but I do respect the fact that’s he’s damned good at what he does.)
I actually think that reflects well on me, if I'm allowed to be arrogant and self-aggrandizing for a moment of time. (And since it's my site, I think I'm entitled to do just that.)
I am nothing, without the help, the support, the guidance, and the friendship, of each and every person I interact with every day.
There are far, far too many of you to thank individually. (If only because I know I’d miss someone, and have no desire to disrespect you, in that manner.)
Just please know, if I have ever worked with or for you these last ten years, if I have ever helped you get hired on, or helped you get promoted … or if you helped get me hired on, or get promoted?
I take NOTHING for granted. I’ve been laid off twice in my professional career, and numero tres is always a possibility, even when you least expect it. (Nobody saw the layoffs three summers ago coming. Not even “The Chairman”, who was blindsided by them literally on the day they occurred.)
I am who I am in this job, and in this career, because of those of you I am damned proud to call co-workers … and for the most part, friends. And in one former case, family. God knows I am not even remotely capable, of being a success on my own.
If it takes a village to raise a child?
It takes an army of friends, colleagues, and co-workers, to last ten years in a job.
And yet, sweet Jesus, entering Year Eleven?
I need something different, very very different, from what I've done for the last sixteen years, across two companies and five positions, in that time span.
And I don't need another ten years to figure that out.
(*******: I do not get the Republican opposition to Secretary Clinton's campaign theme. What, you people not #withher are so stupid, you think splitting everyone apart is a good idea?!?!?! Donald J. Trump "House of Wings" may be a lot of things. Stupid ain't one of them. This is a mistake, "House of Wings". "Crooked" Hillary works because even I have to concede, she's so crooked I'm embarrassed she employs a straight arrow in her logo. Bashing "stronger together" is a gigantic mistake, friends on the (wrong) side of the aisle in this fight. A gigantic mistake.)
I noted years ago, on a previous site that I regret more every day I didn't at least save more classic posts off of, that one rule I firmly believe in life is that "if you hate what you do, you are guaranteed to be depressed". I've never felt more depressed, discouraged, and frustrated with life, than I do today.
I'm sure part of that is realizing that the party's almost over. I turn 40 in less than half a year ********. I don't view my life as a success. I mean, when pointing to lasting in a job for a decade is arguably the greatest accomplishment of your last twenty years? That is nothing to be proud of.
(Well, unless you're a porn star. Or Carlton Gray. (Rimshot!))
I need something different. Which is why I'll just simply choose to start to close the post with this:
Change is coming. I think. I hope.
I (might actually) pray.
(********: I am planning a birthday bash. And yes, I'm picking up the tab. I'm not THAT cheap people. But here's the problem with a birthday on January 3rd: when do you plan it? Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are on a Saturday this year. The Chiefs play on Christmas Night and New Years Day. I am very, very optimistic that the Chiefs will NOT be playing the following weekend -- because I actually think they are winning the AFC West, and snagging the two seed. Unlike Mr. Mellinger of The Star, I am VERY optimistic about this season. As in "13-3 is in play" optimistic". But I don't want to plan for that, in case we're either the three or four ... or travel to Houston or Indy or (gulp) denver that weekend.
So I'm leaning towards Friday, December 30, from 6pm until whenever we're forcibly evicted by the City of Kansas City's liquor laws ... but Friday, December 9, is the fallback option, so that my Sioux Falls friends that have become family, are guaranteed to make it in. (In case you are schedule illiterate: raiders at Chiefs, Thursday, December 8, 7:25pm CT. Most of them haven't missed a raiders contest since the 2010 finale.)
And I truly hope that anyone who is, was, or wants to be a friend, can manage to show up, and close out 2016 (and my 30s) as some of us have always done best: absolutely sh*t faced hammered!
But I probably won't make anything official until early October. As my high school government and history teacher would note: "stay tuned".)
I trust that those of you who know me best can either (a) read between the lines of the (brett voice) "vivid imagination" that occasionally shines through on this site, or (b) can keep your mouths shut in shared company.
Because this section of the post, I'm going to choose to say a few things ... that I probably shouldn't. But I'll attempt to be somewhat discreet in this section ... before closing things out, in the final one.
It's been pushing a month since I posted on this site, and a lot has happened in that month. One just happened today. The other has been happening for the better part of the summer ... especially the last three, four weekends.
Because (a) I submitted an application and resume at "potential future employer" earlier today ... and (b) I've, uuh, met a girl that really, really intrigues me.
(a) matters far, far less to me, than (b), for what it's worth.
("Potential Future Employer" would be an interesting career semi-change, I'll just leave it at that.)
I'm not going to rush into a job change, for the sake of change. For starters, how is that whole "hope and change" tripe of Barack Obama working for you?
But also, because I've changed jobs for the sake of hope and change, to flee what I thought was awful ... and hated the new position a million times more, than I hated the old.
(b) is what has me feeling ... happy? Optimistic? Hopeful? Something other than "straight Weller night to deal with life" for the first time in at least a couple years.
To be fair, she's more of a friend at this point, than anything more. (Dammit.) But -- but! -- she checks off damned near NOTHING of what I thought the perfect Mrs. Stevo would be!
Is she cute? Yes, she is. Am I insanely attracted to her? Oh Christ, yes. Thank God most every time I've spent time with her, it's been in the pool. (Note: I'm never mocking that line from "Seinfeld" again. Never. It's a salvation from either potential embarrassment ... or guaranteed embarrassment, so far.)
Could I see myself actually at least living with this chica someday? (sarah palin voice) You betcha! Sh*t, have I taken to calling her "Chica", instead of her name? Yes. Yes I have.
(Thank God above that nickname finally has someone actually worthy of it, in my life. It's only been 39 years, 6 months, and 9 days. What took so long?)
If you're friends with me on Facebook, you can probably figure out who she is; we've spent a ton of time together this summer. Folks? Hang on, let's ensure this happens one more time.
Mr. Vice President?
(vice president biden voice) Folks? She's blown off two days of work so far this summer, to spend the day with me poolside! And that's a three letter word -- blew!
(Note: I rarely, if ever, am in the office on Mondays from June on. #summer then #chiefsfootball. #dealwithit)
The first time I was informed it was because "I had so much fun with you yesterday, I wanted to come back!" The second time I was informed it was because "I had too much fun with you yesterday, and didn't want to deal with a hangover on the job!"
Yay me, either way?
And yet, she checks off almost nothing I'd have expected, of someone to (quite possibly) make me rethink commitment and faithfulness and all that other crap I've never bought into -- the idea that there actually is "The One" for me.
For starters, she has a kid. Anyone who knows me knows I never want children. I love and adore my nephew and nieces, and spoil them rotten (to their mother and father's disgust). But at the end of the day? Send 'em home with someone other than me.
And yet, her daughter is adorable, and most importantly, she's past the whole "preschool and potty training" days -- she's entering first grade in a couple weeks. Oh, and for some reason, she absolutely adores me. (And she's not a fan of ... well, we'll get there at the end of the paragraph.) Secondly, she actually lives across the street from her mom and step-dad. I live 30 miles away from my parents for a reason. Thirdly, she's not blond, she doesn't have the one accessory a chick can have that instantly springs me, and (gulp) ... she's in a relationship. As in "living with the dude" relationship.
And yet ... I've never seen a smile that does it for me, like hers.
I was talking about her with my mom a couple weeks ago, and she just kind of stopped and looked at me with a "I've never seen you this taken by a girl, ever!" look of utter shock and awe.
Peoples and peepettes? I'm not the fastest dude in the world. And I'm certainly not the brightest. I haven't seen night three with a girl in what, five years now? And I haven't even seen night one (of naughty fun) with this one yet.
But damn people, this one feels different.
Or to put it in perspective?
Natalie didn't have me fall this hard. Not even Katie ever had me this crushing her.
Hell -- not even "The Crush" has ever had me feeling like this.
And she's called "The Crush" for God's sake!
This one? I'm willing to play the long game with. I'm willing to let this one progress at its own pace and see where it winds up. I'm willing to let the (apparently imminent, per (chris mortensen voice) multiple sources who confirmed off the record) implosion of her current relationship occur as it unfolds, rather than push the issue.
I can't say I've ever felt that way about a member of the opposite sex, before.
Because if I've said it once, I've said it at least twelve times in my life.
I am the king of premature timing.
Finally tonight, a lil' site keeping action:
Ten days from now, this site will enter Year Nine of craptacular posts, memorable looks back at, uuh, memories worth looking back on, beyond putrid pigskin prognostications, and whatever other assorted flotsam, jetsam, tomfoolery and hijinks I feel like writing about.
I said last year that these last twelve months would likely be the last twelve of posting on this site. That I thought this site had lost its heart, lost its purpose, lost its soul. Lost what it was founded to be: a site for all of us that share this amazing journey of life as friends through, to posit and post for, uuh, posterity, what life as it was in the moment, was for us.
Well, I it turns out ... I may have been premature in that belief last year. (every ex of mine’s voice) Again?!?!?!?!
Because come the morning of this site’s ninth birthday? Mr. Trump will either be the Republican nominee, or the most bat sh*t crazy political convention in our nation’s history *, will have played out live to an audience of millions. (Think the “2162 Votes” episode, the season six finale, of “The West Wing”. In fact, watch that episode – it is available on Youtube! and Netflix and iTunes. Because I have a hunch, you’re gonna see something that ridiculous, begin six days from now.)
Come the afternoon (although probably evening) of this site’s ninth birthday?
The woman Stevo’s Site Numero Dos proudly supports, endorses, and cannot wait to elect to the Presidency of the United States, Madam Secretary Clinton, will name a running mate, entering what also might wind up being the most bat sh*t crazy political convention in our nation’s history. (My money’s on Senator Kaine of Virginia – a solid choice – but I really hope it’s Vice President Biden, or Secretary Kerry. She won’t (run the risk of being overshadowed on the campaign trail by anyone other than Barry, which is why it won't be Senator Warren) … but she should.)
Then no sooner do the convention end, than the most anticipated Chiefs football season in damned near a generation, gets underway. (Again, I’d like to extend Stevo’s Site Numero Dos’ Official Double Middle Finger Salute to whatever blithering idiot scheduled a preseason game at Arrowhead at 3:30pm on a Saturday in the middle of August. Don’t you dare criticize me if I don’t even bother to bring a t-shirt to this one. I’m there for the sun, the Jacked Ups, and because I can’t find anyone stupid enough to pay me face value for the ticket – and not necessarily in that order.)
As my buddy Pickell would say: “put it this way” – by the time the Olympics begin in a couple weeks?
I should have already exceeded last year’s total posts for the year.
It’s a start.
Just like today, and the last month, has been the start to some changes in my life for the positive, that have been long needed, and are long overdue to occur.
This site hasn't lost its heart. It hasn't lost its purpose. It may have lost a few false friends, but it hasn't lost its soul.
It's soul? Is all of us. Not just a couple people -- all of us.
It's time to start over. It's time to start to focus on what truly matters -- living each day to its fullest, and pray that God gives us the gift of living to see tomorrow.
It's time to give this place -- and my life -- a (re)start?
That I’m damned ready to begin. Not finish -- begin.
"Everyone knows I'm in?
Over my head!
Over my head!
But with eight seconds left in overtime?
She's on (my) mind!
She's on (my) mind!
How's THAT, for a "holy sh*t, he really DID tie this all together! Good job Stevo!" incredible finish, to the post that (finally!) restarts this site for the better, for the rest of our lives ...
(*: this is an abject lie. Also, I lost track of how many *’s in I was, so I started over. And come on, nobody hates my random "what the f*ck is he saying this for" pointless rambles, right?
The most bat sh*t crazy convention in this nation’s history – and nothing will ever top it – was the 1860 Democrat National Convention. (Or as Wikipedia notes, "Conventions". Yes -- plural.)
For starters, the idiot party leaders scheduled this thing for Charleston, South Carolina. In the heart of the secession crisis, they’re throwing a convention to elect the next Presidential nominee into the heart of the lunacy. Brilliant, guys. Brilliant.
Secondly, the presumptive nominee, Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, was utterly unacceptable to every Southern delegate, because of his stance on extending slavery to the territories. (The Court, in the single most indefensible decision in its history, threw prohibition on slavery in the territories – and anywhere in the nation – out the window in Dred Scott; Mr. Douglas supported popular sovereignty as a way to at least attempt to restrict its’ spread west.)
And finally, the Southern delegation had already decided to throw the 1860 election to Mr. Lincoln, to ensure secession and alleged independence … by walking out of every convention the Democrats would put together. They walked out in Charleston. They walked out six weeks later in Baltimore, to ensure Mr. Douglas got the nod (and possibly split the Northern vote enough to make Mr. Lincoln a minority-elected candidate ... which he was -- not even getting 40% of the national vote). When it was obvious the walk-outs weren’t working? They formed another party! And when there was fear Vice President Breckenridge might somehow at least force the election to the House of Representatives by denying Mr. Lincoln the Electoral Vote lock by carrying every slave state? They formed another party, to further split the Southern vote between the rabid mob ready to bolt (Vice President Breckenridge) and the moderates not yet convinced the Union was finished (John Bell of Tennessee).
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what approximate $122,000 (harrison ford in “clear and present danger” voice) “and change” will buy you – a US History minor (and a major in business administration) at the Big XII’s finest academic institution, TCU. You're welcome.)