Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Firsts

Is there anything more ridiculous than paying me to "work" today? I understand not declaring today a holiday because they'd have to pay all of the essential workers holiday rates, but this is ridiculous. Alas, I offer you a 1,500+ word blog entry. Enjoy.

What a great Christmas we had! This is not going to be a Jack-centric entry, but I will say that he was better (attitude and behavior) than I could have ever wished. He didn’t cry or have a meltdown in the midst of any of the insanity and chaos at my granddad’s house, my parent’s house, Bull & Toots’ house, or at our house yesterday. His Christmas present to us, other than his sweet little smile and laugh, was that he slept from 7:30 last night until 6:00 this morning. Ahhh, a silent night indeed.

There were several firsts this year. It was, of course, Jack’s first Christmas. Although it looked like Toys-R-Us exploded at our house, he didn’t seem to get too overwhelmed by it all. I was also the first (only) time in 35 years that I didn’t go any where on Christmas Day. I mean, I took two bags of trash out to the garbage can, and that was the only time that I walked out of the house all day.

My granddad’s Christmas lunch, our traditional 12/25 visit, was held on Saturday the 23rd this year. He wanted his family (his grandchildren and great-grandchildren mostly), instead of showing up late and leaving early because they have a dozen different places to go for Christmas, to come early, visit with each other, and enjoy the meal for a change. That was nice of my Paw-paw. He’s a nice man. I appreciated his kindness, but in retrospect, I missed seeing him on Christmas Day.

After Paw-paw’s, we went to my mom and dad’s house to exchange our presents. I visited their house with Jack a few weeks ago, a visit that was marred by 5 hours of almost nonstop crying. He cried as soon as the singing reindeer on the front door started singing “Jingle Bells” and he didn’t stop until he took a nap. He cried the entire time unless I was holding him. It took me 3 hours to hang a ceiling fan that day – that's normally a 30-minute job tops.

So, I was a little worried when we walked in to their house Saturday evening and Jack, immediately upon seeing the singing reindeer on the front door, let out an ear-piercing scream. I thought we were in for a long night. Alas, after that moment, he was fine. My cousin and his wife brought their 4-year-old daughter (Lauren) and their 2-½ year old (Mary Kate) over to my parents’ house and Jack and Mary Kate played together all evening. Then, as we were giving him a bath in front of an audience that included my 5-year-old niece and Mary Kate, he stood up in the tub and peed. It was if he was saying to them, "Let's see you do that! Didn't think so!"

He’s a good boy.

On our way home Saturday evening, Leah and I took my great aunt back to her assisted living apartment. WOW, that lady needs a blog of her own. She went 23 years without seeing her husband. It’s a true story, but I’ll have to save it for another day.

Sunday, Leah and I got up and decided we’d go to church if we could get Leah’s mom and/or dad to keep Jack for us. Not taking Jack to church was going to be our present to the nursery workers. Leah’s dad told her that he and Leah’s mom, who was still asleep, were planning on going to church too. Leah talked to him for a few more minutes and then hung up the phone. We started debating whether we should go to church and take Jack, or if we should just watch Mountain Top on TV. We were kind of at a standstill when the phone rang. We looked at each other knowing good and well who was calling. Leah’s mom doesn’t miss a chance to keep Jack. It was actually her dad, but her mom had awaked and the two of them had been arguing over who would stay with Jack. It sounded like her mom was winning. We didn’t know who was going to keep him, but one of them would, so we got ready for church.

At 9:45, Leah’s mom and dad came by. Leah’s mom had her Bible in her hands, and her dad was wearing his Crocs. He won! He was staying with Jack. Before I could compute that in my head, Leah’s mom gave me the answer to the question when she said, “I was going to stay with him, but your dad made me feel guilty when he said that he never gets to keep him because I always keep him.” Wow. He won on a guilt trip. He won on a guilt trip? I haven’t the words to express my amazement, or bewilderment. A guilt trip?

The service was brief. It started and 10:00 and we were out by 11:00. The preacher even made the remark that he’s never been to a bad SHORT Christmas service. He’d been to some bad LONG services, but never a bad short one. For those family members that we all have and we all hope they don’t come to Christmas dinner, he prayed that they get the flu. Yes he did. “Or a flat tire or something, Lord.” Then he said, “Don’t look at me like that. You’ve all got one of those family members. I got ‘em too.” It was funny stuff.

Fast forward, Bull and Toots’ was good. Two bottles of wine were consumed, not that Leah’s uncle really needs prodding to get in to one of his rare moods. It was a fun time, except that EVERYONE brought CRAP for Dirty Santa. I mean ABSOLUTE CRAP. I ended up with wind chimes and Leah got a CD of Christmas melodies. People have just started using Dirty Santa as an excuse to clean out their closets. Look, if the gift limit is $10, don’t bring CRAP that you paid $39.99 for and think that you’re doing something special. You’re supposed to donate that kind of stuff to charity.

Okay, Christmas Day. Jack slept until 5:00 and I went upstairs and rocked him for about another hour. He napped off and on before he awoke for good. We went downstairs at 6:00 and I put him in bed with Leah. He likes to “woller” around in the comforter. I went out and got the camera, and then Leah opened our bedroom door and let him out. He started to go back up the stairs, but then Leah guided him to where he could see his new play table. He ran over to the table, pulled out one of the drawers, took out the toys that were in the drawer, and then started crawling in to the drawer. That’s about right. He seemed to enjoy it though, so it was all good.

Leah’s parents came over for breakfast and to exchange presents, and then my parents came over for lunch. While this situation, the blending of the families makes me so nervous that I start washing clean plates and putting them in the dishwasher, I always like the interaction between my parents and Leah’s parents, especially between the dads. People say the same things about them both, “He’s a good man”, but they are really two different creatures. Leah’s dad is quiet, and somewhat stoic. I still have trouble with it some times because I’m not sure if he’s ignoring you because he’s mad or because he’s just being quiet. On the other hand, ever since my mom took away his Nintendo Gameboy, silence is my dad’s archenemy. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, but there better be words flying around. Big, loud words are better and, apparently, scare the giblets out of silence. They’re like Jay and Silent Bob when they get together. It is really a sight to behold.

A few other family members filtered in and out throughout the afternoon, but everyone had pretty much come and gone by 5:30. And that was our Christmas weekend. Leah had almost all of the interior decorations down and ready to go back in the attic before 9:00 last night. And Christmas was over.

Or was it?

When I got to work this morning, the red light on my phone was illuminated. I immediately cussed all of mankind for leaving me a message over my Christmas holiday and ignored the light as I went to get a cup of coffee and put my salad in the refrigerator. Once I returned, I had to find out who called with some “major crisis” that had to be resolved RIGHT NOW.

The caller was one Dwight K. Schrute from Dunder-Mifflin’s Scranton office telling me that they received my resume and thought that I was qualified to sale paper, unless I was in wheelchair or was a guy (they were looking for another girl).

Y’all know there ain’t no party like a Scranton party.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Slow news week...

Instead of writing a big 2,000 word humor-filled column defending my sexual orientation, I have decided to come out of the closet and just admit that yes, I am a lesbian.

On that same topic, does anyone know if there is photographic or video evidence of Miss USA Tara Conner and Miss Teen USA Katie Blair actually engaged in amorous activities with each other? I refuse to believe that those two girls partook of each other’s fruit unless I see it with my own two eyes.

I’d like to write something of substance today, but there’s not really anything substantive happening. It has been a slow week. I’m not even getting junk emails this week. I guess it’s nice that spammers get some time off during the holidays. I was about to break down and take a vacation day tomorrow, but it was announced yesterday (Wednesday) that our office would be closing at 1:00 PM on Friday. I can’t take a whole day of vacation when I know they’re going to give me a half-day for free.

The company that Leah worked for when we wed had the right idea. It was an advertising company, so I guess ideas were their business. They would close down for at least two weeks during the holidays every year. Depending on what day of the week Christmas fell, Leah was off from like December 20th through January 8th. I’m not sure if she got paid for the time off or not, but wow, that would be nice. I couldn’t have done it then, but I’d gladly give up two weeks pay now if they’d shut down our office for two weeks during the holidays. I miss college.

Alas, our office is closed Monday for Christmas, and the next Monday for New Year’s. That is all. But you know what? There are a lot of parents of starving kids in Africa that would love to swap places with me any time I want to step forward and make that trade.

OHHHHH tonight thank God it’s them instead of you….
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time…

I haven’t heard ‘Feed the World’ this year. What are the radio stations saving it for?

It really doesn’t feel much like Christmas. I haven’t done a lot of shopping (thank you Leah for taking care of everyones' presents - even my parents and Aunt Barbara - for Jack and I) and it’s been kind of warm here in Birmingham. I’m not asking for a white Christmas, but I shouldn’t be wearing golf shirts to work and breaking a sweat walking across campus in December. Any way, this Christmas season is slipping by me. Maybe it's because Christmas is on a Monday this year. I haven’t even listened to “A Very Special Christmas - 3” with:

I Saw Three Ships - Sting
Christmastime - The Smashing Pumpkins
Children Go Where I Send Thee - Natalie Merchant
Oi To The World - No Doubt
Christmas - Blues Traveler
The Christmas Song - Hootie & The Blowfish

I need to find it before it’s too late. Although, is it ever too late for some Blues Traveler?

This will probably be the last post for the week. May the friendship, fun, and laughter that you’ve brought to me be returned to you 1,000 fold. Merry Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

This has gotten out of control...

From CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/US/) on Tuesday 12/19/2006 at 1:00 PM:

'Blaims' is not a word.


1. No one is mad. Ire and tension are not allowed in The Conch Shack. Remember, this is a warm, happy place where anger rolls off of you like the cold condensation water beads roll off of a Red Stripe bottle (or Turk's Head Lager, where ever you may be).

2. Huh?

3. So y'all don't like the cuff links idea. People didn't like my Doc Martens 100 years ago, either, but then they took off. And then the fad crashed. It's okay.

4. I know this may sound completely idiotic, but it's okay if you like something that no one else likes. Thank God that Leah took a shot on someone that was repulsive to many others. (Of course, she didn't really like me until she saw me at a concert with someone else.)

5. That is all. Back to work and have a nice day.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pride Goes Before the Fall....

And apparently it doesn't come back until Spring.

I'm not sure what that means, but I came up with the title a couple of weeks ago for a piece that I was thinking about. And by piece, I mean story. I just can't remember the story that went along with the title, though. I'm sure it was a good one.

Anyhoo. I will never brag on my son's sleeping habits ever, ever again.

People keep asking me what I want for Christmas. Apparently, I haven't been good enough this year to receive the gift of peace and quiet. (ba-dump, ching)

As many of you know, my birthday is the 28th of December. One thing that's tough about a December birthday is that you have to come up with present ideas for both days at the same time, so your interest is a little skewed. Like, I might want a new swimsuit, but you can't get a swimsuit in December like you could if your birthday was in May, for example. What ever I get for the year is limited to what it is that I think that I want or need during a four day period in December. It's also limited to what stores have in stock.

It's hard for me to come up with gift ideas for myself. I don't really want or need anything. Additionally, I feel a little guilty about taking presents from the very same people that I've been an a$$hole to for most of the past 364 days. I really don't deserve anything and I feel like they're buying me something out of obligation, and I don't want them to be obligated to get me anything. I'm not going to like any one more or less because they got me something or didn't get me any thing. You're not going to earn my respect by purchasing me a gift. You're going to have to get down in the dirt a beg for it. (from Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handy)

So I come up with a list of items, but no one buys me any of them because they think that I'm just being as a$$hole and there's no way that I would really want anything on the list. Example:

A bag of Starbucks Coffee from Target. I really would like that, because it's about $1.50 an ounce ($8 for 5 ounce bag), and I can buy a 64 ounce canister of Folgers for $6 at Sam's.

A donation to Jack's College Fund. Short of a Rolex watch or Rogers Hornsby baseball card, this is probably the best gift of all from a financial perspective because it grows over time. By the time Jack reaches Brown, that $50 donation could be worth $200 or more (or less, as past performance is no guarantee of future results). He could get a grande coffee at one of the many fine Providence Starbucks.

Trak Shak gift card (but that's all the way over in Homewood, can't he get something from Academy Sports? We'll just give him money and he can go get his own gift card.)

Money to pay Changing Spaces to come out and move my treadmill. I want to put my treadmill in the garage so that I can run after Jack goes to sleep at night (and before he wakes up for the first of his 3 times - Kathy, HELP! You should charge for Sleep Lady services...open a franchise). Currently, the treadmill is in the den upstairs, and about 15 feet from his sleeping little head. If it was in the garage, I could run at 8 o'clock at night. Anyway, the treadmill weighs about 1,000 pounds, and I'm old and weak to move it, even with a little help from my friends.

Though this will do nothing to dispel the beliefs of the misguided friend of a friend, I've decided that I'm converting over to cuff links. Nothing is more aggravating than wearing a button down shirt and tie, EXCEPT that once you get the shirt on you go to button the sleeves, having the sleeve button crumble in your hands. Why can't the dry cleaners clean and press a shirt without breaking the buttons on the sleeve? The only thing worse is when they break one of the collar buttons and either don't replace it, or replace it with one of the standard size buttons. The standard size buttons don't fit through the small holes in the collar, so the net effect is the same as if they hadn't replaced it at all. You have one collar buttoned and the other one just flopping around. Aggravating.

I moved away from button down collar shirts a couple of years ago because the cleaners kept breaking the collar buttons. Now I'm moving to buttonless sleeves and the use of cuff links. Every time we meet with underwriters from London I find myself a little envious of their cuff links. (That's a 5,000 pt. credit if you're scoring at home, or even if you're by yourself.)

That's all for today. Back to looking like I'm doing work. Have a good'un.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


A couple of weeks ago, Leah and I were walking through Bath & Body Works. I had the following exchange with one of the employees:

B&BW Employee: You look like that guy on TV, what’s his name?

Me: Alan Alda.

B&BW Employee: THAT’S IT! You look just like him.

Well, my ability to be a jacka$$ painted me, once again, in to a corner. How could I possibly correct my previous answer? I’d sound like even more of a jacka$$ had I said, “No, it’s not Alan Alda. I believe you’re thinking of George Clooney.”

What if, after correcting her, she said, “No, I’ve seen Clooney and you don’t look anything like him. It’s definitely Alan Alda. You know, the guy from M*A*S*H?”

Yes, I know Hawkeye Pierce.

I just let it go and started sniffing the holiday candles. One year I’m going to buy the cinnamon one.

We had our 10th annual friends and family Christmas party this past Sunday night. At least we thought it was the 10th. Wait, it was. We started innocently and informally enough when we lived in the commune in 1997. This year makes 10. (Don't you hate it when people type out there thoughts?) Anyway, good times. Wow, the cooks have really developed with 10 years of practice. That was the best food we’ve ever had.

I did hear some rather interesting stories at the Christmas party. I’m debating on whether to use this space to address one thing that I heard, or I may just let it go altogether. Leah told me not to address it, but I’ve seen what happens if you just stay quiet. And I'm hurting for material.

I don’t know the person that started the story, although I believe that I’ve met her, and I’m not sure what she saw on this site that drove her to her conclusion. I think she just has me confused with someone else, but I may still have to break it down bean counter style to prove her incorrect, you know, just for fun – not that there’s anything wrong with it. That breakdown’s going to take more time than I have today, though.

Oh, to kind of close the loop on a previous topic, I’m not sure how or why, but Jack is now sleeping from 7:30 PM until about 5:30 AM. He sleeps later some days, like today he woke up at 6:25 AM. We still “put him to sleep” by rocking him, but we don’t have to go to his room at night to put him back to sleep (he’s able to self-soothe during the night). He also doesn’t cry immediately and constantly upon waking in the morning. He cries for a few minutes, but then he gets quiet. When we go up to get him, we find him just sitting in his crib staring at his nightlight. It’s a little sad and scary at the same time. Kind of like this blog.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Breaking News

Two posts in one day is rare for me, but WOW! We need to pass a hat and Jack needs to matriculate - whatever that means. I'm too dumb to even read about Ivy League schools, but they have a cross country team, so that's a plus.

Facts about Brown (www.brown.edu)

Tuition and Fees
Undergraduate tuition for the academic year 2006-2007 is $33,888, and room, board and fees are $9,866. The total cost is $43,754.

Financial Aid
Brown provides 100 percent of the demonstrated financial need for all students who matriculate. Forty-three percent of the undergraduate student body receives need-based financial aid. The average financial-aid package for the class of 2009 was $29,700.

With the matriculation of the class of 2010, all undergraduates at Brown were admitted under the University's need-blind admission policy.

'Dreamgirls' Premiere

Does anyone out there understand giving a standing ovation, or any ovation really, at a movie? Do people clap for rented movies that they watch in the privacy of their own homes? I can understand getting emotionally involved during a movie. I cried when the doctors told Rock Blier that he couldn't play football again in 'The Rocky Blier Story'. Of course, Rocky did play again and was an integral part of the Steelers' Championship teams of the 70s. I also got motion sickness during "The Blair Witch Project", but I don't think that really applies. So I've cried, laughed, thought and vomited at the movies, but I've never, ever, clapped at a movie. Not even at any of the 'Rocky' movies.

Have you ever caught yourself clapping at the end of song on the radio? I mean, I have, but I'm not right.

I have vowed not to check the message boards today for "updates" on the Alabama coaching search. I've GOT to do some work today. Startinnnnnnnnng NOW!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Sophisticated Palette

Why will people in my department eat a 4 day-old doughnut like it's sex with a movie star, but they won't touch the store bought bundt cake that I brought this morning? Can they sense that it was left over from the bridal tea that Leah hosted yesterday?

Maybe I should have put it in a tupperware cake container instead of leaving it in the store bought plastic container with the emblazon 'Member's Mark' seal. Maybe it just needs hot sauce. Maybe I'll just leave it there until they eat it, because it's NOT going back to my house.

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's a sad day, part 2

I've resolved not to believe any reports about the new coach at UA until Mal Moore stands behind the podium and announces a name, but it seems that our Spurrier dream is over.

Being the gray minded person that I am, I could make arguments both for and against hiring Spurrier as Alabama's coach. I will say this, however, I am happy that Mal at least thought of hiring one of the greatest college coaches any of us have ever seen.

When it's all said and done, however, I don't know if Spurrier will be mentioned in the same breath as Knute Rockne, Joe Paterno, Bear Bryant, or even Bobby Bowden because (irony or no?) of his penchant for chasing the challenge. His longest coaching stint was a very successful one at Florida, and that's, unfortunately, where we'll always remember the Ol' Ball Coach roaming the sidelines. He's quest for the challenge won't allow him longevity any where.

Alas, good luck, Coach Spurrier.

Alright Bama Fams, in the words of Don Quixote, we must continue:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

Lastly, good luck and best wishes to Brandon as he competes (not just participates) in the Memphis Half Marathon this weekend. Run where the brave dare to go, friend.