And never forget where you came from, because when you do it's a long road home.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dropping Some Truth

Long time no see.

I’ve failed in my attempt to keep this updated fairly regularly, my apologies. Shouts to Jeff Hokl for getting me back on this horse.
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Occasionally, I get into these deeply reflective moods and just let my mind wander. What I’m about to tell you wasn’t planned out beforehand. I’ve never been much of an outliner before I write, and I’m not about to start with this post. I feel something like this is better to communicate as it comes to me – in tangents and with no real organization. If you want an easy read with coherent exposition, you’re better off not reading this.
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I consider myself more spiritual than religious. I was raised Roman Catholic, and I still hold a lot of the teachings and ideas close to my heart that I grew up with. As time goes on, you add to and take things away from your personal ideology and you end up with the code you live by.

In my experience, energy is a living thing that surrounds us at all times. All things exude energy, some more than others. Some things you are drawn to, others you are repelled by. I could get into a “time is a flat circle” style energy rant but I don’t want to get all True Detectives on you. I believe it exists in us and is around us and affects us every moment of our lives.

At Northwestern, us football players were instilled with the notion that attitude is a choice. Coach Fitz learned that from the late Randy Walker, and he in turn passed it down to us. I believe in this mindset with my entire being. You can’t control what goes on around you. You ARE in control of yourself. It doesn’t matter that I’m having a terrible day and nothing is going right. I am always going to be well, outstanding, phenomenal, etc because I know that nothing can come from wallowing in my current negativity.

Negativity.

That’s a slippery slope. We’ll come back to that.

Something that I added to my way of approaching life came to me while in a class at NU about marriage. Marriage 101, or HDPS 340, was an incredible experience. In the class, you were assigned with another person (usually of your choosing) to be a couple. I happened to be able to pair up with a close friend of mine, Claire Thompson.

Classes would meet a couple times a week, but the true gem of this course was the small group sessions we would have. We talked about anything and everything. At the time, I had recently been out of a 6+ year relationship, so this did a number on me emotionally. I have always been, and still am, a deeply emotional person. I’m not talking about crying whenever there is a sappy movie on. I’m talking about investing my emotional well being with others.

I guess you can consider it a fault of mine. I wear my heart on my sleeve much too often. At any rate…

One thing that I took away from Marriage 101 will forever stay with me. It was something so profound and such a rich concept that I, to this day, years and years later, hold it close to me.

Many people think of forgiveness as something the wrong-doer benefits from, which they do. But there’s a deeper purpose for forgiveness. Forgiveness is for you, the one who was slighted. Forgiveness is for you to cleanse yourself of the negativity associated with others and the situations that have arisen from their transgressions against you.
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“As we grow up, we learn that the one person that was never supposed to let us down probably will. You’ll have your heart broken, and you’ll break others' hearts."

We live our lives continuously being disappointed by others. A core concept of the human experience is being sold short in more ways than one. It could be your father, your brother, your sister, your mother, your significant other, your best friend, your teacher, your boss… We inherently go through this time and time again.

The way to get through it all and come out without losing too much of yourself is being able to forgive as I described above.

As I mentioned, I have been in a 6+ year relationship. I’ve seen other people and have had other experiences that may not have been as long, but still just as important to my life history. I’ve seen disappointment more times than I can count, more times than I can remember. It was only until after I connected the teachings from Marriage 101 to my own personal examples that I was able to see how life is best navigated, and it has saved me by preserving my emotional integrity. Once there’s a fault line in that, you’ll be finding yourself in a real deep hole.
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An easy way to think about this is how the sequence of events plays out. First, there is a transgression against you. Once you recognize that, there’s a falling out between you and the other person.

Eventually, you’ll forgive them.

But when that happens, do you ever notice there are almost always residual negative feelings? You might be in the right mindset to truly forgive the situation, but not in regards to that deeper forgiveness. Coming back to the negativity and the spiritual nonsense I mentioned before, that negativity eats at you.

It eats at you until you don’t realize what you’re even doing anymore. You just want all of that unwanted emotion out of your psyche so you can finally breathe again. You scratch and claw for that air, doing things that don't make sense to anyone, even to you. Some people take it more gracefully than others, but the experience is the same - you are no longer at homeostasis. You need to right the ship.

All I can say from experience is it takes time. Usually, a good deal of time. Longer than what you want it to take.

But it’s worth it.

It is the people we hold closest to us that can hurt us the most, and when that inevitably happens, it feels like the ground has shifted beneath your feet and you no longer know where the sure footing is. The landscape is unfamiliar. You have an overwhelming sense of doubt about way too many thoughts, experiences, memories or whatever else you associate with that other individual.

After those residual negative feelings linger off into nothingness, you can begin forgiving another for YOU. Finally being able to exhale all the negativity, you can begin to find yourself again. Once you have found that, you can finally be at peace.

Not necessarily with that person or situation, but with your emotional well being. You’re free to love, to live, to experience everything this world has to offer on your own terms again.

What a beautiful feeling.

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Thanks for listening and stay classy. Let me know if you guys want to talk more about this to me in person. I love getting into deep conversations with good company.



Peace n Blessins,
Dozie

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Return to Glory

Wow wow wee wow.

It's been a good long time since I've sat down and written something here. I really kinda missed it. And it's weird what inspired me to write again- I was just going through my various social media feeds and just saw some really dumb things. I really can't deal with that stuff.

BUT. That's not what this post is about. This is something I have thought about writing about for a long time, and it is finally going to come to fruition.

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I may be biased, being born and raised in Chicago. I will readily admit that. In fact, that's one of the very core things that describes who I am. I'm a Chicagoan. For as long as I can remember, I've been taking trips to the city and immersing myself in the immense amount of culture this city has to offer. And people, there's just so much of it that I haven't even experienced.

In 23 years, I haven't once been to a Bears game, gone to the Sky Deck in the SEARS Tower (not gonna relent on that one, the name Willis is an after thought), seen an improv show at any theater, gone to the Wiener's Circle, gone to Dancing in the Parks, or watched an IMAX movie on Navy Pier.

You might be thinking, "OK well some of those things are touristy..."

That's kind of my point, though. When you're in Chicago, you're not really a stranger to the city. Sure, you can get lost in the Loop, get caught staring up at the magnificent architecture, or maybe even not realize when it's time to cross the street with all the hustle and bustle going around you...but you're never an outsider.

I've been here my whole life and haven't experienced many many things. What makes me better than the person who comes for an extended weekend and does ALL of those things I just named that I've never done?

Nothing. Nothing makes me better than that out-of-towner.

Now that I've gotten older and have the wherewithal to properly experience and appreciate the city, I've come to a realization over and over again: I could stay here my entire existence and not uncover everything there is to Chicago.

I've lived on the far North Side, Northwest Side, Wicker Park, Bucktown, and now live in Wrigley. That's not even CLOSE to rounding out the neighborhoods and boroughs of Chicago. I can tell you to go to Edzo's in Evanston, catch a couple of good shots off the tee in the golf courses around Edgebrook, put your name in early at Big Star in Wicker Park while grabbing a drink at the Violet Hour, how to get wherever you need to go in Chicago off the corner of North/Ashland, or how Redmond's in Wrigley has a SICK Thursday deal of .25 wings and $5 pitchers.

Those things are fine and dandy but fall terribly short of showcasing and exemplifying the number of things to do and places to see in Chicago. To comprehend the totality of Chicago's culture and livelihood would take more than a lifetime, which none of us have.

I know a lot of people who will be lifers here. I'd more than likely be one if I hadn't met this little one (but that's a different post altogether). What I guess my point in all of this is that this tremendously wonderful city has more than enough to do and see and feel and experience. And I am blessed to have begun my journey here, and will continue to appreciate this awe-inspiring environment for as long as I live in the city.

I'm going to leave you with 3 quips to wrap up:

1. Go on an architecture river tour. Go on a tour of the shoreline, the ones that leave out of Navy Pier. Those two things alone, even to a person like me with whom Chicago is so familiar, are indescribably informative and inspiring. I went on both and each had such a wealth of information and moving enough to almost bring me to tears. To know what this city has been through and to call this home, a second home, your favorite vacation spot, or even just a sliver of time in your overall existence - you should be proud.

2. Even if you are from here, buy an unlimited pass for the CTA. It could be for a weekend, a week, or a month. Just do it and explore. Take the Red Line up and down and see what every neighborhood has to offer. Take the Blue Line and get off at Logan Square to see one of the most promising up-and-coming neighborhoods in the city. Take the 8 bus down Halsted and go to Greek Town. Take a map from somewhere, find a place you want to go, and take public transportation there. You might not even get there because you found something way more interesting along the way or maybe even got lost and found something else to satisfy whatever you were looking for in the first place.

3. Whoever complains about this city and "can't wait to leave" - let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. See ya. Don't come back. What an enormous waste of your time to have been here and not at least appreciate the grandiosity and relevance of this place. You don't need to love it here, you simply need to show some respect to a city that allows you to experience such a diverse range of existence.

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Thanks for reading. I'll try to make these more frequent and longer in length. I was surprised to come back to find the the other posts, collectively, had over 2k views. That's pretty impressive and humbling.

Till next time,

Cheers and (always) Go Cats.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Past Tense

It's been a while since I've written on here, for good reason.

The real world is consuming, something I'm familiar with after being a student athlete for the last 9 years of my life.  And that exact topic is what inspired this post.


WAS an athlete.


Those words have been ringing in the back of my head for a couple months now, but for some reason, they've recently entered the forefront of my thoughts.  I'm not longer labeled with something associated with sports.  Whatever it would be, it'd be with 'former' in front of it.

I've had a long time to reflect on how I wanted to express my feelings on the issue and it was only within the last few days I've been able to channel these fragmented observations and thoughts into a coherent piece of writing.  While many people who are athletes in college do not make the next level, whatever it may be, I simply hope to offer up an internal dialogue of someone who has poured himself into something for so long and having it end abruptly, albeit in a fitting closure (as opposed to a career ending injury, for example).




There are a couple points I'd like to cover in this attempt to explain this experience, but I can't come up with a good way to group them, so I apologize if this gets a little jumbled.

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Leaving a team, even if it was in a natural way like exhausting eligibility, leaves you empty.

Just....

Empty.



The friends you've had for 4 or 5 years are all of the sudden out of your life.  The thrill of competition is gone.  You go back to your room at night and wake up with nothing to do.  You don't have your buddy calling you at 9 am because you slept in and aren't at meetings.  You don't rendezvous with your teammates to figure out when the best time to watch film is.  You stop obsessing over diets and lifting and keeping yourself straight on the weekends.  There's no one over your shoulder watching you to see if you're behaving, achieving, doing the things you were formerly supposed to do.

And then you realize...

This is what being a mature young adult is like.

You've made it.



And while it's refreshing, it's not as glamorous as you would think.



Bringing it back to the relationships built over the years, gone are the days when you had all your closest friends, rivals, confidants, and, most important, teammates all in one room just hanging out and shooting the shit.  When all of that is suddenly gone, it's like you lose all of your best friends at once.  You may not realize it, but after the usual couple weeks of taking it easy and you don't show up for work outs or meetings, you begin to feel more and more empty as time goes by.  Next thing you know, you have a job in the West Loop that gets you up as early as you used to wake up for football, but this time you don't get to share it with your boys.  In the beginning, at least, you're the new guy who's getting the hang of things.  You're the one trying to find a clique within the office and are no longer the big dog, the veteran, the person who people come to for some enlightenment.

My role as a Northwestern football player definitely started off slow, but by the end, I absolutely relished in my status on the team.  No, I didn't get much playing time.  No, I didn't try out for the NFL teams on pro day.  What I got to do was be the team's hype-man.  I was the guy quoting 50 Cent in my pregame speeches, telling people I would carry them home after they gave all they had on the field and couldn't make it off themselves.

Even as I write this now, my eyes well up.  These are the best memories of my life. Being part of something so much bigger than myself, having the ears and eyes of my brothers in the locker room who I've bleed with, sweat with, and shed tears with for so many work outs, drills, and practices.  For so many wins, losses, ups, downs, and anything in between that you could imagine.

Then, one day, you wake up and don't show up anymore.


I've recently read American Sniper and have read Lone Survivor, and while I absolutely cannot compare our experiences as a team to being part of a SEAL team, the principles ring true for any collection of people who give part of themselves up for something bigger.  While their end game was a matter of life and death, ours was a win or a loss; something any competitor will tell you feels like life or death in that particular moment.

There are some of us, like my great friend Breezey, who are able to go right into a coaching role and immerse themselves in the culture once again, albeit in a completely different role.

There are people who put themselves out there for a chance to compete at the next level, like my fellow D-linemen Q and Arnie.

Then, there are people like me, who fade out of the spotlight, left with nothing but memories and reluctantly go on with their lives.

It seems like a sad ending, but it really isn't. It's just the end of something, and quickly getting over the cliche, where something new begins.  I'll always have the reminiscence of what winning a bowl game was like, what it was like to have our home crowd on their feet as I trotted out to play running back, the look on my teammates faces as I screamed and hollered the craziest shit I could come up with to get them amped for the game, and so much more.


It'll just be weird to use the past tense of the verb play.

Played.

I played football in college.






I was an athlete.




As always,

Party

XOXO Dozie

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You guys.





















I recorded a podcast with the guys over at The West Lot Pirates.  We got to talking about the season, the bowl game, and (duh) me.



In all seriousness, I had such a great time.  Sam, Erik, and John are great dudes and you should check out their other podcasts.

I've been busy with le work so I'll have some sort of an update soon-ish when I'm adjusted to my schedule.

As always,

PARTY

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Year with Great Beginnings

Man.

It's been a while since I've posted on this.  I've spent my time prepping for the 2013 Gator Bowl, winning the Gator Bowl, taking a short trip to New Orleans, and then looking for employment.

Now that I'm back from my trips and have found a job, I feel more inclined to write posts.

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In thinking about what I wanted to write, I figured a little Gator Bowl and football flavor would be in order, just to get out what that was all like.

After coming back to Evanston 4 years in a row with a bowl game loss, this last bowl trip was simply surreal. In fact, it is now January 15 and I am still riding some of the emotions invoked by our January 1 win.  I didn't want to leave the field, and I know some people were forced into the locker room so we could have our usual post-game speech.

But this was no ordinary post game speech.

We had just won a bowl game against an SEC opponent, and had done it in style.  Though we were at one point tied, winning the game by the 14 points that we did solidified the notion that we didn't just happen to win.  We dominated.  There was no doubt who the victor was on that sunny day in Jacksonville. 

Getting back into the locker room was another experience in itself.  Never before had I exited a foreign, southern field and been greeted with that many smiling faces or that much positive emotion.  Seniors this year were crying, not because of a heart breaking loss, but out of sheer happiness.

From the bottom of our tired and weary Northwestern University Wildcat football souls, we had done it.

We did what so many teams before us could not.  We ended the post season with a win.  We were going home champions.  We were getting a bowl ring that emphatically said "Champions" across it.  And for those of you who follow me on twitter, that title, Champion, is what makes all the difference to a competitor.

You better damn well know I made sure to get a piece of that monkey once Fitz let it loose upon our rabid team.  We tore that thing up as violently and horrifically as possible, stuffing flying everywhere- a testament to how bad we wanted this win.  I would have felt more remorseful and harrowed had the tearing of the monkey not meant what it did.  But it was a sign of a new era for Northwestern University and Northwestern Wildcat football, one where there is no decades long streak hanging over our heads, one where there is a stigma attached to coming to such a highly competitive academic school, one where we always let our fans down in the end.

This is a new era of Northwestern in which the freight train of our athletic department is a force to be reckoned with and respected.  There is nothing but positive vibes from the Northwestern community, and nothing but praise for what we as a team have done for all of the players, fans, and supporters past and present.

As I wrap this up, all I can think about is that feeling at the end of the game where I saw Brian Arnfelt. As we embraced just before we doused Fitz in Gatorade, time slowed.

One of the best hugs I've ever been a part of (photo cred: Kbird)
Senior to senior, brother to brother, man to man- we had done it. We were victors. We were forever immortalized as the men who fought and clawed and suffered for this great university and all of its believers.

We were champions. And no one could ever take that from us.






Wednesday, December 19, 2012

His name? Number 2

So now that I've had some time for that first post to sink in, I've had an overwhelmingly positive response to this blog.  Granted, I haven't written much on it, but teammates, fans, and friends have expressed their interest in it.  The only negative sentiment I heard was from Fitz, who was probably concerned I was gonna expose team secrets and ruin the program.

Fitz, I promise I only intend to write about dumb things that people will find funny and entertaining, not about the inner workings of the NU Football Family.

Anyway, this interest in my blog expressed by others is exactly what I wanted to write about in this post.

As many of you know, I'm a pretty active person on social media.  Lately, my Twitter has taken over my Facebook usage.  My Facebook feed has become full of pregnant/married friends, people who think they're super sweet by taking pictures with alcohol in their hands, and spam.  It's really only good for dumping pictures and keeping in touch with people long term.  ANYWAY- I've basically got 4 ways to connect with people on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and this blog.

One of my biggest peeves is when people talk to me about my social media posts to me in person.

"Oh man, you're so funny on Twitter."

"Hey, your picture on Instagram the other day was so cool."

"BO I RED UR BLOG, I CAN'T WAYT 4 MOER POSTZ"

I of course appreciate the support and feedback... BUT DON'T SAY IT TO ME IN PERSON.  You can show how much you enjoy my posts by retweeting, liking, commenting, etc.  That's what the buttons are for, homie.

It may not seem like a big deal, but this happens to me so so so often.  Whenever it does, I always have to tell Emily Allard (<--link) because she and I are basically social media best friends, and (somehow) rarely associate in real life.  IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE, PEOPLE. Spam me with likes, retweets, favorites, comments, ANYTHING.

I just want to feel electronically loved.  Is that too much to ask? IS IT? The more love you show me on the respective site, the more exposure we all get, and come on, who doesn't want more followers than people you're following?

Anyway, thanks for the support.  I'll be updating as often as I can come up with things to talk about. But I don't want to turn this into some dumb thing where I tell you about my day.  Because, honestly, that's not funny or interesting.  Unless something totally sweet happens.  Then, I'll come here with it.  Like when this dude in front of me on the train down to an interview in the city wasn't paying attention and was on his phone and the train stopped and his face smashed into a pole. Not deserving of a separate entry, but worth sharing nonetheless.  Probably could have tweeted that, but I didn't.  DEAL WITH IT.

Comment on/share this, follow/tweet at me, and friend me so I can creep your Facebook. Social media the HELL out of me.  I won't hate you for it.  Dozer's Den is a judge free zone.*

Party,

Dozer

*LOL jk, you'll find out how hard I judge people very soon

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Le MANifesto

I'll start this off by saying this blog has begun at, arguably, the worst time it possibly could have.

I say that because I am nearing the end of my college career as a Northwestern University football player, and have ended my time as a college student.  I have experienced a great deal of publicity within the last few months, mostly because I wear #1 as a defensive tackle and it looks ABSOLUTELY ridiculous.  The other few minutes of fame have been from general acts of badassery, which will inevitably be expounded upon in this blog.  With that being said, I'm sure I will quickly fall from my fame, and my stories won't be as crazy without being in college.  But, there is always a chance to revisit my experiences, and I for sure have some good stories.

Only recently have I seriously considered starting a blog.  I've always been into writing, but never in a formal medium.  The only things I've written have been super short stories or lyrics to unwritten music, and those were just writing for the sake of it.

Initially, the seed was planted by a class I took while a junior at NU.  New Media as Popular Culture was all about students exploring alternative types of media and how they affect culture today.  Some people started blogs and experienced some joys that came with that.  The biggest influence on me starting this would definitely have to be my good friend Claire.  She started a blog (<-- link) about her baking adventures.  She's an incredible baker and has been linked to by a good deal of blogs and sites, so she's obviously been treated well in the blogging community.  What sealed the deal for me was my girlfriend, Ali, revisiting her old blog (<-- link). She's had hers a while and incepted the idea of writing for one in my head with her talks of starting it up again.

SO.  Here I am with my first post and a lot of boring things that most of you couldn't care less about. Let's just call this the manifesto.  Wait.  Let's revisit that.  A MANifesto.  Because I am a man, and my background image is of whiskey.  Men drink whiskey, and so am I.

This blog will serve as a way for me to serve you all up some entertainment.  I type like I speak, with emphasis on WORDS when I WANT them to be EMPHASIZED.  I describe many things as being "lame", say "nah" way too much, and use "super" instead of "really", as in "That's super awesome," so this isn't going to be any sort of academic writing.  I'll keep it as classy as I can, but you can't censor swag.  Some posts will be rants, others stories, and others lyrics/stories I have written and want to share.  With all of this being said, let's get weird.

I'll make sure to put my social media contact on the side.  I'd love to hear from people, and I've been told I'm pretty entertaining.  It's a win/win for us.

Party, (That's my thing, you know like how some people say "cheers" or "best" or lame things like that. Nah, mine's just the word "party".  Deal with it.)

Dozer