Thursday, December 30, 2010

To K*******, Wherever You Are

I still remember that night like it was yesterday. Most of my memories from back then are gone now, or full of holes, at best, but damned if the scratches from that hedge we crawled through don’t still hurt to where I look down sometimes expecting to see blood. I remember seeing the cop lights flashing from where we hid, unable to keep a nervous giggle down – I’d never done anything like that before, and I swear, I still don’t think I’ve been so afraid and so excited at the same time. You shot me a glance that said “you better shut that thing,” but your eyes were kind of sparkling and you had a little grin that I’ll never forget.

I could never figure out why you asked me if I wanted to do something in the first place. You were about the scariest girl at school – maybe “scary” isn’t the right word, I guess, but I didn’t talk to too many girls anyway, much less someone like you, who was always cutting class when you weren’t suspended and smoking in between classes and that kind of thing. It didn’t help that you had some kind of strange beauty about you, too – you just always seemed a little different than everyone else. I don’t suppose that even half the stories they told about you were true, but I’d heard them anyway, so yeah, I was more than a little scared when you sat down.

You asked me what I was doing, and I told you about some project I was working on for something, and you said you sometimes liked to hang out in the library when you didn’t want to go to class, and that Ms. Jensen never said anything to anybody about it. I don’t know how we got around to it, but I remember you asked if I wanted to go do something later, and for some reason, I said yes. Maybe I was scared not to. I don’t know.

I never told anyone about what we did that night, and I guess you didn’t either. Nobody ever asked me about it, at least, and nobody ever asked me about you, even after what happened a few weeks later. There were all kinds of stories about why a girl would go and do that … shoot her father and then herself … and the police never said anything about what really happened, so people just kept talking and making shit up for a while until they got tired of it. I never did pay much attention to what they were saying. And I didn’t go to your funeral, but I did go talk to your mom a few months later. I told her that I hadn’t known you very well, but that you had been very nice to me once, and that I wished I could have known you better. She just stared for a moment with her hollow eyes, gave me a sad little smile, and went back inside.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Spirit Of Christmas Is In The Air

Ah, House Sweet House.

The Live Acorn and I made it back alive from the modern-day Sodom of Salt Lake City, Utah relatively unscathed. We spent a few days there visiting my brother and his family, which is always a good time. Three nephews, five (or so) cats, three big dogs … how could that not be fun?

The hell hound, naturally, caused a bit of trouble … we bar-b-cued steaks on Thursday, and my brother naively (bless his heart) thought that putting the uneaten cuts on top of the microwave pushed way back in the corner of the kitchen counter would be sufficient to deter her and her ravenous meatlust. Needless to say, she made short work of it, which, unbeknownst to us at the time, was the first in a series of dietary events that made the weekend slightly less than ideal.

Cindy, my sister-in-law, is of the opinion that dogs should get to eat anything they want, anytime they want, and, in fact, keeps hot dogs on hand at all times just for treats, and dispenses them in whole form several times a day. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with this – I only point it out because sudden changes in a dog’s diet can have gastrointestinal effects that manifest some time later as a brutal assault on the olfactory system of anyone within a mile or two.

Indy continued eating anything she could get a hold of all day Friday, and that afternoon, her occasional … ummm … releases, let’s say … started to become stronger and more frequent. That night, sometime around 3:00 am, she actually woke me up with a protracted blast, then got up and left. I now feel a certain kinship with the doughboys of WWI, who endured the mustard gas-filled trenches in the fields of Europe.

Saturday, of course, was Christmas, and the house was filled with many friends and Cindy’s family, all invited over for the traditional holiday brunch. It would have been a monumental letdown, comedically speaking, if Indy’s odor issues had not peaked during the meal, and fate did not disappoint. Furthermore, her body chose that time to collapse from exhaustion, so that she wouldn’t get up when I called her, and I had to literally drag her by the collar from the kitchen, where the guests were gasping for breath and frantically wiping the tears from their eyes.

It was not my proudest moment.

Eventually, people filtered out, and in the early evening, we drove over to another relative’s house for a quick visit. The five pounds of ham that was left on the table would have been lovely for sandwiches and snacks for days on end … as it turned out, the stripped-bare hambone that remained upon our return wasn’t really good for much of anything. It was at this point that The Live Acorn burst into tears, crying “Dad, I really really REALLY don’t want to drive home with Indy tomorrow!”

I’ve been tracking the shipment on UPS’ website, and she’s due to arrive today.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Only A Matter Of Time Before She Finds The Liquor

I know I've been posting a bit too much recently about my stupid dog, but frankly, her life seems way more interesting than mine as of late. And today, I came home to one of her sliest maneuvers yet. This was truly impressive on a whole new level.

I've been leaving the entire house to her these days (rather than closing her in the laundry room, with access to the backyard), and she's been pretty dang good. I do my part by making sure she can't get at the garbage or any (other) food, and she usually leaves me some beer. We're all cool.

Last night, though, I popped up some popcorn to make some popcorn balls (this sentence just ... pops! doesn't it?), and ran out of time, but I made sure it was in the middle of the dining room table so that she couldn't get to it when I left for work this morning. This is what I came home to:

Above: Those apes and their rudimentary tools they show on The Discovery Channel are pretty much a joke compared to this.

I know I exaggerate from time to time here, but not now. The goddamned dog moved that end-table at least two feet in order to be able to climb up on it to get to the popcorn. I couldn't even really get mad, it was such a work of genius.

Clever girl, she is.

NOTE: I did clean my dining room the other day, and it was immaculate for at least 10 minutes before I moved stuff from the living room in to make room for the Channumaskwanstice tree. The dolly usually stays in the garage.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Slacker Once Shamed, My Honor Reclaimed

A couple of weeks ago, I posted something about International Post Your Poem In A Shop Month (IPYPIASM), which, if you haven't heard, involves writing a poem and clandestinely leaving it in a shop (hence that part of the title) where it will be enjoyed by all and will add to the merry mood of the holidays. My effort was a bit lame at best, as I neither wrote the poem that I displayed, nor did I make any effort to leave the pub to display it. Still, it was something, and actually fit quite naturally with my half-assed approach to things in general.

Well, it turns out we're being graded! "We" as in THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! In fact, the entire North American continent has provided just two (2) instances of IPYPIASM celebration, while Scotland and Ireland have been slowing down the googletubez altogether with their constant uploading of versal verification.

So to you, 'Murka, my apologies for shirking my patriotic duty. And to the pioneers and tireless poets of this movement across the pond, I apologize as well for not representing my country in the manner that I should have. It is truly appalling that while the U.S. consumes over 25% of the world's oil, it produces less than 3% of the poems posted during IPYPIASM. This is unacceptable.

In my first step toward what I hope is redemption, I wandered down to the 2x4" section of the local Home Depot:

Above: Stopping By Wood On A Snowy Lunch Break (it was a bit Frosty outside today)

Be honest with yourself in life
And think ‘bout what you told your wife:
“I’m just going bowling with my buds …”
But you’re here alone, and eyeing studs.

Yeah, it's pretty bad, but, you know, baby steps toward Poet Laureate.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In Which I Prattle On Endlessly And Without Direction

It’s often said that the two topics that should not be spoken of at bars are politics and religion (it goes without saying, of course, that if you’re drunk at church just prior to an election, then by all means, go to town). I’m not sure why that is … I’m perfectly capable of having a calm and rational discussion of the issues, as long the backward-ass, sky-fairy-fearin’, no-compassion-havin’, difference-hatin’, Beck-watchin’, war-lovin’, strong-daddy-needin’ dipshit on the other side of the table is as well. I mean, I’m an open and reasonable person when it comes to those sorts of things.

Personally, I think that the taboo is a little overblown, because no matter how vociferously we argue on about "grace of god vs. deeds on earth," "virgin birth vs. best liar EVAH," "resurrection vs. heaven/hell vs. dirt in the ground," or what have you, in almost every case we’re going to buy each other a beer at the end of the night and thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that we’re not Scientologists.

There certainly are topics that aren’t discussed in bars – not really because they shouldn’t be, but because there’s just no point to it. There are some divides that just cannot be spanned, some chasms simply too deep to be bridged. For example, there will never be even the most begrudging agreement between a real human being and a Yankee fan; nor can there be even the slightest concession between the natural enemies comprising devotees of Red Vines and Twizzlers.


Ok, never mind … you know what? This was supposed to be a few words on the new Grape Vines licorice (grape-flavored Red Vines! Woo!). Yet I’m four paragraphs in, and I haven’t even set the stage for that topic. I’m certainly no fan of brevity for brevity’s sake, being a student of the “why use 10 words when you can use 100?” school of writing, but sweet jeebus, this is ridiculous.

Grape Vines: pretty good, though the initial flavor burst could be a tad stronger. They have a larger hollow cross-section than Red Vines, which detractors will suggest is intended to reduce the actual candoric mass while creating the perception of the opposite. Hogwash. The net weight is the same, and the larger bore allows a freer flow of bourbon when used as a straw. Twizzler shareholders should be extremely nervous at this development.

Why couldn’t I just say that in the first place? I swear, the second thing I do upon winning the lottery is hire an editor.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Move To Table The Motion

This is it. This is the weekend. This is when I start to begin to initiate the onset of a new tomorrow. I speak write, of course, about reclaiming my dining room table.

Ah, the dining room table … perhaps the most important piece of furniture, with regard to the construct of Family, and thereby Society, that exists. The place where, as sunlight fades, all come together to share their experiences of the day, to laugh as one over silly happenings, to empathize and give support in hard times, to show love and appreciation for what and who one has, where it need not be spoken aloud.

I’ve not seen the surface of my dining room table in months. There are stacks of papers, spindles of CDs, a disassembled ceiling fan still waiting to retake its place in the remodeled kitchen, a substantial portion of my collection of hand tools, an impressive (if unintentionally assembled) beer can collection, a pink cowboy hat (wtf?), several stuffed animals that the dog has liberated from The Live Acorn’s room, a number of pots and pans (also originally put there during kitchen construction and subsequently forgotten), and a banjo.

That’s just the top layer.

But I’m done. I’ve had it. In fact, I started putting a few things away last night, and almost immediately found my favorite 5 mm allen wrench, which I thought was lost forever. Already the rewards are overwhelming! I’m a bit giddy at the realization that, by Sunday, I will be supping in the evening, not at the coffee table staring at the TV, nor leaning against the kitchen counter with a spoon and a can of Spaghettios, but at the goddamned dining room table, listening to the hell-hound recount her day’s adventures, laughing uproariously as she regales me with tales of mischief, sitting together again, after far too long, as a family should.

[Update:] I’m not sure if The Live Acorn still reads this, but if she does, I’m sure she’s thinking “Well, crap. No more Facebooking during dinner, I guess. At least for a week, until the table's covered up again.” She knows me all too well.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mawwiage ... Mawwiage Is What Bwings Us Togethew Today ...

I believe I’ve almost recovered from the weekend’s activities, and though there is some residual achiness, I don’t think there will be any permanent scars.

Some friends of mine got married Saturday evening, so of course, the groom was out Friday night pre-gaming the ceremony. It was not a bachelor party per se; while there were adult beverages involved, the festivities took place in a couple of bars populated by numerous members of the various sexes. There were no strippers involved, nor any other practitioners of the erotic arts, nor even, for that matter, a single woman who glanced at me twice without having that “oh god I wonder what happened to him?” look in her eyes. Damnit.

So pretty much a regular Friday, but with a few more shots.

I knew that Saturday had the potential to get a bit messy (I made sure I wrote my sermon on Thursday – I’m fortunate in that my congregation is very forgiving when it comes to me showing up Sunday mornings either hungover or still drunk), and sure enough, somehow I found myself once again forgetting to eat, and at the pub with friends around 2:00, continuing our Sisyphean attempts at emptying the place of beer (sweet suds-a-streaming, it's almost like they keep making more!).

Without going into too many details, the night involved a lovely wedding, getting to hang out with dolled-up friends, playing pool with strangers (one of whom called the next day informing me that they had the hat that I lost – I still don’t know how they knew my number), almost getting into a fight with another stranger (this is why I don’t go south of State Street, people …), a couple of ill-advised text messages, a three-mile slog home in tennis shoes through the slush (which took such physical effort that I am still a bit sore four days later), and a Sunday morning pocket full of crumpled-up receipts that I'm still afraid to look at.

It reminded me a great deal of my own wedding.

So a toast and well wishes to the newlyweds, and to whatever couple decides to go next … please have the common decency to wait at least six months.

Monday, December 6, 2010

MmmmMMMmmm Snow Cones ....

My goofball dog is no longer wearing the cone of shame, but I was able to get some video of her in it:

Above: She's ... she's just not right.

How 'bout them mad editing skillz, huh?

Friday, December 3, 2010

For Better Or For Verse

You’re probably already aware of this, astute and culturally attuned readers that you are, but for those still living in prose-bound caves, December is International Put Your Poem In A Shop Month (IPYPIASM – go here for the official announcement). The basic idea is to take a short poem (preferably of your own creation) and post it in a shop in such a location that it will be read by the clientele and passersby, whose spirits will thereby be lifted, causing them to perhaps wear a subtle smile for a time, which will be seen by strangers, who will, as that sort of thing can be somewhat infectious, themselves be uplifted a bit, and so on and so forth, and then the wars end.

So try to avoid anything Plath-esque, if you will.

Since I’m not much of a poet, I opted to share a goofy little piece by Dr. Seuss. As I was intent on going full-bore on this project, I printed off several thousand copies, bought 3 boxes of thumbtacks and 4 rolls of cellophane tape, and headed downtown.

Many of my grand plans have “stop and get a beer at the pub” as a first step, and this was no exception. Unfortunately, it was also no exception in that it was derailed there as well. So no, it wasn’t my own poem, and no, it wasn’t a shop, but yes, it’s in a location that virtually guarantees its reading:

Above: Who doesn’t like a little Dr. Seuss during business hours?

For those lacking the visual acuity to make out the words:

Above: That quacks me up.

So don’t be shy … scribble down a verse and hit the streets, people. These goddamned wars ain’t gonna end themselves, you know.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Speaking of procrastination (which I was a couple of posts back), I got a replacement credit card in the mail a month and a half few days ago. My current card had an expiration date of 11/2010, so it occurred to me at around 7:00 pm on November 30 that I should probably bite the bullet and go through the activation process on the new one (those 2 minute phone calls can be exhausting!).

The call itself was not unpleasant; the person seemed very nice, and she walked me through the steps of peeling the label off the front, signing the back, and cutting up the old card. Even the way she said “for the last time, I am MARRIED!” had a certain gentle kindness to it.

We said our adieus*, I walked out to the desk where the scissors are kept, and promptly cut up the new card.

Luckily, I didn’t speak to the same woman when I called back, because such a display of idiocy isn’t all that productive in the infancy of a relationship such as ours. The new person was fairly successful at stifling her giggles, however, and she informed me that a new card should arrive in 3-5 business days.

Consider what that means: I am without credit during the holiday season in the United States of America.

Reckless spending with borrowed money is what we do! It’s what defines us as a people! What if there’s a sale on 60” HD televisions while I’m in my current credit crisis? I’ve never felt so vulnerable; so exposed … I felt naked (and not just because I was). I’ve already paid a price, in fact – I was squaring up at the pub last night around 10:15 pm, and handed N*88 my old card, knowing that I had an hour and 45 minutes before the river ran dry.

Did you know that the credit card companies base their business activities on Eastern Standard Time? Me neither.

To his credit, N*88 was very subtle about handing the card back and informing me that it had been rejected. A bar being fairly close quarters, however, it was inevitable that he would be overheard. The whispers and stares spread like a wave across the room, and while I thought I could sense some sort of sad sympathy from those I would call friends, the overwhelming reaction was pure, hateful scorn.

“Creditless cretin!” they screamed. “Debt-non-enlarging douchebag!” they spat. “Asshole!” (That last one may have been unrelated, though admittedly, not undeserved.)

And so homeward I rode, ashamed and alone, ostracized, a man without a tavern. For without credit, just what is a man? Can he even call himself that? God, these next 3-5 business days are going to be the longest of my life. I only hope that I can soon again gain acceptance in society.

* Gesundheit!