Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wrappin' Up '08

Wow, another year draws to a close and where has the time gone. I've prepared an extensive and well thought out year end post to highlight all the big happenings of 2008. Not really, I got nuttin. Because really, when you've got young children the big events of the year happen in a few seconds each and every day and who has time for a retrospective of stuff that I can't quantify or put into words but that made fireworks go off in my head. The Short People... are stinkin great. There ya go.

What I'm going to do instead is sing the praises of my darling Missus. I've been wanting to do this for quite some time but it's hard to find a way to get it all in. Anyone with a family knows how much work goes into running a house and she pretty much does it all. At the risk of sounding dated or chauvinistic I'm pretty much bringin home the bacon and she's pretty much at home, barefoot and pregnant. Well, not really, she also does a ton of philanthropic work and she's usually wearing slippers. Pregnant though... yeah, and how!

Yesterday though she was really sweet to me. I had to work the red eye shift, starting Sunday night and then go right into the day shift. By the time I finally got home I had just enough energy left to get to a couch and pass out. She had an appointment to go to though, so she called a babysitter so I could sleep. Said babysitter woke me for dinner, I checked my e-mail, took a shower and was in bed long before the Short People.

That girl takes pretty good care of me. The home made bread alone is worth the occasional pair of diamond earrings or... I dunno... a BMW at least. I can't even begin to list all the stuff she does for us that is way above the call of duty. So as you celebrate the new year, heist a pint to my Missus. I love you, Babe.

P.S. If you haven't already voted in my survey over at Simple Terms you've got till midnight on the 31st. Then I'll break it all down in a big summary post after my hangover clears up.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Sound Of Music

Ah yes. The house is alive with the sound of... the same three CDs played over and over and over and over and over... and over again. My short people have all developed a serious interest in music. I almost look back fondly to a time when Veggie Tales was the entire scope of their interest. There was a stretch when a playlist on my iPod was good to go for all of them while in the car. I was feeling really good about introducing them to a wide variety of music.

Lately though, J-Man has taken to a CD made by some friends of mine. I do a lot of sound work for them and their music is a part of all of our lives. It's become an outright obsession for him though. I would not be exaggerating when I tell you he plays is twenty to thirty times a day. He only plays it on the player in the boys' room which is a blessing because it's the farthest from the rest of the house.

The stressful part of that situation though is that wee H-Bomb still loves him some salad music. So when the lone Veggie Tales CD that we can still find makes its way into the player it's usually not there for long. DJ J-Man hustles right in there to swap it out for his disc. Then there's a lot of punching, kicking and screaming. It's kind of like being at a Slipknot show but with no beer and fewer tattoos.

Miss O has her own particular drama. She's been craving a princess alarm clock from Target since this summer. She finally got her wish under the tree. The night before she was relating all the various wonders of said alarm clock to me. It had a CD player and a tape player and the radio only played princess music. (Oh boy...) I spent a while explaining that it probably didn't do any of those things. She got really defensive and I let it drop. She's a smart little cookie but there was no way I was going to convince her that all radios got the same stations at that late hour.

Come Christmas morning though it did turn out that the clock does play special princess music. It's only a thirty second sample from Cinderella but it's better than nothing. When she got tired of that I tried to turn on the radio for her but she doesn't like any of the stations. I told her I could make it better if she could wait till the weekend. The feature that projects stars on to the ceiling was consolation enough for the time being... thank God.

So today I spent an hour in the shop gutting the thing and adding an input jack so she can plug in a CD player or iPod and listen to whatever she wants. I got screamed at for playing a lame kiddie CD but once a good kiddie CD had been located she thought it was pretty neat.

And The Missus is now in possession of her veryown iPod. I've been loading on a bunch of CDs she hasn't heard in a very long time. She's also pretty excited about downloading some that have been lost or wrecked by the short people. It's been a long time since she's been interested in music. It's tough for a classically trained musician, the standards are pretty high.

Anyway, whatever it is they're listening to I'm just glad they're listening. I couldn't imagine having kids who don't like music. I did used to wonder what my kids would find to listen to that would drive me nuts. As much as Veggie Tales grate on you after a thousand times it's still pretty good music. I heard mention of Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers the other day and I got my answer. It won't be long now till the Pop Crap Invasion hits my hosue. I better stock up on Anthrax for private listening.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas '08

I'm so totally whupped that I'm not the least bit interested in typing at the moment, but if I don't then I won't be able to ever remember any of this. Not that Christmas was all that difficult this year, but I got a call at 4 AM to go salt the parking lot at work so I was a little off all day.

But by the time I got back home at seven, the children were poised and ready. We diverted from the procedure I grew up with but no matter. Stockings, breakfast, presents isn't carved in stone, but the nutrition part would have helped. Peppermint patties and Starburst do not a nutritious breakfast make so we had some whiny children eventually.

I'll divert from the story slightly to stick in how much I love the way the entire world vanishes on Christmas morning. All attention is focused on the floor between the couch and the tree. Minimal attention is given to coffee and other such mundane things and the wider world is nothing more than something vague and white outside the windows. And now back to our regularly scheduled narrative.

They got all their presents opened in the space of half an hour and mostly without anyone opening the wrong one. Even wee H-Bomb at the tender age of two handled it pretty well. It was pretty satisfying to know that the entire pile of presents under the tree satisfied our short people even though we spent less on them than we did on holiday giving. The Missus is really good about emphasizing gifts being about more than getting stuff.

We also mostly diverted from buying toys that require assembly and batteries, with a few exceptions. J-Man got a ton of puzzles but the assembly is all on him. Miss O got a kid-proof digital camera but that was the only electronic item. Oh yeah, there were two items that diverged from being inexpensive and not having batteries.

The Missus and I both had shiny new iPods under the tree this year. It all started three years ago when she got me a mini for Father's Day. She really wanted one in pink but they were discontinued so I had to go on eBay to get her one for our anniversary. It turned out to be a dud so for the following Father's Day/My Birthday I got... her a digital camera.

She has made the occasional longing comment about still wanting an iPod since then. I've been coveting a Touch myself, mostly for the internet connectivity. I have a smart phone but it's too expensive to get on line with and when Apple came out with a box that can do more than just stripped down cell phone versions of the interwebs I knew I had to have one. I can totally write it off as a business expense though, being in the music industry and all.

I had an antique CB radio given to me that I was pretty sure I could sell for enough to get me one. The problem was I got stiffed twice (eBay again) and it was getting close to Christmas. I also didn't want to buy myself a second iPod before I got The Missus her first. When she asked me what I wanted this year I told her I didn't need anything, I had a plan. It took a good deal of maneuvering but I managed (on three occasions) to get around her without giving it away or seriously pissing her off. Last month I shot straight to the store after a gig and spent half my take on her little blue beauty. My radio finally sold and I got mine as well.

So now we're both blissfully iPodded up and she can finally have music in her car that's not NPR. (Long story but it involves J-Man stuffing thirteen CDs and a dollar worth of change in her car radio) I am finally absolved of my lack of providing her with a sexy music reproduction device from Apple.

Wow, that was a little longer than I expected it to be. Ah well, three years of drama takes up some space. I'm happy to leave the photos and cute excerpts up to her though. Merry Christmas one more time. See you in the details.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silent Night By Candle Light

This was the night I had been waiting for. In a whole year of holidays and special events, none places higher on my list than the Christmas Eve service at church. I wait and I wait and bide my time through all the seasonal nonsense. Then the blessed night finally arrives.

I'm home from work, cleaned up and well fed. We pack the short people off down the street. The church is bright and full. It's all the same people I see every week, but they look so much happier on this night. The C & E crowd is there too. Folks I only see on those two days. They're radiant as well.

The service progresses. The choir cranks out the old standards. My Mom is next to me, singing along with the tenors. The air is warm and still. It smells of candles and sweaters. Then that blessed moment of all moments arrives. The first candles are lit from the advent wreath in the front. The flame is passed to the choir and then down the center aisle. This year Miss O is old enough to hold a candle and she passes me the flame.

We sing Silent Night together and everyone's really singing for once. The basses are paving the way. Those that can sing parts grab the alto and tenor parts and the rest sing the melody. Gone is the usual accompaniment. A single accoustic guitar floats its gentle tones across the room. The song ends and we say the final words together. The lights remain low. Some extinguish their candles. Others carry theirs still lit into the lobby. All is still quiet.

Eventually the talking begins but it happens slowly. Eventually everyone is catching up and hugging, shaking hands and wishing a Merry Christmas over and over. We usually linger till the very end, it's just so warm and wonderful.

And that is what Christmas means to me.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Early Christmas Present

Tis the season to be giving and as much as I have received from all the blogs I read, I wanted to give a little something back. So here's my award. It's not for anything in particular, just for doing what you do and writing about it for me to enjoy. There aren't any rules for this award, just copy the code to throw it on your blog and pass it along to anyone you like.

Here are all the people that I read as often as they post. Some are heavy hitters with hundreds of readers, some are friends and family members that are only read by a few. Merry Christmas to all of you and keep up the good posting.

I'll start with the list of people who receive top billing on my blogs due to their extraordinary writing.
  • the dayton time Because she is my Missus and she writes about stuff that happens at my house in a way that makes me want to check in every day. (Not to the house, to her blog)

  • Embellished Truth and Polite Fiction Because Church, Punk and Mom never sounded so sweet together and her multi-part posts keep me coming back day after day.

  • THE WIND IN YOUR VAGINA Three words: Black. Hockey. Jesus. Says is all.

  • Mama's Losin' It Because June Cleaver with a beer and a smoke is the kind of mom I want to read about.

  • Hey You! Remember Me?! Because she is the all time Queen of the serial post. She is also currently MIA. Our thoughts and prayers are with you thatgirl, where ever you are...

  • i am bossy Because nobody can get away with posting in the third person quite like Bossy.
And now the list of bloggers that I know in real life, who also blog eloquently but have a different list because they've been to my house before. Here they are in no particular order:
  • The Daniels 5 Because my pretend cousin Jill cracks my shit up... and she likes my fiction... and she's of the McCarthy Clan.

  • Beauty in Distress Because this babysitter turned into one of our grownup friends and because her blog is different.

  • small town values and a simple lifestyle Because she's another former babysitter that we're still good friends with... and she is also of the McCarthy Clan.

  • I'm just thinking outLOUD Because Green Panda and I are kindred spirits of the stage and she knows what I mean when I say, "Hail Poetry!"

  • Anth K, The Super Jew Because you do not mess with a Polish Gangster Jew, that's why.

  • Team Dudgeon Because some friends never become distant, no matter the distance.

  • relevant tech Because Kevin can't write, can't spell and doesn't believe in punctuation but has a blog anyway. You've got to respect that.

  • Welcome To My Life Because Sarahliz is my BIL's sweet girl and if they ever break up the whole family will likely side with her.

  • I Know Things Because my other BIL occasionally posts something funny.

  • The new home of Amalthea23 Because my friend from college has a life so dramatic that you just couldn't make this stuff up.

  • John Beckler Because that guy has been sharing elaborately constructed alternate realities of sketch comedy with me for years and his posts make me pee my pants.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quote Of The Day - Armpits

I sat on the couch for most of an hour today reading "The Return Of The Indian In The Cupboard" to Miss O. When she was three I used to make her laugh when I read stories to her by randomly switching to jibberish or inserting the word "watermelon" in the story. Both those tricks still work. Another verbal tickle I discovered today is "armpits". It must have just been the moment but it was making us crack up. The Missus was sitting next to us, knitting a hat and thinking we were nuts nearly peeing her pants too.

Eventually we had given up on the story and were just exploring the comedic potential of the word "armpits". I said when the boys come back from gym class and are all sweaty she could say stuff like, "Hey stinky armpits! Stop bothering me and go take a shower!"

Then we looked at the cat sleeping on her lap and I said, "I sure am glad I'm not a cat and don't have four armpits!" The three of us had difficulty breathing for quite a while after that. I guess you probably had to be there. Maybe not, armpits are funny.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bah... Humbug!

I'm about to come clean. I don't like Christmas trees. I don't care to decorate them, I hate to clean up after them when I forget to water them, getting them is a chore and getting rid of them is an even bigger chore. Even though we get our trees from a place that does sustainable harvesting it still bothers me a little to kill a tree just to have as a pet. I used to be in the business of killing them so that somebody could have a house that would likely last a hundred years or more. The poor sap in our living room will be going up in flames sometime before Easter. Despite all this I'm about to go back in the house and be charmed by the one I just hauled in. The Missus will have all the lights strung and I'll get to look for a while before the 7.825 x 1045572937561923 hand made ornaments come out.

Every year we head out at the beginning of December to a farm up the road that does land office business in Christmas trees. You go out and pick one and a guy on a quad comes around and buzzes it off for you, then tows it back to the barn where you pay for it and they wrap it in netting so you can manage it. They also keep some in the barn that you can just pick up if you're in a hurry or don't want to drag your children all over the north country. Last year we went to the barn.

That was the plan this year but when we got there the only ones in there were a good deal shorter than me. So we headed off into the fields with our under-insulated children. Apparently it's a rebuilding year. It was seedlings and Charlie Browns all the way to the horizon.

A couple years ago we had read a book where a family named a tree in the yard "Steve". The last two years we've called our tree that and as the twilight descended we plodded on calling out for the next Steve to show himself. Miss O was sure we had found him a couple times but by the half dead look of them, there was no way we were bringing those guys home with us.

We finally settled on one and the rest of the fam started to trudge back. (Not that one, the good one next to it!) Well, the guy came and whacked it for me and it took both of us to get it on the cart. This years nameless tree weighed in at somewhere around 200 pounds and was close to nine feet tall if I'm any judge.

It was all I could do to wrestle that guy into the shop to defrost. I popped the straps and he made a jump for it from the top of the minivan. Like Atlas I bore him up on my shoulders and traversed the snowy wastes. His stump lay blocking the door and his tip lay somewhere near Wal-Mart in the next town.

Fast forward through several hours of cranky children and it was time to rejoin the battle. Fortified with a wee dram of Maker's Mark (which is really the only bourbon to drink this side of $120 a bottle) I made my way back to the shop and fired up the chain saw. (It's the battery operated Ryobi model for those of you wondering about the fumes). I trimmed off nearly three feet and over fifty pounds and it was still all I could do to drag that guy in the front door.

In the stand, stood up and sprung from the netting he stood proudly in the spot once occupied by the TV... one and a half inches from the ceiling. The Missus expressed her amazement which helped a little. I guess I haven't lost my touch with wood.

Now it's time to hit "post" and go in the house to sit quietly with my gal and take in the pine scented wonder of it all with just the tree lights on. Maybe just another quick nip to make sure I got all the humbug out.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Pagent

I got drafted into the ol' Christmas pagent this year. It happened so quickly that I didn't even have a chance to grouse about it. I guess they figured that I'm getting used to treading the boards and relinquishing my role as a tech. Actually, we've been in the show a lot. The year Miss O was born, The Missus and I played Joseph and Mary, lil' O was the Baby Jesus. I've had a couple other forgettable roles as well, but this was the first time that Miss O really wanted a part.

A week ago I got handed our pages and we went to work. I was told that we could read from them in the show or just improvise our own stuff if we wanted to. I decided to stick to the words for the part that I had them. Being opposite a six year old it pays to stick to the script. To elaborate, I was Zechariah hearing from Gabriel (afforementioned six year old girl) about the birth of John. Then I was scripted to play scharades with Elizabeth (Miss O) to convey that I couldn't talk. We cooked up the material ourselves and it was pretty sweet.

Miss O went back and forth about wanting to do it or not. She, obviously, recognized the comedic dream team that we are and wanted to do the material. The only catch is that she hates to be laughed at. It came to tears quite a few times. What finally saved us at the zero hour was her totally sweet costume that she was just dying to wear, and also the angel costume that she got to wear for the finale if she went through with the Elizabeth thing.

When go time finally arrived she performed like a true professional, even going so far as to ham it up even more than we had rehearsed. Here's how it went down:

THE MISTER: (waving)
TM: (pointing to eye)
MO: You have a headache?
TM: (lifting eyelids and pointing)
MO: Eye?
TM: (picking up can of soup)
MO: Soup?
TM: (pointing to can of soup)
MO: Tomato?
TM: (thwacking can of soup in exasperation)
MO: Can?
TM: (pointing to eye and then can)
MO: Eye... can...
TM: (pulling out piece of rope)
MO: Rope?
TM: (waving her off)
MO: Twine?
TM: (tying a knot)
MO: Knot?
TM: (nodding, pointing to eye, can and knot)
MO: Eye... can... knot...
TM: (dropping props and opening mouth)
MO: Brush your teeth?
TM: (checking breath and trying again with big frustrated hand gestures)
MO: Tiger?
TM: (trying yet again)
MO: Tiger? (delivered that one a second time to enjoy continued crowd reaction)
TM: (pointing to eye, can, knot, and making chicken head motions)
MO: Eye... can... not... TALK?
TM: (flapping arms in relief)
MO: Why didn't you say so?

What a team we are.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 5)

How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 1)
How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 2)
How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 3)
How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 4)

This part of the story is short but sweet. The Miss and I had been officially dating for about a month, and she had decided to move back to the area from Cleveland which made things a lot easier. The week before we were to move her stuff back we were taking a nap on her mother's couch. When we woke up I started talking about how I guessed I'd better sell a guitar or something so I could buy her a rock. She said any old rock would do and we could upgrade later. That was as much actual talk of marriage as we had gotten out in actual not-dancing-around-the-subject speak.

I went back to my folks place to tell them and my Mom jumped up, said, "Don't move!" and ran out of the room. I figured she was going for the camera. She came back a minute later with my Grandma Flora's engagement band. She said I could have the stone and my brother could have the gold. All that remained was to come up with a setting.

That night at our favorite pub The Miss was playing with her rings and left one on the table when she got up to go to the loo. (That's what you call it when you're in a pub.) I tried it on all my fingers for a sizing and wound up with pinky finger, second knuckle for a reference. The other item that came up that night was that since her father was MIA with someone from work (an inmate where he was a guard) she told me I'd have to ask her brothers' permission to marry her.

That Tuesday I met a friend for a cheeseburger. That friend happened to be a jeweler and said he could set me up with Grama's stone in a new setting by Friday. Frickin sweet! I asked her youngest brother's permission and his head just about exploded. We were already doing gigs together and he was pretty psyched about being my right hand man.

The other brother... not so much. He was a roofer at the time, while on college breaks. Some guys from church were roofing a friend's house so I took the opportunity to ask him while on a water break. In front of my father and a handful of men from church, he went on (at length) about how it wasn't such a good idea, and she'd been engaged before, a couple times, and she was kinda flaky and maybe it would be better to just wait and see. I gave him the big whatever.

That weekend I drove to Cleveland to pack out my girl's stuff. I had the ring in my pocket but didn't want to propose at her place there. Despite having a totally sweet second story porch, if we ever wanted to visit the place of our betrothal, it was going to be kind of difficult. So I held on to it until we got back to town.

It was about this time that I knew I was going to be buying my Grandparents' house from their estate. It's three doors up from where I grew up and a quarter mile from where she grew up. I lured her up there on the premise of seeing what she thought about a second story deck on the back. Then...

Right outside the back door, I mumbled something about being really happy with her and wondering if she'd maybe like to make it permanent. I fished the ring out, grabbed her right hand, and proceeded to attempt to jam the ring on her middle finger. One slight detail that I forgot to check on. She finally stopped me, got it on the right finger on the correct hand and gave me a big kiss.

And that is how we got engaged. There's more but I'm going to stop here and end with a plug for my friend Tom who has to date made wedding rings for several other friends of ours and saved them thousands of dollars. If you're in the market you should totally drop me a line and I'll hook you up.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oral Surgery For My Birthday

LinkI'm slacking again. I'm not even bothering to think of things to write about because the people that I read are coming up with such great stuff for me. For example, my BIL did a posts with twenty-five questions and you post responses based on what your iPod spits out on shuffle. Frickin' hilarious! That's over on Simple Terms.

Tonight I'm writing about my worst dental experience ever because Kat over at Mama's Losin' It is handing out topics and it's an opportunity to shamelessly attempt to drive traffic to my blogs. My wife will likely not be reading the rest of this post due to her aversion to all things teeth, but she was there anyway so on with the story.

I harken back to the date of my birth, several summers ago. It must have been 2003 or 2004 because we just had the one short person at that point and the dining room was still in the front of the house. My former dentist (God rest him) told me when I was eighteen that my wisdom teeth were about to come in but there was plenty of room for them and he didn't recommend having them out.

Well... he was full of shit. They shoved my other chicklets around like drunken slobs in a mosh pit, causing me no end of misery, headaches and leaving my lowers looking like a row of hundred year old tomb stones. Not only was there not enough room for them to come in, but there also wasn't enough room for me to brush them properly. Not even a child's toothbrush could get all around them.

Cavities? HA! I had one go so supremely rotten that he was nearly able to pluck it out with his fingers. That was in 1999. Three years later I had the Hollywood Bowl on the right side and two other major sporting venues on the left. After every meal I would have to pry LARGE chunks of food out of all of them. Huge slabs of tooth would break off like calving icebergs every so often too. It was awesome!

So, it was finally time to get the buggers out. I went in for some x-rays and my new dentist told me I'd have to go see an oral surgeon. Yay. An hour drive provided me with the information that I could not just have them removed, but due to their position and the structure of my jaw it would be full bore surgery and not just some quick work with the tongs.

The only day he could schedule me in was on my BIRTHDAY! Hooooo-rah. I woke up cranky, wan't allowed to have breakfast and drove with The Missus to the surgeon. I sat back in the chair and the guy came in. I was pretty much fuming about having to shell out three weeks pay on my birthday just to get rid of some teeth that seemed to want to leave on their own anyway. He made some typical doctor-type banter and then stuck me with a huge needle.

"This is going to feel like having a few beers" he said.

"Yeah... jusht like" I said, I'm such a lightweight.

"Just like having a couple two, three, fourteen beers." he said.

I remember thinking of a smart ass response but I never got it out. Then the good doctor spent the next hour chiseling on my jaw bone and doing needlepoint on my gums. The next thing I knew I woke up and staggered out of the room. Somebody scrambled around and got me in a wheelchair so I could be properly discharged. At the car I stood up, much to everyone's surprise, and got in the car.

"What... I been way more fupped duck than this before! I went to college!"

I proceeded to giggle like a seventh grade boy the entire hour drive home. It was starting to make The Missus a little paranoid so I decided to pursue the breakfast shake I had brought along.

"You're never going to be able to get that down." The Missus informed me.

"I went to college, remember? I can drink this." I said. And I did, without spilling a single drop.

At home I was ushered into bed with the statement that The Missus would be up to check on me and bring me some Oxys in two hours. I could have cared less because I was so hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. Yeah buddy! Three weeks pay didn't sound like such a raw deal with that stuff coursing through my veins. When The Missus came up to offer me drugs I just took some ibuprofin because really, I went to college and I wasn't quite ready to invite Oxys to the reunion.

I made it through the recovery in good shape and my jaw has never been in such good shape. My only regret is that I couldn't have had them out one at a time so I could have some more of that good juice.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Life Is Pretty Good

I'm home from work, fed, the dishes are cleaned up, the children are in bed, I've showered, my wife is approaching sanity, I've been playing blogs for half an hour and it's only just nine o'clock. Pretty frickin sweet dude! I've also been racking up overtime like it's my job... er... yeah, and it's looking like we might start the new year in pretty good shape.

I'm being lazy tonight as my fingers are already tired of typing. My BIL got us started on a typing test web site and we've been racing and racing to see who can turn in the highest number. I just edged out The Missus, but she saw a girl who broke 100 words per minute. I need to train more. I'm pretty sure I can type at that rate when I'm working stream of consciousness, but reading words in a line that don't make sense next to each other is a challenge. I'm at 86, but I get 8 wrong every time, so I'm actually at 94 but not really.

At any rate (Ha! Rate...) the link to that oh so addictive pass time is over at my other blog, Simple Terms. Also, there's a survey at the top of the page that's closing at the end of the month. You have to read the post that goes with it and then cast your vote. It may be slightly offensive as it plays on musician stereotypes and their girlfriends. But hey, I'm all about stereotypes. Wearing them out is the only way to take the sting out of them. Just ask your gay friends why they casually call each other "fag". Anyway, I'll be writing a big summary article when the poll closes on New Year's Eve. Actually, I'll be writing it somewhat after the recovery period and a goodly number of homemade sweet rolls.

I'd like to close by giving a warm shout out to the recent additions to the list of my followers:

Thanks for keepin tabs on me and thank the rest of you for stopping in as well. You have no idea what it does for me to know that you're reading my stuff.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Concert

I worked all weekend and still managed to cram in cartoons with the short people, a nap, and a Christmas party. At dinner tonight Miss O mentioned the Elementary Christmas Concert was this evening and people she knew were in it. I figured a little extra face time with my peeps wouldn't be a bad idea so The Missus took H-Bomb for a visit with my folks and off we went.

The kids were relatively well behaved and I got to just sit in a fairly comfortable auditorium seat, warm and full, and enjoy the event. My memories of a long boring event flitted briefly through my head but I decided to ignore them and look at it with a fresh perspective.

As the fourth and fifth grade band mangled the first few holiday favorites I was lost in the sound. It was a strange dichotomy to be hearing such discordant sounds and yet be so full of Christmas cheer.

As they filed off to be replaced by the chorus I was looking more closely at the kids. I spy on older kids so I have some idea of what's coming. When I was that age Van Halen was at the peak of their stardom, parachute pants were still in and MTV still played videos. It was a totally different world, I need some perspective.

The same girl went by three times, but apparently there's a cream dress with a velvet top that's popular at Wal-Mart this year. A lot of the kids were pretty nondescript but a few were obviously into looking put together. Amid the plain white shirts there were a couple boys sporting emo hair cuts, and a few of the girls had elegant ringlet curls.

What was more interesting than the fashion tastes of nine-year-olds was watching their performances. A lot of them were well on the way to having proper vocal technique which was inspiring to a jaded sound guy. I got a chuckle when I noticed that they had changed "gay" to "bright" in one of the arrangements.

The sixth grade chorus was last, middle school kids. As they shuffled onto the risers I witnessed in sharp relief the transition from kid to teenager. The really interesting thing though was to watch the faces of the kids that just didn't want to be there. Over the years I watched thousands of musicians. They all wanted to be there though. Watching half the kids barely mumble the words was a real mind warp. Art as a requirement, huh.

My own shorties thought it was great until they realized that there was no intermission and therefore no snacks. I made them stick it out for the whole hour though and I was glad I did. When Miss O's friends filed by on the way to their seats she actually jumped up and hugged three of them. Her two friends from church were all right with that, but a boy named Damien that she just knows from the bus didn't know what to do about that.

A familyl friend saw us and was surprised to see us there. "Eh, we do all the shows." I said, "We're a show family." My short people so love them some production. Sigh. Well, I'm off to do my chores, with thoughts of elementary school echoing back through the terrazo halls of my memory.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back To Normal

Back to the normal pace of blogging. I posted once a day for the month of November over at Simple Terms as part of the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) project. I also managed to squeak in a few over here, which in my mind makes up for the two posts that I slipped in via cell phone to make the deadline. Toward the end of the month I had completely run out of stuff to post about every day so I turned to writing fiction. Anyway, all that's over there if you care to take a look.

In other news, The Missus came down with a condition on our anniversary, as did the wee bairn in her belly. So, she spent the evening with some other dude's hands on her goodies and I had a three hour bedtime battle royale with our short people. Yeah, three hours of slogging back up the stairs to put their royal hienies back in their beds has left me with a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth tonight. H-Bomb has started parroting J-Man's bedtime travails. He's also really taken to the other bedtime activity. The one that involves me eating copious portions of stinky jammy feet. So instead of beating them tonight I was extra hard on the dishes while I loaded the dishwasher. Yeah... those guys won't be creeping into the living room with little whiney complaints. Ha dishes! I win!

The Missus turned out to be fine. They thought the baby was a quart low, but he turned out to be fine.

I'll close with the quote of the day. The short people have recently perfected the art of the back seat quarrel. I got treated to my first real session on the way to pick up some medicine for The Queen Mum. Usually it's a perpetually unresolved argument about who is oldest. Tonight it went like this:

Miss O: J-Man! Think of a number.
J-Man: Uuuuuum. Hippo!
O: No! Think of a number!!
J: Ummmmm. Ewefent!!
O: NO! Think of a NUMBER!!!
J: EEE-wev-en.
O: No, six, I'm smarter.

Thank you, good night. I'm going to go lay in the weeds and drink now.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Factoids Abound

The Missus just tagged me for another meme (still hate that word, but love the game). So now I'll be revealing seven random factoids about myself and then possibly tagging seven blogger friends to do the same. That is, providing I can think of seven people I read who don't exhibit animosity toward memes.

I love the smell of wire. "Wire?" you say. Oh yes, wire. "It has a smell?" you say. Oh yes. One lonely strand of wire doesn't have much of an odor all by itself, especially when it's been hiding in your walls for a long time. But when there are thousands of feet of it, coiled and waiting on the shelves at the supplier it's really something esle. It's like coming on a clearing in the woods full of flowers. Well, not really... for me it's a smell that goes along with the concept of vast potential. I love the smell of a thousand feet of service entrance cable the way an artists loves the smell of a fresh sketch book.

I'm proud of the friendships that I cultivate. As an angry teenager in the awkward years I used to make statements about not caring what other attributes a person had, provided they didn't have a fatal case of the stupids. I'm glad to say I've stuck to that standard. Now, as a thirty-two year old parent some of my favorite friends are a twenty year old restaurant manager and an eighty-eight year old plumber. I would have totally missed out if I hadn't cultivated that acceptance.

I think digital watches are cool.

I can't stand bars. I was fascinated with them before I was old enough to go to them, but now I just think they're awful. Except O'Lacy's Pub, I'll always love that place. It's where me and The Missus went when we were "not-dating". And pubs in England? Totally different story over there.

I love office supplies but I hate paperwork.

I think there's something wrong with trees that aren't maples. It's like they're that slow kid in the back of the class that smells slightly of urine. C'mon guys, get it together.

I am actually a robot who does not require sleep. I just need to plug myself in for at least three hours a day.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quote Of The Day - Piggies

Last night, J-Man came totally unhinged and was just screaming and kicking me in the grill for about half an hour. The Missus had come to the rescue of poor lil H-Bomb who was freaked out by association. After the tempest had passed I got his attention by playing a little game with him. After dinner tonight we played it again with the following result.

Me: This little piggy went to market, etc, etc, etc. (The way you all know it)

J-Man: He he he he he he


Me: This little piggy went to Target,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had a latte,
And this little piggy had none,
And this little piggy cried wee wee wee, all the way home (but with my Jonny Cash voice)

J-Man: NO! The widdle piggy had popcorn!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 4)

How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 1)
How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 2)
How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 3)

This is the story we call Cinco de Mayo at our house because that was when it happened. The Missus posted about it on her blog. After this post I'll be ahead of her so you'll have to stalk her to see her recollection of the plot.

It was the fifth of May in 2000 and The Miss and I were on our way to O'Lacy's to conspire over a few pints. While many people are both in and out on the fifth of May to get all boozy, we were out because that is what we did when The Miss was in town. You'll have to forgive me if the narrative is somewhat fuzzy. I myself was somewhat fuzzy that night, in more ways than one. Which is not to say that I don't have clear memories of the evening. On the contrary, parts of it are etched in my mind in vivid detail.

On the way there, I even remember the particular corner we were rounding at the time, The Miss said to me, "I don't think I could ever kiss you because I'm not sure you have a mouth under there." (I still can't find a picture of me from this era, so I'm substituting this Hellbilly Deluxe era photo of Rob Zombie which isn't too far off.)I had a seriously long goatee that I had been growing for years. I stopped shaving half way through my senior year of high school and here I was, seven years later.

There was some banter back and forth about the status of my facial moss, but I wasn't really following along. In my mind I was going back to all the times in the past I had told people I would only shave it off for my wife. I was seriously considering it.

The pub was packed and we got a seat in the center of it all. After a couple pints, The Miss was innocently plying me with tequila (tequila hates me!) She got our favorite waitress involved and eventually half the bar. We were near the door and pretty much everyone had to weigh in on the subject as they were coming or going. The night wore on. This is the part that's fuzzy. I relented, somewhere along in there and found myself trying not too be sea sick while The Miss drove us home.

Then, before I knew it, an historic event took place. There, in the kitchen of my parents' house, I handed my future wife the clippers and told her to have at it. She claims I was getting choked up but it's much more likely that choking down was the operative there. I was pretty frickin lit.

Buzz, buzz, buzz and I was a new man. It was a pretty serious thing for me. There were a good number of people in my life that had never known me without my beard. It was my defining physical characteristic. But the very next thing in the story made it all vanish from my mind.

Our. First. Kiss.

And I can't remember it. Yup, too drunk. I remember that it happened and it was all fire-worky and made parts of me melt that I didn't even know existed before that. But I mostly remember what I felt like after, and what her face looked like. It's one of my favorite mental pictures to this day.

We went out and sat on the porch after that and I whispered some sweetness in her ear from the step behind her. Eventually she got in her car and drove home. I walked in the house wondering how the hell I was going to deal with being in love with a girl who lived in Cleveland. I decided that eventually I'd have to move there and try my hand at being a carpenter in Ohio. That was the extent of my mental capabilities at the time. I flopped into bed wondering what everyone would say when they saw my face the next day.

There was one more event that goes with this part of the story. I can't remember if it was that very night or the next that I was on the phone with her. She let it slip that she would be moving back home. Not, you understand, totally on my behalf. She had a disintegrating family to tend to, of course. (smug comment stricken from the record)

That's all I can muster up for this chapter of the saga. I mixed up a drink before I got started, in keeping with the boozy nature of the story and now I'm a little too sauced to type efficiently. Tune in next time when you'll hear: how The Mister proposed to The Miss.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Still Lazy

I was feeling pretty much flogged again after work today. And after doing all the usual stuff just couldn't find the juice to get a post up. Lucky for me, The Missus was feeling saucy. (My baby's got sauce, yo baby ain't sweet like mine!*) So she hijacked my other blog volunteered to post for me tonight. It's a rip-roarin good time over there, mostly at my expense. But what the hay... if you can't laugh at yourself, what good are you?

Read it for yourself:
There's No Crying In Baseball

*Look up G-Love and Special Sauce on iTunes.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still Worn Out

I'm not fully recovered from doing a theatre run on top of work last week. I'm also slacking on finishing up the miniseries on How I Got To Be The Mister, mostly because I committed to posting every day this month on my other blog, Simple Terms. I had plenty of quiet time tonight. The Missus was off at a class and the short people all went to bed early. I wound up writing about the experience over there because I was too zoned out to come up with another post if I put it over here where the parenting-type-stuff belongs. Here's the link:


Yeah... it's a doozer. I'm feeling better though, and I promise I'll get back to finishing up about how I got where I am.


Monday, November 10, 2008

It Takes A Village

We had two of our fabulous friends over for dinner tonight. I had been told of this several days ago and it was a pleasant surprise. My brain was on show time though and so it was also a pleasant surprise when I got home from work today. We're at the stage of our lives in which inviting a couple of friends over tacitly includes a bunch of short people as well. Dinner for ten. It was pure chaos, and there was a lot of crying and yelling, but eventually we all got fed.

Which leads me to two delicious thoughts. The first was how nice it is to be friends with folks who are comfortable with shared discipline. When the grownups were vegetating in the kitchen and crying erupted from the living room, only one parent had to get up and sort things out. All the shorties know that all the tall people are on the same team and they listen. That's nice, and not just in an it's not my turn to get up for two more times sort of way.

There's a lot of disparity in parenting techniques these days. Our style makes some people wide eyed and usually the wide eyed parents make us roll ours. It's nice to occupy a warm kitchen with people who ride herd pretty much like we do.

The other delicious thought centers on being locavores. We tucked in to some pork chops from our freezer full of locally raised, organically fed piggie. Right next to that guy were some turnips that came out of the ground not too far from here. The company brought some beans and greens that no doubt had a similar origin. And to top it all off we washed it down with some homemade beer and hard cider that had been percolating on the porch. (Some of the kids weren't in to the menu, so we fed them some scrambled eggs that came from chickens we've actually met and raw milk that came from a friend's cow.)

I guess it must look like we're some sort of hippy community, but that is so not the case. If you've read my blog or The Missus' you know were not exactly the dirty dreadlock type you'd meet at a Dave Matthews concert. (We don't puff the Sweet Cheeb either.) You might be surprised to find out who around you is taking an interest in locally grown food. Anyway, I'll avoid the soap box this time and wish you a good night... don't let the additives and preservatives bite.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Just Playin'

I wish I had a picture on hand of my short people playing in the leaves today. I only had about an hour to spend with them and I was just bone tired. At best I figured I would just be a lump on the couch and let them climb on me. But then my Mom called up from down the street and said that they had a huge pile of leaves and invited us down to enjoy it.

So we bundled up and trudged down there. Once the boys got in the pile I just couldn't resist. Mom had her digital camera and a couple lawn chairs out but I couldn't stay seated. J-Man was a veritable cyclone of destructive activity. He was practically the Tazmanian Devil. H-Bomb nearly exploded with the joy of it all. Every toss of leaves, every plop in the pile, every emergence from being buried by Taz elicited a huge, open-mouthed squeal of delight. Pretty soon I was in there with them, making it rain leaves, burying , getting buried, surprising passers-by when I launched the boys out from their concealment. It was sthe best time I've had with those guys in a long time.

Then the boys got interested in J-Man's backhoe which freed me up to play Indians with Sis. It was an elaborately staged production, complete with a woodland fort, weapons, wolves, warriors, tragic casualties and heroic rescues. Then Grandma had plates of goulash ready for them and we all got to go inside.

Pretty sweet hour. It's nice when the screaming and hitting stops and you can just see them enjoying themselves and loving each other.



Saturday, November 1, 2008

This Is Just Nuts

My brother-in-law and his girlfriend have moved back to the area after living two hours away for the last two years. We're very fond of them and the short people are absolutely ga-ga. So now they're a mere forty minutes away and nicely settled. A visit was in order.

Unfortunately we were not at our best today. The shorties are all recovering from one type of malaise or another. The Missus is preggers and her body is up to its usual let everything but the baby fall apart tricks. And I'm just plain beat. But... we promised.

The Missus was off to work this morning and I was home with one kid who was just a lump on the couch and two others that just wanted to scream and throw things. Fortunately for yours truly I'm somewhat hearing impaired and most of the stuff in the living room is relatively soft. Only one of us got a decent nap and a decent meal. Come departure time everybody was more or less ready to get into the bourbon.

So my cranky family took twenty-five minutes to get crammed into the mini cooper van and we were off. Surprisingly the trip involved only a minimum of complaining and then there we were with our beloved relatives walking out to greet us. They then took our short people to a nearby playground while The Missus and I passed out on their couches. We were awoken in time for dinner. Frickin sweet! (!!!)

Dinner wasn't so much a meal as an extended yell-a-thon, punctuated with the occasional mouthful of food going into the shorties. But then we all had dessert three times 'cause hey... when there's Girlscout Samoa ice cream, homemade chocolate chip cookies with brownie centers and Halloween candy on hand... why not? (Sometimes calories are just calories and you don't hold being dessert against them.)

Somehow we managed to cram in a few minutes of pleasant, adult-type conversation in between cleaning up poop. (It's the little things, you live for em.) Finally, an hour after their usual bedtime, the short people had reached the end of their meager coping skills and we packed it in.

I was the only one awake for the drive home. Alone with my thoughts. All I could think was... how screwed up is it that we can go through all that nonsense and look back on it fondly as having been a good time for all? That's just nuts, but that's what being a family is all about.


Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallows Eve

Happy All Saints Day to you and yours. That's what I always try to say a few times on Halloween. It's actually All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day (The Hallowed Ones I guess). Since I became a dad I've started to see the other side of Halloween. Almost every year someone stands up in church and decries the Satanic holiday. My own saintly parents always let us participate, just as long as we didn't do anything scary or cause any trouble. So basically, we got to do all the good stuff: candy and costumes.

We hold the same rules for costumes as we do for tattoos, those being: no dead things and no naked women. Although quite a few of the eleven-teen year olds in the neighborhood picked Hoochie Mamma for a costume again this year, but at least they all had the courtesy to not smoke on anyone's porch. As the father of a daughter I have the following to day about that: Shit ain't goin down like that at my house! (Please allow me at this time to introduce my new favorite key... the colon ":" take a bow little fella!)

So now I'm thinking about the spiritual aspects of the holiday... holy... day. In all actuality, modern day Halloween is about as much like the Celtic festival Samhain as modern day Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. A pagan harvest ritual and festival of the dead with offerings for departed ancestors and divination has turned into a commercial spending frenzy with pumpkins, costumes and candy.

Apparently the Church thought it enough of a bother to make their own holiday on November first and christen (Christ-en) Samhain as All Hallows Eve. The same thing was done for Christmas and Easter, they both were scheduled to offset pagan holidays. It's this kind of stuff that brings me to my own take on the situation.

I'm going to take anything I run across and look at it in terms of my faith. Music for example, my disgust for syrupy worship music is contrasted by my love of heavy metal, satanic stuff included. Both types of music cause me to examine my faith and how I relate to the world because of it. I wish more people could apply this kind of thinking to their take on holidays. (ie. Apply your world view to something and take away what you like from it.)

This time of year I'm gearing up for all the news pieces about people who bitch about Christmas. You've got Christians all upset because Christ has been removed from the holiday and non-Christians carping about how their rights are violated by religious displays. So why the hell can't the atheists just enjoy a festival of lights while people who are only nominal Christians celebrate someone they don't really believe in in the first place. Why can't the Christians just enjoy a harvest festival and let the kiddies wear their ghoul masks. The truth is, most Halloween celebrants don't really believe in a power called Evil and a lot of Christmas celebrants don't really believe in Jesus, at least not in a way that propagates throughout the rest of their year, either of them.

So I say: (<-- there he is again) stop bitching about Halloween! Let the kiddies have their candy and foam rubber zombie heads because their belief in the holiday stops there. Well, maybe it stops right after a good toilet papering and a few well tossed eggs. Ahh well, enough philosophy. I'm off to change into something black and station myself in a good vantage point with a high power flashlight. Nobody's getting my pumpkins this year!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 3)

How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 1)
How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 2)

Now we're up to the part where The Missus and I finally got together. I was staying with my folks while getting my life together. I'd like to pause briefly to say that while it does seem to be the trend for twenty-somethings to move back in with Ma and Pa, I was doing my best to be outside the norm for this group of moochers. I was getting my head straight, getting out of debt, and looking for a house. All told I was there for less than nine months.

It was time for one of my favorite events of the year, the candle light Christmas Eve service at church. If you removed every other moment and trapping of the season it would still be Christmas for me if I got to sing Silent Night by candle light in the sanctuary of the church in Alexander. The warmth of the season had me in a great mood that night. The Miss was there, wearing black velvet, to air her professionally trained voice as part of the service. I said something sound-guy-ish to her about making sure she was somewhere near a microphone for the benefit of the recording.

Afterward I got caught up with several old schoolmates who were in town for the holiday. When I ran across The Miss it turned out we were both spending a lot of time at home with our folks on the weekends. I was doing it out of an interest in not having a total lifestyle relapse and she was driving back home from Cleveland where she was teaching to try and help hold her family together. Her father was taking his sweet time leaving her mother for an inmate at the womens prison where he was a guard.

"Well," I said, "if you get tired of hangin' out with your folks we could go grab a coffee some time."

She was game and shortly thereafter I picked her up and we went to Denny's for a cuppa. I can scarcely remember a moment of it. I was dazzled. In my first year away from college I had forgotten what it was like to hang out with smart people. (Nothing against my other friends, everybody knows where they stand on that.) Her baby blues were flashing at me across the table and I was all but helpless. The only words I actually remember her saying were about something being "so cool", but I don't remember what it was because my retinas had dark spots on them from her eyes.

The weeks dragged on and we phoned and e-mailed. We of course got together every single time she was in town, which was increasingly frequent. After our first non-date we became regulars at O'Lacy's Irish Pub where we conspired to raise the price of stock for the St. James Gate Brewing Company (That's Guinness for you clear-beer types.)

Somewhere in there I thought since I was having such good fun being friends with The Miss that I should find some other folks my age to hang out with. A classmate of mine and her husband had just moved in down the street and we hung out some. But it wasn't the same. That was my first inkling that I really had it bad for The Miss. It wasn't just adult conversation and beverages with a smart Christian that was my age. There was something about those baby blues after all. There should have been some clue, we would be on the phone till all hours of the night and were not able to say goodbye. We called it "Playing The Game". I was giving her goodbye hugs that made her say, "You're a good friend" when really they were trying to say, "I'm in love with you!"

Long about Easter time she was home for an extended stay and decided to extend it a day further so we could catch a movie. Her car was a pile and she had been renting a Malibu to come home in, so we took her wheels. We went to see Blow at a theater in Rochester, which is a good forty-five minutes from home, because that's how far you have to drive to get to a real movie theater around here.

On the way home, slouched in the passenger seat, I came clean. I told her I was pretty much in love with her and was really interested in figuring out a way to make it work. Her response was, "Yeaaaaaaah, it would be better if we were just friends. I really just need a buddy right now." Which was just fine with me, oddly enough. It didn't even faze me one bit. I guess I could tell she way lying, although it wasn't a conscious thought at the time.

She dropped me off and I said good night. I remember taking a long walk and feeling just great. It was my lack of feeling crushed that told me once again that this was something different.

Tune in next time and find out why I had to get a new drivers license after our first kiss...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In Other News

For some strange reason, the sidebar is still not updating when I post over at Simple Terms. Here are some of the gems you missed if you've been depending on SeƱior Faulty Widget over there to keep you up to date. I'll warn you in advance that my rant on fat people ruffled a few feathers, but it also served to make me aware that I have a wider audience now (no pun intended) than I did when I started and also that I should point the finger at myself more than I do.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Feeding The Family

Today at church we had a couple people who had gone on mission trips recently come up to show pictures and tell stories. The majority of the narrative involved crippling poverty and a woeful lack of medical attention. The third speaker had some slides from a book called Hungry Planet that contains photos of families from all over the world with a weeks worth of groceries. They range from a few people eating hundreds of dollars worth in the richest countries (The US is actually closer to the middle, surprisingly.) on down to massive families who subsist on less than US$30 a month.

Then things got really interesting. There was a luncheon scheduled to celebrate our missionaries' return, but there was a twist on it. Every place setting had a card with a color on it that corresponded to a serving table at the front. It was broken down like this:

White Table: Bowl of rice, pitcher of water.
Yellow Table: Bowl of rice, pitcher of water, plate of meat (tiny serving).
Green Table: Bowl of rice, bowl of rice dish, several indescribable pot-luck type dishes that were heavy on the gravy and cream soup, something with tater tots on top, pasta salad, six kinds of dessert, cider, milk, coffee and doughnuts.

Our family's allotment, between the five of us, was two white tickets, two yellow tickets and one green ticket. We got a heaping plate from the green table and put it in front of the baby, the other two kids got rice and meat, and The Missus and I picked over what was left. (Actually, the Green Table stuff was a lot less healthy than what we usually eat and we kind of passed it over.)

Asking around the room we found that nearly every other family had pushed the best food down to the little ones. Our daughter had even shared some of hers with another child. It got the mind to turning. What if instead of just putting the good food in front of the short people to keep them from whining, we were giving up our own nutrition for their well being and trudging off to work with a growling stomach.

One of the other things we did this Sunday was to write a big check to the food closet. I'm not saying this to make us look like angels, The Missus was planning on doing it anyway this week. We spread the love around. Here we are, in the Land of Plenty, where nearly everyone at our church is in the top 3% of wealth in the world and there are people in the shadow of our own steeple without enough to eat. During a rough patch last winter my own family was depending on that food closet some of the time.

I don't like to order people around, what with all the pan handling that goes on for good causes these days, but you're in for it today. Next time you go shopping, buy an extra item and put it somewhere folks who need it can get it. I've needed it, I've gotten it, and it's the very hand of God.


Friday, October 24, 2008

How I Got To Be The Mister (Part 2)

Here's Part 1 of the story if you're just tuning in.

I left off at the interstitial period. That's the fancy word they use to describe the time in the Bible between the two testaments and I use it for just that reason. Those years are cloudy, dimly understood, poorly documented. The one thing that is significant to this story is that throughout that period I was still trying, although subconsciously, to find my wife and was always extra messed up by breakups, not because of the loss so much but because the girl had turned out, yet again, not to be my wife.

The next couple items are a bit of a touchy subject because they involve serious relationships that I'm not really comfortable talking about in front of The Missus. Not that it would bother her that much, but really, who wants to hear about their spouse's exes. So this is the only time this is going to come up and only because it's significant to the plot.

There was one relationship during my college days that marked a significant change in the way I did things. Early in my sophomore year we were sitting in my apartment with a bunch of freshmen over because becoming part of the herd was important in my department and helping the new recruits fit in is a long held tradition. There was a girl from Long Island who was loudly and obnoxiously a lesbian. One of her statements was that she required and would, in fact, demand cuddling for her mental well being, at which point she jumped in my lap. At that point a freshman guy and I decided that we were in a race to see which of us would be the first to bed her down.

College boys don't amount to much more than a set of genitalia, socially speaking. (The chicks weren't much better, or a help, before you go getting all high and mighty ladies.) But despite this, I was fast becoming friends with this girl and decided that trying to weasel my way into her pants was just likely to mess things up. I told her as much a few days into the contest, on a Thursday. Friday night there was a big party, and when I say big I mean BIG. Theater kids only get to party when a show opens and that only happens seven times a year. We're talking sound and lights that make the power brown out in the neighborhood, 300 people in a six man apartment, bouncers at the door to keep lame liberal studies majors out big. As it was winding down she asked me to walk her back to the dorms, which was not unusual for a girl to do purely for safety reasons. Strictly on the up and up I thought. Halfway there I jokingly said something to the effect that it would be disappointing to walk her home after a night of revelry and not get laid. "Oh... you're gettin' laid!" was the response.

Apparently exhibiting that minuscule bit of maturity was enough to elevate me in her eyes to the status of: Worth Switching Teams For. At least temporarily. We eventually, without actually defining it out loud, slipped into what was for all intents and purposes a committed relationship. We supported each other through thick and thin that year, while in our out-loud voices we were looking for someone else. (It was a favorite pass time of ours to scope out chicks together.) Obviously a guy dating a lesbian wasn't going to work out. So we never really got together and we never really broke up, but years later we both agreed that we loved each other. It was likely the fact that that things were so unofficial that we were able to keep it together, there were no rules and trappings of dating so we were freed up to just enjoy each other.

That was lesson number one on how to actually love somebody.

My last year at school I was home on a break and got introduced to a girl who was dating a friend of mine and knew my brother. We connected on-line and would mostly swap news about our mutual friends. At one point I let it slip that I was attracted to her and very nearly attempted to kiss her one night at Denny's. "Why didn't you?!" was her response. We saw each other all summer and finally, about two weeks before she went back to school I started pursuing her, and a week after that we fell madly in love.

For a year we suffered through a long distance relationship. It was working though and was mostly a happy experience for me. The whole time we were both, for the most part, very unselfish. I remember having some very long contemplative sessions and realizing in fits and starts what love was really about. I learned how to put something in to a relationship. Everyone around us assumed we would get married some day and eventually we started to think so too. The whole time I was just reveling in the experience of loving someone, unselfishly.

Right after she graduated that spring and moved home a few things happened. The first was that I did not want her to move in with me. That was a pretty hurtful discovery for her because she had assumed that she would. It was mostly because I was living with two roommates in an apartment that was just big enough for the three of us, there just wasn't any place to put her. The next big thing was that I got saved, again. I had grown up in the church and wandered away, to eventually come crashing back in that spring. I completely changed my lifestyle. I got off the drugs, moved back in with my folks, completely changed my circle of friends. Needless to say it put a damper on our relationship.

The thing that really killed it was going from long distance to local. We were both neurotic enough that extended time in close proximity was driving us nuts. She would say things like, "When are you going to shave off that beard?" To which I would reply, "I'll shave it off for my wife." Which I thought to mean that I would do it when she was in for keeps. Really that was an event to take place at another time, with another person. Unfortunately the breakup took about two months of actual breaking up and, for me at least, another three of feeling unbelievably shitty.

That was lesson number two about how to actually love somebody.

In those five years, I messed around a lot, slept around a lot, and in the middle, got to have about nineteen months of actual good relationship experience. Figuring out how to put another person ahead of myself in a relationship of any kind was a big step, that was the first lesson.

The second lesson was about marriage. I knew that to be really happy in life, I was going to need a wife. Up until this time I had never had a girlfriend that I hadn't cheated on. I was having a real hard time getting into practice the morals I had learned growing up. I don't mean all the safe sex stuff they were spewing at school, nor do I mean all the crap they shoved at me in youth group at church. Quite simply, I had my parents and grandparents to look at, who were happily married for a combined total of over 100 years and all of whom had yet to have their first fight. There was also no cheating, it wasn't even the glimmer of a thought for them. So I knew that I believed whole-heartedly in the sanctity of marriage, but hadn't been able to pull off a reasonable facsimile of it so far.

I realized it was likely going to take meeting That Girl. Not thatgirl, who is totally awesome, but you know, the ONE. I had a feeling that even then I was going to have some serious work to do (Those of you who have experience the first year of being married know what I was in for). I knew myself to be a mess of a human being, but I was slowly getting it together, and praying fervently for a wife. One day at a stop light, I even remember which one, I told God that I really, really, really wanted a wife, but that He was sufficient for me. It wasn't long after that when things got really interesting.

Check back in a couple and I'll tell ya about it.