Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Things I liked

Five things I hated about Jazz/Lakers:

1. Kobe Bryant's smug look and his attempt to look like a tough guy. I would love it if he got punched in the face.

2. The officiating

3. Brevin Knight



5 Things I enjoyed about Jazz/Lakers

1. No Free Tacos!!!!
(If you don't already know, in game 1 in Los Angeles the Lakers were having a promotion that if they held the opponent to under 100 points everybody in the arena won a free taco. Well, with 45 seconds left in a game LA was clearly going to win Utah turned the ball over twice. The crowd was chanting "WE WANT TACOS". With 16 seconds left, Deron Williams drove the lane and scored a lay-up. That put the Jazz from 98 to 100 points...Take that Lakers fans!!!! No Free Tacos!!!!!! With four seconds left, D-Will proceeded to air-ball a three pointer, that was another slap in the face for LA fans haha)

2. Carlos Boozer's overall performance, cementing himself as one of the five best power forwards in the game.

(Here's my list, obviously this is assuming health 1. Kevin Garnett 2. Dirk Nowitzki 3. Carlos Boozer 4. Tim Duncan 5. Amare Stoudamire)

3. Boozer's dunk and D-Will's shot in game 3

4. Ronnie Price

5. Any time Brevin Knight and Andrei Kirilinko were on the bench.

Some things I hope for:

Carlos Boozer stays in Utah

Paul Milsap stays in Utah

Jarron Collins never plays next season

Brevin Knight gets let go

Ronnie Price stays in Utah

Andrei gets traded to a team that can use his talents

Matt Harpring becomes the greates MMA fighter ever

I hope Utah fans realize the talent Boozer has and love him instead of despise him. I really think we'll miss him a lot if he leaves. With him we have two of the best power forwards in the game, without him, we're shallow. Let's make him want to stay in Utah.

The Perpetual Hope of Next Year

In my short 25 years I feel like I've experienced a lot. I mean my family moved all over the country. I've been able to meet people from all walks of life. I've attended big city schools, and small farm-town schools. Regardless of these different experiences or the quality of education, I would have an extremely hard time finding anything that has had the same meaning or impact on my life as sports. Aside from my parents, sports have taught me more about life and how to live than any book, or teacher, or class has been able to teach. This probably isn't true for everybody. I'm sure there are kids out there that hate sports and feel like sports ruined their lives, either because their not very good at them, or because they plain just don't like them.

Sports have always been extremely important to me. First of all, they are really fun. Fun is important in my life. Also, sports provide an atmosphere where learning takes place, even though the intended outcome isn't necessarily academic. Some important lessons I've learned through sports are: teamwork, honesty, hard work, losing, winning, responsibility, overcoming adversity, character, and many other things. What I'd like to discuss today is a lesson that traverses the world of sports and, like many of the items on that list, should be applied to all aspects of life. I'm sure what I'm about to say is completely subjective to how I'm feeling right now, but I feel like the most important lesson sports teach is the lesson of hope.

That's why we play the games isn't it? Because we hope the amount of work we've put into the game, both with physical training and mental preparation, will be enough to overcome the amount of preparation the opponent has exerted. Sometimes we're David and sometimes we're Goliath. (Which brings me to another lesson I've learned playing sports...It's awesome when David takes down Goliath, but usually Goliath beats the hell out of David.) Regardless of our situation, we always play with at least a glimmer of hope that we can win.

Following professional sports is fun, yet amazingly difficult. I personally tend to study numbers and statistics and talk myself into how the Utah Jazz or any other team I'm cheering for can destroy their obviously superior opponent. I fell into that pattern this year in the NBA playoffs. I ignored the fact that Utah had lost to lottery bound teams like Minnesota (another personal Fav) and Golden State. I convinced myself they could pull-off an upset over mighty Los Angeles. This hope was somewhat vindicated when D-Will hit that awesome fadeaway to put the Lakers away in game 3. Unfortunately with these highest of highs come the lowest of lows. With all my predictions falling into place after a game 3 victory by Utah, my hope was decimated by a crushing defeat. I mean game four wasn't even close. Los Angeles led by 26 and was never really threatened in the second half. David had sprained his ankle on the way out to fight Goliath and he was now a bloody mess in the middle of the battle field.

So I did the only thing a self-respecting Jazz fan would do. I called the season over and began my mental preparations for the offseason. Basically I tucked my tail between my legs, turned and ran as fast as I could. Don't you think that's what the army of Judah would have done if the real Goliath beat the real David? So don't judge me.

However, the unexpected happened. No, the Jazz didn't win the game. That wouldn't be unexpected, that would be the impossible. With a little over eight minutes remaining in game 5, with the Lakers holding a commanding 20+ point lead. The Jazz starters checked out and Jerry Sloan emptied his bench. Ronnie Price, a modern day David, who had played all of 49 seconds (at least that's what it seemed like) all season long, led the comeback charge. While five of my friends and myself were wallowing in our self-pity, griping about bad coaching decisions, and discussing the fate of our free agents, this little guy came into the game and won our hearts. Ronnie Price gave us what we most desperately needed. He gave us hope. Like Andy Dufresne says (Sorry Sports Guy, I'm not trying to steal your thunder with a Shawshank Quote) "Hope is a good thing."

In a matter of minutes six grown men went from complaining like a five year old that doesn't get as many cookies as his older brother, to screaming, hollering, and jumping up and down (on the third floor by the way) at midnight. We went from the complaining version of five year old kids to the happy version of five year old kids. The Jazz were only down by 6!!! The mood change was phenomenal. We were a part of this. We stuck through the crappy season, lost to injuries, we withstood the sportswriters writing us off, we handled the skeptics. Even when we lost hope, we came back for more. We knew game five would be the end of our season, but that didn't stop us from partaking of the glorious goodness of basketball just one more time.

Ronnie Price is responsible for the reinstatement of hope. Thank you Ronnie. Thank you for loving the game. Thank you for your attitude. Thank you for your example. Thank you sports. Your life-long lessons yield wisdom to those who look for it.

Even though the Jazz didn't win, Ronnie showed us that the NBA truly is where Amazing happens.

I can't wait til next year. The Jazz are gonna go all the way!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

What's up my peeps. I'm pumped that I have a horde of 5 people subscribed to this blog!!! It's a little less exciting that one of those people is me :-( But I do like to see the likes of K dizzle R shizzle Shazaam and others supporting this work.

Just a quick update. School is winding down and I'm looking forward to posting much more frequently in this blog. I do want to write meaninful work. I do not intend this blog to be a public diary of my everyday life. I want to discuss issues like government, affirmative action, and politics. As well as life themes. As soon as finals are over I should have more time to dedicate to this. So please stick with it. Also please comment on whatever you read, if you like it or not. I can handle people disliking my stuff.

Talk to you soon.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hey everybody,

Hopefully I'll be able to get some readers of this blog sometimes soon!!! I just wanted to say a few things about my previous posts.

Work in Progress is a short story I wrote in creative writing class, I call it a work in progress because I'm debating turning it into a book, or at least a longer version of itself.

Coming of age is a memoir I wrote about an experience of driving with my parents, I think everybody has these experiences at one point or another with their parents. If there is anybody on earth that hasn't had a disagreement with their parents over freedom issues, they haven't lived. If you are a person who hasn't had a struggle for emancipation, pick up the phone call your parents and declare your dependence right now!!!! Don't get me wrong, I love my parents, but I'm very glad I had the experience, in fact I think it was good parenting that led me to my desire of independency. (By the way mom and dad, can I have an extension on my insurance payment?....thanks)

Hopefully you guys enjoy those entries and I'm going to start thinking of topics to blog about and my goal is to write new entries at a minimum of twice a week, it might be more frequently once school is done. Spread the word to your friends!!!!

Coming of Age


Driving has always been somewhat of an important event in my family. Ever since I can remember my dad has taken me for rides on his motorcycles, three-wheelers, or in his racecar. I can even remember one time when I was two years old that he let me drive our VW Bug. Of course I wasn’t actually driving. My chubby two-year-old legs struggled to maintain their balance on top of my dad’s knees while I carelessly and innocently swung the steering wheel from side to side, and my dad maneuvered his feet between the gas and the brakes. I can only imagine the horror my mom must have experienced when she looked out the kitchen window and saw me standing on the driver’s side of the Bug and the car veering chaotically from side to side across the road, with no regard for anybody else.

I had a lot of opportunities to have fun in cars with my dad. He owned several racecars, motorcycles, and even a few sports cars like a Corvette, and a 1968 Firebird Convertible – a car that I fell in love with as a young boy. That car was every teenager’s fantasy. It was cherry-apple red, with sleek curves, and a big block motor caged under the hood yearning to roar. This monument to power stayed with the family for several years. We had many joy rides with the top down, the wind going over our faces and through our hair. The meanest thing my dad ever did to me was keep that car long enough for me to love it – then sell it before I could drive.
Growing up on top of dirt bikes, three wheelers, racecars, and the Firebird had warped my sense of reality. Every young boy wants to be like his dad. My dad did amazing things with his cars. When I watched him on the racetrack I wanted to do what he did. A car was much more than a mode of transportation to me. I wanted to use the man-made wonder as an instrument the same way my dad did when he was driving.

When I finally began to drive (I was given a $100 Buick to drive) I was extremely disappointed with the process. My parents constantly nitpicked at every little thing I did. I thought things would be a certain way when I began driving, because of the background I had with the different cars our family had owned. But nothing turned out the way I had originally thought.
Driving was supposed to be a fun and exciting experience, instead my dad turned into Sherlock Holmes trying to solve the greatest crime mystery in the universe as he inspected every detail of my ability to drive. No matter what I did, there was always something wrong. I twitched while I was holding the steering wheel. I slowed down too early or too late. I didn’t put my blinker on in enough time. Constant criticism was a staple of driving with Ryan. Sometimes I wanted to release my frustrations after every little comment: “WELL I’M SORRY DETECTIVE, I DIDN’T REALIZE THE SAFETY OF THE NATION DEPENDED ON MY ABILITY TO USE MY TURN SIGNAL AT 500 FEET INSTEAD OF 300!!!”

After several years of driving, nothing much had changed. I just decided to drive less with my parents. I mean I was in my early twenties and had never been in an accident. I had gotten a couple of speeding tickets, but nothing major. And my parents still berated me when I got behind the wheel. When I decided to come to St. George for school, I had to borrow my parents’ car. (In fact, I had never owned my own car. I had always driven one of my parents’ cars.) After a couple of months my parents came to visit me. They lived in Blanding – if there really is a middle-of-nowhere then Blanding is the capitol. Driving in St. George is quite a bit different than Blanding.

We decided to run some errands, and I drove since I knew my way around better than them. I was driving a Chevy Cavalier. The deceiving checkered decals on both sides lied to my fellow drivers. The four cylinder engine was a gutless wonder. Somehow this vehicle defied logic, along with physics, and actually slowed down when I pushed on the gas pedal. As we traveled home from our errands, I decided to take the interstate. As I slowly and carefully feathered the throttle for optimal velocity on the onramp, I could feel the engine rhythmically lurching in an attempt to suck whatever power the gasoline could feed it. Surprisingly, the Cavalier sprung forward and accelerated at a decent clip to reach my desired speed of seventy-five miles per hour.

The stretch of interstate I had chosen to use was only a few miles long. The long semis clogged the transportation routes, and in an attempt to beat stoplights and other traffic, it becomes necessary to outrun the opponents. As I strategically sped past the semi-trucks and other participants on this freeway free-for-all, Sherlock Holmes returned in full-force. Without warning, my dad began his tirade on my speed and driving style.

“What the Hell are you doing?” My dad said.

“What are you talking about?” I said.

“You need to take care of this car! It has to last a long time! When you start making the payments you’ll understand.” His face distorted into a look of anger as he not-so-calmly let me know I was driving his car and needed to take better care of it.

“I’m only going seventy-five.” I replied.

“You’re romping on the throttle and weaving between cars – you’re going to get in an accident…or get a ticket!!”

“No I’m not!”

“Ryan!! Listen to me, and slow the DAMN car down!!!”


My grip on the wheel tightened, my knuckles turned white and the sweat increased in the small space between my palms and the black, worn, steering wheel. Of course he was right, how dare I drive ten-over the speed limit and pass the dinosaurs that were blocking my lane!!! What was I thinking?!!!!

After the shouts were exchanged and I submitted (for the moment) to his desires, in the interest of world peace of course, a tense silence overcame the Cavalier. There was nothing ‘cavalier’ about our attitudes at that point. The Cavalier was a pop can that had been shaken vigorously and about to explode. More words were said in the last two minutes of silence than in the five minutes of yelling.

This wasn’t the first argument with my parents. But it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Something clicked in my head. I was done. The charade was over. Just as we all must move on and separate ourselves from those we depend on. The time had come for me to go my own way. One month later, I was the proud owner of a 2000 Dodge Dakota Crew Cab truck – cherry-apple red with sleek curves of course. Six months later I moved out of my grandparents’ house and rented a room in a house with a few of my friends. There aren’t many people that find joy in paying car payments or sending out their rent checks. I am one of those people.
I still remember walking into the credit union after I had decided I wanted to buy the truck. This was my first experience applying for a loan. I thought I was going to make a fool of myself. As I slowly turned the corner after passing through the entrance, a nice woman named Rose asked if she could help me with anything. I clumsily mumbled a question regarding the place to go for a car loan. She assured me, in her thick Brazilian accent, that she would be able to help me. The process went smoothly. A few days later the truck was mine. I handed over a cashier’s check for seven-thousand dollars and the previous owner handed me his, I mean my, keys. Nothing compares to the sweet satisfaction of becoming an owner of a car or truck for the first time. Other people may own nicer cars, but a first-owned truck has an unseen value for its owner.

One month later, I drove my pride and joy down to the credit union and delivered my first payment. When I walked out after I was done, I took a deep breath “Welcome to the world Ryan.” I told myself. “Enjoy the Ride.” Every time I step out of my cherry-apple red truck and walk into the credit union, and I make it a point to make all of my payments in person, I am paying for my independence.

When my parents ride in the truck with me, there are still a few slips when they try to correct me in my driving ways. However, the truck is mine. No matter what anybody does or says, I am the true master. I make the final decisions on how to control the truck. The truck is so much more than a mode of transportation – it is my freedom.

The emancipation of children is difficult for parents and children. We grow up learning to listen and do everything our parents tell us. However there comes a time, for some it is earlier than others, when we realize we are not our parents and we have opinions of our own. All we can do is put our foot on the gas – and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Work in Progress

Here is a story I wrote for a creative writing class. I would love any comments or feedback. Tell me what you think about the message of the story.

Carpe Diem

Leonard Hamilton was about five feet seven inches tall and one hundred and fifty-five pounds. And he never lived a day in his whole life. Leonard had one of those bald heads that wasn’t completely bald. The top of it had absolutely no hair, but the sides and back were bursting with hair…albeit graying hair. In fact, if he were wearing a hat he would appear to have a whole head of hair – which may explain why Leonard refused to completely shave his head. Underneath his tie, only visible when he would lean over slightly or a light breeze would lift the bottom part of his tie was a light maroon stain. Leonard Hamilton’s customary noon-time meal was his favorite – a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Leonard always tucked his tie into his shirt when he ate. Ties are more expensive and harder to clean than shirts.

Leonard adjusted his tie. His horn-rimmed glasses had a smudge in them. He removed his handkerchief from his shirt pocket and cleaned them, carefully refolding and replacing the handkerchief when finished. As Leonard approached the secretary’s desk he clicked his pen. A young man, one of the delivery guys, inclined his head over the secretary’s desk as he spoke with her. As Leonard passed he muttered, “Hi, Destiny,” voice cracking mid-sentence. The gorgeous secretary didn’t even notice. Mr. Hamilton continued on to his office to continue his work.

Edward Bronson & Company is a respected accounting firm that deals with many high end clients. The world thinks accountants are boring. However, many of the senior accountants at Edward Bronson live very exciting lives. Carl Larue (everybody calls him ‘Chesty’ because at one point in his life he had enormous pectoral muscles), for example, is employed by three actors and two professional athletes. John Featherbottom (who everybody calls Long John) handles the finances for the CEOs of Yum! Brand, Kraft, and General Mills. Clients always invited those two to parties. Since accountants are only busy for roughly four months of the year (tax season), clients often allow Chesty and Long John to use lavish summer and vacation homes.
Leonard does not have these luxuries. When Edward Bronson & Company started landing their first high end clients, Edward needed somebody to oversee all of the regular clients. With the promise that he would be able to fast-track his way to partner, Leonard volunteered for the job…that was 25 years ago.

The daily routine is always the same…it never changes. Leonard Hamilton comes in to work at exactly 8:30 a.m. (30 minutes before anybody else) and leaves for his lunch break at exactly 12:20 p.m., returning at 1:00 p.m. A forty minute lunch break allows Leonard to complete an extra return every day. After arriving from lunch, Leonard always completed two more returns and then prepared the paperwork for the next day. Today was different. Everybody has a breaking point, and after 28 years Leonard reached his.

“I am going to leave early today,” Leonard told Chesty.

“Alright, just make sure you get all of your returns done on time. We can’t afford to lose your people, you know the little ones.”

“Yes sir, Mr. Larue. I will –“

“I go by Chesty.”

“Yes sir, um…Chesty. I will do my best to make sure nobody is lost.”

“Don’t do your best – make sure nobody is lost.”

Today Leonard decided to leave work early. He could not continue the routine today. He rose from his desk, buttoned the top two buttons of his three button suit jacket and strode out of his office. The delivery man was still leaning over Destiny’s desk. Now he was playing with her hair. Leonard half-waved, “Goodbye, Destiny,” he said as he left. Nobody noticed.

“Where to?” asked the cabby, whose name badge said DosiTnaI ka AadmaI.

“I don’t know…”

“I guess that depends on what you want.

“Well I’m not sure where I want to go.”

“Then it won’t make much difference where I take you, will it?”

“Just take me to a place where normal people go after a day at work.”

“All right man, it’s still a little early, but most people head over to O’Malley’s pub.”

“I don’t know if that is a good place for me to go. I mean I’ve never taken a drink in my life.”

“That’s where we’re headed then,” replied the cabby.

“All right…for lack of a better option, let’s go.” This was the first spontaneous act of Leonard’s life…and he had to be talked into it by a cabby.

“Where does your name come from?” Leonard asked.

“It is Hindi.”

“What does it mean?” asked Leonard.

“It means Man of Destiny. But you can just call me Dos.”

“That’s weird,” thought Leonard. “A man’s destiny is to spend his life driving a taxi?”

Leonard arrived wasn’t sure if he should sit at a table or the bar. Believing it to be more logical that he only take one stool at the bar instead of an entire table on the floor, Leonard weaved between the empty tables to the far side of the room. The bar lined the far wall and Leonard sat on a stool.

After several minutes, Leonard flagged down the bartender...there were three other people in the bar. This was par for the course.

“What can I get ya buddy?”

“Well, what do you serve that is non-alcoholic?”

“Um…I think I have some O’Doul’s, water, and some juices,” said the bartender.

“Alright, I guess I would like some cranberry juice, it helps to keep kidney stones away,”
Leonard said.

“There you go, friend. Enjoy the war on stones.”

Leonard drank two cranberry juices and one club soda. A very attractive brunette sat down next to him.

“Hello, how are you?”

Leonard was startled by her beauty. She had long strait black hair. The hair framed her face like a picture. This made it very easy for Leonard to notice her eyes, which were a color almost impossible to pinpoint. Were they blue, green…hazel? She was very curvy with long legs.

“Um…well, er…I’m okay. How are you?” Leonard removed his glasses with his handkerchief and started to clean them.

“I’m great now…I’ve got a few more things left to do, but I figured it was a good time for a break. What about you?”

Leonard worked at a lens with his thumb.

“Wow, you’re quite the talker, huh? I mean you’re really good at this conversation thing.”

“You’re teasing me,” said Leonard.

“And you’re sharp-like a pencil!

“It’s a good thing I approached you. Otherwise this, what are you drinkin – club soda – might have gotten the best of ya,” the woman said.

“Well I do have to say it is pleasant to interact with a new person…especially somebody so…um…never mind.”

“No! You’re not allowed to do that. Once you start sayin something, you’ve gotta finish it. That’s my life rule,” The woman declared.

“Well I’m not sure I want to say it…it makes me a little uncomfortable.”

“Those are the best things to say!!! They take you away from the ordinary.”

“Well I was just going to say that it is nice to talk to somebody so…pretty.” Leonard said, trailing off to almost a whisper by the time he finished the sentence.

“See that wasn’t so bad was it? I appreciate the sentiment by the way. You seem like an interesting person.”

“What’s your name?” asked the woman.

“Leonard Hamilton.”

“Well Mr. Hamilton it’s nice to meet you. My name is Maria Creador del Destino Robinson, but you can just call me Maria.”

“That is an interesting name you have,” acknowledged Leonard.

“Thank you. My parents strongly believed names should stand for something.”

“What does your name stand for?”

“Well,” said Maria, “Creador del Destino means ‘Creator of Destiny’.”

“Wow, I like that.”

“I enjoy it; it reminds me that I am in charge. Do you believe we can create our own destiny?” Maria asked Leonard.

“I guess I’ve never really thought about it,” Leonard said.

“Do you believe that what you are today is the result of every decision you’ve made in the past?”
“I guess that makes sense,” responded Leonard.

“How do you feel about that?” Maria asked.

“A little depressed, actually. I never knew the decisions I made when I was younger would create the situation I’m in." Leonard thought for a moment, "If I could do it over again I would.”

“What if I told you that you could?” Maria said, her flirtatious smile replaced with a solemn look.

“What do you mean?” Leonard asked.

“I mean what if I told you I could help you relive your life?”

“If you’re telling me what I think you are…then I would have to say somebody spiked my club soda.”

“I’m serious Leonard; we didn’t just meet by chance. It wasn’t mere chance that ‘Destiny’ was hired as the secretary two weeks ago, nor was it chance that a ‘Man of Destiny’ drove you to this pub today at this time. Neither is it chance that the ‘Creator of Destiny’ sat down next to you. I have the ability to help you change your past and improve your future. THERE ARE NO COINCEDENCES.”

“Okay. Maybe this is why I don’t talk to new people very much,” Leonard said. “I don’t really know what you’re doing, but if I leave now, I can still put in a couple hours before the day is over.”

“I’m not playing games with you!” Maria said sternly. “I want to help you…all I ask is that you humor me for thirty seconds.”

“Well today has been a day of firsts. I might as well play along with a crazy person for the first time in my life.”

“Thank you. Now, can you think of a time that you would like to go back to in order to make these changes?”

“I guess if I could repeat high school I would do things a little differently.”

“Alright, that’s all I needed to know – have fun, and don’t forget that what you become is a product of your decisions when you are young!”
With that sentence Maria snapped her fingers and before Leonard even knew what had happened he heard a bell sounding.

Leonard knew the date immediately, May 9, 1968. He couldn’t believe he was actually back in high school. He felt the hair on top of his head. He knew the exact date because this was the day Amanda Egan transferred to his high school, and he was staring at her right now. She was seated in the seat directly in front of him. He had never spoken to her in his life. Through two-and-a-half years of high school and eight classes with her, Leonard Hamilton had never uttered one word to Amanda Egan.

“Maria really knew what she was doing!” Leonard thought. However, his thoughts were interrupted by the teacher in front of the class.

“Remember class, your research papers are due on Friday. These papers count for fifty percent of your grade and we will be sending them along with your test scores to the universities you have chosen.”

“Crap!” thought Leonard. “I knew I would do things differently if I could do it again, but this is something I didn’t count on. I have to do all the work again. This research paper earned me a full-ride to the university…this isn’t something I can afford to do differently.”
One thing that Leonard did manage to change was his name. When the teacher for his classes called roll, he asked to go by Leo. He had grown to dislike the name Leonard…it made him feel old. However, Leo was a great name. This shocked quite a few students; first of all to actually hear Leonard Hamilton speak when he wasn’t answering a question was unheard of. But also, he was asking to be called Leo! Even Amanda Egan noticed him.
After school Leonard went home. It was so weird to see his parents and brother again…especially so young.

“How’s your paper coming along, Leonard?” His mother asked.

“Oh you didn’t hear mom?” Leo’s brother Mike asked. “Leonard’s going by Leo now!”

“Well, isn’t that interesting. Okay, um…Leo…how is your paper coming along? I know you have been putting a lot of effort into it. I know how badly you want to get into that university.”

“It’s coming along great mom, I’m sure I’ll get accepted.”

“Well, Leo, if you ever find time away from your books, there is a party tonight at a friend’s house. I think that new girl, Amanda, is going to be there.”
Leo remembered this conversation he had so long ago. He badly wanted to go to this party and get the chance to speak with Amanda. In the end he decided he would have plenty of chances to speak to Amanda in the future, but only this one chance to complete the paper that would send him through the university. Just as he was about to respond to Mike, he remembered the last words Maria had told him, that what a person becomes is the product of their decisions of youth.

“Why not? I guess I could go to that party. My paper is in pretty good shape anyway. I’ll find time to finish it later.”

“That’s great Leo – I didn’t think I had a chance of ever getting you to socialize,” Mike said.

“Well, I might as well give it a chance right?”

“Sounds good to me, just be ready to go by 6:30.”

Mike and Leo went to the party that and, sure enough, Amanda was there.

Attending the party completely altered Leo’s life. He actually spoke to Amanda. Amazingly enough they hit it off! Shortly after the party Leo and Amanda began dating. They dated throughout high school. Leo received a B+ on his research paper. He was denied entrance to the University and instead attended State College with Amanda.

Leo still became an accountant. Not at a company as prestigious as Edward Bronson’s, but a small and successful company. He discovered a lot more meaning in his work – especially because he discovered more meaning in his life. Having Amanda at home at the end of the day did wonders to Leo’s sense of confidence and self-worth. He wanted to be the best man possible for her. This helped him at work as well as socially.

One day when Leo finished up at work. He came home and was surprised by Amanda. She had decorated the house completely. Rose petals were scattered from the entryway through the hallway to the kitchen. On the table was Leo’s favorite meal of grilled peanut butter and jelly along with two candles providing the only light for the entire room.

“What’s the occasion?” Leo asked.

“I wanted to make your favorite tonight,” Amanda answered.

“Well I do have to say this is a pleasant surprise. I love you.”

“I know you do…almost as much as I love you,” said Amanda. “Why don’t you take your seat?”

“You’re making me feel like a king!” Leo said.

“Well you deserve it sometimes, emphasis on the sometimes. I appreciate everything you do for me.”

“It’s my pleasure…I never imagined life could be like this. You’ve made me incredibly happy.”

“Same here, oh!!! I almost forgot. We’re missing something.”
Amanda walked to the other room and retrieved a high chair.

“Why are you bringing that? I thought this meal was going to be just the two of us. Are the Johnsons joining us with their little one?”

“No,” said Amanda. “I just thought we should get used to eating with this here.”

“Why?” Leo asked completely bewildered.

“Leo. You’re going to be a father. I’m pregnant.”

Leo’s jelly dripped onto his favorite tie. “What?” He asked, as more jelly dripped onto his tie because his hands were shaking so much.

“It’s true Leo!” Amanda said with a huge grin.

“I can’t believe this!” Leo said, loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear him.

“I never thought this would happen to me…I can’t believe I get to be a dad!” Leo said with tears welling up in his eyes.

Leo got out of his chair and ran over to kiss her.

As Leo and Amanda celebrated their special night, by watching their favorite movie – Stranger than Fiction, the phone rang. “I better get that,” said Leo “it might be the office.”
As Leo tried to answer the phone nothing would work. He kept trying to pick it up, but the phone just kept ringing. This was the most confusing thing. Leo could not fathom why his phone continued to ring. The more Leo concentrated the more he realized his phone sounded different. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what the sound was.

“Hey Leonard, did you doze off?”

Where was this voice coming from? Leo couldn’t see anybody.

“Leonaaaaaaaaard, Leonaaaaaaaard. Hey man I think you fell asleep.”

Leonard opened his eyes. His watch alarm was going off, signaling 5:15 the time he left the office everyday.

“Chesty?” Leonard said, the last person he ever wanted to think of was Chesty. He looked around the room.

“Hey you told me you were going to leave early and then you never left. You just stayed cooped up in your office.”

“There’s no way that was a dream!” Thought Leonard, the onset of dejection setting in.

“It sounds like you were havin a doozy of a dream, you were talking a lot. That’s the only reason I came in.”

“Thanks Chesty, I guess I was just tired today.”

“That’s alright Leonard; just don’t make a habit of it.”

“I won’t, don’t worry. This was a one time occurrence.”

“Alright well I’m gonna take off, can you lock up?” asked Chesty.

“Yes I can no problem. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Well I won’t be in for the next couple weeks, I’m headed to Cabo. But I’ll see you when I get back.” And with that Chesty left the office.

Leonard sat at his desk in despair. How is it that dreams can be so real? Leonard felt a little silly for feeling so depressed about losing something he didn’t have to begin with. After contemplating the dream for several minutes, Leonard made the first real spontaneous decision of his life. He wrote his letter of resignation, signed his name to the bottom (his first signature using the name Leo), then placed it on the desks of Chesty, Ed, and Long John.
Leo then looked up Amanda Egan on the whitepages.com. He was ecstatic to learn she still lived in the city and she still had the last name. The dream motivated Leonard to actually start living his life.

Leo left the office building, locking the door. He decided he would call Amanda once he got home. He followed the same path he walked every day. He waited for the crosswalk to give him the go ahead. Once the sign changed, Leo walked more quickly than usual across the street.
For an unknown reason, Leo heard several screams. Before he realized what was happening, Leo felt a severe pain in the middle of his legs, his head hitting the asphalt. A cabby jumped out of the taxi, his badge said “Dos.” Then nothing, no more memories, just blackness…

On his way to call Amanda Egan, Leonard Hamilton was struck dead by a cab on May 9, 2008.