Friday, November 4, 2011

Rants from a Normal Guy

Hello everybody.  Sorry it's taken a while to get back into the writing.  Been a long couple of months of school and then getting back into work again.  Today I am going to go on a little bit of a rant directed at both men and women....but mostly aimed at the guys.  You see, I like to think I am a pretty normal guy.  Unfortunately nice, normal guys like me don't tend to be all that popular.   For an interesting piece on this check out an article that Joanna, a friend of mine from high school, wrote with her friend Eli for their blog which was then posted on the Good Men Project website.  It's titled "Why the Nice Guy Deserves a Chance" and is a great article which really opened my eyes to what has always been a mystery to me.    Why is it that us normal, (fairly) drama free guys don't end up with the girl?   I think I may have figured out another reason for it....and here comes the rant. (buckle up)

Guys....PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR WOMAN!!   Show her some appreciation and pay attention to her.  By not doing that you are not helping yourself or anybody else out.  You do realize that women sit around and talk about there men to each other.  Once a couple of them start saying the same thing the "hive mind" starts thinking that all guys are like that and then society does the same thing.   To make things worse, when a guy does come along who pays attention, appreciates what he has and doesn't expect more than that, and is just an all around nice guy he is looked at as being different and odd somehow which causes the pretty lady to question if you are right for them.  

You see, I guess I am spoiled a bit.  I have a really great set of parents.  My Dad was a great example of how a guy should treat his woman.   My brothers and I got to watch first hand how a Gentlemen does it.  Now, I'm not saying us Crowder men are perfect or have unlocked the mystery that is Woman, but it is common knowledge that we date and marry women that are way out of our league.   How is this possible you must say?   Because we treat our women very well, which for those of you who don't know it means that we treat them the way they deserve to be treated!  Let me go ahead and repeat that....we treat them the way they deserve to be treated!  Now, just because we treat a woman the way they deserve to be treated doesn't mean that we are always successful like Prince Charming sweeping Snow White off her feet.   Look at me, I'm divorced and single again.   I'm not going to let that fact change what I do or how I do it though because treating a woman right is the right thing to do.  Who cares if it doesn't work out, at least I know that I did what I could and gave myself  a chance by not treating her poorly.  (Side note, I could write a book of rants on how I can't understand why a guy would treat a woman he "cares" about poorly...but thats for another time and after I take a nitro pill and some blood pressure meds.)

Okay, some of you may be wondering what it is that us Crowder guys do.  I'm not going to try and tell you that we have cracked the code that is the Female Psyche because that would be like telling you that you could get rich off of ocean front property in Baghdad.  Sorry, that Nobel Prize is going to be vacant forever, but I will share somethings that have worked for me.

One, pay attention when they are talking.   Don't just do the head nod and two word responses when they pause to catch their breath.   Actually listen to them, take mental notes about what they are saying.  You may find out in a seemingly meaningless conversation that she thinks that Ryan Gosling (that one was for you Joanna) is attractive.  Now ordinarily, this is the kind of thing that us guys would ignore because well, we don't care if a guy is attractive.  But your lady does.  The next time you are having a romantic movie night, surprise her with The Notebook.  She may or may not know that you picked it out because you remember what she said, but she will never the less enjoy watching the movie with you, and that's what we call winning!  (Side note #2:  I liked The Notebook, it was a good movie and I'm more than a little bit of a romantic so it worked for me, plus Rachel McAdams is beautiful, not Ryan Gosling)

Two, do things for her for no reason other than to show her you care.  This is a tough one honestly.  Part of the reason it is so hard is because society has come to relate unsolicited acts of kindness from a man in a relationship as some sort of bribe to either cover up something they have done, or a way to get something.   This is where I have to take a minute to say something to the ladies.   Hello Ladies......unless you have previous experience with a guy trying to do the cover up routine, give him the benefit of the doubt.  He may just be wanting to put a smile on your pretty face. 

Guys, here's a couple of ideas for you.  Surprise your woman.  Something simple like bringing her flowers for no reason is a winner.  You can even get smooth about it when she asks what the special occasion is by saying that you just wanted to say thank you for everything she does for you and because you like to see her smile.  Alright, ladies skip ahead a couple of lines because I am going to share a secret with the guys.....Here's the deal, you don't have to go out and spend an arm and a leg on flowers.  Go down the street to Walmart and spend 10 or 15 bucks.  The flowers look and smell just as good and in my experience have lasted alot longer than the ones from the florist.  Just make sure to use the plant food that comes with them. 

The second thing you can do for your special lady is by doing the things that she normally does.  Maybe surprise her by taking the afternoon off, if you can, and go home while she is at work and clean up the house.  Do some laundry, trust me it won't kill you, vaccuum, take the trash out.   Most importantly, make it so that the house is straight and that you have her favorite dinner either ready or almost ready when she gets home.  She won't be expecting it and if she had a bad day, odds are she was dreading getting home to a house she has to clean and a dinner she has to make.  By taking care of it unexpectedly you are making her day a bit better.  Who knows, if you make a habit of doing this or by sharing the responsibilities with her, she might actually start looking forward to coming home to see you.  If you really want to rachet things up a notch or two you can see idea #1 and have The Notebook on standby for after dinner.  Don't laugh, it works and you might just like the movie too.

Okay, I am drawing to a close, really I am.  Ladies, give a guy a shot.  If it doesn't work out, just let him know.  At least you gave him a chance and I am sure he will appreciate that you did.  Plus, if you don't give him a chance you will never have the opportunity to see if he really is a nice, normal guy who really wants to treat you right and not just another guy making the moves and playing the game so that he can get what he wants.   There really are nice guys out there.  Not all guys are only into that one thing.  Some guys are just simple, mild-mannered guys who aren't going to bring that drama in.  Guy's don't want drama and if you sit back and think for a second, it's not bad.  Sure, it's not how it is in the movies, but there is a lot less angst without the drama.  Here's a little thing I have learned that works for both the men and women out there.  Sometimes you have to stop looking for that special someone because if you are looking for them you may actually be looking in the wrong direction and that person could walk by right behind you.  You may just need to wait for them to find you, or if you are really lucky, you stumble upon each other.

All right boys and girls.  There goes the end of my long and winding rant for today.  Hopefully it made some sense and you are able to pull something out of it.  I can't guarantee I will post on a regular basis, but I will as the inspiration hits me.  If you have any requests for topics or anything like that let me know and I will see what I can do.  Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When you're feeling alone....

Well hello again.  I apologize for taking so long to post an update, but life has gotten in the way and I have been extremely busy.  Between finishing up my school work, getting ready for my Army school, and spending time with Amarah there hasn’t been all that much free time to say the least.  All the while I have had my fair share of ups and downs personally.   This past summer has been one that I can honestly say was one of the best I can remember.  I got to see my brother Andy get married, spent some quality time with my daughter and family, and also dated an amazing girl for part of the summer.  Even though it didn’t work out for us, I was able to pull a lot of positive life lessons from it.

Back in April I met an amazing woman.  Over the course of a little more than two months I found that she possessed every one of the qualities that I am looking for in a woman, and none of the things that I am trying to steer clear of.  We shared some amazing time together and grew very close, very fast.  While I was on my way to our first date, I prayed to God and told Him that he was in control of this one.  No longer was I going to try and steer the ship, or as I put it, drive the truck on it.  I told God, if you want this to work out, great, if not, then it is your will, not mine.  After a few weeks, I found myself strongly believing (and I still do) that God brought the two of us together for a reason.  I told God, I don’t know if this is for right now or for forever, but either way He was in control.   Unfortunately, it was only for a short time that God brought us together, but an amazing time it most certainly was.  For the first time in my life I was able to be 100% me.   I didn’t have to try and be someone that I wasn’t and I didn’t have to try and hide any of myself (like being a complete dork) from her because she liked me for me.  That to me was totally and completely priceless.  For the first time in a very long time, if ever, I was content in my life and it was great.

When things went south and we decided to part ways it was very tough.  I went from spending a large amount of my free time with her, talking every day, and texting pretty much all day long to not seeing her, not talking to her and not communicating at all really.  It was as though a part of me was missing.  I suppose that is the downside to opening up and sharing yourself with someone.  You can’t ever really get that part of you back.  I can only relate it to how people who have had limbs amputated describe still having the phantom pains long after the body part has been separated from their body.   To make things more difficult I was very much alone for about a week and a half before I was able to go to Michigan to pick up my daughter and spend time with my family.   What I didn’t realize until earlier this week was the real problem that I was suffering from.

I didn’t realize until this week when I finally got closure from the relationship that I was angry and mad at God.  I was blaming Him for the failure of the relationship and felt like He had let me down.  I had forgotten the promise that I had made on my way to the first date.   I forgot that I had given him the control and that whatever happened it was his will, not mine.   All I could see was the gaping hole that was in my life when this wonderful woman was no longer there.  All I saw was the sadness from losing an important person in my life.   This past Monday I made the realization and admitted to myself that I will probably never see my friend again.  It is very difficult, no matter how hard you try, to stay friends and turn back the clock and go back to the way things were after breaking up with someone.   For the longest time there was a … and the end of that chapter in my life, but once I made that realization and let it settle in I was able to put a period at the end of the page.   As cliché as it may be, I woke up one morning and felt a peace come over me.  It had been four weeks since I had last seen her and I just woke up knowing that I wouldn’t ever see her, and I was oddly okay with it.   The reason why I am able to accept it is because I finally remembered that it was God’s plan!!   I remembered that if God could bring this amazing woman into my life and it not work out, then there must be someone even better out there for me.   That thought alone is enough to keep me with a smile on my face.  Lightening can strike twice, just ask the park ranger who had been struck 8 times. 

I’m not saying that I am happy that it didn’t work out and that I am without that special woman in my life.  Far from it.  I am still sad that it didn’t work and I miss having her in my life, who wouldn’t.  She is an amazing person and anyone who has her in their life is very very fortunately.  I just know that there is a silver lining to that dark cloud. 

It is important to me that she is happy.  If that means that I am a part of the happiness then great, if not, at least I know that she is happy.  I also know that there is happiness out there for me somewhere.  Could be with her someday (even though it’s not too likely), or it could be with someone else.  I may not know who it is, but I know who will bring us together and be the one to make it work.   GOD!!   God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want him to.   Sometimes God says yes, sometimes no, and sometimes not right now.   We don’t have to know why it is His answer, we just have to trust that there is a good reason for it because God doesn’t have bad reasons. 

In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I am not alone on this Earth.  I may not have a girlfriend or a wife anymore, but I have someone that will not leave or will not end.   I have my beautiful daughter Amarah.  During the school year she lives with her Mom and on the weekend she is with me.  It doesn’t matter how bad a day or week I am having because I know that on Friday night I will get to pick her up.  It’s what I look forward to all week long from Sunday night when I drop her off to when I pick her up again. I am very thankful that I have this beautiful little bundle of joy that I get to have in my life.  Children truly are a Gift from God.   Even when she is not with me, I know that there is someone else who is always with me, watching over me and caring for me.  I have God in my life and know that no matter where I am, He is always with me.  If you have God in your life remember that next time you are feeling sad and lonely.  If you don’t have God in your life and would like to, then just let me know and I will help you how ever I can.    So long friends, until next time….
One last thing, check out the link on the upper left.  Great book written my my Dad.   Singing the Songs of the Broken Hearted:  Psalms that Comfort and Mend the Soul.    Awesome book from an awesome Dad (and a great author too).

Saturday, July 30, 2011

She Likes Me for Me

Hello, again.  Thank you to all of you who read my first blog.  It’s kind of scary putting my life out there for people to see, but I can already feel myself getting better and already have the next few entries laid out in this giant head of mine.  A little bit of housekeeping to start off though, comments are always welcome and you can do them anonymously if you don’t want me knowing it was you who commented.  Likes and comments on Facebook are also more than welcome as well.  Also, to the right and below the entries are some ads that Google put on my page.  If you wouldn’t mind clicking on them I would appreciate it.  I make a few cents off of each click and you don’t have to worry about spam or virus’ since they are legit and from the big giant Google.

I’d like to take a bit of time today to give all of you some insight into what makes me tick when it comes to our subject of love and heartache.  As I sit here and think about my almost 33 years of life it is helping me put together what it is that makes me, me.  Think of life as a big color by number picture without the numbers.  You have the colors, you have the lines, and you know what it looks like when you are done.  The only problem is you don’t know where the colors go in the lines until you look back and really think about how each piece of the picture came to be there in the first place.  Once you start identifying a few things the parts around it or that are related to it come into focus and are easier to fill in.  All of you can look at me and see the picture that is me, but it’s not the whole picture.  So throughout this I will start filling in the sketch so that not only you have a better idea of what make me who I am, but so that I can too.  Until I know, I can’t move forward.

I am the oldest of five kids and have the two best parents anyone could ask for.  Growing up (and still to this day) my parents provided a loving environment for us kids to grow up in.  The more people I meet in my travels and daily life, the more I understand that I am really fortunate in that respect.  Not everyone can say that they had that either growing up or now that they are “grown-ups” and on their own.  For most of my life my dad, Bill, was a Baptist Pastor and now he works for Radio Bible Class.  He’s written a few books and also writes articles for Our Daily Bread as well as speaks to Pastor’s Conferences and Bible Conferences around the world.  I’m sure if they held one in Antarctica he’d be doing one there and then he’d have all seven continents crossed off his places to visit list.  My mom, Marlene, has been and still is a professional mom.  No offense to the guys on Deadliest Catch, but I think being a mom is a much more difficult and harrowing profession than those guys have out on the Bering Sea catching crab.  Both of my parents have been supportive of us and have loved us regardless of whether or not we may or may not be making a mistake in our decision making.  Never once did I feel like I was being pressured to impress my parents or to make them proud of me.  That little tidbit you will be seeing again.

Growing up as an oldest child is tough.  Unless you are one, you don’t really know what it’s like.  Some people say that as the oldest you are the one your parents experiment on and then the younger siblings get the benefit of your trial and error.  Also, as the oldest your younger siblings are looking up to you and looking to learn from your example.  So there is a lot of pressure that is inherent in the job.  Add onto that that my dad was a Pastor.  As a Pastor’s kid, the spotlight is always on you.  You have to behave when you are out in public and watch what you do, because you don’t want anyone to look at you and think less of your parents.   Now none of this pressure was never directly placed on me by anyone.  Like I said before, my parents never put that pressure on me and neither did my siblings.   It was just there.  A lot of my pressure to be the best has also been self-imposed.  I have always wanted to be the best at everything I have done.  Whether it be at a video game, baseball, golf or even a spelling test, I had to be better because I wasn’t satisfied with my own performance.  My mom likes to still joke with me that I used to come home in tears when I would get a spelling word wrong on a quiz in 1st Grade.   Never did they ever express to me that I wasn’t good enough or told me I needed to be better.  I have always just had a self-confidence issue and feelings of self-doubt.  I still struggle with this in my day to day life in my work, as a dad, and also when I’m in a relationship I always wonder if I am good enough for her.

Since this whole experiment is about my ongoing struggle with love and heartache, let’s go back to what I will call “The Wonder Years.”  When I was 12 my family moved from Southern California to West Michigan.  Of course at 12 I was going starting to go through changes of my own with puberty and such, which made it all the more difficult to move and meet a whole new group of people.   I will say though that I did meet a whole bunch of great people and kids as soon as I got there.  I came in there as the new kid coming from a church without a whole lot of kids my age into a church with a whole bunch of kids my age.  I thought it was great.  There were some cool guys and some very pretty girls…think, really really pretty girls.   To say that I was awkward would be an understatement.  I was smaller than most and had big thick glasses that made me feel very much like Steve Urkel.  All Steve wanted was for the girl of his dreams to like him and he would do whatever he could to get her to.  For me, it wasn’t trying to get one girl to like me.  It was to get everyone to like me.  I used to try so hard just to be noticed and liked by everybody that I would be a different person for every person I was around.  Sometimes I would make fun of myself or intentionally fall down in order to get people to notice and laugh at me.  I figured it was better for them to laugh at me than it was for me to be ignored and just blend in and not be noticed.

Once I got to high school I figured out that I had something that I could offer to gain favor with the other kids in class.   Particularly, I was good at math.  I always have had a knack for numbers and they just seem to make sense to me.  I can look at a spreadsheet full of data and it just makes sense to me.  Kind of like Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind” or the operators looking at the cascading lines of green code in “The Matrix.”  While I was in high school I would help people, (okay in all honesty, it was the cute girls in class) with their homework during class.  They seemed to appreciate the help, or the fact they didn’t have to do it on their own, and I appreciated the attention that I got from them.  What I didn’t realize then but I know now was that it wasn’t getting me any closer to my goal of getting the girl, whoever she may be.   I think the moment when that really hit me was in my Senior year.  At the beginning of the school year my parents let me get contact lenses.  I remember going on a Monday to get them fitted and see if they would work.  It was really weird having something in my eyeball and it was hard for me to get them in there.  On a side-note, I still get weirded out when it comes to stuff with eyes.  Whether it be something in a movie, on tv, or in person, when it deals with eyes I get all weirded out.  Even though I was weirded out by it, I was determined to make them work because I felt like my big thick Urkel glasses were holding me back and keeping the girls from really noticing me.  That Friday night was a one of the first home Football games for the Holland Dutch.  Can’t remember who we were playing or if we won but I remember something that happened at half-time.   You see, after school that day my parents took me to go and pick up my first real set of contact lenses.  I couldn’t wait to go to the game that night and actually be able to see and also be seen without my glasses.   Also, I went to the game alone because most of my buddies were on the team so it’s not like I could go with them.   Anyway, I got to the stadium and found my seat.  I sat up in the top row about the 35 yard line on the left hand side.   (How do I remember that and not who we played I’ll never know.  Must be my genetic knack for useless knowledge.)  Sitting right in front of me were two girls from one of my classes.   These two were both a couple of the pretty girls in class and for the last couple of years we had shared the same Math class and I had done my usual deal and helped them when they needed it.  I guess you’d say we were friends.  I’m sure you must be wondering now why I’m telling you this, but hang in there, I’m getting the rest of the story.  All throughout the first half of the game I noticed the girls looking back every once in a while and then would whisper to themselves.   I didn’t say anything to them though because I’m what you would call shy (chicken actually), but I noticed that they definitely knew I was there.   At some point during half-time the both turned around and looked at me, but instead of turning back around one of them finally said, “Matt?”  and I replied that it was me.  “Where are your glasses, did you get contacts?”  I said, “Yup, picked them up after school today.”  At that point there was a pause and she said “Wow, you’re cute now!”   At that moment I got and awesome compliment, but also felt like I got slapped in the face at the same time.   Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome having one of the prettiest girls in school tell me that I was cute….that doesn’t ever get old.  I still like it when the pretty girls tell me I’m cute or attractive, who doesn’t.  What stuck with me was the “..Now!”  My glasses had kept them from seeing me, but that wasn’t all.  What they didn’t seem to get was that it was still me, whether I had glasses or not.  Not having glasses didn’t change who I was, it just made me more attractive physically.  What I wanted though deep down was for them to like me for me, not for how I looked.   That is why it was a big slap in the face at the same time as being a huge compliment and ego booster. 

Now, I know that some of the reason for that is it was high school and that’s how high school kids are.  But there are still people outside of high school that are the same way.  It could be looks, profession, and lifestyle to name a few that people like to hang their hat on and make a huge priority.  What I find matters most is the person inside all of those things.  Looks and jobs change over time.  But the person on the inside is what truly matters because that more often than not doesn’t change.  Fifteen years removed from High School I’m still the same guy that just wants people to notice me and pay some attention to me.  Some things have changed though.  No longer do I do nice things for people to get them to notice me or like me.  I just do it because I like doing nice things for people.  Whether it be fixing a computer, making sure flowers are on the kitchen table, opening doors for people at stores, or the simple “Have a nice day” I just do it to because that’s who I am, not because I want something in return.  What I hope is that someday, someone will be able look past the extra few pounds I have now, the ever increasing gray hair, that my job may take me away for a while, or that I am a big dork most of the time and see that once you pull back those curtains, that there is a nice guy sitting there who just wants to make people happy and wants to be happy in return. 

Well, I didn’t expect this one to be quite this long.  I guess I hit my groove, or just started to get to the rambling.  I appreciate you hanging with me this long.  Let me know what you thought.  Good or bad, comments are welcome and don’t forget to click the ads.  Don’t worry they won’t make you sign up for anything.  Just click the link and once the page has loaded you can close out of it. 

Good afternoon, Good Evening, and Good Night.

Friday, July 29, 2011


I first want to start off by saying thank you for taking a few minutes to check out my new blog.   Some people Journal, some talk to their friends, others just hold their thoughts in to themselves.  I have always been the type just to keep things to myself and bottle it up.  I have reached the point though that I have to stop doing that because the bottle is more than full.  I don’t like writing in journals (even though this is kind of like that) and I don’t like talking to people, especially since I don’t really have anyone to talk to other than myself and my dog Lucky, but we’ll get to that part at a later date.   
As I laid in bed last night thinking of a catchy title for this I started thinking about song titles and movie quotes and I kept coming back to a little band from Liverpool called The Beatles.   For a little background for those of you who may not know me or my family that well, you need to understand that my Dad is a huge Beatles fan and that has been passed down to us kids.  When he and my mom surprised me with an iPod while I was deployed to Iraq it came preloaded with all of the Beatles songs and they’ve become one of my favorites as well.  Don’t be surprised if you see quite a few references to their music throughout, I am my father’s son after all.   Anyway, as I was thinking about their music one song kept coming back to me.  It’s a simple little tune called, “All You Need is Love”.   It’s a great song and it speaks to what you could call my theme for this big experiment.   But I couldn’t just leave it at that, how original could that be.   In fairy tales and “chick flicks” (which I’m a fan of) they have things called “love and first sight” or “happily ever after”.   Rarely does real life ever include those concepts, more often though life is filled with ups and downs, happiness and hardship, passion and pain.   I don’t know of a single person who wants any of the second options that I just listed.  We all want the good stuff, but with the good comes the bad.  The key is to remember that even when you hurt, there is was a goodness that came before it and it will be back again.  Love and Heartache go hand in hand.  You just can’t let the heartache keep you away from the love.   So, as I was getting sleepy and my thoughts started to drift I came up with, “All you need is Love, Hold the Heartache.”
Here’s the general idea I have in mind for all of this.  I am going to share with you my readers, or maybe just my keyboard, the stories of my life that have brought me to where I am today as well as analogies, insights, and strokes of genius that hit me as I move forward in search of my happily ever after.  Now, in the pursuit of openness and honesty, the stories put forth in this little piece of the internet will be true, from my point of view as that’s the only view I have of the story.  But like on “Dragnet”, while the stories are true, the names and some of the places have been changed to protect the innocent.   Some may ask, why are you changing their names?  That’s easy, none of the people in the stories know that I am writing about them.  With the names being different they may not even know it’s them I’m talking about which is how I want it.  These are my recollections of my thoughts and feelings of the past and I don’t hold anyone else responsible for them but myself, so if I don’t name them by name, they won’t have to feel bad or good for that matter about what I am talking about.  If you do know who I am talking about (some will be obvious) don’t go blurting out who it is or who you think it is out of respect for those people.   I don’t know if anyone will read any of this but if you do and it helps you out or makes you laugh then I guess it’s doing good for someone other than myself, and if you have any thoughts or suggestions feel free to share. 

So where do I start?  A long time ago in a galaxy far far                                   
These are the voyages of the  
Hi. I'm Chuck Bartowski. And here are a few things you should
A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist….no

Wait, I know....
There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
And then one day
A magic day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings
This he said to me
“The greatest thing
You’ll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return”*

*Lyrics from the song "Nature Boy" by Kerli.  First heard in it in the preview for Smallville Season 10.