Sunday, December 28, 2008


So Christmas is finally over. Things went pretty well this year, all things considered. Now we find ourselves embroiled in something we're not as a unit at all accustomed to.

We're all home at the same time.

At our house we've always more or less divided time. We had the D some eight years ago, and our work schedules have fallen into a pattern. For the most part, I'm home in the mornings, everyone is home in the afternoon for a while, then Tracy has the night shift. With this have also come our little patterns. Like the way I generally do dishes when I'm the only one home during the day. I'm sure Tracy's schedule has been likewise affected.

Now we're all here, and it's odd. Balance is off. Holiday stress hasn't quite dissipated, we're stumbling over one another. And we still have the freaking dog, which quite frankly isn't helping anyone stay any saner.

I think what's happened is that I've taken most of the holiday stress, internalized it, put it into a time lock safe that couldn't be opened until, say, now.

On the up side, this year did have a few perks. We got to see our friends Marijke and Sean; it'd been literally years. So that was nice. Our camera died but Christmas lootage took care of that nicely. Tracy can start making movies again, which will be especially nice once the scourge of Winter has gasped it's last breath.

We're weathering winter speculating on this summer's camping plans. I may well be able to manage two entire weeks off within a month or so of each other, so we may get to go for several days at a stretch (I think our current camping record holds at three days). I can't wait. Getting out of town, to a place where no one can reach you by phone or email or IM, is fantastic.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day Before the Invasion

'Tis the day before the night before....time to prepare the troops for battle. I'm oddly not sure what the Christmas plan actually is, other than trying to cram all the relatives into one Blitzkrieg of celebration. We're both working Christmas Eve morning, so we'll get there when we're damn good and ready.

Most of Christmas Eve is usually spent with my in-laws. This is not a problem. Despite growing up with every sitcom planting a subconscious imperative to dislike future mothers-in-law, I actually like Tracy's family. They are, as they said of yore, the bee's knees. Most of my brood went out of state, so we'll be seeing them when they get back. Then there's dad to consider, and my grandparents...we'd better get up and eat our Wheaties tomorrow morning.

A lot of people may think it's a drag that I have to go into my office on Christmas Eve, but my office is like a party on an average week. Christmas is super fun at work, possibly because only one of the five people who will be there is a Christian. All that tedious "Reason for the Season" jazz is instead replaced with my boss running around with a little bag of prizes, handing them out to whomever knows the answers to the bizarre Christmas Trivia game we play every year.

There is one hitch, however. Someone, and I'm not sure who, has supplied all of us with Christmas ties. Musical Christmas ties. Mine has a snowman on it. Never mind that the last time I wore a tie to work was my first day, when I didn't realize that standard office dress code at Fraley Publishing was a T-Shirt, preferably with something cheeky on it, and jeans. I remember the day I showed up in a shirt and tie a coworker was wearing a black T-shirt that read "Satan" in script letters very like the Coca-Cola logo. I don't think I've worn a tie to work since, barring a day when there was a funeral I had to go to after work or something to that effect.

And yet there is this tie.

I considered just wearing a black tie in protest. I have about twenty ties that I seldom wear, and it sort of irks me that on a day I'm expected to wear one I'm also expected to fall in line with that time-honored Christmas imperative, "don we now our gay apparel".

Maybe I'm just feeling bitchy today. The house isn't up to the Christmas standard...which means I should be cleaning instead of sitting here supplying you, tiny audience, with a reason of your own not to be doing whatever it is you should be doing. But since I have you - Merry Christmas. Here's hoping 2009 is footloose and fancy-free.


Monday, December 22, 2008

War Zone

In a recent post on Edgehill House Tracy said something to the effect of my growing up in a war zone. Allow me to explain.

I grew up in the remnants of an ethnic neighborhood, one of probably many predominantly Italian neighborhoods in Clarksburg. I remember feeling like a minority, being predominantly German amongst all the proudly Italian kids and families. Like many working class neighborhoods in the 80s we had factory closings affecting many families. There wasn't a lot of middle ground - you were either rich or poor. Most of the people in my neighborhood fell into the "poor" category.

I was afraid the war zone comment (and I'm not blaming her; I'm sure I've said it myself more than a few times) would conjure up images of the modern war zone neighborhoods. We didn't have people shooting each other or stabbing someone over their shoes. What we had was more of a propaganda war, waged in grim determination by my grandmother.

The way I heard it as a kid, everyone was potentially out to get you. This was the eighties, the height of Satanic Cult hysteria. If someone offered you a ride, they were killers or kidnappers. If you went to the NVAC (North View Athletic Center, where we played our little league games) alone, you WOULD be found in the surrounding woods, dismembered in a black garbage bag. This was presented as fact.

Now, on the other hand, the following really happened, in no particular order.

Once, when I was fourteen or so, a man knocked on our door about midnight. I was the only one up, and had been warned never, ever to open the door for strangers. I turned on the porch light and looked out to see a guy covered in blood. Literally. He was bleeding from his mouth, nose and his freaking EYE.

I had to know. I opened the door. The guy was drunk (big surprise). He told me that so-and-so had jumped him and wanted to know if I would drive him to the dudes house. They guy who beat the hell out of him - that's who he wanted to go see. I told him I didn't have a license and offered to call him an ambulance. He said he'd be fine and staggered up the street. I watched him go, falling down a few times. I wound up calling 911, explaining that a bloody guy was wandering around, trying to get to the guy who had bloodied him. I thought he needed an ambulance, but the police were the ones who showed up and took him away.

The other example that springs to mind happened before bloody guy. I had stayed up all night drinking Mt. Dew, and decided about 9AM that I was hungry. I didn't know how to cook, maybe there were no groceries...for whatever reason, I decided to walk about four blocks to get a hot dog at the Dairy Mart.

As I walked home with my hot dogs an older kid was walking up the street; we met up right in front of my house.

"I'll fight you for a dollar."

What the hell. I didn't know what to say. I just looked at him, bag of hotdogs in hand.

"You want me to pay you a dollar to fight you?" I don't know why the hell I said it. I had been up all night, so I wasn't thinking straight.

"No, we'll fight, and the winner gets a dollar from the loser." I remember him being super calm when he said this. I didn't know this person, he wasn't mad at me or anything. I guess he just thought fighting was a good way to win a buck.

"No, thanks," I said.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah man, I'm sure." I remember being glad that I was right in front of my house. I thought I was about to get mugged.

"OK," he says, and just walks away. Just like that.

Now, neither of these examples led in any way to my being abducted or murdered. They did, however, drive home the lessons my grandmother constantly drilled into us: people are out to get you. I've been combating this mindset for years. I don't carry a gun around. I broke myself of the compulsion to carry a tactical knife, butterfly knife, switchblades...I even broke my brass knuckle habit.

I still think about it all the time. Tracy says that it's unhealthy to have this mindset, and she's probably right. But my friend up the street was beat up twice in two months over the summer, and once at Dewey Street I caught a drunk guy peering through my back can't be too careful.

So maybe I am a little paranoid. I try not to be, but I think some things are ingrained in your personality, put there by well meaning family as you grow up, little seeds that germinate into madness in your adult life. I try to look at people and not think, "if that guy were to grab my throat, I'd hit him with this beer bottle". I'm down to a flashlight and a kubotan as my only weapons. So I'd say I'm making some good progress.

But I still think my mother is right. Whenever this conversation comes up at family gatherings, she always has the same final insight.

"Sharon Tate didn't expect anyone to kill her, either."

Thanks mom!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The True Story of Tommy Holiday stealing my bike.

I wish I could remember how old I was exactly when this happened. I know I was in grade school. It was the year that Ryan and I got new bicycles. Shiny new silver bicycles with red BMX pads that were supposed to keep your teeth from getting knocked out through the magic of an 8mm layer of foam, bikes with handbrakes - yes, handbrakes! - they were awesome. Our prides and joys. Before that we rode around on the old bicycles that were left over from another age but had survived in our garage like living, working, fossils.

We were only allowed to ride these bikes in our driveway and the driveway next door where Mrs. Turnis lived. Mrs. Turnis had a huge driveway but didn't drive due to advanced age. When you added these two driveways to the adjacent yards we had a pretty good area to ride around in.

Then, one day, my bike was gone. Ryan's bike was still there; we could tell which was which because we wrote our names on the inside of the rad BMX pads. Someone had come in the night, got into our garage, and stole nothing but my bicycle. I was crushed.

My grandfather, noting that there was another bike to be stolen, hatched a plan. He spent the next two weeks camped out in the garage with a forty ounce bottle of beer, a thermos of coffee, and a loaded semiautomatic 16 ga shotgun. Alas, the thief was happy with only stealing my bike, because my grandfather didn't shoot anyone over the following weeks.

As this happened when I was young enough that I wasn't allowed to roam very far (being allowed to walk the streets at all hours didn't come until years later), I had no idea that my bike was a scant two blocks away. This kid that lived in our neighborhood, Tommy Holiday, had it for days and I had no idea.

Then, one day while I was playing basketball or G.I. Joe or whatever the hell I was doing in the driveway an older kid from up the street came into my driveway. His name was Frankie. I knew Frankie because I knew his little brother Mike. If I was, say nine, when this happened then Frankie must have been more like fourteen. Normally fourteen year olds look at nine year olds as little more than vassals or prey, but Frankie was all right. A good egg, if you will.

Frankie walks up to me and says, "I know where your bike is. We're going to go get it."

Now, I was an intensely shy kid. I had panic attacks if I had to go up to the counter at McDonalds and ask for ketchup. I wanted that bike back, but was torn. My grandfather, who practically spent all summer every summer drinking beer in the garage overheard this conversation. He encouraged me to go with Frankie and retrieve my stolen property. He starts talking to Frankie, finds out where it is, then gives me some grandfatherly advice.

"You get your ass up there and don't come back without that bike." Thanks, grandpa.

I remember being very nervous about this whole thing. Other than my cousins I had never been in a fight before in my young life (though my cousins and I fought viciously and continually, it never occurred to me that these were skills that could come in handy with non-relatives). But then again I had a teenager - a teenager!! - with me. So off we went.

As we walked the two blocks to the Holiday house we encountered another neighborhood scallywag named Brian. Brian was in my class and had been since kindergarten. He was in his front yard with an old BB gun, the kind that looks like a Red Ryder without the forestock. I remember specifically that he was putting yellow dandelions in the muzzle and shooting them in a little three or four foot arc through the air, because the BB gun was so worn out that it wouldn't propel actual metal BBs anymore.

"What are you guys doing?" he asks.

Frankie says, "Tommy Holiday stole his bike, and we're gonna go make him give it back."

"I'm going with you," Brian announces. He shoots the dandelion out of his BB gun, brings it with us, and we're off.

Now I'm flabbergasted. Brian and I weren't really friends, as neither of us at the time were allowed to walk the two blocks to the other's house. All of a sudden it went from Frankie making me go take my bike back from this kid (he didn't make me, but that's how it felt at the time) to being in a freaking gang going into enemy territory to rumble with those greasy Jets. I remember feeling like I was going to throw up, but also feeling that my chances of getting my bike back were looking pretty good.

We make it to the Holiday house and, son of a bitch; there's my bicycle. The pads are all gone, but it was definitely it. A young boy can spot his bike like a young mother can spot her toddler on a playground, definitively and instantly. Tommy was busy taking the rear wheel off with a pipe wrench and a pair of pliers. I remember him looking up as we walked into his yard.

"That's my bike," I said. At the time this was a wildly bold thing for me to do. You have to understand that when I was a kid I took this asthma medicine twice a day. It made me so nervous I jumped if a cat purred when I didn't expect it. Except when I was mad, when it made me so nervous I flew into what they call red murderous rage. Saying this was an unfamiliar ground; it was a reasonable reaction to the situation. Maybe that's why I remember this so well; it was surreal in many ways, from having other kids actually helping me out, to being what passed outwardly for calm - it was alien territory for me.

"I found this bike," Tommy says. "Finders keepers."

"Bullshit. You stole that bike out of his garage. You're lucky his grandfather wasn't home when you did it. Try to steal it again and you're gonna get shot." Frankie was pretty eloquent when he wanted to be.

"Look..." Tommy begins.

This next part I will never forget as long as I live. Brian takes his BB gun that will only shoot flowers about three feet through the air, cocks it, points it at Tommy Holiday and says, "Put that wheel back on."

Holy shit! All of a sudden it's like being one of the Magnificent Seven! Tommy Holiday evidently didn't know that this BB gun was physically incapable of damaging anything but a flower, because that wheel went on fast. I remember Frankie and Brian and I sitting around talking while Tommy sweated through putting the wheel back on, then off we went. In retrospect I'm surprised the police didn't come see us about menacing people with BB guns, but then I don't remember calling the police when my bike was stolen either. I was too young to worry about police, but I did have my bike back.

Tommy Holiday moved away not long after this happened. Brain and I went to school together until we were seniors, but probably never said more than a hundred words to each other the whole time. Frankie I talked to for years and years afterward; he wound up working at the store half a block from my grandmother's house. He died in a motorcycle accident years later, seeing how fast he could take a sport bike up a 50mile per hour stretch of Rt 50. Brian I never think about, though I see him on Facebook once in a while. Frankie I'll never forget as long as I live.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dig This

My friend Willy was here Saturday night. Tracy had gone to get pizzas, Chris had to run back to his house to get a magazine he'd forgotten, and the other gamers were still somewhere on the long road between Arthurdale and my kitchen table. It was wicked cold outside and Willy had walked to my house so we decided to do a warm-up shot of whiskey.

We're standing in my kitchen and Willy turns to me and says, "Lucas and I made a tattoo gun."

I had to admit to being a little jealous. They made it out of a motor from Radio Shack, some aluminum tubing they'd milled down, either a pen or mechanical pencil (I forget which) and, of course, a guitar string.

According to Willy the test run consisted of a few lines that Lucas drew on his leg, to test depth and whether the lines would blow out or not. The test was quite satisfactory. The test run was done with India Ink, but some tattoo ink (which is an acrylic suspension, just so you know) is being ordered via the internet. Then the fiesta begins.

I have to admit that there is some draw to this. Calm down; I'm not going to do it - but I have to admit to wanting to a tiny bit. It appeals to me in the same way that a $20 music player appeals to me more than an iPod, or the way my cheapo cell phone appeals to me more than a touch screen Blackberry. Somewhere along the way, we've all come to believe that more expensive not only means better, but also means that we must have it. I know a lot of people (casually, that is) that won't have anything if they can't have the best. People who will spend more on gas than they make on a given day so they can have the necessary luxury of driving an Escalade.

It's their money. But it still makes me mad. The economy is going down the toilet, and all the pundits will have us believe that it's because people spent more on houses than they could possibly afford. Whether or not that's strictly true (it doesn't explain why the car companies are going broke, though their insistence on making huge gas guzzlers instead of small efficient cars does), it is a prevailing attitude.

I digress. The home made tattoo is more than just a cheap alternative. It's a lot like giving the finger. Tattoos used to be the finger to society at large, but every frat boy and sorority girl sports them now, so a lot of the social deviancy is gone. But it is still deviant to get said tattoo in your friends kitchen. It's the same part of me that looks forward in the future after the D is settled and happy to selling everything, buying an Airstream and just becoming a wandering gypsy.

Again, don't worry. I'm not going to do it.

Stupid blood borne pathogens.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Internet Survey Says!?

I was just reading a survey, one of the deals that goes around on MySpace. You know what I'm talking about. The women's magazine-type surveys that people pass around on the MySpace bulletin board.

I gotta come clean - I love those things.

It's not so much the "getting to know your friends" vibe that attracts me to them. I know my friends. My friends are a bunch of smartasses. They're not alone. I too am a smartass. AND given that I like to lie, those things are just too good to pass up.

The best question on this survey (and the best question of any survey I've seen in quite a while) was, "Have you ever been Hornswaggled?" This, then, is the complete fabrication of the last time someone attempted to hornswaggle me.

I was in Utah, where I didn't want to be in the first place. Utah is not the state for me. They have to make special, lower alcohol content beer to sell in Utah. If you want anything worth drinking you have to drive clear to freaking Wyoming. Yet there I was nonetheless.

The reason I was lingering in Utah is because my car was missing, presumably stolen. I told the police it was stolen, but to be honest I just parked it somewhere that I thought no one would come across it for a very long time, walked through the seediest part of Salt Lake City (it was seedy because there was a news stand there that sold Cosmopolitan), then took a cab to the police station. They ask a hella lot of questions in a Utah police station, a disconcerting number of which concern whether or not you've accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior and, if not, why, but I persevered. Eventually they bought my story; I told them I was going to California to become an actor. If you're ever in a Utah police station, tell them exactly that. That you are going to California to become an actor. When you tell them that, they can't wait to get rid of you.

So anyway after I reported my car stolen I had to wait around a few days. It actually turned out to be about a month, because I wanted to wait out the insurance company for a check. I stayed in the seediest hotel I could find, which turned out to be a Howard Johnson.

Here's where the attempted Hornswaggle came in.

I decided one night, after finishing the last of the booze I'd smuggled into the state, to go out on the town. The HoJo was a good ways from anything that might be even a little fun, and I was running short on cash, so I decided to hitchhike. I don't advocate hitchhiking, but I was in Utah and wasn't an unmarried 16 year old girl, so I felt pretty safe.

Anyway, after a while this dude picked me up. I say "dude" instead of "guy" because of his jacket. His bedazzled denim jacket. The one jackass in the state with a bedazzled Confederate flag on the back of a Wrangler denim jacket - that's who stops to pick me up. Son of a bitch.

When you're hitchhiking you have to talk to whoever picks you up. If you don't they freak out, think you're a serial killer, and jump out of the car. So I start talking to this guy about my "stolen" car, waiting for the insurance check, and just wanting to get out on the town after being cooped up for a month.

"Well hell," he says. "I can sell ya a truck!"

Oh boy. The conventions of hitchhiking mandate that I have to hear him out. I bite.

"Oh yeah? What kind?" I thought this was a good, fairly noncommittal question.

"A Henweigh!" he replies.

Now, I didn't fall off the back of a Utah bible truck the day before this happened. I knew what this dude was up to. He wanted me to ask what a Henweigh was so he could yell, "About six pounds!" Nevermind that he should have said he would sell me a truck that had a Henweigh. (That's how the joke works. The mark is supposed to say, "What's a Henweigh?")

I decided right then, and I remember these words running through my head verbatim, "uh uh, baby". I countered.

"First thing's first-does it have a Five'cross?" I asked this with a completely straight face, a trick I learned from Bob Newhart.

"A five'cross?" He's still smiling, just wanting to get through this "five'cross" jazz I threw at him so he could deliver his punchline.

"That's right, baby. Five'cross yo lip!" POW. Old bedazzled jacket never saw it coming.

I didn't wait to see what he'd do. I jumped out of the truck, which was whizzing down the highway at a pretty good clip. I figured he'd be less apt to give me any static if he thought I was some sort of maniac. He kept right on driving.

And THAT, people, is what happens when someone tries to hornswaggle me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Adult Content

I myself made my blog an adult content blog. I did it just the other day because I noticed that every now and again, against my better judgement, I drop the old F bomb. In the interest of both protecting innocent young minds and not hiding my light under a bushel, I just came clean and admitted to the mark of the untalented - I work blue.

Which brings me to something I've been thinking about for a while. I used to keep a very sporadic blog on MySpace, before I moved it here full time. MySpace used to be a lot more active than it is now. A lot of my friends have switched over to Facebook instead, but I still check the MySpace a lot. I've noticed it's missing something.

I used to have friend requests on MySpace every time I logged on. I put them into two rough categories: Boob Girls and Butt Girls. The Boob Girls are the ones who would have a picture of some girl in a bikini or some such, the Butt Girls were mainly pictures of butts. Sometimes butts in jeans, sometimes butts in underwear. Butts. (That last time I just wanted to say it again).

Both the Boob and Butt Girls were just robotic advertisements for porn sites. Most of the time if you just ignored them the profiles associated with the requests would disappear, as someone would flag them as spam. But I can't help wondering whether MySpace has gotten better at blocking spammers or if, for some reason, the Boob and Butt Girls have just collectively lost interest in me. I checked my MySpace before I logged onto this - no Boob or Butt Girls.

Alas, all I got was a crappy band inviting me to be friends. As pop music offends me far more than boobs or butts, I had to click no. So good bye Boob Girls, so long Butt Girls. I hardly knew ye.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Passive V. Overt

I just spent way too much time reading, a nice little website where people can post the notes that we all encounter in our daily lives. Most of them are either from room mate situations or workplaces.

I don't get notes here at home, at least not notes that annoy me. "Call me if you get home before I do and we'll go out to lunch" are the kind I get, so they don't qualify. I do get notes at work, but they don't count either, as they are usually either questions that I have answers to or replies to questions I had about something. So as I read the site I was trying to think back to past jobs where I may have gotten or left P-A notes.

Turns out I'm not the passive-aggressive type. I'm overtly aggressive. I used to work at a fast food place that specifically serves fried fish. We'll call it the Diarrhea Steamboat to avoid any annoying mention of corporations and such. Anyway, I fried stuff at work. The dude who worked the shift before me fried stuff as well, but he was a disgusting pig. He didn't mop the floor at all during his shift, which used to piss me off. Thinking back on it, I could have left little annoying notes like "It's your job to mop the floors too" or "Don't be too lazy to clean the damn floors." I didn't do that, though.

Instead I did this. I went up and said, "John, mop the fucking floor before you leave tomorrow."

John didn't like this, and muttered something about not being able to get to it when there was a rush. I countered with something to the effect of, "Dude, if you can't handle this job you're a liability to the human race and should go jump in front of a bus right now."

Bear in mind that I'm not some hulking giant. I'm all of 5'8" tall. John was much, much bigger than I am. He was bound to notice this. I expected it. I kind of wanted him to try to exploit this size differential, in fact.

John looked at me and said, "If you don't like mopping the floor, maybe you should quit."

I said, "If you don't mop this floor by the time I come in tomorrow, I'm going to drag you out into the parking lot by your throat." Then I left.

I came in the next day and lo, behold, the floor was mopped. Nice. John had left before I got there, I got my way; score one for being overtly aggressive.

Then, later that night, I found out that my manager had mopped it.

"What the hell, Sherry?" I was so pissed off. It wasn't just that the floor wasn't mopped every time, it was specifically that the jackass who worked there before me was too lazy to do it. She told me she didn't want me to drag John around by the neck, so she mopped it for him.

A few days later the general manager called a mandatory meeting. When we were all there she starting saying something about how someone, she didn't know who, was starting trouble about the floors and general mess.

I couldn't take it. I said, "Yes, you do."

"Pardon?" She was looking at me with eyes wide open, almost popping out.

"You know exactly who's pissed. I'm pissed. And you know why. It's because John is either too lazy, too stupid -or both- to handle a job frying things in a vat of hot fat."

No one said a word for about three minutes. I sat and waited them out.

John finally spoke up. "Sometimes it's too busy..."

"Bullshit." When I get mad I like to cut people off. "You're an asshole. Mop the floor or I swear to god I'm going to take that mop handle and beat you in the head with it."

I can not, to this day, believe they didn't fire me right there. My manager didn't even write me up or whatever it is they did in the way of discipline. The most that happened was that I never again was named employee of the month. I worked there for months after this happened. I wound up quitting after a year because they gave me a whole dime for a raise and I was tired of smelling like hot grease all the time.

The moral of this story is that, while you can indeed annoy someone with a prissy little sanctimonious note you're much better off (in my experience anyway) addressing the problem directly. So here are some tips on how to be overtly aggressive.

1. Bitch loudly, bitch often, but bitch to the right people. Specifically the people who are driving you to do all this bitching in the first place.

2. Don't be afraid of people who are way bigger than you are. Most people are so shocked at being yelled at that they instinctively cringe even if they are twice your size. Use common sense and don't go doing this to obvious psychopaths or ninjas, but bear in mind that normal people are not used to being confronted.

3. Bear in mind that the above events happened almost a decade ago, before we lived in a police state.

4. Don't be overtly aggressive in traffic. This is only for when the only person you endanger is yourself, not everyone on the road.

Enjoy, and remember that with Christmas also must come Krampus. While Santa rewards the good little boys and girls Krampus beats the bad ones with a wooden whip and shoves them in his wicker backpack, presumably to be devoured later.

I love Krampus.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Plan B(ooze)

Still no Christmas decorating done. So far my main accomplishment today has been unloading the dishwasher and doing some laundry. And now the dubious accomplishment of another blog entry.

I stopped by the bakery today and got some bad news. My father-in-law is in the hospital. This makes me sad, not just for him but for everyone involved. This also makes the cultivation of a jovial attitude imperative, lest we have a repeat of the Christmas that saw us too lazy and malcontent to decorate the tree.

If all else fails this holiday season, there is still Plan B. While I think there is some pregnancy prevention drug by this same moniker, I'm talking the old fashioned Plan B. The Plan B that our wonderful West Virginian Scotch-Irish ancestors used to while away the long dreary Appalachian winter.


This is not a politically correct endorsement, nor is it healthy or even particularly responsible. I do, however, want to come out right now in favor of tying one on this holiday season. As soon as this weekend, in fact. Maybe even sooner. I need a good, stiff drink.

Back in the Good Old Days, a good stiff drink was taken for granted. Tough day at work? Have a drink. Dinner not ready yet? Have a drink. Depressed as all hell? Screw it; have two.

Most of my friends are confirmed beer drinkers. There are one or two wine drinkers (talkin' to you, Ohio). Then there is the third party; my people, the boozers. The dudes who will sit around drinking glasses of whiskey with me, the chicks who say, "You, come with me. We're doing shots." I generally don't even ask what we're doing shots of.

It has come to my attention recently that, for $63 a bottle, you can buy absinthe at my local grocery store. Absinthe with wormwood in it. My naysayer friend Steve says it lacks a vital ingredient called "Thujone" (or something to that effect). I say it's 150 proof and lacking one ingredient is a shortfall we're not all that likely to notice.

Still, it's $63 a bottle. For some perspective, Black Label is like thirty four cents a can.

Anyway, it's been a while since the other boozers and I have had the leisure and inclination to go out and sin like we mean it. I've been feeling cooped up for a week or three now. It's time to round up the drunks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Winter Fun

In the interest of not being a whiny bitch all the time, here are some fun things to do in the winter. It's best to do these things where there are a lot of people. Since it's the shopping season and you're likely to be spending some time in a mall, let me help you while that time a way in a counterproductive, smart-assy manner.

1. This is perhaps the most important thing to remember when you go into a mall this Christmas season-park next to whatever restaurant in your mall that has a bar. Go in, walk up to the bar and order a double shot of whatever you like. Try to down it in the time it takes the bartender to get your change. When he or she comes back say, "Thanks, that's just like being back home." This will hopefully give you a chance to do the second best thing at a mall.

2. Lie to strangers for no reason. Going back to point one-if you're lucky, that bartender I was talking about will ask you where "back home" is. This is your big chance. Here's how I like to think this conversation will go for me.

Bartender: "Oh? Where's home"
Me: "Latvia."
Bartender: "Really? Latvia?"
Me: "Yeah, verily. I am from Latvia. No shit."
Skeptical Bartender: "You speak awfully good English for someone from Latvia."
Me: "Yeah, that's a pretty common misconception. Our education system is more advanced than even our dairy industry. We all speak perfect English there."
SB: "I don't believe you."
Me: "It's cool, baby. Smell you later."

Then you just leave. It's easy. They're at work, so they can't follow you.

3. Fun thing number three is righteous indignation. This is best at the "X Items or Less" checkout express lane. For example:

Me: "It says eight items."
Asshole Who Can't Count: flat stare at me.
Me: "You clearly have more than eight items."
AWCC: "Mind your own business."
Me: "Up yours, baby. It IS my business. "
AWCC: "Well, I never!"
Me: "Well, now you have!'

Man, that's the best. People almost never say, "well, I never!" Bound to happen someday though. I'm ready for it.

4. Fun thing number four is tearing ass through a crowded mall. When there are too many people in a mall, traffic grinds to the pace of the slowest slackard. When I walk through a mall I like to pretend someone is chasing me while I'm trying to be all cool about it and walk as fast as I can without actually running. This is extra bonus fun if, like me, you are covered in tattoos. Security guards love tattooed people hightailing it out of their little domains. Try to look guilty if you can.

5. Messin' with security is a fun game unto itself. There are lots of ways to do this, but I find the best is to just keep an eye on them. They're used to following people around and spying, but almost no one thinks to return the favor. Follow them around as long as you can. Taking notes while you do it will, if you're super lucky, get some attention. It's never happened, but I dream of one day having a security guard demand to see what I've been writing about him. Man, that would be sweet.

I have to run. I hope this helps someone besides me cheer up this winter. If none of this works I'll spend next post elaborating on Plan B(ooze).

Feliz Navidad!


Winter can suck it. Every year about this time I start wincing every time the furnace kicks on, because to me it's the sound of money being tossed into a fire. I'm wearing three shirts, a hat, gloves and a scarf right now. I'm freezing, but I can't bring myself to crank up the heat any higher than it is now. Add in getting dark at five o'clock and everyone in the house but me (knock on wood) either actively being sick or getting over a cold and things start feeling pretty grim.

Intellectually I know that if I actually got up and accomplished something I might feel a little better, but it's taking all the energy I can muster to sit here and type this instead of just going back to sleep. This constant compulsion to hibernate is one of the main indicators I have that I'm getting depressed, that and weight loss. All other signs fly under the radar of my normal level of irritation, but this sleep thing just isn't me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Monday, so good to me

Well, it's not quite ten AM and I've already had four cups of coffee and breakfast. Mondays in the summer are a lot keener than Mondays in the winter. For one thing the prospect of taking the recycling to the recycling center is a lot more attractive when its 75 degrees than it is when its 30 degrees and raining. Also in the summer monetary thoughts are more along the lines of "I think we can swing going camping again this weekend" as opposed to "what the hell are we going to do about Christmas".

I do sort of have a tentative plan for the day. If we can get the recycling done, then maybe hit the grocery store and still have time I hope to start getting ready for Christmas. When your house is in a state of untidiness its hard to get into the Christmas spirit. When the London Philharmonic is belting out the holiday tunes and the Christmas village is in the planning stages it becomes a lot easier to feel all cheery.

Part of the problem today is that I feel all like a pile of crap. Mentally, not physically, which is a nice change of pace in the not being sick department. It's hard not to get bummed out this time of year. There is a lot of family strife going on at my grandmother's house this year, and I'm trying not to let it affect me overly much, but it is tough going. It's way too early in the season to feel utterly defeated, so it's going to take some serious staving off. It may be time to start speaking loudly and carry a bigger stick. Then maybe I can fight off the main symptom I suffer when I start getting depressed, which is an almost unstoppable desire to just sleep all the time. Normally I'm a night owl who has very little trouble getting up and moving in the morning, provided there is coffee and a compelling reason. Delia kicking me in the head demanding I get up and make her some breakfast is usually all the urging I need.

Today, I'm sorry to say, my ass is a dragon. I could go back to bed right now and not wake up until it is time for me to go to work. Not only would this be easy, it's very appealing right now. I must resist, even if resistance is well neigh futile.