Tag Archives: college basketball

The Three Years That Changed My Life

I talk a lot of schitt about college. It is a bitter topic for me, and I try pretty hard to convince young people not to go because no one grabbed me and told me I shouldn’t go. It sounds odd because, for decades, adults have been grabbing young people and telling them why they should go to college. It’s just that I found first hand with both college and then graduate school that the things adults tell young people when they grab them aren’t quite true anymore. College dropouts become rich CEOs (or rich rappers with aptly-titled CDs, not to mention slut-wives) while people who see college through end up in debt for at least 10 years while getting a starting salary of maybe $25,000/yr or $30,000/yr…whenever they’re lucky enough to even find a job.

At the same time…I have a hard time reconciling this knowledge/experience with the other experiences I gained from attending college and grad school, not to mention how to reconcile it with the respect I have for education and academic institutions in general. In fact, I can honestly say that grad school had a profound effect on my life. It changed my life, for better and for worse.

I skipped out on work Monday, and my mother and I went several places. One of them was a store that sells all college gear, particularly for sports fans. I’m always up for buying schitt that reps the University of Michigan (I damn-near have Michigan everything), which was my grad school–the school that changed my life. After we returned home, my mother and I were talking about how she, my father and my oldest sister lived in the San Francisco area before I was born. It was interesting that this came up, because I had been thinking a lot about something recently. This led me to tell my mother something no one knows about me.

Everyone who has known me for long enough knows I love Michigan. Love Michigan.

But Stanford is my dream school. It was my dream school when I headed to Michigan. If I could think of a reason to go to Stanford and afford it right now, I would. And as much as I liked Michigan, had I gotten accepted to Stanford for law school as well, that’s where I would have gone. Of course, the three best law schools in the nation rejected me (Harvard, Yale, Stanford); I very nearly had my choice of top law schools aside from those. The only other school that felt “right” aside from Stanford was Michigan. So, despite the better scholarship offers from other schools and the questioning from fellow Southerners, I went to Michigan.

My mother’s response–to my mentioning that I didn’t get into Stanford and that was the only reason my parents didn’t end up taking trips back to the SF area for [at least] three years instead of to Ann Arbor for three years–was something along the lines, of course, of “everything happens for a reason.”

Oh, of course. I know Michigan happened for a reason. I wouldn’t trade my time at Michigan for Stanford. Would I trade it for less debt, to get back the debt it put me in? That’s a tougher question, it really is.

See, among many things, Michigan is, for me:

-Where I realized I could actually be friends with other women

-Where I fell in love with sports

-Where I truly accepted that I am, and started identifying as, a lesbian

-Where I learned that college towns–not suburbs, not the country and definitely not cities–are right for me

-Where I found the only “community” to which I 100% love belonging (um, sorry, blacks and LGBTs and women)

-Where I really began to recognize, love and appreciate the black or African-descent woman, as well as her beauty

And it’s not all positive experiences.

I suffered from depression for at least a semester while I was at Michigan, which led to my seeing a psychotherapist. The psychotherapist was one of my friends, but we still had real sessions. It’s interesting–for much of my life growing up, I wanted to be a psychologist…got my psych degree. Never once did I think that people could walk out of counseling sessions feeling worse than when they entered them, but that’s how I felt after every session with my friend/psychotherapist–every…single…one. Needless to say, that’s not how I recovered from depression…but that’s a story for another time. 😉

I also had a racial experience at Michigan that is the base reason for why I just don’t view white women in a romantic light/as a romantic option anymore and probably never will again. Obviously, you can’t make an entire race/sex carry the burden for something that happened with one person of that background, and that’s not really the case here…but it got the ball rolling, I learned a lot about the deep lack of understanding between black people and white people (of each other, not just white people not understanding blacks), and now I’m where I am. I must say that, although I wouldn’t quite say I’m glad the experience happened, it was good for me in some ways. Out of it grew the way I now see black women, which is a way in which I didn’t quite view them before. And I think it’s important for black women to completely see other black women’s worth, beauty, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. If we can’t see it, who can/will?

And obviously, it goes without saying that being in debt for the rest of my life is not anything positive that Michigan gave me.

But even out of these three negative experiences came a lot of learning, very important learning and experiences. I went through everything and then some at Michigan–really could have a TV series based off it…we’ll call it “Ann Arbor 48109” or “Michigan Law”–whereas my college experience was relatively uneventful.

I mentioned one of the things I gained from Michigan was a love of sports. I even did some sports writing on the side. Well…people who don’t understand sports or diehard fans or why fans and experts get so emotional…they often ask about it. One of the things I try to articulate, perhaps unsuccessfully most of the time, is my belief that love for a particular sport or team usually doesn’t develop from the sport/team. To me, there is usually something else–being from a particular city or state, the people around you, the school you attend. First and foremost, I love my school because of everything I went through there, everything it made me, everything it taught me. And that led me to support my school in whatever, be it sports or anything else. It’s the reason why I will watch garbage like baseball from time to time or softball (which…softball, for some reason, I actually like now)–if it’s Michigan playing, I will watch.

My favorite sports are football and basketball. I grew up playing basketball, and my family is a basketball family. My father has basketball championships. But I hated football growing up. After attending Michigan, a huge football school, football is my favorite sport. I didn’t suddenly become interested in guys running for three yards and passing for 15 yards just because it was interesting. It never was, originally. Truthfully, if it’s the NFL, it’s still not interesting greater than 50% of the time. I just don’t have that NFL equivalent to Michigan, no emotional connection. I hate where I’m from, so why would I root for my state’s NFL team?

Michigan is why I like college football and why that’s my favorite sport. And the love I have for my school is why losses are so painful–particularly certain ones. Any loss to Ohio State or Michigan State (rivals). The loss to Indiana in basketball earlier this year that cost Michigan a conference championship…that still brings tears to my eyes because of the way it happened. Even my father cursed and was angry after Michigan lost that game, and he, being an SEC guy, likes to pretend he is not a Michigan fan (he is). There are other Michigan losses I could reference using just two words, and [college] sports fans would know what I’m talking about–Appalachian State and Time Out. Horrific and horrific. We (Michigan) have the most legendary fails in college sports, for real, so you can’t blame me for feeling pain. But we are also among the most successful programs in college sports, so you can’t blame me for feeling pride, either.

So, would I want to give all of this back for, oh, $100,000? I don’t know who I’d be without all of this.

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I Pissed Her Off

Yeah, so it has been a while. I got kind of caught up with college basketball, as my alma mater actually did end up making it to the Final Four and playing for a national championship after I lost all hope for that happening some time back in February, I believe. I didn’t go down to Atlanta to see it, which was my plan before I stopped believing in my team, but I also don’t regret it. I looked at the cost of the trip (tickets to the games, plane trip, hotel), and it was just more money than I wanted to spend. Plus, when my school lost the championship game it pissed me off/depressed me enough to be glad I didn’t spend all that money to see it live. I’m so proud of Michigan for making it so far, but it still hurt(s) and I would have been livid if I spent $1500+ (and it was close to $1500 before the Tournament, so no telling how much it would have been during) to watch Michigan give up a nice lead and to watch Louisville carve up Michigan’s defense.

My entire family watched the game from various parts of the US, including members of my family who never watch Michigan play, just because it was my school playing for a national title, so that was great. On the positive, we did pick up national titles in Swimming, Men’s Gymnastics and Cheerleading over the last few weeks. 😉 We just could have had three national championships in about a week’s time if we’d won that bball one!

I also recently started taking a new programming class, so that’s keeping me a little busy after basketball, as is supporting Michigan softball. That’s the other good thing about my not spending all that money to go to ATL and the NCAA Tournament–I had to drop money on a new Macbook Pro for my class, in addition to the enrollment fee for the class. Typing on it right now! Rarely have I taken classes where I couldn’t wait to do the work, but pretty much all IT-related classes I take are like that. I wish all the lessons for this class were already out–I’d probably be done by now, and I’m only a week into the class.

Now that you’re caught up on some non-work-related things, I’ve got a work/love life cross for you.

About a month or two ago, I wrote about this lady at work whom I noticed eyeballing me a couple of times in the dining area at work. I also wrote several posts that related to my “ex-girlfriend.” Well, I am over my “ex-girlfriend.” I kind of realized some time during the NCAA Tournament, towards the end of it, that I really wasn’t thinking of her the same way anymore and that if I found out she has a girlfriend it wouldn’t really bother me. It’s more so like I miss companionship now. And when you miss companionship, not any companionship will do. Some forms are more fulfilling than others, and it’s just hard for me to find fulfilling friendships, relationships, etc. You really have to find someone with whom you click. I mean, there is a chick at work who is, in a way, trying to make me be her friend. And that’s okay, I guess, but…there are just people with whom you really, really fit. That’s what I miss.

Anyway, I bring this up to say, first of all, that I am still not sure that what I actually want or need is a date or another relationship. I definitely could use friends who are not guys, and right now my support system is guys and that’s in a work-related capacity. We have a great time talking schitt about Lazy Tech and annoying people who contact tech support and about our jobs and about how other people at work don’t do schitt while we do all the work…even talking about sports. But I do notice more and more that there are many attractive women where I work.

Second…well, I got an email today at work. Now, for the most part, I am not supposed to receive emails to my personal email account at work. We have a tech support inbox, so that’s where my emails are supposed to go. Still, people who work for my company do email me directly from time to time for work-related reasons. Usually, it’s people I’ve assisted before. But I got an email from this lady whose name I’d never seen before. It didn’t look familiar, didn’t recall speaking to her on the phone ever. So I’m not sure how she knew to email me at all. Anyway, she was asking if I could do something I knew I wasn’t allowed to do. I’ve done it before, and I’ve had my supervisor contact me about why, letting me know it’s not allowed, etc. And I’m tired of whiny-@ss schitt at work these days from my supervisor and otherwise.

So I had to respond that I could not do what she wanted. And I knew it wasn’t going to make sense to say I couldn’t do it, because it seems harmless…my job is just so f*cking silly that way. They have the most convoluted rules and they make everything 50 million times harder than necessary. Not my fault, though. Like I said, I’m tired of hearing/reading whining about garbage from my supervisor and this other department at work that whines about just dumb schitt and gets my supervisor involved in it. Like, they’re basically whining about receiving an email alert. Anyway.

So, this chick sends back this b!tchy email that was basically like, “Really? You said no to me? Don’t you know I’m Big Schitt around here? Are you serious? That’s f*cking stupid. What you just wrote me is so f*cking stupid that I’m going to copy someone I think I can use to get around you to get my way on this email and ask them to help.” Not in those words, but that was blatantly the gist. Yeah. Schitt like that is completely why I have to get off tech support and precisely why I’m taking programming classes–so that I can sit home on my @ss and create programs and apps and sell them from the comfort of my bedroom.

If you ever use Gmail, you know that Gmail users can upload pics that show whenever they email you. Our company basically uses Google for email. So I happen to glance to the side while looking at that b!tchy email, and I see Dining-Area Chick’s face in the pic. Now, I don’t put my pics on anything. People who know me will attest to that. So do I think she knows my name when she sees me? No, although there are people at our local office who somehow do know what my name is when they see me. So, I don’t think she knew that the person she was having an e-tantrum with is the same person from the dining area.

And that wasn’t the only b!tchy email from her, either. When I got the second one, I was kind of like, “Wow.” While I think my supervisors have come up with the dumbest schitt for rules, she definitely was overreacting. It says a lot about her, if she was so b!tchy about something that really didn’t warrant it to the degree she took it. And I’ve gotten just ridiculous reactions from people at the company, particularly over the phone, but those might have been the most ridiculous emails I’ve gotten since I’ve been working at this place. I also can never understand why people want someone to break rules and risk getting in trouble because someone else didn’t do what he/she should have done, and then they have more of a problem with the person who won’t break the rules than the person who didn’t do his/her part. We deal with dumb schitt like this all day every day in tech support, and it de-motivates me in terms of my job while motivating me to find something else to do for work.

Rarely do you get to see the kinds of things you need to see about someone in whom you might be interested in getting to know before you start the process of getting to know them. People in my family like to say I’m spoiled, but most people outside my family wouldn’t say that, at least not in terms of my demeanor and behavior with other people. When you don’t get your way, there has to be some semblance of grace in dealing with it, especially if it’s no big thing. I just do not operate with a sense of entitlement or act crazy with people I don’t know (notice how I included “people I don’t know”), and I don’t understand people who do. The way people act towards and speak to others amazes me every day. That’s why I f*cking hate people.

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And the Results Are…

So, I finally got the results back from the ultrasound on my thyroid. I have a nodule and a cyst, but they are both tiny. Since they don’t seem to be causing pain or issues with swallowing or anything big, apparently I’m supposed to just go back to the specialist after some time so I can get another ultrasound done and see if they’ve grown.

My mother came with me to see the specialist, and she was not that happy with him. She doesn’t really like his demeanor, and I know what she means. But she wasn’t happy with what she heard about my first visit to him a few weeks ago when he told me my throat was irritated but didn’t really do anything about it, and then he didn’t check it again today. She doesn’t think her ENT would have just left it at that–he would have examined my throat further. Now, thyroid nodules can cause issues with your throat and voice. Like I said, I don’t have issues swallowing, but something is definitely different with my throat in terms of how it feels, my voice sounds a tad different and I have a random cough when I otherwise don’t feel sick. This has been the case for weeks. And I don’t know where the nodule and cyst are located in relation to my throat. I wasn’t shown any pics from the ultrasound or told about location, but I’m not sure my ENT had that information, either. All the information he gave me came from someone else, some other doctor who analyzed my ultrasound, and the recommendation from whomever that was is for me to get another ultrasound done after a while to check for growth.

My mother thinks I should go to her ENT to have him look at my throat. If it is still irritated, it would have been irritated for at least three weeks or so, and that doesn’t sound normal. Maybe I should go her ENT, because I have been exhausted lately and I know that sometimes goes along with throat infections. For example, all I feel like doing on Sundays is sleeping–which is exactly what I did one recent Sunday, whenever the last one was that Michigan didn’t play a basketball game–and today I really could have slept all day. I made myself get up around 9am because my favorite sports talk show was coming on, and I never get to hear/see it anymore because of work, plus I would have to get up around 10am anyway because of my doctor’s appointment. I sat in the waiting room at the doctor’s office trying to stay awake, yawning incessantly. My mother and I went out to eat after my appointment, and then when I got back home I just wanted to go to bed. I seriously don’t know how I make it through work when I go, but I think all the adrenaline of dealing with constant tech problems keeps me awake.

Last week I realized that “hating” my job might not be all about the work, especially since things have changed a bit after I spoke with the recruiter who placed me at my job about how difficult it is. It has still been challenging, but I just seem to be handling the challenge better and don’t feel as much like I don’t know what I’m doing. Of course, now that I’ve written that, my job will get rough again! But I get up miserable in the mornings, and I realized last week that I’m miserable in large part because I’m so tired in the morning. You see how it was a struggle for me to wake up at 9am today. Well, when I go to work I have to wake up around 7:30am. When I first started this job, I loved waking up around that time. I used to have to get up at 6am for the job I had before this one, and getting up a full hour and a half later was significantly better.

Now a lot of my thought process in the morning is about simply not wanting to get out of bed and being so tired. I mean, I had a day at work last week that made me feel as if I might actually be starting to like my job, and, still, the next morning I completely did not want to get up and go to work. Sometimes I just want to pick up the phone, call my supervisor and say I’ll be an hour or two late, then go back to sleep. I’m late for work every morning nowadays anyway because I spend so much time in the morning sitting around in a fog. Since I can’t stand coffee, I’m not one of those people who gets up and heads straight for the coffee pot. So I don’t have anything that gets me going in the morning–the closest thing is the sports talk show I turn on in the morning, and I couldn’t do that last week because my DirecTV DVR quit working and I had to wait for the replacement DVR to come (I mean, there were other ways to do it if I really wanted to, but they would have made me even later for work trying to set up one of those ways).

I want DirecTV to burn in hell, by the way.

Either way, that’s it for now on the health front. I’ll think about going to my mother’s ENT.

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The Quadruple Whammy–Work, Health, Sports and V-Day

Last week I visited one of the specialists to which I was referred by my doctor after blood tests came back normal for my kidneys, liver and thyroid. He examined my neck, as well as took a look at my throat. My neck did seem swollen to him, but he didn’t feel anything. The interesting thing to him was my throat–he said it was red and irritated, and he asked if I had a sore throat. I was a little surprised to hear that my throat was irritated because it wasn’t bothering me. But for several weeks I have had a cough, even though I haven’t been sick. It does always feel as if there is something in my throat, and my voice is slightly more raspy, like it gets when I talk too much or yell too much. Both doctors I’ve seen have asked if I have issues swallowing, which I don’t.

So my specialist decided that I should have an ultrasound done on my thyroid, and he had me make an appointment with one of the ladies in the office so that I could go to another facility for the ultrasound. I went and had the ultrasound done today, and I will have to go back to my specialist to get the results when they come in. The lady performing the ultrasound took a lot of pictures on the side of my neck that is swollen. I am not totally sure how much information she had about the issue. The sheet that I saw that was faxed over to them only said “thyroid nodule” on it (other than my name, the procedure and such)–it didn’t mention a side, and she didn’t spend time looking at my neck or anything. So I thought it was interesting that she spent a lot of time on that side and took a lot of pictures vs the other side of my neck.

I had to talk to my supervisor a little bit about what’s happening since I have to leave work all the time to see doctors and such, which is something I didn’t want to do. I just don’t really want to talk to most people about this, especially not people I’m not close to. I have friends who don’t know about this and probably won’t find out without reading my blog, unless it gets serious. My co-workers don’t know.

I did call the recruiter at the employment agency that placed me in my current position and told him about it so they’d know I’m taking several half-days and taking other days off. It’s weird, but I also used this news to ease into talking to my recruiter about not being in love with my job because I really was uncomfortable with having to tell him I’m not liking my job. But I’m to a point where I can’t just keep telling him that everything’s fine at work.

He was really cool about it. He basically told me he has gotten calls from just about everyone he has placed in IT positions where I work about how overwhelming the job is and kind of said the same thing they said about it taking months to get the hang of it. I told him that I question whether or not I can really tolerate not feeling like I know what I’m doing for 6+ months but that I planned to do so. I also told him that I have learned that this is how tech support jobs are and that they’re not for me because of that. I love repairing electronics because I can be left alone with them to just do my job. So we’re probably going to wait a while and then see how I feel and if I want a different kind of position.

So I think it has taken approximately two months for the love affair with the extra amount of money I make on this job to end, and now it’s getting more towards thinking, “Okay, this is too stressful.” People at work tell me it takes months to grasp the job, but I think about the tech support job I had before where I never truly felt like I grasped it. It got easier in a lot of ways eventually, but I definitely ended up in uncomfortable situations more often than someone like me can tolerate. I’m just one of those people who always likes to have the answers, always likes to be the best and never likes to look stupid or say “I don’t know.”

This is where I am right now–lots going on in my personal life as well as with my career, and I haven’t even touched on relationships or the fact that I am successfully acting like Valentine’s Day is not around the corner (for the most part, I completely forget about it, except now there are more and more commercials about it). Frankly, I’m depressed right now, but you won’t believe why. The order goes something like this:

1) My team just got smoked in college basketball. I never turn games off. I sit and watch my team lose from start to finish when it happens, but I had to walk away from this game. I am staying away from sports networks, articles, talk shows, etc, at least for the rest of the night, which is unusual for me, but I know they will talk so much about this game. I was not depressed before that game. People who aren’t into sports don’t get it, I know.

Just think of a time when, say, you built something or someone up so much and had all these visions of how great things were going to be and then the moment you realized it wasn’t going to be that way. That moment was tonight for me with my team this season. I decided I’m not going to go to the Final Four in Atlanta–they won’t be there. We’ve got a good month to go in college basketball yet, but I already can see this. I was going to wait on the results of my ultrasound before I made any changes to my plans to go to Atlanta in April, but now there’s no reason to wait.

2) My job. Just the normal “I have to go to work in the morning” dread, but it played a role in my turning the game off. I figured that I spend enough time being put through garbage during the day without forcing myself to sit through garbage in my spare time in the evenings. I try to be a real fan and not just be there for the wins, but I’m realizing after sitting through 3 losses in less than two weeks that this crap should only go so far when you have other schitt going on in your life that makes you unhappy.

Right now I’m not even worried about my ultrasound but still, for some reason, can’t bring myself to talk about it with anyone I know other than my mother and the two people I told for work-related reasons. That’s why I haven’t posted more about it until now, and even with this post it took inner prodding to go ahead and write it. I don’t want to think a lot about it, at least until I know something.

Hope you enjoyed reading about another person’s bullschitt, if you did–thanks, hahaha! 😉

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The Reality of Online Relationships

Some of you might know that I’m a big sports junkie, but particularly college football and college basketball. I cover college football some and have been doing so for over five years. Well, there’s this big story in college football that I want to tie to the real world, because, ultimately, the story has nothing to do with college football…and the commentary by the football guys shows how out of touch they are while demonstrating a flawed way of thinking among many people, including many outside of sports.

You see, there is this football player at Notre Dame, Manti Te’o. I’ve watched the guy all season. My team/alma mater, Michigan, played Notre Dame and lost last year. Te’o had a nice game against Michigan, and his sob story was out there at the time. The story went something like his grandmother and girlfriend died on the same day. Te’o, as good a player as he is, largely rode the sob story to fame and very nearly to a Heisman Trophy (which goes to the best college football player each year…or that’s what they say; it’s not actually true…more like whichever player the media likes the best). Neither the fame level nor the Heisman campaign would have been what they were had that sob story not been out there.

Now it’s being reported that this girlfriend who allegedly died never actually existed. The question is whether or not Te’o made the chick up in order to get attention or if he was just tricked into believing she existed. Te’o had led everyone to believe that he had the kind of relationship everyone thinks of when they think of a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship, i.e. he’d spoken as if he’d actually met this girl before. He’d used the word “met” in interviews and made it seem as if they’d interacted heavily. He said he loved her. I read an article where his father said she could have been his daughter-in-law. Now that it’s out that she never existed, Te’o is trying to say it was an online/phone relationship and he never met her. In other words, he didn’t know she wasn’t real but believed she was. This went on for months. This is his story.

Now…sports media people, by and large, aren’t buying it. And if he didn’t know, then he’s “naive.” Translation: he’s stupid. So, to some, he’s either stupid or crazy for making up a story about a girlfriend dying of leukemia, but they don’t want to come out and say they think he’s lying. Then there are those sports guys who want to know how you can have a relationship with someone you can’t see, touch or be intimate with. That alone means he’s lying. There’s no such thing as having a boyfriend or girlfriend you met online and only know online, in their minds. Nobody does that.

That last paragraph is what my post tonight is about.

I want you to know this–all of these people talking about the Te’o story in the sports media are over the age of 40 and, I think, are all married. If you’re over the age of 40, you probably agree with these sports guys who think there’s no way someone has that kind of relationship. Perhaps some of you under the age of 40 agree, as well.

…there are those sports guys who want to know how you can have a relationship with someone you can’t see, touch or be intimate with. That alone means he’s lying. There’s no such thing as having a boyfriend or girlfriend you met online and only know online, in their minds. Nobody does that.

Except…there are people who do that.

Young people do that.

People who get cell phones as Christmas gifts at age 8, iPads as birthday gifts at age 10 and who have had a computer or a laptop for as long as they can remember do that.

People who work so much that they don’t have time to date the old-fashioned way or who have friends who met their boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance or spouse through match.com do that.

And I have done that.

I have “met” not only girlfriends and boyfriends online, but friends online. Some I met in person, but, honestly, most I haven’t. I’m in my early 30s, and I started making friends and girlfriends online back in my teens when technology still wasn’t what it is today. So imagine for a guy in his early 20s nowadays, when all young people do is stay glued to cell phones, tablets, laptops and social media. There is probably not a young person alive now who hasn’t spent quite a bit of time chatting with someone online he or she doesn’t know in person, and half have probably “dated” someone he/she doesn’t know in person. It doesn’t matter that he’s a football player and there are young ladies at Notre Dame–that’s not the point. This is a cultural issue. And today’s culture is that we interact with people in cyberspace in ways that some married 48-year with 5 kids probably can’t even begin to fathom, regardless of how hot or popular someone is.

My best friend right today is a female I met online in 2001. It’s 2013. We’ve been friends for over 10 years. We’ve never met. There’s no telling if we’re ever going to meet. We have discussed it, and there have been two or three times when it could have happened. It just hasn’t yet. There are things called life (especially when you’re older) and money (especially when you’re younger) that get in the way. Still, I trust her, she trusts me and I know she exists.

The last woman I had romantic feelings for was someone I met online. We never met in person, and not because I didn’t want to. I wanted to meet her, but we never got that far.

The funny thing is how people nowadays like to blame technology for everything. That’s why young people today are stupid. That’s why people today want everything now. That’s why people today are more violent and more sexual. You can’t trust people you meet online. You can’t have a real relationship with them unless you know them away from the computer.

In a way, yes–to all of it. That woman I met online romantically? I wrote to her once that I don’t particularly want to do a long-distance relationship. At some point, I need to be able to be with someone. At some point, we have to be in the same place. That’s true for every online/long-distance relationship. That was not initially why I wanted to meet her. Initially, it was because I believed pretty strongly that we’d get along great in person even as just friends and that it wouldn’t be awkward, which has been my worry before about meeting people from the internet–that it’d be too awkward.

Assume for a bit that Te’o really did believe there was this girlfriend who existed and he wasn’t just trying to get attention. Remember, he said he loved her. According to him, she said she loved him. But they hadn’t met. I went through the same thing. And then some months later, after a breakup of sorts, I was told by my romantic interest that she looks back and doesn’t think it was romantic love she felt. I thought it was painful and ridiculous at first. But now I’m to the point where it’s hard to blame her for thinking that. Why? Because…how do you know if you love someone romantically when you haven’t met her? You can feel one way online, and then when you meet in person it can feel different. Ultimately, that’s why we needed to meet each other, if either of us had been in the place to pursue a romantic relationship…which we weren’t.

That makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is thinking that you have to know people in person to actually know them. When online relationships or friendships don’t work out, people make the internet out to be the bad guy. It’s not.

“I’m not going to talk to people online anymore. Only in person.”

You don’t necessarily know people around you are more real than people online are. I know people who have realized they don’t actually know their spouse the way they thought they did. The spouse broke a trust through lying or cheating. It’s not just people online who do these things.

So, assume Te’o was fooled. Like we don’t meet fake-ass people in person? Like the chick at the bar who smiled at you and gave you her phone number didn’t give you a fake number just to get you off her back? Like a guy you wasted three years with has never told you, “I’m just not ready to get married” for two of those years, only to turn up married to the next chick six months after your breakup? Or like he wasn’t actually already married the whole time you thought he was single?

The internet isn’t the bad guy. Indeed, you can meet wonderful people online. I have. I met one of my friends online, spent a year chatting and emailing with her before we actually enrolled at the same law school and met in person there. We’re still friends. There’s nothing wrong with her. Have “known” her since about 2004, met in 2005.

I’ve had people lie to me online, but I’ve probably had way more lie to me in person. My romantic interest wasn’t always forthcoming with me, but I think I understand at least some of it. She didn’t tell me her real name. But she knew mine, so I dug around and found out. The first thing she did was beg me not to tell her parents. What??? Ohhhh….yeah, the lesbian thing. Never crossed my mind, since I’m not that kind of an ass. But yeah…now it makes more sense why she was secretive about some things. Still,  having met me online doesn’t automatically make me less trustworthy than the kid in the next cubicle at work. After all, she knows my full name and orientation; the kid in the next cubicle at work doesn’t. I have more faith in her not to blab it around than I do in him not to.

As always, it’s about judgment and alertness. Not seeing only what you want to see. People now question Te’o’s judgment, among other things. Assuming he’s telling the truth, meeting someone he liked online and sustaining a relationship with her for months shouldn’t be the reason why, though–at least not in and of itself. That happens. It’s a part of life today. If you’re 50 and don’t get it, then you’re 50 and don’t get it. But I’m 31 and I do. I’ve been there.

Oh, yeah…and I don’t believe Te’o. I think he was trying to see how much he could get out of the sob story. But that’s because, one way or another, he has lied to everyone. He definitely lied about how he and the chick met. When I realized he lied about certain aspects of his relationship with this mystery girl, I was done. Still, I thought the online dating spin on the story makes for a good discussion.

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Catching On To the Lazy Guy

Lazy Tech likes to run up to all the guys at work, kissing up and trying to make them like him. And just like where we worked before, he likes to spend more time socializing than doing work. As it turns out, all that eating cheese isn’t enough to disguise his shortcomings.

I wrote a while back about how people have a problem with introverted/more quiet co-workers, even though they’re often good workers. And it had really started appearing to me that the more social people at work get over-rewarded for being such, even if they’re not quite so good at their jobs or are not quite as qualified for a position. I still think that’s generally true, and I’m going to watch how this plays out. But I think my co-workers are getting a little sick of Lazy Tech, even though he is always all up in their faces. It might just be where I work, but my hope is this is indicative that being the guy everyone likes isn’t the end-all be-all in workplaces.

Now, I don’t think they yet realize that he’s lazy, but they’ve noticed other things about which they’ve started talking to me.

First of all, I want to mention for those who aren’t up to speed–Lazy Tech basically got me this job. And I had suspicions and reservations about working with him, knowing from where we worked together before that he is lazy. He does do a lot more work where we currently work, but his laziness still does fall on me at times (particularly with the way he’s always finding excuses to leave work early). I knew this was going to be the case going in, but I took this job knowing I probably wouldn’t like it but thinking, “If I’m going to hate what I do, I might as well get paid more for it.” And I get paid more for it–somewhere around $8,000/year more. From everything I’ve heard, LT lobbied hard for me to get this position, and I have been very happy with the extra money. There will probably be a post soon about how happy I’ve been with this extra money! That doesn’t mean I’m not going to rip LT on my blog. 😉

Here’s what happened:

One day last week after LT left for the day, I was on the phone with someone who needed help with a tech issue. And I was speaking to the person, but I could hear Stanky Breath Tech and the Wannabe Cool Tech in the background talking to each other and I figured they were talking about me from what I heard them saying. And then when I got off the phone with the employee I was assisting, SBT came to my cubicle and said, “We were just talking about you.”

I think I responded something like, “Yeah, I could kind of hear.”

He said they were talking about how LT and I handle the people we assist. Basically, LT is rude to people a lot of the time. You can hear how irritated he is or how impatient he is, and he talks to people like they’re stupid. And LT is certainly ones of those tech geeks who really does just think everyone is stupid when they have a tech problem or question, as are a lot of tech geeks. Now, I don’t sit around and talk about how stupid everyone with a tech issue is, and because I don’t really have that mindset I don’t speak to the employees we help as if they’re stupid. And a lot of people you assist in IT actually will approach you with a self-deprecating demeanor–some of them really do feel stupid for having the problem or needing to ask a question about how to do something. I reassure them that it’s completely okay. The people who get on my nerves are the ones who either contact us with a bad attitude or who contact us all the time with really difficult crap or one problem after another–which suggests they’re the problem or causing problems to occur (but usually they think you’re the problem if you can’t help them immediately)–so people with “stupid” questions don’t bother me at all…except maybe the people who don’t know what a “web browser” is.

So we were talking about how LT speaks to these people, and SBT was saying how even if I’m frustrated I sound like I have a smile on my face. To SBT, it sounds like LT hates the job when he’s talking to employees but LT is always talking about how where we work now is so much better than where we came from. It seriously amazes SBT because it doesn’t sound like this job is so much better to LT with how he sounds on the phone. At this point, WCT comes to my cubicle, as well. WCT is the guy who is “training” me–not really–and trained LT, and we go to him with everything and he also kind of acts like our boss, even though he’s not. And I respond to both of them that LT was way worse where we worked before with how he spoke to people, because he was. They couldn’t understand how he could be even worse than he is now. But since WCT seems to think he’s boss, he said that he’s going to have to talk to LT about how he speaks to people on the phone.

After WCT left the conversation, SBT kept wanting to talk about it because I think he still couldn’t believe how LT is always saying our job is a lot better now. He mentioned that repeatedly, and I told him that I can tell LT does like it better where we are and that’s in large part because of the money. But also, the people we help are generally easier to deal with than the clients we had where we were.

I didn’t think about this at the time, but I also think LT likes feeling that he has more flexibility in terms of leaving work when he wants to sometimes. He couldn’t do stuff like that where we worked before. That’s something that is going to make me just start taking days off work whenever I feel like it. I don’t think it’s always a good idea to run to supervisors to complain about issues or point out something another co-worker is doing wrong, so I’m going to retaliate in my own way. He’s probably taking off this Friday and I’ll be stuck with most of the work, so I will be taking off a day next week and sticking him with the work. I am so not kidding. Also, my birthday is in March–I will be taking off. And I am planning a trip to Atlanta in April to attend the Final Four (forecasting that my alma mater will be there), and if I go I’ll be out at least two days. The funny thing about LT is when he does stuff like this he always says something to me about how he doesn’t want to leave me with stuff or otherwise tries to make it seem like he gives a schitt, but he always does what he wants to do. Two can play that game.

LT has also started screwing stuff up more and more at work, and WCT has said to me a few times now that he has to talk to LT about how he’s overlooking emails that come in or not responding correctly. LT’s funny with this, too, when he knows he has messed something up. Once it comes to the forefront that he has screwed up–and he used to do this where we worked before, too–he’ll say to me that WCT or the supervisor “better not say anything to me.” At our last job, they always “said something to him” anyway, but it never worked. Unlike our last job, they actually fire people at this place. It would be kind of a nightmare for me if LT gets fired, which I don’t think he would, because I’d definitely have more work to do while they find and “train” someone else–and then I’d have to deal with the new person’s questions, a lot of which I won’t know the answers to because of how I’ve been “trained.” But WCT has influenced these decisions in the past, and if he gets sick enough of LT’s issues he could go to our supervisor and the employment agency that placed us with these things.

But LT makes mistakes in large part because he’s lazy, not because he doesn’t know any better. He probably wasn’t trained any better than I’m being trained, but he spends so much time socializing and on Facebook on his personal laptop. And he admits that he tries to do as little work as possible. LT does more work during the first half of the day, but he is definitely one of those people who doesn’t care at all around lunch time and after lunch. And I think that will become more evident to people at work as time goes on, as well. They can see what emails I respond to and which ones he responds to, and they’ll start to notice I do more work in the afternoons.

I was really pissed this morning when I got to work because he left work early yesterday, which meant more work for me, of course. And then first thing this morning one of his screw-ups came to the surface. I just kind of had to laugh to myself. I have to believe this–he’s going to get his. At our last job, I got a raise and was promised raises as long as I was there. LT had worked there approximately a year longer than I had, maybe even longer, and he never got a raise. We’re probably headed for the same type of thing at this place. It’d restore my faith in these dumb-ass employers we have nowadays.

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Living With Your Parents As An Adult

So, I’ve gotta tell you the truth…

I really like living with my parents.

Two years ago this wasn’t true. It wasn’t that I didn’t like living with them. It was more so that I didn’t like the location. But I also took living with them for granted, i.e. how easy life is when you live at home. I went to Chicago to live with my sister, and living in a place like Chicago with my sister changed all that. Sure, I’d still like to move back to Michigan. But I’d like to take my parents with me (they don’t want to move somewhere cold and snowy like that, even though they do like Ann Arbor, where I used to live. True enough, older people don’t move to Michigan from the South–other way around).

I’m now wondering why living with mom and dad as an adult is stigmatized, especially if you’re single (if you’re married, I do think a couple needs its own place). I know that people view it, especially with men, as a sign that someone can’t take care of him/herself, lacks ambition, is unsuccessful and things along those lines.

Let me give you another perspective:

I’ve worked at my new job for almost exactly a month now. I’ve been spending money like crazy since I started this job (not all has been on myself–I have bought my mother so many things I can’t even remember, including a $200 watch she wanted). I think it’s a mental thing, just knowing that I make more money now–more than I actually need. I can afford to live on my own and still pay my student loans now. I absolutely do not want to move out. Admittedly, that I can spend money like crazy and still check my bank account and see a nice amount saved in it because I don’t pay rent anywhere, don’t have bills and that kind of thing? Very much keeping me at home. I will not be moving out any time soon, even though I can now take care of myself.

Am I successful? Well, you decide. I am now settled in one of the two fields I most wanted to be in, which is a field in which I have no educational background and no certificates when there are other people coming out of 4-year programs trying to break in and/or getting all these certs, hoping they’ll help. I make good money for my job description and for where I live. And this is the case, having only worked in this field for about a year and a half. I work at one of the best companies in the area, where I have been told several times that I’m doing a good job. And I get all kinds of things as incentive to keep me where I’m working–a $50 gift card for Christmas, a new bag (which is really nice and something I actually needed), bonuses every six months, free lunches on random days by the company and being taken to lunches I don’t have to pay for wherever I want to go every six weeks by the employment agency that placed me. Oh, and I can pretty much take off work whenever I want. I will still complain about work-related issues, but this other stuff? I don’t know anyone else who has it this good, in terms of their career and the big picture.

Ambition? I’ve already told people that I don’t want to have this job forever and likely don’t even want to remain at the same company. I will be surprised if I am still doing the same thing two years from now, and I have a better job now than I had before and certainly couldn’t have imagined having a job with this company a year ago.

So why will I continue living at home with my parents?

Um…I like my parents?

Living with my parents just works well for all three of us. We have a good relationship, and I think that’s one big difference as to why a lot of people my age couldn’t handle living with their parents. The only rules my parents have are things they know they don’t need to articulate to someone like me. Schitt, my sister had way more ridiculous, restricting garbage rules going on at her house…and even more things that should be rules but just aren’t with my parents (like doing housework).

Other people would feel as if living with their parents limits their freedom. Schitt, I don’t do anything here, and I would hardly do anything if I lived by myself. I’m a sports addict. I come home from work and plop right down in front of the TV to watch games. I play a little music, some video games, eat and sleep. That’s just me. Best part, though, is when I watch games, I usually have someone to watch games with. We spend Saturdays September through mid-January watching college football. We watch the NFL playoffs. We watch college basketball March Madness, and we watch Michigan play.

People want to get away from their parents. I follow my parents around, especially my mother. My mother is probably my best friend. We talk about all kinds of things. If I’m bored, I look for my mother. If I don’t see her in the rooms she’s normally hanging out in at home, I look for her. Sometimes my parents tell me to go away because I’m following them too much.

More reasons–and these are probably the biggest reasons why I don’t understand people who aren’t close to their parents or who seem to value friendship more…and, to a certain extent, why I don’t understand people who put their boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse first…

My parents are retirement age, which means…although their mortality was always an eventuality, as it is with all of us, theirs seems far more near. I think about that a lot. My sisters are nowhere near as close to my parents as I am, and I know that’s bad for me in the sense that I can see myself having far more difficulty with the passing of my parents in the end. I’m always with them, so it’s going to be hard to not be with them. But somehow, thinking about the fact that I don’t know how many more years I have with my parents makes me not want to leave home even more.

I studied philosophy in college–it was one of my minors. Just one of the “useless” fields to which I was attracted, along with English (minor) and psychology (major). Well, one of the “useless” things I learned while taking a hybrid philosophy/English class is the more you know the less happy you are. I have confirmed this throughout my life since learning of this idea in college. The downside to being an intelligent person is sometimes I know things I wish I didn’t know. I fear that I have “figured out” that there is no greater, true-er, real-er, enduring love than what a parent has for his/her child–and that includes the love between a husband and wife (or wife and wife or husband and husband). I know it’s not the same thing, but I still think that once my parents are gone no one earth can or will ever love me as much as they do. Besides, a lot of what matters most about love is the same thing. If you have good parents, you can say and do things that make them mad, sad, disappointed, let down–whatever–but there are just lines your parents would never cross, and they would never give up on you. But your spouse totally would. In fact, usually they do (more so with respect to crossing lines with what they say/do in response, but also–though less so–with giving up on you).

“Understanding” that is…not a good feeling/thought, especially when you think about how this can result in your ending up all alone. But it’s also, to me, a reason why your parents should be on a pedestal–not some guy or girl you met out in the world who is physically attractive and meets a laundry list of stuff you like in a person. And certainly not your “friends.” Most of my “friends” don’t actually give two schitts about me (and I’m starting to sound like Lazy Tech now–he’s all “how many fucks do you think I give? Zero!”), I don’t think, and I can’t at all say that about my parents. It’s kind of funny how people will move out of their parents’ house to share a place with someone who doesn’t give a damn about them, at least it is to me. No thanks–I’d rather stay with my parents.

The funny thing, really, is I’m pretty sure I met someone who thinks a lot like I do about parents…and it partially kept us from having a relationship. I’m pretty sure she has that “parents before random hot person from the street” mentality. She probably thinks I hate her sometimes, but if there’s absolutely anything I’ve never faulted her for and have always understood it’s this. I’m not sure in how many situations I should ever have come before her parents, but knowing and liking each other for less than a year? In that case, the answer is never. So, I salute her for being one of the few people in the US who “gets” it…and, of course, she “gets” it because her family is not American, and…however offensive this may sound, I often think non-American families are just about the only ones that adequately value/honor parents and grandparents. People from non-American families are also the only ones who have ever really told me it’s okay to live with mom and dad in your 30s.

So, I suppose I will move out someday, but I haven’t the foggiest clue when that might be. I still miss Michigan, still think about living there again and still want to move back there. But wanting to move back there? The desire is not quite what it used to be.

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So I Resigned At Work

About a week ago, I received an email that I’d passed the background check and drug test for, let’s call them, Employer B–the job offer I had that pays really good money for what I’d be doing but would still require me to provide IT support to people (which I was–and am–unenthusiastic about). I started feeling nervous, because this meant I was going to have to go into work on Monday and put in my notice. I like a lot of things about Employer B–virtually everything except the hours (as mentioned in another post, I prefer really early hours such as 6am to 2pm) and that I’d still be dealing with people all day. The guy who will be my new supervisor was awesome when I told him I wanted to give at least some notice to my current employer. But I wanted to wait until I knew I passed everything, which I should have passed everything but better safe than sorry. Being notified last Sunday that everything checked out meant that I would be able to give one week’s notice, because I start work tomorrow.

So, I went to work Monday, and I was a wreck. I can’t remember if I mentioned this here, but the lazy tech who works where I’ll be working made it seem like my supervisor was mad when he told her he was leaving, and then eventually she told him not to use them as a reference. I couldn’t figure out if that was just because of the type of employee he was or because he quit at a bad time (which is kind of what I would have to do) or because of how he quit (he had promised to work part of his shift for a couple of weeks, and then two or three days into it he called in and told them he wasn’t coming back). So only having his story to go off of, it made me really dread resigning and, especially, staying there for a week after doing it.

I spent a couple of hours after my supervisor arrived at working thinking of what to say and trying to get the nerve to go to her office. Just as I was getting ready to go to her office, my cell phone rang. I could tell by the number that it was the other employment agency I was working with on getting something at Employer A, which is where I really wanted to go. But it had started looking as if that wasn’t going to work out soon enough, so I’d decided to go with B. The guy calling for Employer A left a message, and I picked up my phone to listen to it. He said they finally had a start date for a shift that would be something like 3pm to 11pm, and they’d want me to start Wednesday–like, he was calling Monday and they expected me to pick up and start a couple of days later after hearing every other week stuff like “I’m still waiting to hear from them” and “I should hear something next week.” I spent over two months waiting on this job, basically, and all of a sudden they were in a hurry.

This made me even more nervous because now I wasn’t sure about which job to take, and if I took the job I’d been wanting I would have had to tell my supervisor Tuesday would be my last day–on Monday. I really didn’t want to do anything like that. So I got my phone and went downstairs away from the suite where I worked so I could speak with the guy at this agency. I asked if it would be possible to see if a Monday start (tomorrow) would be possible, and I told him I had another job offer that said that start date would be fine, plus they pay more money. He wanted to know if I would take the job if he could get a Monday start date, and I said yes, even though I wasn’t happy about working that shift they had available.

After he checked for me on the start date, he called back and left a message basically saying he couldn’t get that date and they “should” have other positions there opening sometime next week. Now I had been getting should-ed to death over the past two and a half months, and nothing he said panned out. I just kind of shook my head and was like, “This is not worth it.” Employer B has been far more professional, plus they had a solid start date, didn’t expect me to wait forever and then jump when they said “go” and actually pay far more money anyways. Not to mention I wouldn’t have to miss as many football and basketball games working 8am to 5pm as I would working 3pm to 11pm or whatever vague shift I’d be working.

I went to my supervisor’s office and nervously–obvious in my voice–resigned. I was just like, “I wanted to let you know this will be my last week. I got a couple of job offers, and they want me to start next week…” And I’d worked out that I’d say I got more than one offer because I didn’t want to tell them where I’d be working (i.e. that I’d be with lazy tech whom they hate), even though I knew they’d ask. I ended up telling everyone I was leaning towards Employer A, even though I’d basically gotten fed up with A and dropped them.

It was so not a big deal–my supervisor didn’t seem surprised at all. I had a feeling before I resigned that she already sensed I was looking for something else, and she probably did. She wasn’t upset. On Tuesday, though, she wanted to speak with me about why I was leaving so that they can know what they need to do better. I basically talked to her about how the lack of training made me uncomfortable and not confident in doing my job, and that I don’t like having to get help all the time even at this juncture…and I also spoke really candidly with her about the issues I’ve had with the female tech geek (FTG). I made it clear that she wasn’t why I was quitting, just that she made it more difficult for me on top of not feeling comfortable with the job because of her unwillingness to help when I needed it, her communication issues, how competitive she is and her quickness to point out when she thinks you’ve done something wrong or get upset about insignificant things.

Just as I’d figured, my supervisor already knows how FTG is and knows it’s a problem. She just doesn’t know what to do about it. She has spoken with FTG before, and she said she will speak with her again. She knows that FTG’s behavior will be a problem with new employees, but I don’t see what can be done, either, short of firing FTG–which I doubt they’ll do.

I’ve written about “cultural fit” at work before and how unfair the concept can be and usually is. But when you have someone like FTG at work, I think it goes a little bit beyond cultural fit. If you have a team work environment and one of the people there essentially sabotages that, undermines other employees or makes it hard for work to get done correctly, that is the kind of “fit” that doesn’t work. I don’t know if my supervisor knew to what extent FTG is a problem there until I told her and gave examples, and I understand why they might feel like they can’t or shouldn’t get rid of FTG. But in most workplaces, someone like that probably should be let go.

My supervisor was very understanding and basically told me she figured a lot of what I said already but wanted/needed to hear it. She told me I’d really done a good job there. And I really felt bad later in the week because I really like a lot of people there and they didn’t want me to leave. I particularly hated to be leaving some of the guys there. My supervisor told me she was sorry I was leaving a couple of times, and the accounting lady told me the same thing and said she really likes me. We also talked about FTG a little bit as I was leaving.

FTG apparently really doesn’t feel comfortable when the accounting lady and I are speaking to each other where she can’t hear. As I mentioned in another post, we’re the only ones there who really seem to just not like FTG at all, and I’m sure FTG knows that. The guy who trained me told me one time that FTG asked him what we were saying one time when I was in the accounting lady’s office discussing an issue that FTG had been involved in and I’d ended up stuck with. At the time, we hadn’t said anything about her. And on my last day, the accounting lady told me she was jealous that I was getting out of there, and FTG was like, “What did she say? Every time she said something to me–no one was speaking to FTG–she was like, “What?” I told FTG it was nothing, and apparently that wasn’t good enough because the accounting lady told me FTG actually emailed her to find out what we were talking about–even though no one had been speaking to her, i.e. it was none of her business.

FTG also did something I totally knew she would–she got all nosy and started asking me if I’d gotten another job and where I’d be working (remember, she hardly ever speaks to me, and it’s worse than pulling teeth to get her help with anything). I didn’t tell her much–definitely didn’t tell her where I’d be working–and I’m sure she has asked others there since she didn’t get what she wanted from me.

Thank goodness I am getting away from that kind of crap–hopefully.

By the way–a couple of days after I resigned, I spoke with the guy who was hiring on behalf of Employer A. He wanted to know if I was still going to take the job, even though he couldn’t give me an exact start date. I could kind of hear in his voice when I told him no that he was surprised, kind of upset and didn’t understand why I decided not to go to work for them–even though he was still telling me they “should” be ready X day “or” Y day. If I were unemployed and could wait on that job because I didn’t have a choice, then that’d be fine. But he seriously seemed to think I would be okay with resigning my job and then sitting around not totally sure if or when I’d go to work for Employer A.

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The Media Is Changing, For Better and For Worse

I was at work today trying to find a way to amuse myself, as usual, when I found that daily thought-provoking link. This was incredibly timely, given that I just applied for some sports writing positions.

Now, I know that I have some readers who are either not from the US or who seem to be a little bit more Europeanized than Americanized. I also know that such people tend not to “get” Americans’ deal with sports, particularly American football. If they like anything, it’s often garbage sports like soccer. So, I’ll try my best to make this something you can recognize.

You don’t have to read the whole link above. The short of it is someone wrote to a very successful sports journalist for advice on how to get into sports media as a career, and the sports journalist allegedly responded. For the purposes of my post, really, the most essential thing the alleged author of the email says is this:

Most of my good friends who are columnists for major newspapers and 
websites or work as anchors or commentators on ESPN also are not fans and 
also don’t take sports very seriously. 

You CANNOT be a fan of a team, or even a sport, and do this job 
effectively. I care little what my alma mater, Tennessee, does in sports. 
If you are a fan, it tempers everything you write and say. Again, my 
friends who are award-winning sports columnists in Los Angeles, Dallas, New 
York, Chicago and other cities are much more interested in writing, reading, 
the theater, history, and they have a passion for doing the job, not a 
passion for the subject. 

If you do read the whole thing, I would say that most of what the author wrote is gold. And, certainly, it is beyond me why anyone would want to be a sports writer if he/she doesn’t love to write. Writing was probably my first love. Sports writing or not, I will always write. It doesn’t matter what it’s about or if it’s just a personal blog or what I officially do for a living.

But I think the excerpt above reflects yet another basic generational misunderstanding. In other words, this guy is “old” and increasingly out of touch, at least on a couple of points.

See, I think most of us recognize that “media” is rapidly becoming less professional, less airtight, more technology-based…and more biased. Almost every time I watch ESPN, I see a member of the sports media who clearly seems biased. And some of them have, more or less, confirmed they have some bias. I don’t think anyone who follows college football on ESPN doubts that Kirk Herbstreit loves the Ohio State Buckeyes, and he really doesn’t try to hide it. He played football for the school, so I don’t have a problem with this–especially since he is one of the college football analysts whose opinion I look forward to hearing most. I think he’s a very good analyst. But he’s biased. He’s a fan.

Not just to pick on rival Ohio State–let me whip out examples from my Michigan Wolverines.

About USA Today sports writer and fellow Wolverine Nicole Auerbach, taken right from her little bio on the site:

Nicole Auerbach joined USA TODAY in the fall of 2011 to oversee online college basketball coverage. She’s a New Jersey native and a big fan of Big Ten football and basketball. She firmly believes Madness need not be limited to just March.

For those of you who don’t know, our Michigan is in the Big Ten conference. That’s probably why she’s a Big Ten fan, and I know that’s why I’m a Big Ten fan.

And this is from Chantel Jennings, another Michigan Wolverine, from her days at The Michigan Daily. She is now a sports writer over at espn.com for WolverineNation:

…[I]n four years, I’ve gone from being a premed student to an English major, I’ve been an activist, a GDI, a sorority girl, back to a GDI, an almost-IM sports champion, a volunteer in prisons, a basketball coach, a Spaniard, a Daily writer, a Daily photographer, a student and a Michigan fanI’ve done my best to separate myself from being a fan at the events I covered. But as I sat on the baseline at the Duke/Michigan basketball game this year, I wanted to tell Coach Beilein that I think he’s a great coach. More importantly, I wanted to tell him I think he’s a good man.

Bleck. Beilein. A discussion for another day. Anyways. Moving on…one more example.

Dana Jacobson, a former ESPN anchor, took being a Michigan fan/alum a bit too far by taking a huge dig at another one of our rivals, Notre Dame:

Sources have confirmed that Jacobson, a co-host of “First Take” on ESPN2, currently is serving a one-week suspension because of her behavior at a Jan. 11 roast for ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic at Atlantic City, N.J…Jacobson reportedly said “F*** Notre Dame,” “F*** Touchdown Jesus,” and “F*** Jesus” in an attempt to talk trash to Mike and Mike co-host Mike Golic, a former Notre Dame football player.

Yes, we take these rivalries seriously, people. I, myself, have trashed rival Michigan State in writing before just because they’re our rival (well…and because they beat us, which is unacceptable).

Here’s the thing:

Biases and a lack of professionalism in journalism are not just in sports journalism. And bad writing in journalism is growing in part because more and more people have access to some type of journalistic platform. And sorry, but blogs have somewhat become journalistic platforms. Why, several major sports companies in the US have bloggers. That’s because these companies are smart enough to see the way technology is changing the media and journalism, and they are rolling with it instead of fighting it and applying old standards, a la “you can’t be a fan” and “you can’t make it writing for some online blog.”

I have to lament this on one hand and thank it on another, because I guarantee you I would have no hope of being a professional sports writer otherwise. Another one of those writers over at WolverineNation came from a blog, and the blog from which he came is run by a guy who has gotten opportunities outside of that blog–a guy who is a respected, widely-accepted source by pretty much everyone in sports when it comes to Michigan sports, particularly Michigan football. Oh, yeah…also pretty sure he’s a Michigan fan. Giving fans journalistic access is all the rage right now, and I don’t think that’s going to stop. And obviously, some of these fans are going to write well enough and report well enough to get bigger and better opportunities.

But there are times when I watch journalists–any kind–interviewing someone, and I’m just sitting there thinking, “This person is an ass.” And I’m thinking that because the journalist is showing too much of a bias. I am not too young to remember when journalists used to calmly ask questions and just sit there and listen to the responses. The response was for the public to render a verdict on–it wasn’t for the journalist to do that. The journalists are there to find the truth and bring the public access to knowledge. But nowadays, the journalists are sitting there judging, and they come into the interview with their minds made up about the people they interview. They don’t hide it well, either. And so the interviews sometimes come off more as attacks, not interviews.

Being a sports fan, I read a lot of sports sources. I used to read AOL FanHouse, which is now rolled into Sporting News. Apparently, Sporting News ditched a lot of the FanHouse writers. Since I like to write sports pieces and since I like to think of myself as mature, I rarely respond to sports pieces with any sort of personal attack on the writer–typical behavior for sports fans. But I probably complained at least half the time in FanHouse comments about the writers. Why? They sucked. One thing fans love to comment is “I can do your job.” FanHouse was the one place I ever wrote anything like that. Pieces always had grammar, spelling and/or factual errors. I’d bet you the writers Sporting News axed were the ones I complained about. Most sports fans whine about the content of sports pieces, but my gripe is almost always the quality of the writing if I’m complaining. Unfortunately, there are now plenty of writers out there–not just in sports–who can’t write and also aren’t being edited well. So, I will give that to the writer of the email all the way at the beginning of this post.

I will also give him that it’s challenging to be a fan, have biases and–if you want to be good at what you do and be fair–be a good sports writer. Hopefully, it’s not impossible. But his email is not the first time I’ve thought about that issue. I thought about it while writing on my college football blog, and I thought about it while watching guys like Kirk Herbstreit on TV who clearly had their team and conference allegiances.

So, I did something that I found myself wishing others in sports media would just come out and do:

I admitted my biases to my readers. In plain English.

I’m a Michigan fan and a Michigan alum, so it goes without saying that I have issues with Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame.

I also just do not like USC and Florida. I just don’t.

I’m a Big Ten fan, so I don’t like the SEC. The Big Ten/SEC thing is a sports version of the North vs the South. I’m from the South and everything, but my loyalty is to my school and the schools with which it is aligned. I also just happen to not like anything that is shoved down my throat, and the sports media does an excellent job of shoving the SEC down everyone’s throat. By the same token, I can’t stand LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning and if Tom Brady weren’t a Wolverine I probably wouldn’t be able to stand him.

So, there you have it. I would repeat this little list on any sports job I get if allowed, just for the purpose of full disclosure. Has this admission freed me in my writing? Not entirely. I have had all kinds of issues with admitting that the SEC is the best conference in college football. I am just now developing the ability to admit this, and the SEC has probably been the best conference over the past 5 or 6 years.

But I have written that college football needs Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC and Florida to be elite teams, and that I respect Ohio State and Notre Dame. My second favorite team behind Michigan is Wisconsin, and Wisconsin lost a game at the last second to the hated Michigan State last year. At the end of the season, I wrote that this game was the second best game of the season (after TCU-Baylor, two teams I couldn’t care less about, personally). And once, I received a message from someone who said they liked my writing because I am more down-to-earth than other Michigan fans…in other words, I don’t have all this blind loyalty when it comes to Michigan. Michigan’s a popular pick when it comes to winning the Big Ten and going to the Rose Bowl this coming football season. But I don’t hesitate to tell any and everybody that Michigan will probably lose more games this season than they did last season, won’t play in any BCS bowl and Michigan State will likely win the Big Ten (which probably will include yet another win over Michigan, at which point I will vomit…er, in private).

In other words, it’s like Jennings wrote in the Daily–some of us are fans, i.e. biased, but anyone in the media–or trying to be–needs to separate from bias and exercise the utmost professionalism.

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