Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Schultz Family

You likely already know that I’m from the Seattle area (Everett, specifically). I went home for Christmas last month, as I do every year. Over the last few years, the only time I’ve gone home has been at Christmas time. There just isn’t a whole lot going on that demands a full blown trip outside the holiday season. In fact, the last time I went home that wasn’t for Christmas was when my younger brother, Tyler, got married in September 2005. So, when I go home I can easily pick up on any changes that have occurred during the previous year. And since I’ve been in this routine for a little while now, I’ve garnered enough perspective to come to a realization of a few things. So, this blog entry has a few of my thoughts regarding my family and the Schultz dynamic, but its main purpose is to give my friends a chance to get to know my family a bit better (considering that virtually no one I regularly interact with has ever met my family).

For starters, let’s get the introductions out of the way. My parents are Don and Becky and I have three younger brothers – Bryan (26 this Sunday), Tyler (22), and Jared (20). Yes, I’m the oldest (I just turned 28, btw) and no, I don’t have any sisters (which could very well answer a lot of questions that come up about why I am who I am).

I always thought my fam was pretty normal, but I’m beginning to think otherwise. For example, my parents’ picture taking fetish is simply crazy at times. We had the missionaries over for Christmas dinner and at the end of the meal when everyone was just lounging at the dinner table my Dad busted out the camera. In and of itself, it’s cool. We only get together once a year, after all, so I can understand why he’d want to take a few pics. Except my Dad got a serious close-up of one of the missionaries. The camera was probably 16 inches from the guy’s face. Dad! Does the word “bubble” mean anything to you?! Wow. And then the next morning when I was running on the treadmill, he busted out the camera again. I wasn’t too surprised; it was my fifth day in a row using the treadmill, so I guess having a picture of me running would help typify the week. However, he again turned something fairly normal into something a little weird – he took like seven or eight shots! I just ignored him and had a serious “shaking my head in disbelief” moment in my own mind. Last year when I gave my Mom a hard time about their picture-crazy habit, she mentioned something about taking pics at my wedding. After pointing out that she was making a big assumption there (which probably wasn’t the best thing for me to do – she still sees me as her best chance for grandbabies), I voiced my concern over my own parents trying to shoot my wedding. How on earth would that work out!?! I don’t think it would, hence why I’ve already started lobbying against such a notion.

On to the hermanos. Bryan is definitely an intellectual. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Washington a year ago. He’s always been the artsy one in the family, drawing and writing constantly. Over the last little while though, he’s taken an interest in animal rights (which isn’t exactly uncommon in Seattle). He’s converted himself to the vegan lifestyle (and not just lukewarm vegan; he doesn’t use or eat anything made from animals at all – including butter!! No butter!?! I’m freaking out just conceptualizing the ramifications of such a decision!) and also actively participates in various protests against certain companies or practices. He wants to go into business for himself because he doesn’t want to work for “the man.” Well, I have every intention of becoming “the man,” so I hope we can reconcile all that over holiday meals and such in years to come.

Tyler, aka Scott. Scott is his middle name, but he must have had an identity crisis in high school or something (but on second thought, that’s probably fairly commonplace amongst adolescents; I was in Brazil when it all went down, so I don’t have a first person perspective). You know, Tyler is actually pretty normal. He married his high school sweetheart (Fernanda, she’s Chilean) and plays guitar in a garage band. He doesn’t have any college under his belt though and just recently decided to take up auto mechanics, so hopefully this career choice pans out for him.

Now for a few words on Jared, the baby of the family. Okay, so I think that most families have a kind of personality scale amongst the siblings – the oldest seems to be the most serious, and the youngest seems to be the most free-spirited, with varying elements of both for the siblings in between. My family fits this quite well. I’ve always been way too serious about things (though I’ve learned to loosen up quite a bit over the last couple years) and Jared has always been more care-free and just. . . Jared. The dude is high energy and a lot of fun to be around. He works in an animal research facility taking care of the animals that are being tested (I’m just waiting for Bryan to spew some sharp rhetoric one of these times we’re all together, hahaha). He works mostly with monkeys (and their cousins) and has some hilarious stories about what the monkeys do. The monkeys all have nicknames apparently and have their own personalities. If I could remember enough particulars about Jared’s stories, I’d post them on here in a heartbeat, but I think all the raucous laughter that accompanies Jared’s storytelling makes it tough to retain many details. I do have one great example of Jared’s random, free-spirited nature though. On Christmas Day, we were all waiting for him to come over for dinner, so I texted him to see what was going on. His response to me was just this: “3 Nepali Ninjas broke into our house so I had to effect all of them in Mortal Kombat or they would have invaded earth realm.” How’s that for random? I laughed soooo hard. That’s just how Jared is. We found out later that he took three of his Nepali coworkers to Jack in the Box because they had never had a hamburger before.

Here are a few other things I noticed when I was at home:
• My Dad has more electronic gadgets/toys than I do (including a bigger and nicer TV – it rocks!!)
• I clear my throat like my Dad does (that’s just a random thing to notice, but it’s there nonetheless)
• I cleaned my place in Idaho before I left for Seattle. My Mom always did this before we took off for trips and I guess I’ve adopted the same routine. I must say, it was extremely nice to come home to a clean pad and know I didn’t have to worry about cleaning for a little bit. But it was scary when I realized in Seattle that I’m becoming more and more like my parents.

This last Christmas I also noticed that most discussions with my brothers involve video games and music. Growing up, we all loved playing Goldeneye (and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, then I think you were deprived of a fun, normal childhood) and having four brothers for the four controllers for the Nintendo 64 worked out marvelously for my Mom. Tyler, Jared, and I all have Xbox 360s today. Being from Seattle, we were all inundated with the grunge/alternative music scene. I think all four of us have retained elements of interest in both of those, and I’m grateful we have something to fall back on (considering that none of my brothers actively attend Church and that’s a big part of my life that I can’t really talk about at length with any of them).

If you made it this far, I’m very impressed. I hope you had a great nap from it!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Commute from HELL

Okay, so maybe that post title is a little overdramatic. But it probably got your attention, right? Anyway, you can decide for yourself momentarily how exaggerated the title is.

My commute to work is about 15 minutes and 6 miles. Nothing crazy, right? There’s still a fair amount of ice in the median lanes, but the roads weren’t too bad today, despite a daytime high of 21 degrees or so.

As I pulled out of my apartment’s parking lot, another car across the street was getting ready to turn onto the side street as well. We got there at about the same time, so I gave the other driver the hand wave. She looked straight at me, saw the gesture, and. . . shook her head! I couldn’t believe it! She shook off the hand wave! Who does that?! I laughed incredulously for a moment as I made the turn first. Anyway, that’s not exactly hellacious; I just thought it was amusing.

The next 14 minutes were rather uneventful. I was just enjoying various harmonious alternative selections from my iPod. Well, as I was closing in on my turn into the parking lot at work, I almost got T-boned! By a soccer dad in a minivan!

I was in the inside lane heading southbound on Yellowstone Highway just south of Sunnyside going around 30-35 mph. Yellowstone is a four lane highway with a center turn lane. There was a large red suburban in the outside lane that had slowed to turn onto Pederson St. and since my parking lot is just south of Pederson I had slowed so I could merge into the outside lane once the suburban had left the highway. Unfortunately, as I slowed, I was blocked quite well from the view of a white Chrysler minivan that was turning from Pederson to head north on Yellowstone. As the suburban turned, the minivan shot out onto Yellowstone, completely oblivious to my presence.

I noticed there wasn’t any oncoming traffic, so as I swerved left across the icy median, I went into the northbound inside lane to create more space. As I passed the van (the driver of which – a man, so I can’t make any sexist remarks J – was actually looking away from me to check for oncoming traffic in the northbound lanes), I honked my horn and swerved back onto my side of the highway. I then slowed down and turned into the parking lot. Naturally, everything happened very quickly. Even so, I have a perfect little two second “film” in my mind of how it all unfolded. I can even see the side of the driver’s head with his scruffy black beard.

Just last week my insurance agent called me to try to sell me accident forgiveness coverage. Since I’ve never been in an accident, let alone caused one, I didn’t see a need to pay more for that coverage. So, naturally, I turned it down. But since that phone call I’ve been more paranoid about getting in an accident (you know, suspecting that I was somehow jinxed by turning down the opportunity to pay my All State dude more dinero). And then this happened. The timing is simply uncanny.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I felt like I had just gotten off an exhilarating roller coaster ride. Is that weird? I didn’t even have road rage. That’s definitely weird. Anyway, a couple work associates saw the whole thing and as they got out of their own cars I think they were angrier about the situation than I was. One of them sits in the same area that I’m in, so word got out to everyone pretty quickly. He said this: “That wasn’t just good driving, that was amazing driving.” Thanks Nate!

Once I got to my desk, I said a little prayer of thanks. Then I texted my Mom to thank her for teaching me how to drive well. Her mom and her aunt were race car drivers in Northern California when she was younger (and when they were younger, of course). In fact, Aunt Charlene was the first woman allowed to participate in figure eight races at her hometown raceway. I’m sure you’ll use that little tidbit of info very soon in your life. Valuable indeed.

I was also immediately grateful for sports and video games. Seriously. The whole hand-eye coordination thing was huge for me this morning. And in sports, I’ve experienced the same sensation of time seeming to slow down (hence how I found time to honk as I was careening in and out of the other lanes), so it wasn’t too tough to take advantage of it. Not to mention having some exposure to pressure situations that happen in the blink of an eye.
Thankfully, my streak of no accidents continues on through today (knock on wood).