I am a wonderful date.

DSC00998bThis past weekend, my wife and I had a fancy-pants date. Thanks to the fickle finger of fate, we won a fantastic date night package at DeAnne’s company Christmas party a while back. The package included a $150 gift card to Webster’s Prime restaurant and two tickets to the Broadway musical, Les Miserables, that was showing at Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo, MI.

We left the girls with the grandparents for the evening and drove down to Kalamazoo. The drive was pleasant, and conversation even more so. I’m infinitely thankful that my wife and I have never been faced with awkward silences when it is just the two of us.

DSC00990First, the dinner. Webster’s Prime is a steakhouse for people who like to spend lots of money on steak. The portions are small and expensive, but delicious all the same. I ordered a $34 sirloin, prepared medium and side dishes of maple pecan sweet potatoes and mac & cheese. The steak was the best part of the dinner, though their version of medium was much closer to well-done than I prefer. The side dishes were tasty, but nothing to write home about.

On a side note, I know that ordering mac & cheese at a super fancy steakhouse may seem juvenile, but I’ve had some really good mac & cheese at pricier restaurants before and I thought it worth the gamble. My favorite mac & cheese is from the Twisted Rooster in Grand Rapids, MI. Like Webster’s Prime, the Twister Rooster gets a lot of their ingredients from local sources. Unlike the Twisted Rooster, the mac & cheese at Webster’s Prime was mostly bland and the portions were far too small.

My wife got a $36 tenderloin, also medium (and much pinker than my steak) with a Caesar salad and smashed potatoes with bacon. She agreed that the steak was the best part of the meal.

For dessert, we both ordered the cheesecake to go, since time was running away and we needed to drive over to the theater. The service left a bit to be desired, as it felt like we were waited a bit too long for our food as well as the bill, but perhaps I was just in a bit of a rush to get to Les Mis. The total of the bill came quite a bit less than our gift card had on it, but judging that we wouldn’t likely find ourselves in Kalamazoo in the near future with a desire to spend $20 at Webster’s, we left it all to our waitress in spite of the service.

DSC00987bOn to the show. After a quick, unintentional tour of Western Michigan University, DeAnne and I found a parking spot at some distance from the main entrance. For future, similar events, we probably won’t dress up as much as we did this time, and DeAnne will certainly avoid heels in the snow if we have to walk long, slushy distances. Once inside Miller Auditorium, we found our seats easily with the help of the friendly staff. The seats were in the first balcony, dead center, and we had a commanding view. The only downside to the seats was the need to crawl over absolutely everyone, no matter which side you enter from, but it was worth the awkwardness.

Les Mis was incredible. I had seen it once before while a student at Western, but had forgotten how good it could be. Victor Hugo knows how to weave a tale laden with dramatic turns and moral quandaries. The songs are memorable and were all sung well. The action was nicely broken up with humorous interludes. And the actors and actresses gave a flawless performance. DeAnne and I both agreed that if we had more time and money, we would love to become regulars at such theater performances.

Leaving the theater went better than I expected. There were no long waits to get out of the parking lot and the road remained clear for the drive home. We arrived at our house just after midnight and were in bed by 1am, which, by the way, is about 4-5 hours later than we like to be in bed. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about our date.

Thank you Uniform Color Company of Holland for giving us the means for a wonderful night on the town. And thank you to my wife, DeAnne, for being the best date a man could ever hope to have. I love you more than sopranos love shattering crystal.

I am descended from Callaway slaves.

It started with a voicemail from my mom. Apparently, one of my aunts was having our family’s genealogy done and something surprising had turned up. I should call when I got a chance.

I listened to this voicemail while on lunch while working at the mall. Something surprising in my family genealogy? My interest was piqued. I called right away.

What my mom said floored me.

Ely Callaway, of Callaway Golf Clubs

It turns out that my mother’s mother’s father’s father was black. And sometime before then, my ancestor’s had been slaves to the Callaway family. The Callaways that nowadays make fancy golf clubs, but before that owned Georgia textile mills, and held prime spots in cotton manufacturing. Not only was I descended from slaves, but I had living black relatives no further than Kalamazoo, Michigan.

I went to college in Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo is only about an hour from Grand Rapids. I might have come across these relatives and never known it.

When I went back on the floor after receiving this information, I remember feeling very strange. My identity had changed a bit. I was no longer “Josh Mosey, whitest guy ever.” I was now “Josh Mosey, a bit black.”

Every black person I saw for the rest of the night and for the next few weeks, I thought, “I might be related to them.” It was surreal.

Shortly after the initial revelation, my mom told me a story about when she was a little girl. Some men had come to the house to give her family some inheritance money. One of my mom’s mom’s dad’s black relatives had passed away and included the family in the will. Apparently, the black side of the family was doing pretty well for themselves, or at least better than the white side. But instead of accepting the money, my grandma refused it, swearing up and down that the men had made a mistake and that she was not related to any black people. This would have been in the 60’s when this happened.

She spent years protesting the notion that she had any African-American blood in her veins. Truth be told, she was a bit racist. Probably not more than your average octogenarian, but still, sadly so.

When my grandma passed away a few years ago, the aunt who had done the genealogical research reached out to our black cousins in Kalamazoo. And though she spent years denying them, though she turned away her inheritance, my grandma’s funeral was attended by her African-American family, whether she would have wanted them there or not.

How to See Old Friends and Not Have It Be Awkward

So, this past weekend, I went down to Kalamazoo to visit some of my old friends from college. I regularly see my friend Andy every few months, but Andy and I were meeting up with our other friend, Adam, who I don’t get to see very often at all since he lives in the far-too-far wastes of Ohio.

Fun fact – I can’t see what Adam’s shirt says. I am colorblind.

Adam and I used to be roommates and much of our experience and relationship has seeped into my roommate flash fiction series, Thom and Tom. Anyway, we were all getting together to celebrate Adam’s birthday.

It had been over two years since Adam and I last hung out. In that time, my wife and I have had two daughters, my writing career is more serious than ever, and my job has morphed to include all kinds of fun new responsibilities. From his side, Adam has made a major career adjustment and has started and maintained a serious romantic relationship. A lot has changed for both of us.

But nothing has really changed between our old roommate relationship and our current living-in-different-cities relationship. We can fall back into our old friendship as easily as an experienced musician can remember the feel of an instrument, and the tunes are still as sweet.

This isn’t always the case with seeing old friends. Too many times, once a person moves on with their life, it becomes difficult to maintain the friendship or to fall back into the old routines. Too much has changed. This, I would hazard, is the norm for most relationships. And even though conversation flowed as easily as the Dr Pepper at BD’s Mongolian Barbacue where we celebrated Adam’s birthday, I noticed that we were employing some communication skills that I learned back in college in order to make things more comfortable. I think we did this naturally, but a skilled communicator can do it intentionally and achieve the same level of comfort.

The main thing that I noticed was our use of “carriers”. I learned about carriers first from Dr. Paul Yelsma in my Small Group Problem Solving class at Western Michigan University. While I was in his class, there was no one in the world that I hated more than Dr. Yelsma. His teaching style was designed to make people cry, and from some of the reviews that I’ve read on Ratemyprofessors.com, many other’s agree with my assessment. Of course, if you read the rest of the reviews for Dr. Yelsma, you’ll learn, as I did, that though he was not a likeable professor, he was a brilliant educator and his material has stuck with me far more than most of my other classes.

But I digress… A carrier is a subject of interest that a person can talk about for while. Once you discover a person’s carriers, you just ask them one related question and they open right up. The fact that you know something they like and that you would care enough to ask them about it makes that person feel knowledgeable and important. It is a great way to help along a new relationship as well as rekindle an old one.

Without even thinking about this concept, Adam and Andy and I were volleying carriers back and forth for a while, catching each other up on what we were doing, genuinely listening to each other, and feeling loved and respected the whole time. It was a great experience.

If you want to make someone feel special, find out their carriers. Ask about them. Then listen. It works great for old friends, new friends, even romantic relationships.

I am a good/bad student.

School, I know from my Facebook feed, just started for many people. Today’s autobiographical tale is meant to be a bit of advice for any and all students, whether your school is elementary, junior, high, vocational, collegiate, or of the “hard knocks” variety.

Let me add to my preface the fact that I graduated high school near the top of my class (though not at the very top since those kids were my friends and I didn’t want to take that away from them). And each semester at college, I made the Dean’s List. And while there was some confusion as to whether I was enrolled in the College of Education or the College of Arts & Sciences, I made two different Dean’s Lists. I was also a member of the Lee Honors College. I have never had too much difficulty in school.

Student stress kills.

This is what an honor student looks like.

Now, there are two types of people who can make this claim: people who work very hard on their schoolwork at the cost of their sleep, social lives, and sanity, and people who get by on last-minute study sessions, lucky guesses, and learning the teacher’s favorite dessert. All good, moral people would encourage you to be in the first group of people. I, on the underhand (play on words intended), advocate the second avenue to academic success. It is easier, and it is more fun.

My wife, who loves me dearly, hates this about me.Why? Because she has always been in the first group of students. She works hard for everything she has, and then she goes on to work hard after she achieves whatever it is she was working for. She can’t stand the fact that I got the grades I did while putting in one-third the effort. In fact, there is one story from my freshman year of college that absolutely steams her.

This is it.

It was finals week in the Winter semester of the freshman year. I had taken all but my last final, Rec 101,  and was packing up the last few things from my dorm room. I knew that my final wasn’t until 1pm. The final would take about and hour and a half, so I would be completely done with my freshman year of college by 2:30pm. I had arranged for my dad to come down to Kalamazoo with a van to help me load up my stuff at 3pm. Like clockwork!

So when I decided at noon to pull out my Rec 101 (Introduction to Recreation) notes for a last-minute study, I was surprised to discover that my 1pm final was actually a 10am final. My mind couldn’t immediately make sense of the fact that I had completely missed my last final exam, the one for the introductory course for my newly chosen major.

“What?” said my eyes. “I missed it?”

“Um,” said my brain. “Looks like it.”

“Fudge,” said my mouth.

Now, had I been a student of the hard-working ilk, I would never have made that mistake. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that I was a model student and that I had somehow missed my final exam. I would have been in serious trouble. I wouldn’t have known the first thing to do to make things right.

Fortunately, that was not the case and I knew exactly what to do.

Again, here was the situation. It is shortly after noon. My computer, my dorm room, and my life in general are mostly in boxes. My dad is en route to pick me up in less than three hours. And I have missed one of my final exams.

Not to worry.

This is what a cool professor looks like.

You see, the professor and I had struck up a friendship. I was an active participant in class discussions. He was always interested to hear the latest happenings of the Valhalla Norwegian Society (a Registered Student Organization that I made up and got the school to recognize in an effort to apply for school funds to throw parties and award myself scholarships). And he and I played racquetball every now and again.

When I realized that I missed his final exam, I first called his office in the College of Education. But, since this was his last final too, he had left for the day. Not a problem. Due to our friendship, I knew his home number. I tried him there. No answer. I left a message.

“Um,” I said into his answering machine. “This is Josh. You may or may not have noticed that I missed the Rec 101 final this morning. So… sorry about that. Any chance I could take it anyway?”

My professor lived about an hour away from the university, so it took a while for him to get home and hear my message.

I have finished packing everything except my notes and my Rec 101 books. I am sitting still, staring at my phone like an ugly girl on prom night. At about 1:30pm, he calls me.

“So Josh,” he says. “You missed the final exam.”

“Yeah,” I say. “Sorry again for that. I was sure that it was at one. It turns out, it was at ten.”

“Glad you figured that out,” he says. “What are we going to do about that?”

“Well,” I say. “I had an idea about that. Is there any way you could email me the final? I could take it now, email back the answers, and we could pretend that I was really there this morning.”

“Hmm,” he says. “Well, since you have always been a good student, and you seem to know the material, as long as you promise not to use your book or your notes, I can do that.”

“Thanks,” I say, and put the phone down. I know that I yelled for joy. I think I may have even capered around my room.

Of course, this new deal doesn’t change the fact that I already have my computer packed up and my dad is on his way to pick me up in about an hour.

I run down the dorm hallway and ask people in various states of packing whether their computers are still hooked up to the network and whether I might borrow one of them to take a final exam immediately. Finally, I find one at my across the hall neighbor. I entrust my notes and book to my roommate (who is waiting for his parent to pick him up) and wait for my professor’s email.

With just under an hour before my dad is to show up, I get the email. I take the exam. I email him back my answers. I thank him profusely again for allowing me to take it.

Minutes later, my dad shows up. We pack up the van, stop off to eat some dinner on the way, and before long I am home.

It takes a few weeks for the grades to come by mail.

REC 101: A

So students, let this be a lesson to you. Of course you can work hard, memorize everything, do all of the practice homework, read all of the readings, and study for tests more than an hour before you take them. But there is another way. And it may just be the better way.

Maybe you should find out if your teacher/professor plays racquetball and challenge them to a match. Maybe it will end up saving you.

I am a fake Russian waiter.

In honor of Labor Day, I thought I would share an experience from one of my past jobs.

I firmly believe that everyone, at some point in their life, should work in the service industry. And if there is one thing I learned while being a waiter, it was how to tip. There is nothing like the experience of providing excellent service only to get stiffed in order to encourage your own tipping to be generous.

It was the summer after my freshman year at Western Michigan University. I had gone back to Middleville to live with my folks and I was working two jobs in order to save up enough money to pay for room & board when I returned to Kalamazoo in the fall. From 6am to 3pm, I worked a warehouse job throwing lumber at Select Forest Products, a supplier of high-end wood for lumberyards around the state. Then from 4pm until 10pm, I worked as a waiter at Big Boy Restaurant.

Early in the summer, I went in and dropped off an application to the restaurant. A day or so later, I was called and informed that I had a job and would be starting the next week. No interview or anything. I just got the job.

One really nice thing was that the warehouse job and the Big Boy job were so close together. The problem was that they were both a half-hour’s drive away from my home. This was a problem because after working in the warehouse, throwing boards around and climbing on and around the bundles of lumber, I would be covered in filth with no where nearby to clean up.

The first few days of waiting tables, I did what I could to clean up in the sink of the warehouse bathroom, cleaning my face and arms so the parts that showed wouldn’t be too gross. And then God sent two angels in the form of my recently graduated college friends who got an apartment near enough to borrow their shower. That was a great improvement to my hygiene while I was serving people’s food.

And good hygiene is a nice way to help improve tips.

Here’s another (and better) secret to increase the size of your tips if you decide to take up my challenge and become a waiter or waitress: Use a foriegn accent.

I’d been waiting tables for the whole summer and was about to return to Kalamazoo. It had been a great experience, but I didn’t think I would be returning the next year to this restaurant since most of the clientele didn’t leave great tips. And because I didn’t fear getting fired for a bit of tomfoolery, I used a Russian accent one night.

Customers went wild with tipping. In fact, all of the issues that I had as native-Midwesterner vanished when I put on my ex-Soviet guise.

“I am Ivor,” I would say. “I will give your order when you are ready.”

The trick to using English as a second language is to mess words up every now and again.

One of the problems that I had as a waiter was that people were unclear when ordering. Sometimes, they would speak too fast and then get frustrated when I had them repeat themselves. But as a fake Russian, people spoke slowly, using their hands, and pointing to the exact item they wanted.

Another problem was when I would just mess up their order anyway.

“You would like more Diet Coke?” I would ask, bringing a fresh glass.

“I ordered regular Coke,” they would say.

I would look at them like I was just short of understanding what they said. And then, after a minute or so, I would flash a look of recognition and apologize.

“I am sorry,” I would say. “I bring you another Coke.” And then, I would bring the right thing.

People weren’t mad when I messed up orders as a Russian. After all, English is a pretty hard language to learn.

But best of all, people like talking to people with fun accents. And it really came through in the tips. My tips that night were at least twice what I normally got. Even the regulars who should have known that I did not usually speak with a Russian accent tipped better. Maybe they didn’t recognize me. Maybe they did and they were just enjoying the show. Anyway, they all tipped better.

I vowed right then that if I ever took another job as a waiter, I would go in with a Russian accent.

I am a [smart] fraud.

“Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” – Sophocles

With respect to Sophocles, when making plans for college, I  disagree.

Here’s the story.

I had already been accepted to Western Michigan University, but was applying for acceptance to the Lee Honors College within the University.

The Lee Honors College aims to enrich its members with distinctive classes and special opportunities in order to create “The Distinctive Student“.

Members of the Honors College were eligible to live in a special residence hall with like-minded students and certain restrictions that made study time more possible and profitable.

My GPA was high enough to qualify, and I had no trouble writing the essay about why I would make a good addition to the Honors College, but I didn’t look at the due date on the teacher recommendations. You see, I was supposed to have two teachers and a school administrator write recommendations for me to get into the program. The first time I saw the due date was the day before they were due.

I did not freak out. Doing assignments the night before the due date was how I got through high school. It was like I was training myself for this very situation.

I approached two of my favorite teachers and the vice-principal  in school that day and explained my situation. One of the teachers told me that it would be a pleasure and that she would have my recommendation done by the end of the school day. The other two told me that they were too busy to write them and that I should have approached them sooner.

Sure, they were right, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me.

I made them an offer.

“I will write the recommendations for you,” I said, “then you can read them over and only sign off on them if they sound like something you would have written anyway.”

“Sure,” they both said.

And so I wrote my recommendations. I made sure to write them with different voices, and using slightly different layouts to account for the fact that they were being written by two different people. I drove to their homes that night and got their signatures, thereby making them real.

The following day, I drove to Kalamazoo and handed in all of my materials.

Within a couple of weeks, I got notification in the mail that I was accepted into the program.

I wasn’t surprised. I had at least two very good recommendations.

I am a Natural at Self-Promotion.

Last week, I told the origin story of the “I Love Josh Mosey” t-shirts, as well as how they helped me achieve semi-stardom in Big Sky country.

But I skipped some of the story…

Liz in the t-shirt. Josh stuffing his face.

If you didn’t read last week’s post, I made a bunch of t-shirts with my face on them for my friends as graduation gifts. What I didn’t tell you was how the visiting-from-out-of-town family of one of my friends wanted the shirts too. Of course, I was only too willing to give away more things with my face on them, so my friend Liz and many of her cousins got the shirt too.

Fast forward to the graduation ceremony. It is the year 2000, the ceremony is halfway done, people have been reminded a few times now to hold their applause for the end of the program.

My name is called.

All heck breaks loose.

Unbeknownst to me, all of my friend’s cousins who got my t-shirts had worn them to graduation. At my name being called, they stood proudly, stretching their shirts so that everyone could see them, shouting things like “We Love Josh Mosey!” and “Josh Mosey for President!” and “Woo Hoo!”

The announcer kindly reminds the crowd to wait for the end of the program to applaud while I shake hands with the principal, receive my diploma, and walk to the side of the gymnasium completely red-faced. It was wonderful.

His House, an awesome campus ministry.

The next fall, I went to Western Michigan University where Liz’s brother and sister-in-law, Jesse and Rachel, attended. After a week or so of settling in, the pair paid me a visit and introduced me to His House Christian Fellowship, the campus ministry where they were involved (and the one where I would become involved as well).

When they picked me up, Rachel was wearing her “I Love Josh Mosey” shirt, as she had been for a little while around campus. So when I came to my first His House event, a lot of people came up to me, recognizing my face from the shirt and I instantly had friends, albeit ones whose names I did not yet know.

If there is a lesson to be had in there somewhere, it is this. T-shirts with your face on them are great gifts, every time. Maybe I should be selling them through this blog…

Stay tuned for that.

I am smooth.

Since I started thinking about my college days again for last week’s post, I thought I’d share another college story.

When I first moved to Kalamazoo in order to attend Western Michigan University, music was something that was still primarily enjoyed by listening to the radio (that makes me feel very old all of the sudden). Illegal file sharing was yet to be made illegal, and the iPod was only a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye. While searching the dial for a station worth listening to, I stumbled across my college’s radio station, WIDR, and instantly fell in love.

WIDR | Radio EvolutionI still get nostalgic for WIDR and many’s the time when I wish that I could get the signal where I live now. All of the DJs were students, long awkward pauses and dead air were not uncommon, and I had never heard of most of the musicians they played, but it all worked. WIDR had the perfect mix of loveable amateurism and exposure to the underground music scene.

But enough of my gushing and on to the story.

I learned where the station was located after being invited to speak about the Valhalla Norwegian Society, of which I was president at the time. As it happened, WIDR’s studio was located in the same building as the registered student organization mailboxes, so in the weeks following the interview, I would stop in at random to say hi to the DJs who interviewed me with whom I had struck up a friendship.

On one such visit, rather than ask if my DJ friends were available, I stepped up to the main desk and said, “I’m here to pick up my prize pack.” Now, there was no prize pack waiting for me, but I thought that on the off chance that I could get a free t-shirt or something, I’d try my luck.

“Prize pack?” said the receptionist. “Did someone call you and tell you that you won something?”

“Um,” I replied. “Well, no.”

“Then, why did you come in?” asked the receptionist, and rightfully so.

“Um,” I replied. “I just wanted to see if I could get something. Maybe a t-shirt or something.”

“Oh,” said the receptionist. “Well, I can’t give you anything.”

“Okay,” I said. “Would you mind telling John that I’m out here then, if he’s not on-air at the moment, I mean.”

“Actually,” said a woman sitting against the wall who I had completely missed, “I was about to go record an interview with John, so he’ll be busy for a little bit.”

“Oh,” I said. “It’s cool. I’ll just check back later.”

“Wait a sec,” said the new woman. “I heard what you were trying to do with the prize pack thing. Clever and ballsy of you. If you wait around until after the interview, I’d love to give you a couple tickets to my show tonight. Maybe you could bring a date.”

I waited. True to her word, this mystery musician put my name down for two tickets to her show that night.  This turn of events gave me sufficient reason to ask out a girl that I’d been interested in a for a few weeks. What a great first date story that would be, I thought (isn’t it funny how we want to make our lives fit into clever story arcs?). To my surprise, the girl agreed and off we went.

The seats were prime. The music was good. My date and I were enjoying ourselves. And then, around the middle of the set, the musician stops and says, “Where’s Josh? I met Josh earlier at the college radio station and he told me that he was going to be on a first date tonight. Josh, are you here?”

I raised my hand. People from all directions stared at me… and my date. I should probably say that the girl that I brought to this event was a shy girl who didn’t like the spotlight.

“How’s the date going so far?”

I looked over at my date. She gave me a thumbs up, but the look on her face was not happy.

“Um, great!” I lied.

“Cool,” she said, and then she finished her show. The first date became the last date, and that was okay. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. It just wasn’t meant to be.

Afterward, I stopped back into the radio station to thank them for doing the interview with the musician that led to me getting free show tickets. My DJ friends invited me to talk about the evening on the air. I told them that it was a good evening, but that things didn’t work out.

That was when they decided that it would be a fun show segment to have girls call in to the station and go on dates with me (WIDR would be footing the bill) and then I would talk about my experiences the next day. At the time, I thought nothing of being pimped out by my college radio station and thought it would be a fun way to see concerts and such for free.

The promotion never came together however, and now I’m really glad that it didn’t. Now, I’m married to a wonderful woman (a bit on the shy side, I guess I have a type). And though I’m sure that my wife would never have left me when confronted with a spotlight on us, I’m glad that our story started differently.

I love my wife more than old people love racism and talking about diseases.

I am a Viking.

My Alma Mater | Western Michigan University

Universities can do strange things to people. Some people drink and party. Some people study hard and become successful and rich. I started a registered student organization devoted to watching Viking movies.

When choosing a dorm for my freshman year at Western Michigan University, I went in blind. Some people say that it is safer to be roommates with someone you know, but I didn’t want to end up hating someone that I knew from high school. I was assigned to live with a group of sophomores in the Honors College dorm, Eldredge Hall. As it happened, one of those sophomores was from my hometown anyway, though I had not seen him in many years because he went to a Catholic high school.In addition to having our hometown in common, we had a common heritage of being part Norwegian (a very small part if I am honest). For some reason, we bonded over this fact and the Valhalla Norwegian Society (VNS) was born.

This film is officially endorsed by the Valhalla Norwegian Society.

At first, the VNS existed solely to watch movies about Vikings. We watched The Longships and The 13th Warrior and then The Longships again. While watching, we would drink ginger beer (the closest thing to mead we had at the time) and say things like “By the Hammer of Thor, this ginger beer is delicious,” and “By Great Odin’s Ravens, I love this film!” And then I decided that we needed to evolve as a group and become recognized by the University.

Why?

Because that is where the money is.

I discovered that if a student group is registered with the University, that group can apply for funds from the student government for things like scholarships and events. All that was needed was for the VNS to come up with a constitution and to have a President and a Vice President. Thus, we wrote a constitution and I became the president and my roommate the Vice President.

We got a mailbox in the student government offices and were featured in the student newspaper and on the student radio station. It wasn’t long before we had tripled our membership (to six) and were holding joint events with other registered student organizations.

Lego asked me to model for this minifigure.

It was fun for a semester, but as these things do, it fizzled around exam time. The following year, we didn’t bother re-registering because we didn’t have time to fill out the necessary paperwork to apply for scholarships for ourselves. I’m not sure the student government would have allocated us the funds anyway.

But for that one semester, it was real. And because it was real, I still list that I was the President of the Valhalla Norwegian Society on my CV. I am a Viking.