June 13, 2001
FAMILY / FRIENDS >>>
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When I last wrote, I quoted Richard Nixon, which goes to show you far into the crapper my life has gone. To even things out politically, I will now quote the Rev. Jesse Jackson from his historic 1988 Democratic Convention address, called by some the greatest convention speech since William Jennings Bryan’s 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech.
“I’m tired of sailing my little boat, far inside the harbor bar. I want to go out where the big ships float, out on the deep where the great ones are. And should my frail craft prove too slight for waves that sweep those billows o’er, I’d rather go down in the stirring fight than drowse to death at the sheltered shore.”
That sentiment helped me leave USA Swimming for the untold riches of the Internet world.
Now that my frail craft has capsized and I’ve been without work for five full months, this is a quote I like to ponder.
“Every one of these funny labels they put on you … call you outcast, low down, you can’t make it, you’re nothing, you’re from nobody, subclass, underclass … wherever you are tonight, you can make it. Hold your head high, stick your chest out. You can make it. It gets dark sometimes, but the morning comes. Don’t you surrender. Suffering breeds character, character breeds faith. In the end faith will not disappoint. You must not surrender. You may or may not get there, but just know that you’re qualified. And you can hold on, and hold out … ”
KEEP HOPE ALIVE >>>
I’m really grasping at straws now …
A LONG TIME COMING >>>
May was not a strong month for me employment-search wise. In April, I applied for 37 jobs; in May, just three. I’m being a touch more selective. I can admit now that applying to NASA might have been a smidge out of my range of capabilities. But, at the same time, I’m trying not to sell myself short either.
Kraft Foods had an interesting opening: Spokesperson for their famous Weinermobile, but you had to be fluent in Spanish, so I didn’t apply. I know a few Spanish phrases, but not enough to really be considered fluent. For example, I don’t know the Spanish words for “beef by-products,” “fecal matter” or “animal lips.”
I tried to apply for a job with the City of Denver’s Public Works department, but had trouble applying online. In fact, I accidentally submitted Rosemary’s resume … twice … long story. So I did a little digging and found out what the Public Works department actually does. They are in charge of trash collection and sanitary sewer lines. Traffic lights, abandoned vehicles in lawns, and dumpster repair. They have a 24-hour hotline for citizens to report potholes. What would it be like to be the PR Director there, pitching stories to media …
“I think I have a storyline here that’s going to excite a lot of the Denver Post readers. Are you with me? The Public Works department has improved its reaction time on dead animal collections by a whopping 46 percent. If a citizen sees their next-door neighbor’s cat lying dead in the street in front of their house, they can call our department and that carcass will be gone by the end of the next business day. Guaranteed.”
I didn’t apply, but we’re still crossing our fingers for Rosemary.
NATIONAL GOVERNING BODIES >>>
The most obvious place for me to find work it now appears is within the Olympic Movement. I got a call from the USA Archery Executive Director about working on their magazine in a freelance capacity. I drove out, way out, to the DDC for a visit. The DDC is a building so far away from civilization that I had to fill my gas tank twice just to get there. Right behind the DDC are a row of houses … it’s where people involved in the FBI Witness Protection Program live. The DDC is home to Olympic sports like Archery, Fencing, and Taekwondo. I felt like I had walked into a scene from the movie, “Sports that Time Forgot.”
The meeting went poorly. I presented a plan to combine their publications, but the Executive Director, who asked me to come up with the plan to combine their publications, suddenly seemed resistant to change. He said that his membership might not go for it. I said, “Your membership? Are you really talking about your membership or are you talking about one or two loudmouths on your Board?”
He said, “Well, there’s this one guy on the Board who thinks … ”
My ol’ bowling buddy, Bill Kellick, was there; he can verify that the meeting kind of went south after that.
USA Shooting has an opening. I met with their Executive Director, who is a nice guy, but they don’t have much money. Our talk went well. I learned from my past mistakes and didn’t mention the fact that I am not a big supporter of the NRA or guns in general. But if paying my bills and feeding my kids means promoting the sport of shooting, then I’ll be shilling shooting with a smile on my face. Hell, I’ll wear an ammo belt to the Training Center cafeteria, if need be.
There was one funny exchange. Bob, the Executive Director, said, “There are some people out there who would have you believe we do nothing but train people to hold up 7-11’s out here.”
Me: (big laugh) “Ha, ha, ha … that’s crazy! Ha, ha, ha … (then suddenly sheepish) … you aren’t doing that, are you?”
I’ve applied for jobs at USA Hockey and the U.S. Tennis Association. These are jobs for me. These are jobs I could do, would want to do and am qualified to do. I hope somebody calls.
A funny thing happened on the way to USA Hockey Headquarters … I was roaring down the road in my Jeep Cherokee, when I realized that I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, a comfortable pair of cotton shorts and sandals. I thought, “I can’t go to Hockey and drop off my application looking like this.” So I turned around and went back into the house. I called Farrell about something and I told him my situation.
“There are 200 applicants, I better put on something nice, what do you think?” Matt said that I should wear a dress shirt and some khakis. I’m like, “A dress shirt? Can’t I just wear a nice polo?” He said, “Well, if you want to chance it. You don’t know how much pull the receptionist might have or who might be in the lobby.” I said, “All right, all right, but I’m not going to shave. I’ve got to be myself. I don’t care how long I’m unemployed, they’ve got to take me as I am.”
Moments later, I shaved.
I drove across town. The hockey parking lot was fairly empty. Turns out, their entire staff was away at their Annual Congress meeting. I handed my envelope to some lonely guy answering phones. The lonely guy wasn’t especially friendly or talkative and didn’t appear to be a member of the senior staff, but you never know. Better to be safe and clean-shaven, than be sorry.
NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS >>>
** After thousands of games played, I finally shot a record 57 on my Gameboy golf game. Plus, I have successfully lengthened my sideburns after months of effort.
** Rose has lost 30 pounds on Weight-Watchers; an amazing feat considering she was wafer-thin before.
** Carli can now do 21 jump ropes in a row.
** Gina, who learned that she wouldn’t be able to attend the fun Montessori School if she isn’t potty-trained, is now potty-trained.
** Sam, who will turn two in August, performed his first double take on May 6. Plus, he has found his “special purpose” in life.
CLIMBING PIKES PEAK >>>
Instead of looking for jobs eight hours a day, I’ve been working out. Six times a week. Weightlifting, swimming, running, hiking, biking, etc., etc. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve done two 16-mile hikes (Barr Camp, halfway up the mountain and back; and Rampart Reservoir, a trail that goes around a lake at 9,000 feet elevation). I am getting fit. Not super fit, just back to normal. Man, was I out of shape. But now, it’s a different story. My thighs of steel have surpassed Rulon Gardner; now they more resemble the thighs of Eric Heiden. My goal, while lofty, is attainable. I want Mary Lou Retton thighs … pound for pound the most impressive and powerful thighs in Olympic history.
Actually, I have three goals:
- Climb Pikes Peak without having a heart attack.
- Attain Mary Lou Retton-style thighs … getting close.
- Lose flabby man-boobs … getting close there too.
Rose is reaping the fruits of my new health kick. The other night we watched Gladiator. Wow, what a movie. Not that Russell Crowe deserved the Oscar. He was great, but I think it was an accumulative award, honoring his last several roles. But I could be wrong. Anyways, we had just watched the movie and it was time to turn in. Rose was already in bed, when I walked in … buck-naked. I had wet down my hair, Caesar-style. I stood at the foot of the bed and said, “My name is Maximus. You killed my father, prepare to die.”
Rose said, “Huh?”
I stood in front of our closet mirror and hit several classic bodybuilding poses. Veins were popping all over, but something seemed to be missing. The nuances of my massive muscle cuts were being lost in the poor lighting. I said to Rose, “Do we have any posing oil?”
I’m probably taking this Pikes Pike thing too seriously, but I want to do a good job. When I was a kid, I didn’t have a care in the world about exercise. When I got out of college, I was worried about pulling a muscle. Now when I warm-up, I’m more concerned about loosening up my joints, then my muscles. I don’t want to get halfway up the hill and break a hip. But every time I start feeling like Don Quixote chasing some impossible dream, I get brought down to earth.
- “Yah, I just climb Pikes Peak and it was super hard, but then again I’m nine months pregnant.”
- “Pikes Peak is one tough climb, especially when you’re 70-year-old grandmother of eight.”
- “Pikes Peak? I just climbed Mount Everest and I’m blind.”
But regardless of all that, Pikes Peak is hard. It’s about 12.5 miles in length and the rise of elevation is 7,400, the greatest elevation increase of any of Colorado’s 54 fourteeners.
TEAM SNYDER >>>
There’s still room on Team Snyder if you want to join me on my “Ascent to the Summit.” Steve Pegram and Audrius Barzdukas have already signed up to be my sherpas. Now I need a videographer, a sports psychologist, a biomechanist or physiologist and possibly a nutritionist. The tentative date is Friday, June 29. Start time approximately 5:30 a.m.
Steve Pegram was my first intern at USA Swimming back in 1990. On my first weekend in Colorado Springs, Steve and I took the Cog Railway to the top of Pikes Peak. To test the effects of altitude on the effects of alcohol, we drank a Miller Lite at the top of the mountain. We plan to recreate that moment this time as well.
So I keep working out … I was swimming the other day at the YMCA, when I notice three babes in the lane next to mine, standing and staring. When I got to the end of the pool, the hottest babe speaks up. “Hey, man, those are some awesome trunks. We were all just waiting here so we could check out your suit.”
Now ordinarily I would love such attention from a flock of young babes, but I was in the middle of a workout and they were interrupting, so I scolded them.
“Come on, grow up. You act as if you’ve never seen a pair of “Baywatch” bikini briefs before.”
“Life ain’t nothin’ but a muffin, and I got a lot of butter to go.”
DAILY AFFIRMATION II >>>
“You can do it.”
— Townie (played by Rob Schneider in the movie, “The Waterboy”)
CHARLIE’S RECOMMENDATIONS >>>
- CDs: “Viva Wisconsin” by the Violent Femmes; “Fool’s Parade” by Peter Wolf; “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” by U2 and “Play” by Moby.
- Books: “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser; “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway; and “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers.
Who was the most valuable Saturday Night Live cast member?
a. Dan Ackroyd
b. Dana Carvey
c. Will Farrell
d. Phil Hartman
MOVIE TRIVIA >>>
I recently got a haircut and now I resemble Gunny Highway, a character from what movie?
MOVIE TRIVIA II >>>
On my hike to the Barr Camp, I brought a pad of paper to record my times. On the cover page, I wrote a quote to keep me going. It read: “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path,” a line from what movie?
NUMBER ONE FAVORITE THING ABOUT NOT HAVING A JOB >>>
I don’t have to go to work.
REMARKABLE FRIENDS >>>
When I was in high school, I named the “SnydeRemarks’ Remarkable Athlete” for the student newspaper. So via these e-mails, I’ve instituted the “SnydeRemarks’ Remarkable Friend” program.
Today’s lucky winners are … Michelle Farrell, Toni Woods, Tommy Shepard and Audrius Barzdukas.
** Michelle, a teammate of the aforementioned Mary Lou Retton on the 1984 U.S. Gymnastics team, has been going out of her way to assist both myself and Rosemary with employment opportunities. She’s been very nice to us.
** Toni and Tommy … two of the most positive people I’ve ever met. I’m lucky to have them as friends.
** Audrius … in an indirect way, was very instrumental in my embarking on this healthy lifestyle, mainly by helping secure all of this free time for me. He’s got me drinking this fruit and fiber laxative shake every morning. We talk everyday. Our families play together. In fact, we’re going camping at the sand dunes this weekend. So from that respect, the spiz.com adventure has already paid huge dividends and was more than worth it for me.
The other day we had lunch together in Manitou Springs at The Keg. After lunch we decided to check out this new store, “The Writer’s Haven.” I can’t quite pigeon-hole what kind of store it was. There were books about the Kabalah and you could have your aura photographed for a nominal fee. The proprietor asked us where we were from, we told him. Then he asked what we did for a living. Audrius answered.
“We were partners in an internet venture that went belly-up, now we’re unemployed and wandering the streets of Manitou.”
A lady, who just had her aura analyzed, laughed her ass off.
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