1. Quitting my JV Basketball team in 10th grade. My involvement on this team had the potential of being one of my greatest stories ever. I was cut from the Freshman team when I thought that I should have made it, came back the next year and after two days of tryouts, the coach called me into his office and told me that I was too short, lacked the fundamentals and would never make the team. He told me to go home and come back next year. Apparently, he told that to quite a few people trying out for the team and all of them went home. I had nothing better to do with my time after school and I loved basketball so instead of quitting, I kept showing up every day for tryouts. I think this annoyed the coach, but for some reason when the final cuts were given I found out that I had made the team. Great story, huh? It gets better. When we had our meetings with the head coach to discuss our roles for the team, every player met with him in his office, received their gear for the season (new shoes, jerseys, warm-up gear, duffel bags, etc) and was given a motivational pep talk. Everyone except me. Coach met me outside of the school and told me that I would never play. I was the only player without a pair of team shoes and I didn't get any of that other cool stuff. There were days when I was told to sit down and watch during practice. Wasn't practice the time to improve? Coach never remembered my name, or at least he acted like he didn't know who I was. I didn't have a locker, had to wear my old beat up high-tops and got made fun of by all the other, better players. Still, even with coach's promise that I would never play, five games into the season I got into a game for a couple of minutes.
Time after time my perseverance paid off, but as the season progressed, things got tougher. Instead of doing warm up drills with the rest of the team, coach made me run stairs. I wasn't told about team meetings and I wasn't even assigned a team number (I got whatever jersey that wasn't in the wash at the time.) For some reason, despite sticking to it through the beginning, I decided to quit, much to the head coach's delight. Now, I look back at that decision and it makes me sick. Why did I give up? Times were hard, sure, but if I had just stuck it out, who knows what could have happened. Because of that decision, I know now that despite getting down on myself when I consistently get rejected for whatever desires I choose for my life, I will not give up and quit.
2. An English assignment during my freshman year of college. I've always fashioned myself as a story-teller, and on occasion growing up, I actually wrote a few stories down. My first year of college at Ricks...er BYU-Idaho, was somewhat of a joke. I hardly ever went to class and ended the year with a pathetic 2.2 GPA. I was too busy having fun, hanging out with friends, basking in the freedom of a new college student to give any thought of the misery I would go through later in life trying to correct the mistakes of that year. There were few highlights as far as grades were concerned, but one of them snapped something in the back of my mind and started the wheels turning in a new direction. We were asked in my English class to write an essay on what gave us "Absolute Joy." It was a cheesy assignment, but worth a hefty sum towards our final grade. Every student in that class wrote something spiritual: Their family, their mission, their church, their wife, their children, their memories of deceased relatives, etc., etc. I opted to go a different route and wrote mine about a Whopper with cheese without onions. I got an A+ on the paper and the praise from my teacher. Suddenly, the emergence of a calling sprouted into my life.
3. A skunk nest under the house. I actually was not present for this event. I believe I was somewhere across the world eating dog innards and so the account of what happened was relayed to me from those that witnessed it. One afternoon, my family discovered an awful smell flowing through the house. It was so powerful it literally saturated the walls with stench. Apparently, a skunk or two had taken up residence beneath the house. An exterminator would be needed, but unfortunately, none were available until the following day. My brother demanded that the family stay at a hotel for the night because he couldn't stand the odor. My mother and father insisted it wasn't that bad and that they would just endure that evening and all would be well the next day. Michael adamantly protested. He knew that all of his clothes were going to smell like skunk-stink and that would be social suicide at his High School. In the end, my parents rejected his request and they went to sleep in the fumigated home. The next morning, my mom went looking for Michael only to discover that he wasn't in his bed. After searching a few moments in the room and in the hallway, she couldn't find him anywhere. Finally, she noticed something under the closet door and opened it to find Michael lying on the floor of the closet with several pairs of jeans rolled up under the door and two grape Jolly Ranchers shoved up his nostrils. When I heard about that, I was literally dumbfounded with laughter. Just the thought process that must have lead my brother to go to such extremes amazed me. From that moment, I realized that I had grown up in a home living with a master of comedy. To him, humor is effortless and in most cases he doesn't even realize why it's funny. That moment as well as thousands of others Michael has created over the years truly helped define my direction for writing.