Mike Cole’s deep dark secret: What I did cannot be undone

It started with a simple idea, a comment made by a friend, jokingly. She was talking about her trip to Ireland and made the odd remark, “I only date men who shave their armpits”. For the sake of accuracy, I must confess, this was almost 4 years ago, when I was but a Freshman in College. And it could very well have been another friend telling the story. Regardless, that’s besides the point, the idea remained. An idea long forgotten until I traveled to Germany for my last great college adventure and went to the store for the first time…

At the store, I decided to buy deodorant as any clean, well kempt man should do. To my horror, the deodorant was tiny! This simple difference changed the course of my German experience forever as I was haunted by the question, “why”? The argument can be made that everything is bigger and better in America, so we simply get more, yet, somehow, I found that answer to be less than satisfying. So I dug deeper and 2 months later I found my answer; it wasn’t just Germany, it was Europe. Everywhere I went the deodorant was tiny! At this moment, I knew I was onto something big.

At this point in my journey I had traveled all across Europe, blending in as I said “Ich bin ein Genie” and “Ich bin müde”, two of my favorite phrases. But none of this got me any closer to an answer. Until one day, when one of the German students was repulsed after seeing armpit hair on an American. The dots began to connect and it all made sense. Europeans shave their armpits. Men and Women alike. And just like that, the mystery was solved. Less armpit hair means less deodorant and quite honestly means people in Europe as a whole smell nicer. That night I slept like a baby and didn’t think much of it; yet my tale does not end there.

Many believe that there was only New Hair, New Mike; a rebirth of a person as he chopped his mop and become the product of envy among men and the epitome of desire for women [insert winky face here]. Yet I was curious. Driven to the brink of insanity towards the end of my 4 months, I did the unthinkable. I took my dull razor (worn thin from months of shaving my hefty beard) and went straight for my armpits. Yes, I, Mike Cole, in an effort to be fully immersed in European culture, shaved my armpits. And worse? I liked it. I felt clean and free much like when I shaved my hair for the first time. And then I got a rash… Fun fact, armpits are fairly sensitive, so don’t use a dull razor blade. Fast forward to present day. The year is 2018 and I’ve perfected my technique. Electric trimmer, shaving cream, then razor and you’re done! Note, if your skin is extra sensitive, use skin lotion after shaving to prevent irritation. Ahem, anyways…

It’s been done; a secret I thought I would carry to my grave, a sin now to be judged by my fellow American (and my lovely international audience). So why talk about it? Is it because I am currently reworking how I write and needed something to post? Partly! But more than that, armpit hair is actually disgusting when you think about it. It catches sweat and even if we slather on deodorant, it still drips and is absolutely gross. Shaving fixes this problem and you get to use less deodorant (which means you save money!), so go ahead, don’t be shy; shave and watch a miracle happen.


Thanks for reading! A quick announcement; I am a recent college grad or aka a broke person. As such I created a Patreon to help support myself. A dollar a month means I can buy a lot of rice and perhaps not starve to death. And thank you to my first donor, who pledged $5 per month; it means a lot and it’ll be exciting to expand the blog with the money.

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If only for a moment

If only for a moment, the world could stand still

A song, a dance, a chance for little thrills

We dance to a rhythm, poetic and dry

Then comes a moment, where we wonder why we tried.

 

If only for a moment, we could sing a happy tune

Before we realize, it ends too soon

Our heart grows bitter with every dance

Then comes a moment, a second chance.

 

If only for a moment, we could make a moment last

Before it turns sour, before its harassed

Alas, night turns to dawn

Then comes a moment, and the moment is gone.


My first attempt at poetry, so sorry if it’s not great! I’m hoping to write more poems in the future, so let me know what you think. Comment below if you want me to write about any specific subject material. Feel free to share this post and as always, thanks for reading!

Journey’s End Week 7: What’s Next?

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare


One month. As such, I feel it is time to talk about the future. And yet, how? It is rare that I find myself saying “I don’t know” and without a plan to find the answer. I seek answers that don’t yet exist. For all my wisdom I cannot escape the uncertainty of the unknown, the chaos of life. My entire college career has been finding ways to expedite growth. I’ve read book after book, performed task after task, with the goal of always moving forward. And yet now I stand. Where once any path would do, I now see many paths, each of which leads to its own rewards. And there in lies the problem. It’s not a problem of lack of choice but rather that there are too many choices… And perhaps more so, the crippling fear that if I chose one, a door closes, locked, never to be open again. What was once clear is now not so certain.

Any port in a storm will do… Life is a storm. From the day we are born till the day we die we are swept up in its majesty. Every storm has an eye and it is through that eye that we can see what might be safe harbor. In the far distance you see a lighthouse, its shining beacon beckoning for you to follow… Yet what do you do when you see thousands of different lighthouses? In one journey I see myself going back to Germany and traveling around the world for the next decade. Another I see myself climbing the corporate ladder with the hope of one day being a CEO. Another starting my own company. And another writing a book.


This week I decided to tackle this question head on. This is the end of my College journey… College is a time to invest in yourself and that I’ve done. One of my greatest investments has been in spending time with my professors and the College of Business advisers. I used to force myself to go and talk to professors, back when I couldn’t hold a conversation. And over the years I’ve come to internalize the advice my professors gave me. Yet what advice is there to give when you know yourself? When I was a Freshman it was easy. Any advice would do. I had an idea what success was and I would simply listen. Whatever my professors/advisers told me, i’d do. At the time it didn’t seem like much. I went in not because I necessarily sought knowledge but rather simply because I wanted someone to talk to. There’s something comforting in listening to someone who has achieved mastery… A voice of reason in a world of chaos…

So the questions I asked when I went in this last week were “are you happy” and “do you have any regrets”? The overarching theme was “why”? “How do you know”? This was not so much a time to ask how best to live my life but rather to listen to stories. Imagine the future as a painting. A masterpiece has  many layers. Some use broad strokes while others paint with excruciating detail. Both are beautiful and while they serve the same purpose (expression), each is distinctly unique. That is life. A splash of color here, a splash of color there… What might look like chaos to some may hold beauty to others…

Perhaps the most powerful insight from talking one last time to my professors was that I do not necessarily have to choose. That I could be a CEO, travel, and write. While not a profound insight, I’ve often found that it is the simplest of things that make for great life philosophies. As much as I love to go with the flow and keep an open mind, I also like to nudge myself in the right direction. It can be easier to think it is this or that,  but life of course is never that simple…


A Proper Goodbye

As this chapter of my life closes and I begin a new chapter, I’ve been taking time to be grateful for the life I’ve lived. I’ve been taking long walks around campus and have taken a lot of time to reflect on my experience as a whole. I’ve learned to simply live in the moment and not let my past or future consume me. I’ve never been great with goodbyes so in general I avoid them. When my Aunt was diagnosed with cancer years ago I always thought that she would beat it. I watched from a distance as her health deteriorated and always smiled at the fact that despite the cancer, she always made sure everyone around her felt loved. She is the reason my family is so close and my time spent with her are some of my most cherished memories. The last few years of her life, when she was really sick, I refused to go see her in the hospital. Instead I’d have my Mom tell her what I was doing. It was easier than facing the reality of the situation. I remember praying and having the utmost faith in God that he would heal and make her better. I was angry when it seemed like the rest of the family had given up, that somehow by going to the hospital they didn’t believe she would recover… I would pray harder… Perhaps it was naive to think… Nothing prepares you for death… And of course I remember the night we received the phone call that my Aunt had passed away… It felt like a bad dream…

Then came the memorial service… I wasn’t quite sure how to react. I kept my head down and avoided eye contact. It was easier. I remember feeling shame, that tinge of guilt that came with not going to the hospital to say a proper goodbye. And yet my last memory of my Aunt will always be that of going to the zoo, a little before she passed. I don’t regret my decision as I’d rather celebrate her life and while I can’t say for certain that seeing her barely able to move, barely able to talk and in pain in a hospital bed would tarnish my memory of her, I’m glad that’s not my last memory of her. I tried to take the best of her and live my life in accordance. For me, that was her positive attitude, to look at a situation and find the good rather than the bad. And that was her message at the memorial service. Before she died, she had recorded a message telling us to smile, that her pain was over and that she was in Heavens Kingdom now. While I don’t remember the exact words I still remember that moment…

Last year I was the Service Chair for my Fraternity. One of our last events for the year was Relay for Life. We raised Hundreds of dollars and had an outstanding member turnout. I wanted to pay tribute to my Aunt then but it just didn’t feel right. Like I said, I’ve never been great with goodbyes. So come this year, I made it my goal that no matter what, I’d pay tribute to my Aunt. To find the perfect way to express my love and do a proper goodbye. And while we had fewer members this year and even fewer come to the ceremony, it was a special moment that I’m glad I got to share with a friend. It was the first time I’ve talked about my Aunt since her death. The mood was somber when we had the luminaria ceremony. We listened to a 17 year old cancer survivor and then heard some of the most beautiful music I’ve heard in my entire life. After that we walked around, looking at the different tributes people had written for their loved ones. And after we found mine, my friend left and I took one final lap, stopping to say a proper goodbye before heading out into the night…

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That’s a wrap! Thanks for reading!

Journey’s End: A Journey worth a thousand words

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt


When we reach the end of our journey and look back, what do we see? Are we kept up at night tossing and turning, mulling over what could’ve been? Or do we remember what was, as adventures turn to memories? Do we ask ourselves if we’ve lived true to ourselves or do we envy that which we do not have? When we dream do we dream of distant mountains or do we dream of valleys far below? When we wake, do we wish we were dreaming? When we look in the mirror, do we see our shattered reflection or do we see ourselves as if for the first time?


Once upon a dream

Yesterday after class I decided to go for a walk. I’ve been walking a lot lately. This time it was back to the beginning, where college began for me; McNary dorms. It’s been years since I’ve made my way over to that side of campus and a part of me misses it. The sheer simplicity of Freshman year, when nobody expected anything of me. I went to class, ate, and spent a lot of time in my room. I didn’t have many friends but the friends I did have, we’d meet up, play poker, watch walking dead every Sunday night; it was fun. A lot of my time  was spent just trying to find my way in the world. I was quiet, awkward and not at all confident. My solace was playing video games. Video games told stories and were the only thing I truly felt I was good at. I liked reading but always felt self-conscious as throughout elementary and middle school I was always forced to read books that didn’t interest me. Classes bored me and as such I always fell behind. When it came to classes, I was always living in someone else’s shadow. My parents always hounded my brother for getting poor grades so I always felt the need to try extra, extra hard. The irony is, that because I tried so hard, I became my own worst enemy. Had I just been focused on myself, I could’ve easily been one of the best students, the one who gets “most likely to succeed” in the year book. Instead I tried to imitate my brother and live in his shadow, always reaching, but never achieving. The best part? My parents took a softer approach for me. They simply said, “do your best” which I interpreted as “We don’t care”…

So come college, this trend continued, except with one key difference, I didn’t have my brother to compare myself to. My brother spent a year at Southern Oregon, a few terms at PCC, and then he dropped out. I was on my own. It wasn’t Jack did this or Jack did that. It was Mike and only Mike. I always thought my brother should’ve been the one to graduate, that I wasn’t worth it. Then I started becoming worth it.

The College of Business

I knew I couldn’t survive in Engineering. I knew my field had to be either psychology or business. I started out as an engineer because I thought that’s what I ought to do, not what I was meant to do. Perhaps in another life, under different circumstances… But I don’t think people realize how volatile I was when I first got to college. Yes I’ve always been sweet, but what is sweet can also be bitter. Emotional stability is something I’ve struggled with for the longest time. When there’s poison in the heart, there’s poison in the heart. Very few have seen me lose my composure and  fewer have seen me loose my temper. This used to be my every day. Few realize what it’s like to be on the brink of insanity until they’re there. To be wrapped in a blanket of your delusions until you’ve warped reality so far that it begins to snap. To teeter on the edge of meltdowns and having nowhere to go as the walls close in. So people ask why I chose management and I ask, “what choice did I have”? Managers are professional relationship builders. They understand the needs of people and work towards common goals. Managers not only manage others, they manage themselves.

When people think business, they often think there is a separation between personal and professional. What they fail to realize is it’s often a beautiful blend. I’d go to class, learn, and then apply. I kept an open mind and I was just happy to be learning as much as I could while I was able. Bacc Core, pre-business, I loved it all. Since day one I have loved being a management major. And perhaps this is because it was my first taste of control, what it felt like to have some semblance of balance and stability. And the more I learned, the more I became. And while it started with classes, it has gone well beyond that point. I’ve read over a dozen business related books. “7 habits for highly effective people” became my bible. I lived by that book. It taught me what I should be and gave me the road-map to get there.  “How to win friends and influence people” became the icing on the cake, teaching technique rather than guiding.

A House of Engineers

For two years I had perhaps the greatest roommates and some of my best friends. I found a group of individuals more awkward than myself at the time, so I fit right in. Engineers play video games and I played video games, so it was a good fit. Better, they were Computer Science majors, who make Civil Engineers seem like excellent communicators. Jokes aside (although I never heard the end of business major jokes) if there’s a group of individuals that have been there to shape my future, it’s these guys. Engineers, for better or worse, are blunt. If you do something that does not make logical sense, like show emotion for example, they will call you out on this fallacy. So many questions… “Why are you angry?”, “Why are you sad”? Or statements… Mostly, “that’s stupid” or “That makes no sense”… It was wonderful. They were there for the majority of my transformation. Day by day, step by step… Sometimes I like to ponder who I’d be if I never met these fine individuals and I can honestly say I don’t think I’d be the same. They met me back when I thought I was a monster, that if I told people who I really was, they’d turn their back on me and run. And yet they didn’t. When I finally did reach my tipping point, they were there to support rather than shun. And that shattered my delusion…

A Fitting End

That’s it for this week. I’ll expand more on these ideas in the coming weeks, as I work towards telling my personal story. This week was more a taste and I have plenty more stories to share. Next week will be a tale of love, as I talk about my thoughts on relationships from an analytical and anecdotal perspective. Get excited and thanks for reading!


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