Operation Mother Russia
Email from Dylan Meier, July 2009
I’ve made it to Mother Russia. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was the first American these people had ever met, the first time ever to hear an American voice in person. What started out as uneasy, tense, size-em-up first meeting… ended with an all smiles, hug/kiss on the cheek, toast em up “Americanski droog! Ruski droog!” (“American friend! Russian friend!”)… final farewell.
While I was there I traveled to Vladimir (about 300 km east of Moscow) on my first stop where I was able see/live/experience what a true Russian lower-class family lives like… a communist style block of an apartment, authentic Russian meals, the most welcoming/caring people… and it was awesome! There, me and Andrej stayed with his cousin’s family where I was able to meet the man known as Sergej. Sergej is the husband of Andrej’s cousin. Now, through all my travels, I’ve met some interesting and note-worthy people (Captain Keith from New Zealand), but this man probably tops them all. He was an awesome host, sort of had a little cousin Eddie from the Griswolds Vacation movies, a man whose heart is 3 times the size of his brain.
Well, first thing he does when he picks us up in Moscow airport is break through the arrival rope gate and put Andrej in a Russian headlock (some half hug/half chokehold). Next, we get in his old beater car (with an alarm, however, every car in Russia has one) and take off to Vladimir. It’s about a 4 hour ride, and he’s got a little Hunter S. Thompson driving style in him, just batcrazy… make it to the apartment complex in Vladimir and he makes a B-line to the grocery store, picks up 3 bottles of Russian beer, drives to a little driveway away from sight, and we toast each other in the car. I’m not sure what the rules are in Russia (if any), but I’m just following Andrej at this point, to be accepted in the Russian culture and his family was my objective from the get-go on Operation Mother Russia.
Well, me and Andrej are in the back seat just kinda calmly enjoying a fine $.50 Russian beer and I look up at Sergej and he’s just chugging away, with his eyes not leaving sight of the beer from the bottle in front of his eyes, just staring like a hawk as the beer is funneled into his engulfing mouth. You could’ve put this moment in a commercial for the beer company, it was very appealing as a customer. Next, he takes the empty beer bottle, still cool with frost on the surface and rubs his forehead down like a rag, and we take off. I’m just looking at Andrej smiling, he looks back and just shrugs his shoulders and says… “Welcome to Russia.”
Kiwi Gi-day to All
Email from Dylan Meier, January 2009
For those that don’t know, I’ve advantageously ventured off to the islands of New Zealand. I’ll be traveling the North and South islands for a total of 5 weeks before returning back to the United States for about a week, then making a move to Milan, Italy the first of March where I’ll be playing American Futball for the Milan Rhinos in NFL – Italy.
A short story about my adventure so far… I’m staying on my first Woof organic farm here just outside Auckland. It’s an older couple, Keith and Beth Langton and they have a huge veggie garden and fruit trees, very easy going, a little out-there but great great people, they’re both in their mid 60’s, part of the Woofing program. Well Ole Captain Keith, as I now call him, is an aspiring world sailor. He’s got a nice little sail-boat down at the harbor about 25 minutes from the home here in Whenuapai, and has been talking about taking me sailing the Tasman Sea since I’ve been here. Today was my last day here, so we take off. Me, Beth, and Captain Keith…
Captain so I thought…
We get down to the boat and it takes us literally 1 hour to un-tangle all the ropes, sails and whatnot. I remind you this is my first time ever on a sail-boat so I’m just following Captain Keith’s orders. Beth is just kinda wondering around the boat trying not to get in our way. She’s not a big sailor either; but Keith told her she could go swimming, big fan of swimming, once we anchored so she was all for it. I don’t think Keith checked the sea-winds beforehand, but was so imminent on taking me sailing he didn’t care. I should’ve known it was going to be a barn-burner of a sail when I don’t see a single sailboat out at sea on our way out of the harbor. Everything was big fish boats, like with big motors and horsepower and stuff. We make it out eventually, about about 15 minutes into the sea, the wind ris really starting to pick up, big gusts… The sea was angry that day my friends. I need to remind you non-sea lovers that the Tasman Sea really isn’t a joke when it comes to being on a 12-14 foot sail-boat, with an in-experienced (now I know) crew aboard. So now, we’re about 45 minutes out and I mean the winds are really blowing, by this time we got ropes flying everywhere, nothings attached, I’m trying to re-attach and secure a rope that holds the sails in tact running back and forth to the front of the boat, the sails are flying everywhere, ole Captain Keith is in the back attempting to steer the rudder, Beth (a little spacey, bless her heart) is just clueless on what’s going on, she’s just holding on.
Well, thank goodness I got big forearms because I’m holding on with one hand to the boat-rail and bringing in the sail and rope with the other. We are seriously about to tip over, I mean total spill into the sea, I’m starting to eye up where the life vests are. Keith’s half-grinning but looking like he was gonna lose his lunch, still giving orders (I remind you that it’s a thick British/Kiwi accent, very hard to understand, and looks like a miniature Jerry Garcia… picture Sean Connery meeting the legend J.G.) and the whole time Beth (bless her heart) is pleading, “Darling, what about my swim? Am I still going to be able to swim”… and we’re on the verge of going overboard!! She’s dead-serious about anchoring and swimming. I’m just trying to hold my laughter in, when Keith says… “You’ll be bloody swimming before you know there lovely” I lost it. I’m laughing hysterically, Keith’s grinning with peanuts stuck in his beard, Beth’s looking for her swim-suit, and our sails are literally hovering the water!! Finally, I managed to attach a loose rope that was preventing us from straightening out to Captain Keith pulled through from there. We eventually anchored closer to bay, Beth got her swim, I stopped laughing, and ole Keith was ready for a bloody drink.
Point to take, before sailing in the Tasman Sea in Northwest Auckland with Captain Keith and Beth Langton, check the sea-wind before setting sail and always remember sun-screen… I’m burnt. It’s all part of the experience Clark!
IT'S A GRATEFUL DAY!
In early March 2013, we began an email exchange and invited our community to submit a quote or saying that exemplified Dylan and the Get Busy Livin' spirit. This quote was to be placed on the back of the annual GBL 5K Run shirt. We received over 50 excellent quotes and finally selected the winner. In the email reading below we provide the “rest of the story” behind the quote… Enjoy.
Email from Trent Danzel, April 2, 2013
I was the quarterback’s equipment manager for the 2003-2005 seasons at K-State (I worked with tight ends in 2006). There are an infinite number of stories I could, and want to tell about Dylan, but I’ll keep it relatively short by only telling the ones that pertain.
It was one of our first practices during two-a-days in 2003, we were on the grass fields and I was doing my best to keep up, new surroundings and all. There were 4 QBs then, including Dylan (then #12). Dylan was the only one who took the time to introduce himself to me, extend a handshake and tell me to keep up the good work…. that showed humility and he made me feel accepted.
During the first spring practice of the brief, non Coach Snyder era, Coach really laid into me, in front of the team about the way I was calling our down-and-distance information for the offense. It was pretty embarrassing and totally uncalled for. When Coach was done, Dylan looked at me and said, “Don’t listen to him, you’re doing fine”…. that showed me integrity and made me feel vindicated.
During the spring semester of 2007, after he was done with football, Dylan went through a body cleanse. As I remember it, he consumed nothing but a water-cayenne-honey cocktail for 7 days; probably had some straight water too. Anyway, when asked for an update, he told us he’d never been more focused during class, but had never spent more time on the john. Nice… that showed me a desire to improve.
This last story is second hand and I can’t personally verify, but it fits and has become true in my mind. After a Saturday spring practice, Dylan asked a fellow linebacker if he wanted to get in Dylan’s jeep with him and drive west until they felt like stopping. Then, they’d sleep somewhere off the side of the road, and drive back on Sunday… that story, if true and even if it isn’t, Dylan would have said yes in a heartbeat if he was asked instead of asking is a great encapsulation and representation of Dylan, and his free and adventurous spirit and zeal for life.
But my suggested quote comes from something he and the assistant strength and condition coach would say to each other at the beginning of almost every practice. It brings together all of the characteristics mentioned above, love of life, desire to capture the moment, respect and appreciation of everything and everyone, and throws in another important ingredient that made Dylan who he was: music. It was well known that he was a Dead Head, and I hadn’t even heard of Widespread Panic until I googled the “WP” bumper sticker on his jeep… they would start most practices by saying to one another, “It’s a Grateful Day!”
Thank you Trent for such a great story and reflection. GBL
Parts of the original email edited by GBL