Good morning all and happy Friday!
Earlier this week I had started to write out a blog about vanity/narcissism and materialism, but I quickly went off the rails with it. I trashed that writing and I’m going to try again. Maybe if I put my opinion on front street first, I won’t jack this up. Here it goes!
Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been of the mind that money and whatever the current thought or trend of what attractiveness was is not what I strive in this world. Now, with that said, heck yes, I play Powerball and Mega Millions once the jackpot reaches about 200 million dollars and more, but generally striving for an extra dollar an hour in wage or landing a job and immediately searching for the next higher paying one isn’t what I do. Same can be said about my looks or the way I dress. I’ve been wearing the same style of stuff forever and I’m comfortable with it. T-shirt, shorts/pants, sneakers. That’s about it. Granted, the t-shirts have logos on them whether it be a favorite band, stupid saying, adult beverage of choice, or favorite sports team/professional wrestler or league, it’s always a t-shirt for me. I’ve always been finding the comfort in the graces that God gives me and if He blesses me with more, that’s great. If He doesn’t, I know that I have what He knows I need.
With that said, I’ve had conversations with a good friend of mine a few times over the months about desiring personal appearance alterations (trying to be nice in the way I phrase it), and from the perception that I see, her dating men with material wealth and basing a lot of her decisions of whether or not to continue dating these men heavily skewed on what they can provide for her monetarily. Both of those things honestly make me cringe. It’s messed up to even say that because I feel like I’m talking bad about my friend, and I hope that I’m not really coming across like I’m bashing her because I really love her and I don’t want to, but what I am bashing is this mentality that a lot of people in and around the generation that I was born in and going back to the baby boomers were taught. That idea was best summed up in the film Wall Street. “Greed is good.”
I was born in 1980 and my parents at the tail end of the 1950’s, so then were in their mid-20s during the 80s when everything started to go about spending money and making sure you looked good doing it too. Thankfully, my parents did not indulge too much into the idea, but said idea was all around us. I’m a proud child of the 80s and still love the films and music that came out of it, but it did bring us the worship of vanity and the worship of money that still runs people’s lives today.
Money and the pursuit of it has never run my life. As a matter of fact, I can go back to sometime in late 1998 to early 1999 when I had a conversation with my mom about what I wanted to do with my life. I was set to graduate high school in the spring of 1999 and until my crazy two-day trip to see Metallica in Las Vegas on September 12th, 1998, my plan was to become a locomotive engineer for what had just recently become Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. That trip to Las Vegas right after a Friday night football game (my 3 buddies and I had one of the dads drive us up to Vegas, and we were all in marching band, that’s why we couldn’t go to the show the night before in Phoenix, Arizona) and getting into Las Vegas, Nevada early Saturday afternoon after a few hours of sleep in a motel somewhere in Phoenix, started to change the narrative in my brain that I was dead set on going into railroading. What I saw when we first stepped foot into Circus Circus to crush their buffet pre-Metallica show changed my life. I saw the teeming of excitement, the buzz that was people from all over the world coming together in this one city and having a blast. I was immediately hooked. I knew that if I couldn’t find a way to become a locomotive engineer for Santa Fe (I was still calling it that then because not too many BNSF liveries were yet making it down to where I could see them in El Paso), I’d want to work in Las Vegas at one of the big hotels. I didn’t care what I’d do, as long as I was what I now know is called “the front of the house”. From front desk, to change person, security guard, I wanted to be in the middle of the action. The conversation that I had with my mom happened sometime after September 12th and before my graduation sometime in May of ’99. When I told her, pretty much, that I wanted to work in a host/security position for a major resort on the Las Vegas Strip, she said something to the effect of “They don’t make any money. How are you going to live?” and I told her something to the effect (might have been verbatim) “I don’t care. I’ll find a way to live. All I need is a roof over my head.” I’m sure she just kinda shook her head and brushed off the idea, but I was holding steady on that idea. I even wanted to have a graduation trip back to Las Vegas instead of choosing to go to Chicago to go see where my parents spent a few years of their life when dad was stationed there in the Navy and where my sister was born. I told my dad that he HAD to go experience Las Vegas. I remember him brushing off the idea because at the time he thought gambling was stupid. He said something along the lines of “How the hell can putting money into a slot machine and probably losing it be fun?!” Well, instead of telling me where we were going, he granted my wish, and we went to Vegas. To warm up to the idea of gambling, he went to a casino that used to operate on tribal lands in our city and got hooked. I think he had even more fun than I did on that trip and still goes to Las Vegas multiple times per year now (last year and up to now notwithstanding).
Anyway, thanks to those two trips and the fact that at the time the National Academy of Railroad Sciences at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas required 30 college credit hours to even apply for the AAS degree (just looking at the page now, the requirements are very different and I would have been able to go right in after high school! DAMMIT!), I had to choose something to fill up those 30 college credit hours. I went to El Paso Community College and looked through their degree plans and stopped right at “Hotel/Motel Administration”. AHA!!!! “Hey!”, I thought, “I can get a degree in that and then apply at JCC and do that! If BNSF falls though, then there’s always Vegas!” ha! Man, little did I know that to this day, I’ve never seen Overland Park, Kansas and my dream of being a locomotive engineer for BNSF has been filed under the “What could have been” folder of my life. Damn, that folder has a lot of good stuff in it. Perhaps I’ll talk about that in a later blog. Remind me!
I’ve gotten off topic again, but to circle myself back to the point, I never chased money. I chased and continue to chase happiness and comfort. I received my AAS degree in Hotel/Motel Administration in May of 2004 and I spent about 11 total years in the hotel industry. I had 3 interviews at 2 different resorts in Las Vegas and didn’t get offered either job along the way, so I can’t say that I didn’t try to make my second dream come true. You could say that I didn’t try hard enough, but I feel very much in tune with the will of God in my life and I felt that He told me that I tried enough… or maybe better said, Las Vegas wasn’t ever in my lifepath, and God wanted to show me that it wasn’t.
Now, for the past 10 years, I’ve been working in a Monday-Friday office job that I really do enjoy and want to keep at doing. I’ve turned my love and passion of railroading into what it called “railfanning”. I don’t take videos or pictures (I would love to, just haven’t yet) like most railfans do, but I love to find spots and watch trains pass by. I especially love the special treat of watching AMTRAK’s Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle stop by here the few times a week it does heading both east and west along Union Pacific’s tracks going from Los Angeles, California to New Orleans, Louisiana or vice versa. I get as excited to see a BNSF locomotive, a *clean* Union Pacific locomotive (hardly any of them are, sadly), the AMTRAK P40/42 locomotives an old school Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, or the special UP heritage locomotives each time as much as the first time I ever saw one as a kid. I still love Las Vegas and get the thrill each time I walk or drive on the famous Las Vegas Strip too. I just know my life has turned out exactly how our Lord willed it to be. I feel very blessed to have been able to experience all that I have.
Now, quickly to the other part of my topic in this post, personal vanity. I’ve never really been that obsessed with looks that I can’t really fix with the help of diet and exercise. I’m against cosmetic enhancements of any sort, whether it be the dyeing of one’s hair (unless you’re gonna go a crazy color like blue, pink, or any other unnatural hair color for the wild factor of it because I think that’s cool) or facelifts, tummy tucks, etc. I think God has blessed us ALL with unique beauty and, for women, it’s all good to slightly enhance that with makeup (pretty much don’t go all drag queen with it is what I’m saying), but otherwise, age gracefully, you know? I find natural beauty so much more attractive in a person than somebody who is constantly wanting to fix this or that. In any event, my friend was telling me that she would love to go over to Ciudad Juarez to get a chin lift or whatever you’d call thinning out the beginnings of a double chin/drooping chin/whatever you’d call it. Her sister did it and she says it looked great. I thought to myself “Is this what really matters to her? The way her chin might look in the future? “ I felt like asking her why she would want to do that, and furthermore why it matters. Does she think a man might think she’s perfect aside from that one flaw (and mind you, it’s not)? I get it, the first thing we notice about a person is their looks. Why do you think I’m still single and never been married? I’ll admit it, I’m a C.H.U.D., but that doesn’t change the fact that maybe I’m beautiful to the right woman, right? A dude can dream. I ended up telling her that she looked great, but whatever she wanted to do was cool too. Something like that. I’m not one to share my opinion about something to somebody that has the polar opposite opinion about it for the most part. It still gets me though. Why would she want a cosmetic enhancement? Why do most women dye their hair too? Age gracefully. Trust me, ladies. If you think that a guy will find you more attractive looking younger or whatever, chances are you’re looking for the wrong qualities in a guy.
But that’s just me. What do I know? Again, this is why I’m single. Hahaha! The important things to me (pretty much in this order) are:
- Our Lord Jesus Christ and the church that He established here on earth, the Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church.
- My family
- My friends
Sure, there are others on that list, but those pretty much are my top 6. You don’t need money for the first 4, and they bring me the most joy, so take that how you will.
Have a great weekend!