Hypothetically Speaking . . .

Three Fish, A Hairline, And A Dumpster Walk Into A Bar…

Written By: Michael Rochelle - May• 08•11

As some of you may already know, I recently changed jobs. Wait a minute. I know what you’re saying, “Michael, you switched jobs again! You barely learned your supervisor’s name at the last job, and you were still getting lost every time you went to the bathroom! They filed 12 missing person reports on you in March alone.” Though that may all be true, and it is slightly embarrassing for the police to kick down the door of your stall in the restroom to compare you to the picture that they have on file, the change was going to come sooner or later. The old job was for a government contractor, and contracts come to an end. No big issues. No huge drama. I was not escorted out of the building by my ear this time, which was a welcomed change. Oh, and the FBI were not involved this go-round.

Of course, starting a new job means that I have to prove myself all over again. Unlike you, the new company has no idea how wonderful I am just yet. Don’t worry. I’ll let them know. I wonder if a companywide email will do the trick. Maybe I should just hand out some introductory pamphlets or something. Hmmm. Either way, I’ll work it out. My only issue so far is the learning curve. Everything I’m instructed to do sounds German to me, and as soon as I think that I’m starting to understand it, they switch over to Korean mid-sentence. In fact, the other day my manager asked me to do the simplest of tasks, and my mind went completely blank. It wasn’t until the third or fourth time that he yelled, “I said click on the right!” that I understood he meant my other right—as in, the opposite of left. Oops. Well, in my defense, when under pressure, sometimes knowing my right from my left is rocket science. And that’s all I have to say about that.

In the wake of the new job, a rental increase, and the rise in gas prices, I’ve decided to make some slightly drastic changes in my life in effort to cut down on expenses. Because of this, I haven’t been shopping for clothing in over two whole days and I’ve even begun skipping some of my daily visits to Starbucks over the past week. Yes, it’s that serious. I’ve even had a talk with my fish about the lifestyle changes and they weren’t too happy about it. As opposed to buying the $2.50 fish food I typically get them, I’ve downgraded to the $1.99 value brand. I know you’re probably thinking that I’m a horrible person and should be reported to the Fish Protective Services Agency, but it is my belief that everyone in my household can stand to tighten his or her belts a little—even if they are tiny little fish belts that I got on sale at Kohl’s back in the day when I could afford such luxuries.

In any case, the fish are having no parts of the budget cuts and have decided to revolt against the system. Instead of getting excited at feeding time, they just stare at the $1.99, non-name-brand food and then look back at me as if I’ve lost my mind. Perhaps I shouldn’t have placed the generic container labeled with red crayon “Fish Food or Something” beside their aquarium. If I had hidden it, maybe they would have never known the difference. This is really all my fault for teaching them how to read. I probably should have left well enough alone after I taught them the electric slide and how to square dance. Fish can be kind of snooty, if you ask me. You should have seen their little noses as they turned them up in the air in protest.

Anyway, I decided to compromise and mix the cheaper food with the more expensive food, but the fish were smart enough to zero in on the “good” food and left the cheap stuff floating. I’m too embarrassed to mention that one of them spit one of the cheap flakes back at me. I even did a demonstration for them where I ate some of the generic food and pretended that it was good. I should have won an Oscar based on that performance. Have you ever eaten a fish flake? Well, let me tell you, it is the one thing in the world that does NOT taste like chicken. Because of this, I agreed to continue spending the extra 50 cents on the food they like—even if it means I have to add a few more performances to my new nightly gig at the Burger Barn Strip Club. If you’re ever in the DC area, I go on right after Bullet-Hole-Betty.

Despite the fact that I am trying to cut cost, the recent pictures that have surfaced of me dumpster diving and subsequently being arrested at my apartment complex are completely unrelated. See, what had happened was, I stopped at a friend’s house after work. Because she lives in my apartment complex, I threw some stuff into the trash compactor on my way to her apartment. When I got back to my apartment, I realized that a bag that contained my umbrella and my favorite brush were missing. I called my friend to see if I’d left them at her house, but I got no answer. So, I did what any normal person would do. I grabbed my flashlight and headed for the dumpster. Completely logical.

My original goal was to just peer over the edge of the dumpster to see if the bag I assumed I’d unintentionally tossed in was on top somewhere. Of course, it wasn’t. I’m not sure what it was that made me decide to lift my leg and hoist myself over the side while wearing a button-down shirt, slacks, and shoes with slippery bottoms. Maybe it was the sense of adventure. Maybe it was the thought of me never seeing my favorite brush ever again. Or, maybe it was someone else’s discarded Target bag that looked like it might have contained something good in it that made me journey into the great unknown. Whatever it was, I practically dove in head first.

Well, if I thought I knew my neighbors before, I really know them now. After sifting through several layers of trash and not finding any of the things I’d thrown away, I learned that my neighbors have a lot of trash. I mean, it seemed as if people had driven for miles and miles just to dump their trash on top of my missing items. Next, I learned that trash that has a smell, and that foul stench should be used to punish people who do bad things, like people who don’t tip or something. I also learned that somebody in my apartment complex likes a lot of macaroni. Then again, maybe they don’t because I slipped on a pile of it right before I gave up on my mission of finding my lost items. I arrived home, broken and disheartened, with a few layers of mac and cheese on my face, just to find a voicemail from my friend saying that I’d accidentally left a bag on her table. Great, I thought, as I wiped the last little bit of old macaroni out of my eye. Just great.

In other cutting cost news, it’s no secret that I’ve been cutting my own hair for years now. In fact, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen the inside of a barber shop. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe Lincoln was still in office. Yeah, that’s probably about right. Because I’m not a professional barber, I sometimes have little slip-ups when attempting to give myself a decent haircut. Most times, people either don’t notice or they’re super nice and don’t mention it. However, other times, they stop, point, stare, and/or cover their children’s eyes in order to shelter them from having to witness the catastrophic remains of my lop-sided hairline, my bald spots, or places that I completely missed while cutting. One time, I forgot the whole back of my head. I think I was rushing that day. Let’s just say, I’ve been known to be called Patch Adams a time or two over the years.

Well, instead of giving up and folding to the pressure of having perfect hair, I just keep on trying because that’s what real people do. Whether I accidentally give myself bangs, or I do the opposite and unintentionally push my hairline way back behind my ears, I hold my head high with pride because I’m not a quitter—at least not when it comes to the fine art of barbering. Quitting a job or school is one thing, but quitting the cutting my own hair—never. That said, if you ever see me with a bob on one side, a shag on the other and bald in the back, just know that I saved at least $20 by doing it myself. And who knows? Maybe I’ll start some sort of trend and people all around the world will be wearing patches, bald spots, and missing hairlines with pride. Maybe they’ll call it “The Michael” and I’ll get my own Do-It-Yourself TV show on the Sci-Fi or National Geographic channel. That’s right. The sky is the limit, and don’t you forget it.

Michael Rochelle

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The Real Me (We R Who We R)

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Mar• 14•11

After much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that I must have multiple personalities. Although my team of therapists have not yet confirmed or denied whether they agree with my theory or not, that would be the only logical explanation as to why one minute I aspire to take over the world, and the next minute I’d like to just sit back and watch TV for the rest of my life. Honestly, I have the best of intentions to go home after work and knock out a few chapters of homework, but then I notice that the news is on and it’s my duty as an American to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I take that duty very seriously. I mean, what if there’s a burglar heading straight for my apartment and I miss the warning because I was too busy doing homework? And what if that burglar steals the homework I’d been working so hard on? Then what?

Because of this realization of my having multiple personalities, I had to wonder, which me is the real me? Is the real me the one who plans to get up an extra hour early every morning to do the P90X exercises, or is the real me the one that bought the Wii Fit two years ago that I have yet to open? Did I mention that I also bought the Zumba exercise game a month ago because I was so sure that I’d be Zumbaing across my living room all day, every day? The problem is it’s still in the plastic. Oh, and Billy Blanks would be so disappointed if he learned that his Tae Bo DVDs sat on my shelf for over 4 years while I geared myself up for his boot camp. Hopefully, he doesn’t read this blog. I would really hate to upset him. I could just imagine him putting me in a headlock and demanding that I drop down and give him 20. Of course, I’d respond, “I hope you mean $20, and not 20 push-ups.”

Seriously though, I really have to step my game up. Remember how I promised that I was going to do a blog entry every month? Well, did you notice that I missed the month of February? Granted, February only had 28 days, but throughout the whole month, I didn’t take 3 measly hours to provide an update for my 4½ readers. The nerve of me! And what about the novel that I started writing 55 years ago? I’m still just on page 283—and that’s only because I made my font REALLY big and used a lot of line spaces throughout. If I reduced the words down to a normal sized font, I’d probably have the equivalent of a sentence that reads, “See Spot run.”

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to have to sit the Michael Rochelle that has all the aspirations down so that he can have a talk with the Michael Rochelle who wants to watch “Wendy Williams” all day. They are going to have to reach some sort of compromise where neither of them will get what they really want, but both will end up with something doable. Instead of my being the first person to win both “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol” in the same year, maybe I’ll just do some local street-corner performances instead. Wish me and me luck on reaching a happy medium. I am rarely ever wrong except for all the many times that I am, so I may need a referee that won’t let me get me.

In other news, I recently decided to upgrade the living conditions of my fish. Apparently, they’d heard the theme song for “The Jeffersons” the other day and they wanted their own “deluxe apartment in the sky.” So, instead of having all four of them swimming around in an 8-ounce coffee cup, I bought them a 5-gallon aquarium, which made them really happy, if I may say so myself. Actually, since I’ve moved them out of the coffee cup, not once have I accidentally added cream and sugar to their water. Oh, and I’ve certainly stopped putting them in the microwave first thing in the morning after spooning in some Folgers. I’ve lost so many fish that way. Hmmm.

In any case, the fish are doing well in their new home. They call it the penthouse. I tried to talk them out of it, but they insisted. They said it was a fish thing and I should just mind my business. Anyway, it was the first aquarium I’d had with a real filtration system to help keep the water clean. Well, when I plugged it in, the fish and I got the shock of our lives as the filter system began shooting the fish across the tank like missiles. This went on for a little while until I got tired of hearing the thump of a fish hitting the glass as it was launched from one side of the tank to the other. Since I’ve fixed that issue, it’s been smooth swimming ever since. And before you start judging me and reporting me to PETA, I’d like to point out that only one fish was injured in the process of using the new filter, but I did successfully Super Glue his tail back on, and he’s just fine.

Speaking of just fine, something that hasn’t been just fine lately is my moustache. Although I’m at least 152 in dog years, I still haven’t mastered the fine art of trimming my moustache properly. I blame my mother for this. Of all the things she taught me, she somehow skipped the lesson on shaving. I have no idea why. Because of this, some days my moustache looks like there’s a caterpillar, and other days it looks as though I drew a check mark or a squiggly line above my lip like the one that sits on Charlie Brown’s forehead. The worse part about messing up your moustache is that the only option is to shave it off and start again, which makes me look like I’m in the fourth grade. Unfortunately, once you’ve shaved half of it, you can’t just run out and get a weave or extensions to fill in the bald spots above your top lip. Actually, you can, but it doesn’t look natural. Believe me. I’ve tried it.

The point of all this, and I do have a point, is whether you exercise every day or whether you buy every fitness DVD and use them as saucers, as Kesha would say, We R Who We R. There is nothing wrong with growing a caterpillar or a dreadlock moustache if you so desire. If you’re 40 pounds or 400 pounds, you’re special gosh darn it. Flaunt it! And just because you’re a fish, that doesn’t mean you have to swim. Maybe you want to fly like my fish do whenever the filter chooses to let them soar. Regardless of the circumstances or what anybody else thinks or feels, just be happy with who or what you are. So what if you’re dad wanted you to be a lawyer and you failed him miserably by only becoming a doctor. Look around you. Everyone else and their multiple personalities are living their lives and doing whatever they want to do. That noted, why shouldn’t you and your multiple personalities do the same? Why can’t we be free to be the real you’s and me’s?

Michael Rochelle
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Never Give Up On Your Stupid, Stupid Dreams

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Jan• 31•11

I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly glad the holiday season is behind us. One of the main issues I have with that time of year, other than the way my money seems to fly out of my wallet without regard to my rent or cable bill, is that the holidays really test your knowledge of religion. Imagine my shame when I incorrectly wished one of my Jewish neighbors a happy Kwanzaa. Oops. It would be so much easier if we had some form of notecards or something to tell us which holiday was celebrated by which religion. (Oh, so you’re Canadian, give me a moment to check my notecards.) Thus, I love this time of year where you’re able to just say, “Happy Friday,” or “Have a good weekend,” because everyone believes in Fridays and weekends regardless of religious, ethnic, or political affiliations—I think. Hmmm.

Well, it’s official. In spite of my abysmal GMAT score, I was somehow accepted into the University of Baltimore’s Master of Business (MBA) program. Go ahead. I’ll give you a few moments to applaud. I’ll wait. Is that it? Are you done already? It wouldn’t have killed you to have clapped for at least a full minute or two. Geez. I would have done it for you. You should have seen how enthusiastic I was the other day when one of my coworkers called to tell me that their 12-year-old son would no longer be wearing pull-ups because he’d graduated to big boy undies. Personally, I couldn’t have been prouder. I clapped for a full five minutes, might I add.

Anyway, I must admit that I’m not exactly sure what got me over the hump. Maybe it was the pizzas and cheese steaks I had delivered to the admissions staff along with my application. Or, maybe it was the hand washing and waxing I performed on the staff’s cars during the admittance process. Then again, it probably was the Swedish massages I gave the faculty, which was a feat in itself due to the unusual amount of back hair some of those ladies had. Yuck!!! I mean, I could have braided it if they’d asked. I’m glad they didn’t.

Ok, maybe I went a little overboard with the Swedish massages, but at least I didn’t resort to doing anything unethical to get in—again. No money actually exchanged hands—this time. And I can neither confirm nor deny that I did any direct deposits into the admission staff’s bank accounts. Regarding that matter, I plead the fifth. Also, I’d like to point out that I only washed their windows, handled their copying needs, and ran some errands for the admissions staff as a part of an “internship” that just happened to only last for the couple of hours my application was under review. Purely coincidental and completely innocent. Right?

In any case, I got in and I’m incredibly excited, nervous, and a little frightened. I’m excited because I genuinely enjoy the learning process. I’m nervous because I want to do well, but I know that the pursuit of the MBA is going to be a challenge and will take me way out of my comfort zone. And I’m frightened because I have no idea how I’m going to keep up with the coursework and the new season of “The Bachelor” at the same time. For me, this is a very real fear. I mean, how else am I going to learn how to find real love? Duh! Furthermore, I’m frightened because the curriculum calls for accounting classes, which means I’ll have to add and subtract and stuff. Wait. I know that you’re saying to yourself, “But, Michael, you work in accounting.” I know. But not the type of accounting where you need to be able to add—or do anything with numbers, for that matter. It’s a completely different kind of accounting. I won’t even bore you with all the details.

Although I haven’t actually cracked open a book yet, I can already tell that this semester is going to be sort of painful. One evening, because the administrative office stated they would close at 7 PM, I drove all the way from DC to Baltimore after work just to find a notice on the door apologizing for their closing at 4:30 due to “unforeseen circumstances.” Apparently they don’t know how much gas costs or how much my time is worth. My job values my time at about $2.55 an hour, but that’s neither here nor there, and I’m too much of a man to even bring it up. I’ve never been the type to rub my success in people’s faces. I believe in humility.

Speaking of humility, during that same trip I was recognized by several students who’d seen my picture on the University of Baltimore admissions website. I was thrilled as I answered questions about what I’d done since I graduated, what tips I could pass on to someone just starting school, and whether I had any spare change. It was as if I were Flavor Flav or somebody. Honestly, I may have embellished just a little by telling them that I had a world-famous blog and that I was in the process of touring the country to meet all my fans. I mean, it may be true one day. Anything is possible. Anyhow, I also was probably a tad bit overzealous by asking if they wanted my autograph. They declined—even after I begged. Yes, it was a sad day for Michael.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, I had a very unfortunate incident occur in the campus bookstore while attempting to purchase textbooks. See, what had happened was, I was minding my own business while standing in line when I went to reach into my left pocket out of nervous habit. Despite the fact that I’d just bought the pants and had maybe worn them once prior, there was a loud ripping sound as I reached to fumble with my wallet. Fearful of what I’d find, I slowly removed my hand from what was left of my pocket. That was when I felt the draft. I gasped as I surveyed the damage. There, for the whole world to see, were my Barney boxers peeking out of the hole the rip had caused. I was mortified. On the flip side, after seeing my underwear, I was finally asked for my autograph. Unfortunately, it was by the policeman who arrested me for indecent exposure.

On a final note that’s completely unrelated to school, my mother recently called with some disturbing news. Somehow, a link had popped up on her computer requesting that she check out a blog entry titled, “Mam, I Swear it’s Not Herpes…Really!!!” The title sounded familiar. A little too familiar. Just as I was about to deny having any knowledge of the alleged blog entry, she mentioned that my picture had popped up beside it. Busted! Now, I’ve never been ashamed of my blog, but she just had to stumble upon THAT blog entry, didn’t she? Needless to say, I’m on punishment for the next few years. And I doubt that I’ll be able to sit down anytime soon. However, when I think about it, the downtime may not be such a bad thing. At least I’ll have time to study.

Michael Rochelle

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How I Flunked The GMAT

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Dec• 19•10

As an adult you learn to take responsibility when you make a mistake or fall short of expectations. Allegedly, it makes you a bigger person to take ownership, learn from your shortcomings, and simply move on. If you let it, failure can be just a pit stop toward eventual success. After all, Thomas Edison failed a thousand times before he invented the light bulb. A thousand! That said, realizing that failure is just temporary, and keeping in mind that the adult thing to do would be to accept all blame for the outcome, I’d like to report that I successfully failed the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). However, it wasn’t exactly my fault. Really.

The day started out on a down note. Since the test was at 8 AM and the administrators requested that we get there at least 30 minutes early, I arrived in downtown DC around 7:10 AM just to learn that there was no street parking and most of the parking garages don’t open until 8 or so. After having to valet my car over 10 blocks away, I had to practically run to make it to the test center on time. Do you know when the last time I ran was? 1986.

The building was under construction so I had to use my limited Spanish-speaking skills to figure out how to get inside. Because I have a hard enough time knowing my left from my right in English, of course, I still ended up using the wrong door and then got fussed at and called every name except Michael by three men in Spanish. The only thing worse than getting cursed out in English, is getting cursed out in a foreign language. They curse with more emphasis. Fortunately, it only happens once or twice a week.

When I checked in at the security desk, I asked to use the restroom. The security guard sent me through a door and down some stairs to the lower level. I pushed on the door at the bottom of the stairs, but it was locked. When I went back up the stairs and attempted to return to the security desk, I found that the door I’d used to access the stairs was also locked. I then climbed 4 flights of stairs and checked all the doors along the way before learning that I was stuck on the stairwell. All the while, time was ticking away and I still needed to use the restroom.

Immediately I began to think of all the movies I’d seen where someone had used a stairwell to get away from an attacker before realizing that all the doors were locked. I listened for any form of sound. Nothing. Well, except for my stomach, which was upset due to the Starbucks I’d gotten that morning even though I’d been precautious and had taken a Lactaid pill that was supposed to have saved me from that experience. It was as if I was being drop-kicked internally. No lie, as soon as I finish this post, I’m calling the local drug store where I go the pills to speak to someone’s manager.

Anyway, after re-checking all the doors and realizing that the security guard wasn’t coming for me, I decided to take the stairs down as far as they went, you know, past the point where the janitors stop sweeping and mopping. Fortunately, when I reached the bottom, I found two unlocked doors: one that led into a parking garage, and one that led to an alley. The door would have locked behind me if I entered the parking garage and there was no guarantee that I’d be able to find a way out, so I hesitantly went back to the door that read alley.

Again, I began to think of all the movies I’d seen where some helpless individual was innocently strolling through an alley before an attacker chased after them. I had to wonder, was it safer to stay in the stairwell with one unknown attacker, or to venture down the alley where there’d be another attacker waiting? Because it was broad daylight, I opted to take the alley. Just as I was about to make it to the main street, two guys appeared and headed in my direction. I panicked as they drew closer. Surprisingly, they seemed really offended when I threw up my hands and offered them my wallet and iPod. I was just happy the two police officers declined. But in my defense, from a distance, cops and robbers look just alike.

When I finally made it to the suite where the testing was held, I almost got into a fight with the administrator. She asked what test I was there for, and I replied, “The GMAT.” She then asked, “The Kaplan or the GMAT.” Huh? Again I replied, “The GMAT.” Apparently I needed to have said it twice for it to register. I then took a seat and tried to make friends with the other test takers by asking them for a stick of gum. As soon as I’d gotten a piece and began to chew it, the administrator said, “You’ve got about 5 seconds before I make you spit that out.” I immediately scratched her name off my Christmas card list.

Next, I was stripped of everything: my wallet, my iPod, my cellphone, my watch, and yes, even my ChapStick. “But the test is 4 hours. I’ll die without my ChapStick,” I pleaded. The administrator must have believed all the answers were somehow stored within my lip balm. I was then given an ultimatum: either I give up the ChapStick, or I wouldn’t be allowed to take the test. I handed it over, but not before demanding that she not use it either. I gave her the evil eye to let her know that I meant business!!!

While the other test takers and I waited in the holding chamber before being seated, they began talking about how many months they’d studied prior, how many GMAT prep courses they’d endured, and how many times they’d already taken the test. I was too ashamed to admit that I’d studied on my own for a few weeks using a crappy GMAT book that had misspellings and bad math calculations that even I knew were wrong. It was then that I was told that we wouldn’t be allowed to use any form of calculator and we’d have to do the math by hand. Multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, percentages, exponents, perimeters, etc., all by hand!!! I was in need of a huge miracle. You know, like one of the parting of the Red Sea kind.

As soon as the test started, my mind went completely blank. The first hour was spent writing two essays and I, the writer, couldn’t do it. For once in my life, I had absolutely no opinion. I mean, I’m the guy who’d written a 15-page essay during the commercial breaks of an episode of Family Guy. I wanted to cry. To make matters worse, there was a timer in the corner of the screen that pointed out just how little I’d written and how many minutes I had left to make something happen, which certainly didn’t help my writer’s block.

And then there was math. Have you ever tried to multiply 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 x 5 without a calculator, knowing that you only had about 2 minutes per question? Or, what about dividing 66,342 by 359 all by hand? Yeah, well, after about the twentieth question, I knew that I’d have to start guessing or else I wouldn’t finish that section of the test. Ironically, the final section, reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and sentence correction, which should have been my stronger points, also left me stumped. Again, in order to finish the section, I had to guess the answers to the last 12 questions.

Finally, when the test ended, my dismal score popped up on the screen followed by video footage of Fred Sanford from Sanford and Son saying “You Big Dummy.” I knew that I’d done horribly, but a quick Google search proved just how terribly I really scored. You know you’re a failure when people who scored 200 points higher than you also complain about how horribly they did on the test. Yeah, it was just that bad.

So, what now? I’m moving forward with my application to grad school as is. If I get in, it will be based on my GPA, resume, and letters of recommendation. If I don’t get in, I’m going to pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again in three months—after I’ve taken the GMAT course like everyone else apparently has. Though I’ve never done so badly on a test in my life, the real story will be how I rebound from this failure. Well, my friends, that chapter is still unwritten. I guess we’ll all have to stay tuned…

Michael Rochelle
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When Chicken Is Your Last Name …

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Dec• 13•10

It’s hard to believe that it’s mid-December already. It seems like it was just yesterday when we were ringing in 2010. Now, if you sneeze twice and yell Bloody Mary, it’ll be 2011. Like most, I’m in the process of establishing new year resolutions. Reappearing on the list for the millionth time will be the usual suspects: eating healthier, going to the gym, and nominating myself for People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” contest—again. Last year, after a long and hard-fought campaign against Mario Lopez, I’m pleased to say that I did get one vote. Thanks Mom. Despite that, I’m also thinking of including more reasonable goals, like going to Wal-Mart for bleach and somehow spending less than $100. Ok, maybe I’m being just a tad bit unrealistic with the Wal-Mart thing. I should probably just focus on my speech for when I defeat Mario Lopez in the swimsuit competition. So what if he has dimples and six-pack abs. I have a blog. Checkmate!!!

As I prepare to set my alleged goals for the new year, I have to wonder, what did I accomplish this year? Well, I successfully got into grad school and then dropped out before the ink on my first homework assignment dried. Then, I bought some fitness games that I intended to use to burn off calories, but, instead, I’m using them to throw at the TV when my favorite shows are running repeats. Next, I learned that I can sound knowledgeable about any sport by just shaking my head in disappointment and saying, “Hey, you win some, you lose some,” even if I know nothing about the game. Oh, and I can’t forget that I’ve watched the complete first season of The Closer, which has given me a whole new perspective on crime solving and the art of interrogation. However, because I’m not a real cop, my coworkers get really upset when I put them in handcuffs and try to take them down to central booking after I’ve accused them of using my coffee creamer. You should have seen the look on my manager’s face when I attempted to read him his rights.

Speaking of being productive, I may have mentioned that I’m in the process of studying for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) so that I can reapply to graduate school in the spring. Because I accidentally put it off until the last minute due to my participating in the nationwide boycotts of Dancing with the Stars because Bristol Palin somehow made it through to the top 3, I now have five days to learn all the principles of algebra and geometry. Although I work in accounting, math involving triangles has never been my strong suit, and I think I must have missed the episode of Barney when they discussed fractions. Seriously, how often in day-to-day life do you need to simplify an equation? And when was the last time your life depended on your knowing how to read a bar graph or a pie chart? I can almost guarantee it wasn’t within the past week.

In any case, I’m requesting that my blog readers pray for me because this coming weekend I’ll be sweating bullets for 2 hours and 10 minutes trying to recall all the stuff I was supposed to have learned in pre-school Calculus. If for some reason I draw a total blank, I’m just going to focus on my breathing and ask myself what would Taylor Swift do? Fail the test and then write a song about it and win a Grammy that Kanye West would feel that I didn’t deserve? Hmmm. Well, if all else fails, I’m hoping that the test administrators sit me next to someone really smart so that I can accidentally check my answers based off theirs. Remember, it’s not considered cheating unless you get caught. And if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

Moving right along, recently I’ve received some disturbing looks and comments due to my continuing to wear short-sleeve shirts even though it’s almost winter. I don’t know about you, but I’m always hot. In fact, if I ever do something of a criminal nature, there would be no need to send me to jail. The perfect punishment would be to just force me to wear a cardigan sweater and some long johns because it’s pretty much a guarantee that I’d die of heat stroke within a few moments. Do you remember that scene where the Wicked Witch of The West shriveled up and died after Dorothy splashed her with water on the Wizard of Oz? Yeah, it would kind of be like that. Except, I’d hope no one would chime in and sing “Ding-Dong, Michael’s dead.” Anyway, I know that I’m getting up there in age, but I never expected that I’d go through THE CHANGE this soon. So, if you see me wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of a blizzard, there is no need to be alarmed or to send me to the loony bin. I’m just having hot flashes and it’s completely normal for men my age.

With Christmas being right around the corner, many of us are starting to evaluate how we’re going to make our paychecks—the same ones that barely cover our weekly trips to Starbucks—stretch to cover gifts for ourselves and maybe a gift or two for someone else. It’s also a great time to score brownie points for doing good deeds. Like most years, I decided to participate in the Angel Tree program by selecting a needy child’s wish list and filling in for Santa. As I selected the last child’s list off the tree, I got super excited. What would the kiddo want? A Barbie? A Truck? World peace? My heart melted as I saw that the child was a 3-year-old girl name Jazmine. How cute! Just as I was beginning to picture her little angelic face, my eyes scrolled down to her request and I panicked. An iPad! For a 3-year-old!!! They cost like 600 million dollars and I don’t even have one. I quickly placed little Jazmine’s request back on the tree, but not before I accidentally scratched out her name and wrote in my name instead.

Anyway, I have good news. After years of searching, I just realized that my soul mate has been right under my nose all along. I can’t believe I was so blind all these years. Here I was telling people that I was single and no longer capable of feeling love because my heart had retired and was living in Hawaii off its pension. I’m just glad I realized the truth before it was too late. Now I understand what everyone means when they say that you’ll know real love when you find it. Finally, I feel complete and I realize that my search for what I thought I wanted and needed all this time has been misguided. Mariah Carey said it best, “I had a vision of love, and it was all that you turned out to be.” That said, I’d like to take a moment to exclaim my love to the world. Thanks to you, I need nothing else. When you are weak, I’ll do my best to make you strong. You can count on me. I love you, iPod. May we never, ever part—unless someone gets me that iPad.

On a completely unrelated final note, I’ve been running into some situations lately that have made me take a moment to ponder the logic. For instance, I was at the drive-thru of a Kentucky Fried Chicken one evening and the voice over the loud speaker stated that they’d run out of chicken. All chicken. No wings. No breasts. No thighs. No nothing. I mean, I know it’s a recession and all, but, KFC, chicken is your last name. And how does it make it better if they offer you all the biscuits you want due to the inconvenience? “Umm, yes, I’ll take 12 biscuits to go, and supersize that please.” However, KFC is not the only fast food chain guilty of these sorts of things. Recently, after I’d paid for my meal at McDonald’s, I was told that they’d run out of straws. In an effort to resolve the situation, they upgraded my medium drink to a large—for which I still needed a straw. Anyway, that said, here’s wishing you all the wings, breasts, and straws your little heart desires.

Happy Holidays!!!

Michael Rochelle
Access my full blog: http://www.justmichael.net/blog
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Hey, You Can Always Just Drop Out

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Nov• 22•10

Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve done an update. Of course, this is after I promised that I’d post an update every two weeks. Well, what had happened was, my pursuit of an MBA degree kind of took over my life. I had so much homework and research to do that one would have thought the goal was to save the world, or, more importantly, to save Brandy on Dancing with the Stars. In any case, I have great news. Due to my missing the opportunity to connect with my readers, I dropped out of school! Yes, mam. You read correctly. A measly little MBA means nothing to me if I can’t blog. Trust me. I know what’s important. I know what really matters. And it’s you. Not some degree that will all but guarantee me an extra $40,000 a year. Not some little piece of paper that will barely help me to get promoted from Wal-Mart greeter to cashier. Like they always say, there is no YOU in MBA.

But wait a minute. Before you start calling my team of shrinks and demanding that they squeeze me in for an emergency appointment, I didn’t really drop out of grad school for the sake of my blog. Instead, I was right smack in the middle of leading a group project that required a 25-page paper when it dawned on me that I needed to change schools immediately. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked on a group project, but whenever I’m assigned one, I believe the professor takes a poll of the class to see who will contribute the least and then matches me up with those individuals. Since it was an online class, the only sign I had that any of the other three members of my group were alive was that I’d get a “good job” or an “ok” message from them each time I finished one of our group assignments. And in case they’re reading this, Hi. Hope you get a good grade on my…I mean your work. Yes, readers, I went there.

Since my heart had been set on going back to the University of Baltimore where I’d gotten my undergraduate degree, I logged on to their admissions website and got the shock of my life. There was my picture on the main page listed as a recent graduate. Under normal circumstances this would have been a joyous moment and I would have called my mom, my dad, Britney Spears, and Al Sharpton, but in this case, out of the 100 or so pictures they took of me back in February, I couldn’t believe THAT photo was the best one. I’d seen road kill look more vibrant all while executing better poses. I immediately envisioned Tyra Banks looking at the photo and banning me from standing in front of a camera again—EVER—and then suing me for mental anguish. To add injury to insult, my name was wrong. I’m not sure who this Kenneth Rawhide Jenkins is, but I can assure you that I am not him. If that wasn’t bad enough, my graduation date was listed as January 2009 instead of January 2010. Awesome. Simply awesome.

Despite this travesty, I have decided to move forward with the application process. Unfortunately, because of the completed application being due by January 1st, I have about three weeks to study for my Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Usually, potential graduate students are encouraged to take three to six months to prepare. I guess I’ll just have to wing it. I mean, I’m kind of smart a little bit. And you probably get points for spelling your name correctly. If I get nothing else right, I can guarantee that those points are in the bag. But if all else fails, everyone knows that the answer is always C. Even if it’s an essay or true or false question, still choose C. I’ve had an ok success rate with that technique thus far, why change it now?

In other news, on October 23rd, I accidentally turned 31. I’m not exactly sure how or why that happened, but let’s just say I’m not too happy about it. Usually I’m good at getting some form of presidential pardon that would allow me to go down a year instead of up. However, this year Barack said he had been a little busy with other things like the status of the economy. I guess that’s understandable. Well, despite my being 30ish, my plastic surgeon has assured me that I don’t look a day over 45. Next week he’s going to start me on some age-defying treatments to ensure that I’ll eventually look young enough to play a high school kid on “Glee” if the producers ever realize that they need my talent, and they remove the restraining order against me for showing on the set those one or two—ok, thirty—times.

The awesome thing about this birthday was that, even though I did absolutely nothing to celebrate it except two research papers and a mid-term exam, I got over 100 birthday wishes from my “friends” on Facebook and around 50 text messages and phone calls in honor of my special day. Even my bill collectors were surprisingly friendlier and wished me the best prior to demanding that I send a payment before they were forced to repossess my two goldfish and a toothbrush as collateral. I will definitely miss the fish, but toothbrushes are replaceable. Honestly, I don’t think it’s hit me that I’m 31. I mean, besides the back pain and my being on the list for a hip replacement, 31 feels exactly the same as 30, which felt exactly the same as 29, which oddly felt exactly like 16.

On the other hand, I do feel like I’m beginning to get more cranky and forgetful as I age. One day last week, I unnecessarily walked over 10 blocks to where I thought I had parked my car before realizing I had parked it elsewhere. Let me be the first to tell you that the police do not like it when you unintentionally call in a false report about your car being stolen. Unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way. Also, I may have forgotten to pay my rent once or twice over the past few months. There is nothing like seeing your sofa and your stuffed animals taking up your parking spot when you get home after work on a Wednesday evening. And when I did finally write the check, I may have accidentally written it for $10.00 as opposed to the full cost of my rent. Honest mistake. I’d just neglected to add several zeros and overlooked a couple decimal places. It happens. Don’t judge me.

In closing news, I don’t know if you remember my mentioning that I have issues with insects, but despite my dislike for them, they seem to love me. In fact, they are somehow able to track me down in the weirdest of places. For instance, I was minding my own business in the bathroom stall at my job one day when, all of a sudden, a bee decided that I’d been in there too long and it was his turn. I assume the bee was male because we were in the men’s room. I didn’t check though. Anyway, before I realized what I was doing, I let out a scream higher than any note Mariah Carey has ever tackled. Then, as opposed to using the door to get away from my attacker, I somehow managed to hit the floor and wiggle my way into the next stall. Maybe this would have been fine had the other stall NOT been occupied by a soldier who was simply trying to take care of his business. It also probably didn’t help that my pants were around my ankles at the time. Anyway, to make a long story short, the police do not like this sort of thing either, especially when it’s the same officers who responded to your false report of a stolen car. I’m just saying.

Michael Rochelle

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Pop-Tarts, And That’s My Final Answer

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Sep• 23•10

Have you ever been right smack in the middle of a tough situation and realized that it could have totally been avoided had you just taken a few moments to think things through before diving head first into it? Well, this was the case the other day when I found myself wearing a Baltimore Raven’s t-shirt in DC—Redskin territory—for wear-your-favorite-sports-team’s-jersey-to-work day. First, let me be honest with you. In no way, shape, or form am I an authority on sports. Make no mistake about it. If you’re ever on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and the question is sports related, if you decide to phone a friend, you may not want to call me. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who knows less about sports than I do. Except toddlers, maybe. But trust me, I will not be offended by your calling my mother or one of my sisters instead. I guess all those years of my grandmother tackling me in the middle of the yard and dunking on me in high heels and her Sunday best didn’t pay off.

Actually, it’s really not my fault that I know so little about sports. First, it’s a huge myth that all men like sports. Some of them like Pop-Tarts instead. Second, my mother raised me in a very religious household. If it didn’t involve a bible, I probably didn’t participate. Matter of fact, I could have told my mother that I was going down to check the mailbox and she’d tell me to make sure I took my bible with me. I once told her I’d failed a math test and she said, “That wouldn’t have happened if you’d had your bible.” Then she’d send me upstairs to read the “Book of Genesis” again and do an essay to summarize what I’d learned. Because of this, I may not be able to rattle off the difference between a free throw and a field goal when questioned, but thanks to Google, I’m never more than just a few clicks away from figuring it out.

That noted, common sense should have probably told me that, given my limited level of sports knowledge, it wasn’t smart to be strolling through one major city while wearing the sports team of another city. But you know what they say, common sense ain’t so common. Thus, as I walked the few blocks to work, I began to panic. It was as if the Ravens’ logo on my t-shirt had become a scarlet letter once I’d crossed the DC city line. I was so ashamed. At any moment, I expected torch-wielding villagers to start darting out of alleys and begin chasing me down the street until they cornered me at a dead end. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe that scenario wouldn’t have been so bad. What if, just as the villagers were about to get me, someone threw me a red jacket and a silver glove, and we all broke out into Michael Jackson’s “Thriller?” If you ask me, that would have been kind of cool. Especially since I practically minored in Michael Jackson in college. Hee-Hee. Crotch grab.

I wondered what I would say if someone asked me why I like the Ravens. What if someone wanted to know specifics about a certain game or the team roster? Better yet, what sport did the Ravens play? Golf? Then it hit me. I could probably make it through any line of questioning if I just randomly threw out words like “offense” and “defense” every chance I could. I think I’d heard those terms used when I accidentally sat on the remote one time and the channel changed to ESPN for a few seconds. Anyway, when I made it to campus, I noticed one of the armed guards eyeing my shirt. I knew what was coming. So, when he asked me how I thought the Ravens would do against the Bengals at the next game, I smiled and proudly said, “With Kobe Bryant as quarterback, our defensive line is looking awesome. We got this game in the bag. No sweat.” The guard gave me a blank stare. Maybe I had gone a tad bit overboard by mentioning Kobe by name. Other than that, I think I handled it pretty well. Later that day, I even went on to explain to someone why Kobe and Derek Jeter were the best things that had happened for the Ravens in a long time. People were stunned at my level of knowledge. I considered it a job well done. But between you and me, I’m just hoping the Ravens don’t trade Serena Williams anytime soon because I plan to mention his name the next time someone questions me about baseball.

Moving right along, have you ever had something so strange happen to you that you wished you could freeze time to ponder the situation further or call a reverend for a second opinion before responding? Well, the other day, I had yet another Comcast technician out to try to resolve some issues I was having with my home phone and internet service. Being that he was the third cable guy I’d had out in less than two months, I was a tad bit annoyed when he arrived. Anyway, after about a half hour of his working downstairs in my living room, he then went upstairs to start testing things out in the loft area. Once he began fiddling with the connections, he turned to me and asked, “Could you go downstairs and get my cable bag?” Hmmm. In the past, I’ve had cable guys ask me to help them move a TV, but I’d never been sent to fetch something as if my name were Fido or Muffin-top. In this case, I decided to take one for the team and headed downstairs. I mean, he was a little older than I was, and maybe his arthritis was acting up. However, when he asked me to also bring him up a beer, that was taking things just a little too far. Who did he think he was? The Rock? Fortunately, he finished up soon after and he left before I had to make him dinner or run him a bath or something.

As some of you may know, in two weeks I’ll begin embarking on the next stage of my quest for higher learning. As if all the essays, mid-terms and finals during my undergraduate years weren’t enough, I’ve now decided that my life won’t be complete until I get a Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Why? First of all, my living room wall will look more balanced with two degrees hanging there instead of just one. But before you start thinking that’s a silly reason to get and MBA, I did take the more rational route of searching for a painting that I could hang there instead. However, after coming up empty handed at Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Target, I decided to just settle for another degree. Indeed, the benefits of an MBA don’t simply end there. Just imagine the speedy service I’ll receive at McDonald’s when I don’t just request a Big Mac, but instead say, “I’d like to have the MBA Big Mac value meal, please.” And do you think the cable guy would have sent me downstairs to get his bag if he’d seen an MBA degree on my wall. I think not. Thus, I know I’m making the right decision—at least until I find a picture that will match my drapes. If I do, I’ll be promptly ending my grad-school venture.

On a final note, as you may know from previous posts, I drink coffee. So, the other day, I was on my second or twelfth cup when someone casually mentioned that coffee is bad for my blood pressure. Actually, that was a nice way of addressing it. In the past, various terms like “addict” and “should be a criminal offense” were thrown around. Immediately, I began to wonder whether people would give me such grief if I had an MBA—another excellent reason to get one. Also, there are so many other things that I could be doing that are far worse than drinking a gallon of coffee every morning. I mean, it’s not like I keep a flask of vodka at my desk or take hits off it during board meetings. Technically, I guess I’d have to be promoted to head janitor before I’d even be invited to attend board meetings, but that’s beside the point. I don’t smoke. I’m not mean to puppies. And I only curse when heavily provoked—or when the coffeepot is empty. In all, I’d say I’m a pretty decent person. Because of this, I’m starting a new campaign called, “It’s Not Crack, It’s Just Coffee.” Feel free to support this worthy endeavor by donating Starbucks gift cards to my attention. Seriously, if Lady Gaga can wear a rack of lamb on her head at the MTV Video Music Awards, certainly I can enjoy a cup of coffee every now and then.

Michael Rochelle

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Reasonably Unreasonable Within Reason

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Sep• 08•10

The other day, I opened the front door of my fourth-floor apartment to find an unwelcomed visitor standing in the middle of my kitchen. Immediately, my heart began to race as I dropped my groceries, allowing a single head of lettuce to roll gingerly across the living room floor. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about the 5-second rule because I’d only bought the lettuce to impress my mother during one of her visits so she could stop complaining about my not eating vegetables. Anyway, as opposed to running back out the front door, I decided that I was going to roll up my sleeves and battle it out. There was absolutely no way I was going to let a cricket ruin my day and force me to stay at a hotel for a few weeks until I was sure it was gone—AGAIN! Nope, this time would be different. This time, only one of us would be leaving the apartment alive. I hoped and prayed it would be me.

Snapping into survival mode, I eyed the phone book that sat on the counter. I lunged for it and patted myself on the back for my quick thinking, happy that I snatched it up before my opponent did. I flung it at the cricket and ran into the bathroom for cover. Once I thought it was safe, I tiptoed down the hall and peeked over the kitchen counter to survey the damage. I expected to see little cricket bits splattered everywhere. However, I had missed, and the cricket turned toward me as if to say, “Do it again and I will get you and your little groceries too!” In a quick motion that I learned from watching The Matrix, I did two somersaults and a backflip off the microwave before landing into a handstand. This stunned the poor cricket. I gave a chuckle and said, “Any last words?” My father would have been so proud of me.

It wasn’t until after I’d had a moment of silence in honor of my adversary that the magnitude of what had taken place hit me. Some of my friends can barely make it up the four flights of stairs. A few of them had even called me from the midway point and told me they were giving up and heading back home. If that’s the case, how was it possible that a cricket—of all things—made its way into my top-floor apartment? Suddenly it hit me. I’d been set up. Someone must have planted that cricket there simply for the purpose of getting me out of the way so they could hijack my blog. Yeah, that had to be it. It was the only reasonable explanation I could come up with. Think about it. Crickets can’t climb stairs. The good news is that I thwarted their evil plans and lived to tell the story. I guess it’s all in a day’s work.

Actually, that wasn’t the first time my life had been in danger due to an insect. Of course, there was that unfortunate cicada incident a few years ago where one was flying toward me in slow motion, and despite all the bobbing, weaving, and arm flailing I did, it still managed to land right on my top lip. Then, there was the time I was at a department store going through a rack of clothing when I noticed a bee on the shirt I was just about to pick out. Honestly, I’m not sure why the manager got so upset just because I grabbed the fire extinguisher and went after the bee. Sure, some of the clothing and electronics did get a tad bit damaged, but at least no one got stung. I totally saved them from a lawsuit. Some people are so ungrateful. In addition to my now being banned from the store, I think the bee alerted all his little bee buddies, so I wasn’t completely shocked last week when I was at the state fair and a bee landed on my hot dog and refused to move until I tossed it and the hot dog in the trash. Now that I think about it, it’s completely reasonable for me to think that maybe the bees were planted too, and the person used a cricket in the most recent attack to throw me off their trail. Hmmm. I guess anything is possible.

Moving right along, I have great news. After 7 months of working on a military base, I was finally mistaken for a soldier. No lie. I was just as shocked as you are. Me? A soldier? Well, I guess if we can put a man on the moon, my being a soldier is somewhat within reason. Anyway, so I’m walking down the hall, minding my own business, when someone says, “Oh, I thought you were one of the soldiers with that walk.” I couldn’t have been happier. All those months of following behind the troops and hiding in the bushes so that I could study their stride had finally paid off. I thought about enlisting right then and there. I mean, if I’d gotten the walk down so quickly, certainly I could learn the other ins and outs of being a soldier in no time. But when I think about it, it probably wouldn’t be advisable for the military to allow me near a gun—especially with all the renegade bees buzzing around. On top of that, I’ve never been a huge fan of green. I’d have to talk to someone about getting some blue fatigues instead of the green camouflage uniforms they wear. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much of a problem though.

Excited about my finally mastering the technique, I started doing the soldier stroll everywhere I went. At the mall. At the library. At church. I’ve even decided that “Do the Soldier Walk” will be the first single off my hip-hop country album scheduled for release in the fall of 2029. I’ll let you all know when I shoot the video with Lady Gaga and Brad Paisley. Well, I was soldier strolling down the block the other day in hopes that someone would ask about my military status, when a part of the sidewalk reached up and grabbed my foot. Needless to say, I tripped. Actually, it was more like a stop, drop, and roll. I rolled right on down the block. When I came to a halt, I played it off by popping up off the ground and doing the soldier salute—yes, I learned that too. Despite my bruised knees, elbows, and forehead, I’m not giving up on the soldier walk. I just need a little more practice. And who knows, maybe it will catch on and I’ll be the next big thing. Maybe I’ll even get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! Completely reasonable and realistic if you ask me.

In other news, I realize that the topic of aging has been a recurring theme throughout my past few blog entries. In all honesty, at 30, I don’t believe I’m old. I may exaggerate just a tad about needing a walker, and how awesome it is to be able to sit in those first few coveted seats on the bus reserved for the elderly and disabled. And I may even brag about pulling rank on other senior citizens and winning debates regarding whether my glaucoma is worse than theirs. Despite this, I repeat, I do not believe I’m old. However, apparently that view is not shared by the Smithsonian whose senior citizen discount services department recently mailed me a magazine subscription offer at the senior rate of $10—an 81% savings off the cover price. In addition, I’ll get special discounts at the Smithsonian gift shop and a personalized membership card. Awesome!!! Thus, regardless of what I think, in the court of public opinion, I’m considered ancient. Because of this, I will continue accepting my senior-citizen discounts with all the pride and dignity that an elderly person should.

Lastly, as adults, regardless of age, we have to ensure that we make decisions that reflect our roles as such. Thus, as I stood in Target with a $5.89 toffee mocha latte with an extra espresso shot from Starbucks (a complete bargain and worth every penny), I was shocked and appalled to see that a 100-day supply of multivitamins was $7.99. The nerve! It’s completely unjustifiable to pay that much for some pills that allegedly have some form of major health benefit. We’re in a recession. Who has money like that? I almost whipped out my phone to alert Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson right then and there. However, because I figured they were probably busy with other more important things, I decided to let my money do the talking and NOT buy anything other than the $153.97 worth of stuff I had in my cart—and I only bought that stuff because I absolutely needed the watermelon scented body wash. It was on sale for $8.99. Otherwise, I would have left the cart right there in the middle of the aisle. Thus, if you are ever forced to choose between vitamins, prescription drugs, or Starbucks, go with the Starbucks. You’ll get more bang for your buck, and it’s a completely reasonable option. Besides, if you get hit by a bus one day, it won’t matter whether your blood pressure was under control or not, or whether you’ve gotten your daily requirement of zinc. I’m just saying.

Michael Rochelle

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Mam, I Swear It’s Not Herpes … Really!!!

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Aug• 23•10

One of the best things about having a blog is that you can vent about whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want. I guess a blog is kind of like a spouse except your blog won’t eventually divorce you for a younger, more updated model, or call you to ask you to delete various messages because its wife went through its phone and may be contacting you. That rarely ever happens with a blog. Anyway, as those of you who keep up with my entries are aware, I sometimes have issues with acne. When the pimples decide to launch a mutiny on the Bounty, I have absolutely no control over when or where that battle will take place, or how many casualties there will be. The only thing I can guarantee is that the battle will be of immense proportions. I mean, all this time astronomers thought Pluto was a planet when it turns out it was just one of my pimples.

Anyway, against my better judgment, the other day I decided to launch an all-out attack against one that sprouted up on my lip. I know that it is recommended that you don’t pop them, but this zit could have easily taken a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. It was so colossal that I thought about wearing some form of mask so that I wouldn’t be arrested and placed in isolation or sequestered off onto a private island until some form of cure was developed. After the deed was done, I celebrated my victory against the zit and went on with my night. However, the following morning, the pimple retaliated by becoming very red and inflamed. In a fit of delusion, I assured myself that it was going to be ok. No one would even notice it. I mean, who would really be looking at my top lip that hard? And isn’t that shallow of me to just assume that out of everything going on in the world, someone would give my lip, of all things, a second glance? Seriously, who do I think I am? It’s not like I’m Justin Bieber or somebody. I didn’t have any video or photo shoots scheduled that day. Geez. The nerve of me.

A few hours later while I was at work, aside from the tingling sensation I felt every now and then, I’d completely forgotten all about the blemish. That afternoon, my HR manager stopped by my desk to ask a few questions. After we’d finished discussing something very important…like American diplomacy or something, his eyes zeroed in on my lip. As if I were psychic, I knew exactly what was coming. “Is that herpes?” he asked. I could have died. In fact, I think I did die. After explaining that it was obviously just a pimple that I’d popped the day before, he eyed me suspiciously, ended the conversation, and fled to the safety of his office as if my zit was threatening to reach out and touch someone. After being asked that exact same question several more times throughout the day, I became so self-conscious that I wanted to extend my hand and start each conversation with, “Hi, I’m Michael. And no, it’s not herpes.” Instead, I decided it would be a lot easier to just buy a t-shirt or bumper sticker that read, “Silly rabbit, it’s just a pimple.” Unfortunately, there is no such thing. Thus, I’m using my blog to tell my two readers to spread the word—although I probably shouldn’t use the term “spread” when referring to either acne or herpes.

Speaking of pimples, on a completely unrelated note, you guys are going to be so proud of me. I’ve been hitting the gym. Actually, I’ve been in the gym several times over the past few months, but I’m not sure if I can count the times I only went to use the restroom, or the times I went to steal paper towels because I’d run low. However, if we only count the times that I physically used the equipment for something other than to lean on, then let’s see … five times a week … four weeks … ok, I went once. Hey, you have to start somewhere. Starbucks wasn’t built in a day. Anyway, so I’m at the gym and I’m lifting … ok, playing with the dumbbells, when I get this crazy idea that maybe I should try bench pressing. My momma always told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. Well, after a 20-minute pep talk and some vigorous stretching, I’m happy to report that I did successfully move the 125-pound weights a few inches before succumbing to extreme exhaustion. Actually, I’m not sure if I really moved the weights, or if it was all in my head. Regardless, I’m giving myself an A for effort and I’m sure that next time I’ll be able to lift the weights completely off the rack. Believe me, if I can do it, you certainly can too. Except you should probably start with a 5-pound weight and work your way up slowly. Everyone isn’t as strong or as physically fit as I am and I don’t want you to hurt yourself while aspiring to be like me. I look out for my readers.

Moving on, about a year ago, I did a blog entry on turning 30. Admittedly, the article was a tad bit dramatic—which totally isn’t my style—and it chronicled my preparation for a walker, wheel chair, and my joining an assisted-living community. I may have even touched on the joys and wonders of being able to order senior citizen discounted coffees. I probably also mentioned the aches in my knees when it rains and my buying stock in the Ben Gay Corporation to ensure that they’ll always keep the arthritis ointment coming. As proof of my belief that I’m old and decrepit because 30 is the new 80, a 26-year-old recently confirmed what I believed to be true all along. Forgetting my age, he explained that he was in a hurry to accomplish his goals “because at 30 you’ve already lived your life.” Thus, as I stare down the barrel at 31, it was probably a huge shock for the 26-year-old to see me, a senior citizen, without a cane and breathing without the assistance of a respirator. If you ever want to find out how ancient you really are, just ask someone a few years younger than you for a true assessment. Oh yeah, and if you happen to be over 21, you may just want to go ahead and look into burial plots. I’m just saying. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

In other Michael news, because I’ve recently devoted an entire day to watching old reruns of Top Chef, I’ve now decided that I want to learn how to cook. Trust me, I’m sure that I can sauté a mean Cheerio if I would just put my mind to it. Imagine a dish named after me. The Michael, or La Rochelle, or pickled Williams. As a matter of fact, why stop there? I wouldn’t have to just have a platter named after me. I could open my own restaurant. I’ve already got the theme all planned out. Picture this. An all-you-can-eat Hamburger Helper buffet. I’m going to give you a moment to let that marinate. See, I already know the cooking terminology. Genius, right? I’m surprised no one else has come up with this idea already. I could start off small with like a little stand in a park somewhere. Maybe near a school. Children love Hamburger Helper. Then I can expand and go global. I could put McDonald’s right out of business!!! That does it. I’m turning in my two weeks’ notice right now so that I can be an entrepreneur. I could rent a billboard in Times Square. And who knows, maybe Oprah, Barack, and Julia Roberts will show up at my grand opening. Look out world, Michael Rochelle is on the rise. If I were you, I’d go on and make reservations now.

Michael Rochelle
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In Memory Of Grandpa

Written By: Michael Rochelle - Aug• 19•10

During the writing of the blog entry that would have been posted sometime this week, my grandfather, Frank Harry Dorsey, passed away. I’m still kind of in denial about it. You know how there are older people in your life and you always expect them to be there because they always have been and you can’t imagine there ever being a time when they won’t be? You celebrate their birthday each year not really thinking about how different a birthday is for a 30-year-old, than it is for a 79-year-old. In one instance, your best years may still be ahead of you. In the other, making it to the next birthday is truly a blessing—and may also require a mail-order subscription of Ben Gay. We celebrate each year not realizing that the more birthdays we observe, the fewer we have left to anticipate. That thought process really makes you want to take the time to stop and smell the Panera bagels.

Fortunately, a day before he passed, we got the call from the nursing home, where he’d spent the last few years of his life, and this allowed us to spend some very precious last moments with him. When I arrived, he was completely unresponsive and fighting to breathe. It was truly difficult to see him that way. This was grandpa. He was a fighter. He’d dealt with medical issues before and was able to bounce back. Why would this time be any different? But it was different. It was detectable in the eyes of the nursing home staff. I heard it in my grandma’s voice. I witnessed it in the quiet nature of my mother that day—she’s never quiet…ever…unless she’s stopping to think of something to say. I’m kind of like that too. I guess she gets it from me.

We asked questions about the odds of him coming out of the condition successfully and were told that he was in the transitioning stage toward death. Despite the overwhelming sadness in the room, we were fortunate enough to have a few bright moments. After several hours of his being in that state of unconsciousness, someone mentioned a hot dog and, lo and behold, there was my grandfather’s voice proclaiming that he wanted one too. I hadn’t heard his voice since June. We laughed. Before we realized it, we’d all fallen back into our usual routine of asking him questions and feeding him ice chips just like we’d done the whole time he’d been there in the home. He never opened his eyes, but he did tell us that he loved us. When we went to leave, he asked us where we were going. We told him we’d see him the next day, just as we’d done repeatedly throughout the years. Because of how interactive he’d become, we kind of developed a false sense of security and believed that we would be able to continue our bonding session the following day. We had no idea that night would be the last time we’d see him alive.

Less than 12 hours later, we got “the call.” Grandpa was gone. He passed away at 6:45 AM on August 17, 2010. He had so many visitors after his passing that it was clearly apparent that he was not just special to us, but to everyone he came in contact with. At some point throughout the day, nearly all the staff of the nursing home stopped in to pass on their condolences and to share their fond memories of him. In addition, many of the patients stopped in as well to offer kind words of encouragement. However, I must say that the high point of the day was when the musical director came in and told us that she used to sing with my grandpa to entertain him and help pass the time. I had never associated him with music. When she asked if we needed anything, I jokingly asked her to sing one of the songs they’d sung together. Surprisingly, she snatched up her guitar and sang Lena Horne’s “Stormy Weather” as my grandmother, my mother and I looked down at my grandpa who looked like he was just sleeping. I held one hand as my grandma held the other. It was truly a beautiful moment. It will forever bring a smile to my face to know that my grandpa left this world in a way that was so fitting of his life: expressing his love for his family, being talkative, and asking for a hot dog.

Rest in peace, Grandpa.

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