Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not on a cruise... and prayers needed for Craig

It would be completely pimpy of me to get out of this month with only three journal entries. I'm ashamed of what I have become. But, like my quote from Guster, I kind of feel frozen, tied up, cast in lead... and going forward each day I apply the eyes forward, move slow, forge ahead part. I blame winter. That and being a total humongous fat ass.

Part of it is I am kind of uber depressed that millions of BNL and Guster fans are right now sailing the high seven seas with those two bands and a host of others in the Ships and Dips III cruise. Last year they did Ships and Dips I, and decided this year they'd just skip over Ships and Dips II because it would be nothing short of disappointing, filled with heartache. Opting to go straight to version III, the bands are probably right this very second rocking out loud and proud. Tyler Stewart is filling in for Guster's drummer Brian Rosenworcel as he and his lovely wife are awaiting the imminent arrival of their first baby. The video evidence of how awesome Tyler is in substituting for Brian can be seen here, if you care to visit.

You can also enjoy Tyler singing something other than "Feliz Navidad" here in their cover version of a Van Halen Classic. I hate Van Halen, but Tyler rocks the lead, and they actually sound like they're having a kick ass time playing this cheesy cover. As Tyler says at the beginning, when the fat bald drummer plays with Guster, shit goes down.

So I'm jealous. Meh. Jerks. I'm a playa hater. Or is it "hatah." I don't know how to spell it but I sure can say and feel it.

It's been slow in coming, but today I did notice at 4:30 when I looked out of our office window that -- Jeeze oh MAN! -- the sky was still light. The sun was still out. We're on the upswing kids. Aslan is on the move.

I don't enjoy winter. I've never been told by a first nations person that my power animal is a big ole mamma bear, but I bet it is. I could hibernate... curl up in a ball, sleep for four straight months or until some dumbass comes into my cave to mess with me. I could, if sleeping deeply, slow my heart to almost nothing, knowing that my energy reserves will keep me alive in my tempurpedic bed until spring. Well, I could, but eventually I'd have to get up to pee. How do bears do it, what with the not peeing all winter thing. Don't their kidneys seize and rupture? I just don't understand.

Well, there hasn't been much to write about. I've been unopinionated about everything except for Pinot Grigio and Smartfood. I'm eating a lot of fruit. I think I went through a little box of clementines in two days all by myself.

With nothing to write about, I just kind of keep forging ahead. I'm glad there is nothing really to write about, nothing pressing or overtly exciting. I'm in a holding pattern. How many things am I? A bear? An Airplane?

I'm sorry this is so ramble ass. Let my try and come up with something of some substance.

There is one thing. Prayer is needed for my nephew Craig. He is undergoing surgery tomorrow morning in Pittsburgh to repair craniosynostosis, which is when the plates in a baby's skull fuse together and close, which can cause brain damage as the brain is still growing. When Craig was really little, he had surgery for this, and now it is back again...

While I for one am stoked to live in a really cool country where this type of surgery can be determined necessary and then completed within a few weeks (when we saw Craig in December we had no idea this would be coming up in less than a month. Neither did his parents), it sucks to be three and going through this surgery.

So -- tomorrow during the morning, wherever you are, pause and lift Craig in your thoughts and prayers, lift the surgeons working on his little noggin, lift his parents -- my sister in law and her husband, Diane and J -- and let them feel peace and assuredness throughout the process. He's in good hands. I know he is. I trust that all will be alright. But it is unfun and scary and the suck to be so little and have to do this ... and be aware afterward that ... ow. My head hurts.

Alright. On that note... gotta jet and floss and get to bed. I'm a tired puppy.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lists of Lists

"My hands are locked up tight in fists,
My mind is racing, filled with lists
of things to do and things I've done..."
- Barenaked Ladies

I have so much to do, and am kind of paralyzed by the list of lists that I have sitting before me. All the things that need to be done, that I just don't WANT to do. I don't think I have adult ADD, I think I am lazy and would rather avoid things than do them, and entertain myself with the things that make me happier.

I'm bad like that.

Anyway, before I dig in to the lists and sublists, I will do this entry, drink some more coffee, maybe play some guitar hero III and then get to it.

So you're wondering what I need to do. Here is the list:

Clean Geoff's Room. We do this frequently, but today it has to be done because my son's den mother gave Geoff a hand-me-down captain's bunk twin bed to replace the full-sized bed he has. His room is too small for a full sized bed. The captain's bunk will provide drawers and storage, and I can move the bureau he has INTO his room instead of it living in the hallway. Because den mother and husband are people of action, doers, completers of tasks, they told me about the bed the other day and delivered it this morning. It currently sits in my kitchen, where no one can move about without crashing into it. So... I must do the task. Get'er Done. Or is it Git'R Done. I don't know.

Laundry. Laundry paralyzes me, I hate doing it. I hate schlepping baskets up and down stairs. I make the children do it and they push back. 90% of the laundry does not even belong to me, so I resent having to do it at all.

Remove the Christmas Tree. The ornaments and lights have been off of the tree for a week or so, but for some reason it still stands, naked and sad, in the corner of my living room. It smells really good, which is why I think I haven't gotten to pulling it out of its stand and pitching it (or stripping it for kindling for the woodstove). If it smelled like a mouse rotting in a trap, or a container of rotting ground beef sitting in the corner, I might be more swift in removal. But for the most part, it stands there and mocks me and makes me feel lazy and stupid.

Move all the Christmas ornaments (etc) up to the attic. Feh. I don't like schlepping stuff up stairs. So the boxes are sitting in the livingroom next to the naked tree.

Finish cateringman's business cards. That's a given. Must be done today. Also must do some minor updates to his website, and load in new photos to the gallery. About an hour's worth of work. But something that keeps me sitting here where my mind will wander and I'll end up wanting to play Scrabulous on Facebook while I can (before Hasbro forces them to take the application down).

Finish project for cateringman's brother. I still haven't done this PHP thing that he asked me to do. It was a simple "can you cut and paste this code" thing that has turned into something that is far far more complicated than expected, and I don't know if I can do it, or if it will even work... but it has to be done. If anyone wants to do it for me, I'll take you up on the offer and take you out to dinner (if you're local) or buy you a gift card to a restaurant near your house.

Clean my room. Good lord, I haven't cleaned it since before our GES came to visit, and it is a disaster. I hate it. I don't want to do it. But it must be done.

Pay all our bills. Feh. Everyone hates that, right?

Go pick up Geoff's flute at the repair shop, and buy him new strings for his guitar. Which means I have to go to Haverhill, and I don't want to. It also means that I'll have to go to the supermarket and do the shopping for the week, because I'll be in that area. And I just don't want to go anywhere or do anything.

Clean where the exercise bike is. I have been intending to set up a DVD player and TV where the exercise bike is, to entice people to come and sit and ride (entice meaning me... I hate just sitting there and staring into space but if I watch a 1/2 hour DVD of something it would help kill the boredom of riding the bike). This would entail a major project, turning the bike around, dusting, cleaning, rearranging ... and it is something that I just don't WANT to do.

What is wrong with me? Other people I know have motivation to do things, to clean their homes, to organize things. I do things half way and then get sick to death of the project at hand and then find something else to do. I'm always happy when things are done and they look good and things are organized and laundry is put away and life is tidy, but I hate the GETTING THERE part. Good lord. Is it just the winter? Is it just that I've hit that January/February inner death and my brain just doesn't work anymore?

There are many other projects that I have that aren't the priorities like the ones above. Amy gave me her computer when she got a new laptop, and we have a big huge room in our house that we're not using... I have wanted to set it up as a second office, get a desk and a couch and whatnot... but we don't have the money for said desk and couch... so the room is just sitting there filled with stuff that we just kind of put aside. I call it "The Room of Requirement" and if you're a Harry Potter fan, you can imagine what the room is like. I had big hopes and dreams for this room... but the project in and of itself is getting nowhere due to lack of money to buy what I need for it.

I have posters that I want to get framed, art that the kids have done over the years that I want framed to hang up, but I get mentally overwhelmed when I go through the boxes and try and decide what to do with what. So things are sitting in a pile outside my bedroom where I walk past them every day and it gnaws at me that I should do it.

I don't know. Like I said, I always thought that I was just a lazy fat ass... but maybe I have too much shit in my head and just can't focus... too much mind racing, filled with lists (to steal from BNL) and maybe I do have adult ADD.

Anyway. This is a form of procrastination... and I should drop it and get a move on. Quit bitching and moaning about my lazy and shift into a higher gear and actually achieve.

I'll let you know how that goes.

Before I go, though... here are a few observations to share.

-- Doug turns 40 next week. I wanted to plan something for him, but then realized that he has no friends that I know of that I'd invite who live close by. I could invite Smitty and Chris, but they live in Pennsylvania. Aaron is in freaking Portland Oregon, Wayne and Marcia and the kids would come down for some fun I'm sure... but I don't really know any of his co-workers. Doug doesn't have friends like that. He doesn't have guys. And it really strikes me all of a sudden that he doesn't.

-- We started going to a new church. Doug was shopping for a church online (church websites are so incredibly lame) and came across a page where he recognized the pastor as someone he went to high school with out in Western Pennsylvania. So we went. And it was nice. After the service, Doug chatted with the pastor and they had a really good laugh. He brought us down into the church basement to show us the cool crypt where the church founders were buried (the church is a Revolutionary War era building and has a ton of crazy cool history attached to it) and it was really cool to spend time with him. I like the church, but I did notice that there are NO kids there Jessica's age, or Geoff's age. There are little wee kids, but no teens and tweens. Which kind of made me sad.

-- I am madly in love with Dr. Drew Pinsky. I don't know why. I think he is hotter than McDreamy and much smarter and cooler. Am I the only one?

-- We got a million inches of snow on Monday, and then it rained and made it all thick ice. I want to take the dogs for a hike but the trails are disasterous and it won't be fun at all for anyone.

-- Sleuth TV started reruns of Keen Eddie and I could not be happier. Thank you Sleuth TV... bringer of Eddie, Fiona and Pippin, and Homicide Life on the street. Yay.

--Jess and I learned a lesson this week. She baked a million cookies and left them on the counter. One should always put the cookies one bakes in ziplock bags and put them in the cabinet, lest one's dogs eat all the cookies overnight. Also, one's mother should go to the grocery store and buy dog food when the dogs run out of food rather than say "ech. I will go in the morning (see above procrastination issues), so said dogs will not be so hungry as to eat all of one's cookies.

--The driveway turner-arounder ran over the boulder at the end of my driveway the other day and got stuck. He managed to get free, but not without causing some damage in the form of crushing the boulder into the ground and spraying gravel all over the damn place. Jackass. I ran down there to kick his ass but by the time I got down there he was gone. I'll catch him and ask him politely to knock it the hell off. In the spring, Doug and I have decided that we are moving boulders from the OTHER, unused end of our driveway (we're on a corner lot and the previous owner bouldered up one end of the drive to prevent this, but it's the wrong end to have bouldered, obviously) to the active end of our driveway, and we will put spikey strips and small IEDs under the gravel to prevent this from happening any more. Doug was actually trying to pull OUT of our driveway today and someone pulled in to turn around while he was backing up. I wish to hell they'd hit our car because my ghetto insides would have gotten all up and I'd be out there throwing down the fight. I hate people.

--The Patriots are going to beat the Chargers tomorrow. The Green Bay Packers are going to beat the Giants tomorrow. Which means I've got a little problem in my heart of hearts. It will mean that my Patriots will face off against my favorite Quarterback EVER... Mr. Brett Favre. And this could very well be Brett's last Super Bowl, or last game ever, if he retires. Should I wish for the Giants to win just so I can be happy with the Patriots crushing them in the Super Bowl, or do I trust that the Pack will make short work of cry baby Eli "I'm stuck in my brother's shadow" Manning and then be sick to my stomach during the whole Super Bowl. We shall know tomorrow what the outcome will be.

--Matthew Mcconaughey is overrated.

That's about it. Alright. Enough procrastinating. More later.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Category Four Kill Storm!!!

Well, THAT was interesting. I tried to leave for work this morning and now I am back here in the house. The normally 2 minute drive to the end of my street where it joins up with the main drag that runs to the highway took me over 20. That is a bad, bad sign on a snowy day. If it took that long to get to that point, I could only imagine what Peabody and Salem would be like.

Turning around in the chinese restaurant parking lot to come home was the best decision I have made in weeks...

I heard a snow plow go down my street at about 5am and figured they'd have the roads really clear by the time I got out the door. I guess they didn't come back, or, that the snow is too much for them to keep up with just yet.

They canceled school, which is something they tend NOT to do in this town unless it is expected to be truly, evil, wicked, french toast alert level nuclear purple severe. So I guess the timing of the storm was yet again really significant - while all the humans were trying to go to work. With school being canceled, they weren't under pressure to have the roads cleared by 7am. Possibly, they were pacing themselves and only doing the really main roads. Our road is a main road but kind of secondary compared to the numbered routes that take people from town to town...

So a 40 minute round trip to the end of my street gets me back here to a microwave warmed up cup of coffee mixed with some hot cocoa, and some time this morning quietly with Geoff and Camp Lazlo.

It's been a pretty good week since last I checked in. I haven't had time to sit and write or anything. Jess started her mid-terms and she's been in this seat from morning to night most days writing and researching and doing notes. And, I'm sure goofing off for a good part of it but that's beside the point.

I have neglected some good stories, some that I will continue to neglect because I can't remember all the details and it's only been a week. Things happen so fast and furious that it all blends together and I see a huge tapestry instead of individual stories that I can share and if I don't sit down and record them then they are just woven in as memory for just me.

One funny thing that happened stands out head and shoulders over the rest. and it (of course) involves Geoff. When we were staying in Pittsburgh over New Years, our hotel was near the Airport. Some of you know, this is an area called Moon Township, and Township is, of course, abbreviated as Twp.

[Sidebar note] The Twp thing confuses the hell out of me. There are towns, and townships, and you live in a township, but you actually have a town name. Like the hotel we stayed in is in Coraopolis, but it is in Moon Township. Is there a downtown Moon, PA? Yes... somewhere ELSE in the state there is a Moon, PA and it is part of some other township.

Whatever. Confuses the hell out of me. I never know where I am. I can barely get around out there without a map. [End sidebar note.]

So we ordered pizza from a local joint that delivered to the hotel. The side of the box was emblazoned with the phone number and Moon Twp. The following morning, Doug's parents came to the hotel to meet us because we were going to the Carneige Museum of Art for the day. That's another story for later. But we were standing around the hotel room and my mother in law asked Geoff what we had for dinner the night before. Geoff gestures to the pizza boxes and says "Oh, we ordered pizza and they delivered it. It was really good. The name of the pizza shop is Moon Twip. I'm not sure if it is a chain. Do you have a Moon Twip Pizza Shop near your house?"

Moon Twip. Geoff reads things literally, and Twp to him was pronounced "Twip" instead of being the abbreviation for Township.


So my inlaws are dying laughing, Doug and I are trying not to laugh because we know how genuinely honest Geoff is being at that point... and Geoff is standing there, looking kind of shocked that anyone would find this funny.

You have to hear his voice as he's talking... he's being very adult, very conversational and engaging as he is explaining where we got the pizza. Gesturing nicely towards the boxes, running his finger along the name "Moon Twp" he thinks he is doing everything exactly right... and he is... almost.

Doug started to explain to him what "Twp" really is, and now Geoff is kind of embarrassed. He starts to argue that it isn't an abbreviation! Twip is a place!

It took us most of the rest of the day to teach him about Townships and towns and twips and Twp. I think he almost got it in the end. And we all had a good laugh.

But it is also kind of sad because I felt his embarrassment. I felt him crumble inside when the laughter started. Geoff doesn't like being made fun of, even when he does something extremely funny. And especially when he does something extremely funny that isn't supposed to be funny at all. And he will beat himself up for being stupid and making stupid mistakes how his brain doesn't work. I try and tell him everyone makes these mistakes (ask my sister about "Help Wanted" on the movie marquee in Danvers in 1985) and we should laugh at our mistakes.

I get his point, and have to give him all the credit in the world for HAVING conversations, and trying.

And now, we will all laugh when we see "Twp" on something, and hopefully someday Geoff will laugh too.

While we were at the Carneige Museum of Art, Jess went off on her own and spent the day running (or strolling is more like it) around the joint. It was the first time we've really allowed her that kind of freedom in a huge, open, public space. I knew my in-laws look at things at a different pace than she does, or I do for that matter, and I knew she would find things more interesting if she could pick and choose what to go look at.

We kept Geoff with us and he wanted to see the dinosaur exhibit. Much to my dismay the T-rex area was closed off, but it was a beautiful exhibit to see nonetheless. The problem with the entire place was it was packed to the gills with people. And children. And strollers. Oh my GOD I hate strollers in public places. I hate when people let their toddlers push the strollers in public places, because you know what happens. They run right up my big fat ass. Hate that. Control your damn kid.

I have decided that I'm so DONE with museums and crowded places. I'm not sure if I am developing a phobia or some sort of social disorder, but when I see a line, or if the wait for something is longer than 10 minutes, I'm so out of there. We got to the museum and the parking lot was full, which (if I were in charge) would have red flagged the situation and I would have said "hey, let's go into the Cathedral of Super Knowledge and check out the classrooms decorated for Christmas time!" instead of "Let's park a couple blocks away and then walk back and stand in line for an hour to get into the crowded museum!"

Yeah. I would have left. But I wasn't in charge.

I was on edge the entire time. I wasn't enjoying myself. I don't go to museums to sit in mob scenes.

It wasn't until the very end of the day when we went up to the Scaife Gallery that I felt relaxed. The Scaife Gallery is where all the paintings, sculpture and real old fancy art is kept. It seems no one goes up there.

Primarily, it is filled with American and European paintings, stuff by dead white men and a couple of old dead white women. There was a temporary exhibit of photography, mostly of portraits and childhood from the early 1900s, and then the gilded iconography of the 14th century welcomes the viewer ... and one can walk through all of art history through time, up to today.

When we got to the early 20th century, Geoff said "This isn't art. This sucks!" which I thought was the most amazingly astute thing anyone has EVER said in the history of museums, so we turned around and went back and sat in front of Monet's "Waterlillies" to enjoy the quiet solitude without strollers and children screaming and parents yanking their kids.

There is a couch opposite the painting... and Geoff and I sat there for a really long time. I was astounded by how HUGE the painting is, having only ever really seen it on postcards and slide shows and TV, without a person standing in front of it to give it the concept of scale. I thought it was a normal sized painting. Sitting in front of it, I actually sighed and said to myself "this isn't as over rated as I once thought..."

I told Geoff that this was a very famous and important painting. He pondered that a minute and asked, "So, am I now famous and important for sitting in front of it and looking at it?"

No. But you're infinitely cooler than you were a few minutes ago, I think. Try and remember you've seen this in person when you have to take an art history class someday.

We enjoyed the Scaife Gallery the most, and should have spent the bulk of the day there instead of fighting the crowds in the gem rooms and dinosaur land. We saw a really interesting exhibit on the different types of "Carnivale!" throughout the world. Doug and Jessica both agreed that "Carnivale!" masks, traditions and celebrations that surround it are just plain disturbing. I have to agree to some extent, but I did really enjoy the Spy vs. Spy death masks of the Basel Switzerland's Fasnacht. Those were the best. Never has the plague been remembered with such coolness.

Anyway. I'm babbling now. I've not had the time to sit and finish going through my photos from New Years, and I've got dishes to do and dogs to play with out in the snow, so I'm going to go do that. Before I do -- I must say that if the Super Bowl ends up being NE vs. Green Bay my heart is going to break. I love the Pats, but I also would LOVE to see Brett Favre win another Super Bowl before he retires... and this very well could be his last year (we say that every year, don't we, sports fans). So ... with heavy heart I say... Go Giants. Beat Green Bay so I can cheer against you and feel good about the Pats.

Alright. That's it. More later.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Happy Birthday, Geoffman!

"Can I redo this system? Please?
I can make it better. It would include bungee jumping."
-Jess on the Iowa Caucuses

This is just a quick update to let you know I didn't skid off rte 68 between Beaver and Zelienople and die, or plummet off the Mt. Washington Overlook in Pittsburgh. We enjoyed a nice trip out there, and upon return home I just have not felt motivated to write. Plus, today is Geoff's 11th birthday, and that's something to write home about after all, when you think about it.

For short-time readers, you can learn more about Geoff's almost early arrival in November 1996 and the adventures that followed in this entry. For you long timers, and some of you were there holding my hand through the process 11 years ago, you know the tale and are an important part of The Boy's life. Thanks for being there for him and for me all these years.

Geoff, in his utter exuberance, woke the entire house up at about 6:10 this morning singing at the top of his lungs "It's my birthday! I can boss everyone around! It's my birthday! I am the king!"

It made me somewhat long for the days when he couldn't yet speak on his birthday, but it also made me laugh. Doug and I were in the bedroom chuckling to ourselves as Mister Birthday King Ruler Emperor Supreme marched his happy ass into the bathroom to take a shower. I made him breakfast (sesame seed bagel and a cup of hot chocolate) and have only had to lecture him twice this morning about his attitude. The world isn't going to bow down and worship him because it is his birthday; he's only going to piss people off and get in trouble... special day or not.

Wait. I need more coffee. Hang on. Okay, that's better. Where were we? Right. Geoff. Birthday. (Ugh. I'm tired. I stayed up excessively late reading on the futon here in the study, and morning came too soon today in the form of a boisterous 11 year old).

Geoff told me just now that he wants pizza for his birthday, and that he wants to go out to a restaurant, which leaves precious few options. So he narrowed it down to Bertuccis and that's where we'll go. He's easy to please. Pizza. Alright.

Oh -- today's quote is from Jess and a recent rant she went on regarding politics.

She has been annoyed and overwhelmed (as most normal American non-political junkie types are) by the very first primary season since SHE was 11 or so... and what little good humor regarding politics that she once had has flown out the window.

The entire Caucus thing had her head exploding. She couldn't figure out what the hell was going on as we watched people frantically waving their arms and screaming at fellow caucusers to come over and join their corner. She doesn't understand (like 90% of the country, or at least any states that don't Caucus) WHY ON EARTH ANYONE STILL DOES THINGS THIS WAY!

"Why don't they just have a primary?! Why can't they just have people go in, vote, and have it over with? What is with the screaming? What is with the arm flapping? What, on earth, is with second choices?"

(boom!) Jess' head explodes.

So in her frustration with watching the news, and listening to the pundits and trying to understand how all this works, she basically decided that if they aren't going to primary, well then Caucuses have to change to keep up with modern times.

"They need to involve physical challenges and feats of strength, and math!" yells Jess. "You get points when you can throw a javelin, measure it in feet, convert it to yards and without using a chart or calculator do the conversion to metric!"

She is giddy with imaginative excitement at this point.

So I guess it would go like this. Republicans! John McCain says Oh! I threw my javelin 30 feet, so that is 10 yards, 9.15 meters! And that gets him 30 points, 10 for throwing 10 for measuring and converting to yards, and 10 for converting to metric. Mitt Romney comes in and throws his 40 feet, and can't even convert to yards! Oh no, Loser! heh. So he gets 10 points for throwing, and no points for converting his measurements!

The best part is when Jess said ...

"And then, they bungee jump off a really high bridge..."

Jess may be on to something. For further reading on Caucus in American Revolutionary History, should you be interested, click here, here, and here.

And please note, the term Corkass made me laugh.

And on that note, I'm going to get ready for work. I've got more to write about, from our trip to view Pittsburgh from Mt. Washington overlook to a day with the little cousins that we never get to see. But that'll have to wait.

In the meantime, here is my favorite photo from the trip. Visit the flickr page and view it large. It came out great.

pittsburgh pa from mt. washington overlook

Alright. At least you know I'm alive and kicking and all is right with the world (so far) here at the Way Out Inn. More later.