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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Oh Heavenly Day




For Addison, it doesn't get much better. There were firetrucks at the Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins. Honestly, for me it doesn't get much better than the fact that there exists such a place as a Dunkin' Donuts slash Baskin Robbins. But you open up a firetruck, turn on the flashers, and let Addison roam around in it while wearing his own fireman garb . . . that's top notch. But get out your notcher and engrave another one on top of THAT, because he still got to have a chocolate Dunkin' Donut with sprinkles AND a scoop of chocolate ice cream, scooped by a real live firefighter.

Dude.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dig

1. Jason Castro - Forever in Blue Jeans. Yeah, I liked it. I like him because he's not trying to be anything more than, well, anything more than forever in blue jeans.

2. David Cook - I'm Alive. Yeah y'are. And a little smug. But still, not the worst performance ever.

3. Brooke Why'd - I'm a Believer. As in "Why'd you think you could sing that song, Flo?" Because she's corny and she knows it. Corny, cheesy . . . corn dog with cheese.

4. David Archuleta - Sweet Caroline. Um . . . I loved the fact that he performed this as if it were the theme song to his sitcom. I don't know . . . He mixed it up a bit. I don't know. He's missing something . . . just no strength in his voice half the time, like he's got a loogie waiting to fly.

5. Syesha Mercado - Hello Again. And . . . goodbye. She's not a bad singer, but I feel like I'm stuck in a disco.

Intermission - Paula, seriously, that was awesome. You're going to make a wonderful drunk grandmother someday. And Neil, you're the bomb.

6. JC - September Morn. Here's what I like about this guy: I don't think you should have to look like you're trying super hard. He doesn't. I mean, he's not exactly trying to win this contest, but he's not offending the crap out of me.

7. DC - All I Really Need Is You. I never got the chance to slow dance in the '80s. I almost just did. I'm sorry, I couldn't disagree with the judges more on this one. I think Cook is good, but I thought that song was total cornball. I didn't think it sounded anything like anything that would come out today. Sometimes when you change the style of a song it works great. But the language in that song is not that rockin'. You can't utter the words "I must conclude" whilst rocking. It just doesn't fit.

8. B Dub - I Am . . . I Said. That was good. For me, dog, that was probably the best song of the night.

9. DA - America. Okay, I didn't correctly predict any song choices, pretty bad considering they sang TWO songs each. It's almost like I'm 0 for 10. But this is the closest I came to getting one right. "America" is the other Neil "something bigger, fellow mankind" song. Simon's right, he was clever in going all patriotic. But, all technical merit aside, that was an artistic mess. The terrorists just won.

10. SM - Thank the Lord for the Nighttime. I thank the Lord we're almost done. I like Syesha alright, but just alright. She did a good job, but her voice is never really going to blow people away. Thinking back to some of the voices that have lost on season's past, Syesha doesn't rank among the great ones.

All in all, this show did what it was supposed to do - it revealed the contestants for the not-quite-ready-to-sell-records bunch that they are. I was entertained. I love the songs. It's one of the rare weeks when I think I'll actually like the results show better than the performance show. Okay, no more Neil. Thanks, buddy, this was fun.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Have My Suspicions

The songs the Idol contestants will sing? I've had a hard time coming up with anything resembling a logical guess for any of the contestants for any of the previous weeks. But this week (did I mention it's Neil Diamond week?) I have some strong hunches about what people will sing. Time will tell how reliable my gut is, but for now here's what I feel coming (in order of strongest feeling to wildest guess):

1. David Archuleta - He's not heavy, he's my brother. This just seems tailor-made for Archie, who is destined, when Simon questions his song choice, to reply, "It's just such a great song with a really positive message. I just think it's a song the world really needs to hear right now, you know? Take care of each other and lift each other up. It's always been one of my favorite songs."

2. David Cook - I'm a Believer. He'll do this in kind of a dark, minor arrangement that will burst into a brighter, less brooding speed rocker.

3. Jason Castro - Red, Red Wine. Randy will say it's not the greatest vocal of the night, but he loved how he made it his own, dog, so that was pretty good. Paula will melt a little and try to say she's crushing on him without actually saying it. Simon will say he played it safe, but at least we know what to expect from him and there's no question he's genuine. Still, he's got to wonder if America is going to get bored with the same performance week in and week out.

4. Brooke White - Play Me. I really don't know what she'll sing. I just know it will be overly thoughtful and underly dynamic.

5. Syesha Mercado - You Don't Bring Me Flowers. It won't make sense as a solo effort instead of a duet, but she'll do it anyway. The judges will like the vocal (and Paul will say she looks great) but they will all be confused as to why she's singing two halves of a song to herself.

In past seasons, the contestants didn't start singing two songs until the final four, which should make this the longest, most drawn out performance episode of the season. I can't wait. There's gonna be a whole lotta Neil, baby, yeah!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Musical Ripoffs . . . Diamond and Dylan

With all the Neil Diamond - Bob Dylan comparisons I've been making, I can't believe it took me this long to post this musical ripoff, which is not my original observation, but an old carpool mate. You can listen in the playlist: "Sleepwalker," by the Wallflowers (feat. Jakob Dylan) and "Solitary Man," by Neil Diamond. Enjoy.

Tiptoe




A florist I am not. I think this is a tulip. As little as I know about flowers, I still like to see them rear their ugly heads . . . mostly because they're not ugly. Anyway, this is the first flower to spring up in our bed this spring. I feel just the smallest rush of excitement at flower #1.

I know. I'm a dork.
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Overheard . . . Dear Santa

Today, Addison spontaneously launched into a letter to Santa. It was hilarious because he was just scribbling in lines as he dictated to himself. He started it out with a quote from "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which you can find about 15 seconds from the end of the clip below.

This was the gist: "Dear Santa, how have you been? Please bring my daddy a new bicycle. And bring my mommy some new socks. Bring Colin some pajamas. And please bring me some firetruck clothes." Then he redid the thing on a real piece of paper (although still not with real words) and wanted to mail it to Santa. I think it's on its way to the North Pole right now. Fun. :)

Poll Question, Baby

The poll question is simple . . . yet impossible. You're on American Idol. It's Neil Diamond week. What do you sing? And don't say the question is too hard, because every contestant has to answer it, right? Or are they in two-performance territory? Regardless, you have to pick one song. Well . . . you don't have to. But you're finding it hard to resist, right? Clearly, this is a Neil-friendly audience. So . . . go ahead. Grab a mic. You're on next.

And I couldn't list all the viable choices. So if the four options there don't unleash your doe-eyed, gritty, come-hither growl, post your selection here.

Baseball Sickness: Catch It

Yes, Michael, this was a sick catch. If you haven't seen this, it's worth a look. If you've seen this a hundred times, it's worth one more.

The thing you have to remember is, he made a decision when he woke up that morning that if breaking his neck was what it took to make a catch, he was okay with that. Check it out.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I Take It Back

I no longer consider Neil Diamond cheesy, nor do I allow for the possibility of an overlap between that which is cheesy and that which is good . . . unless it applies to actual food.

My apologies to Neil, his disciples, and every hair on their overly exposed chests.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Diamond, pt. 2

This started as a comment, but I couldn't stop typing. Darn it all, Neil, what are you doing to me?

I stand behind both Neil Diamond as cheesy and Neil Diamond as good, no, great. It's unabashed glorious cheese.

Actually, I'd say Neil Diamond is the musical alter ego of Bob Dylan. The music is excellent from both, consistently. Diamond is on the pop love song, loving life end of the spectrum, Dylan on the rock, folk, art, the world is so messed up end. Diamond's voice is crushed velvet, Dylan's torn denim. Neil writes songs that tell stories of the heart, the libido. Bob's tell stories of the soul, the conscience. But the songs are great. Over and over again, they're great.

And they are the anti-Idol, both of them. I mean, look at them both. At either of their peaks, Neil or Bob make Clay Aiken look like Johnny Depp. In Dylan and Diamond, you have two guys who made it entirely on the strength of their music and their music alone.

No Idol contestant can say that. The genius of Idol is that they have manipulated the pop culture system to perfection. They pick a couple dozen marginally talented singers and surround them with endlessly entertaining buffoons who can't sing a lick. They market that talent vs. mockery rodeo for a month or so, gradually eliminate some of the less-than-marginally talented folks, and then they kick it up a notch with the master stroke: popularity disguised as democracy. Popularity disguised as talent. Popularity disguised as the real stars who are too good to win the competition (yeah, I'm talking to you Bice and Daughtry . . . you're no more artistic or genuine than Clarkson or Underwood. You got on the show because you knew it could pimp out your career. Don't you dare pretend that you wanted to lose so you wouldn't have to sell out. You sold out at the audition, you loved it, and you'd do it all over again if you had the chance. Okay, go pretend, cuz it's sellin' you records.) It's genius. It really is.

But Neil Diamond didn't have American Idol. All he had was his music, terrible hair, a magical voice, and the look of a spritely dwarf (same goes for his Hobbit friend, Dylan).

So yes, I like Neil Diamond. (I got nothing agains ALW, either, I just don't think he belongs on Idol.) I guess you could say . . . I love him. Cheese and all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Something Completely Different

I had planned something a little more heartfelt and reverent, but then my world got rocked . . .

Next week is Neil Diamond week on American Idol. I can sum up my reaction in three words: Awesome.

Now I'll elaborate. Neil Diamond songs are perfect for Idol. It's the guy who made cheesy good. If cheesy music was actually cheese, Neil Diamond would be France. I can't wait. It's the redemption of the show. I say this week, and not Idol Gives Back week, should be the week no one gets eliminated. Heck, they should bring back every contestant, every person to audition.

You can sound bad singing Neil Diamond. But you can't be boring. This is gonna rock.

Also, the new Will Smith movie, Hancock, looks pretty unbuttoned and hairy chested, too. Can't wait.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Should I Get You a Card?


What do I say, Earth? Do you want a Hallmark? Box of chocolates? Day off?

I'm sorry, I don't like Earth Day (no offense, planet). It's my least favorite fake holiday, right there below Sweetest Day and maybe neck and neck with Andrew Lloyd Weber day on AI. I love Earth, it's totally the best planet I've ever lived on. But the holiday should be recycled into playground equipment.

It's not that I don't think Earth is worth the trouble. It's kind of in the same vein as Mother's Day - the whole point of the event is to give the honoree a break, but by the end of the day, you've burned the french toast, got crumbs in the bed, spent all day in line at Ponderosa, strewn wrapping paper and bad presents and sarcastic cards across the living room, and somehow still managed to leave a kitchen full of dishes for later that evening (cuz let's face it, Mother's Day ends at about 4:30 in the afternoon). I just don't think we're really helping.

There are plenty of valid environmental causes, I don't mean to dismiss them all. In general, wasteful living, excessive consumerism, and general disregard for the world around you are all deplorable yet regrettably prevalent lifestyles. I think we use too much and reuse too little. I also think global warming is an absolute crock put upon us by the most arrogant pseudo-scientists in the entire history of planetary studies. Maybe that is what has ruined Earth Day for me.

Probably not, though. Another candidate for Earth-Day ruining champion has to be people who try to offset excessive energy use by making up for it in some other way. Somebody pimp slaps the Earth one second and then buys it flowers. "No, Earth. I love you, baby, come on." Sorry. Not buying it. I'm not buying that and the whole day any more than I'm buying Jason Castro singing like a glamourpuss. Sorry.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Six-Word Story

Here's a meme from the Beav. It's a challenge to write a story in six words. Here's mine:

I quit long before saying goodbye.

And here's me tagging Steph, Jil, Colleen, Elena, Rhonda, and Jessie to do the same (if you don't have a blog, just post yours in a comment . . . if you do have a blog, comment and let me know you did it). Thanks! :)

Oh . . . and a link I just couldn't resist putting in here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Good Game



Hockey is brutal. Ice skating just might be the most graceful feat of athleticism a human being can undertake. Ice hockey combines that swift, elegant skill with cro-magnan blunt force trauma. It is the latter, more violent side of the sport that most people associate with hockey. The checking, the masks, the sticks, the blood, and the missing teeth - these are the staples of the National Hockey League.

But hockey isn't just beautiful display of physical talent. It isn't just a sledgehammer on skates. Hockey is a sport of rich and meaningful tradition, and it is that unbroken sense of history that fascinates me most about the good old hockey game.

My favorite of the many traditions, of which I only know a few, is the one that closes every series during the Stanley Cup playoffs. After the deciding game, after one team has pummeled the other into submission, the two rosters line up and shake hands like gentlemen.

It's good to know that there are still places in this world where you can do your darndest to destroy another person . . . and when you fail, you shake hands. Cool, eh?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pulling Up


Colin is starting to pull himself up. He's trying to stand up. He's totally cracking us up. And he's still doing the army crawl. And it sounds like he's saying, "Cheese," when we take pictures of him. That's all . . . oh, and more pictures in the slideshow.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Most Embarrassing



At my old job we used to have a tradition anytime someone new was hired. On your first day, you had to tell your most embarrassing story. Not just the new person . . . everybody. It was a great way to be introduced to a group of people. Just pool the embarrassment of the group and rejoice in the hilarity.

After a few new employees joined us, our boss discontinued the practice, mostly on account of my story. Here it is:
Heather and I were students at Moody Bible Institute. We had been dating for just a few months, so she was still not entirely aware of the depths to which my mind could descend. Something somewhere in the recesses of my subconscious decided it was time for Heather to see another corner of the sordid tapestry that was (and is) the real me.

At the time, Culby 2 was to Moody what The Max was to Saved by the Bell, what The Peach Pit was to 902 . . . what Dorothy's kitchen was to Golden Girls. Where was I? Oh, yeah, the second floor of Culbertson, where the menu included nachos, pizza, loads of other garbage, and the Avalanche. An Avalanche was like a Blizzard, only not at Dairy Queen. Same type of iced dairy product. Same selection of candy to grind. Just a different wintry disaster for a name.

We were in line, having the same cool conversation any meant-for-each-other dreamers have while they're waiting in line, basically ignoring the fact that a dairy-related decision was lurking at the front of the line. When my turn to order finally came, I had my heart set on a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Avalanche. The girl behind the counter looked to be a freshman, an aura of Moody innocence shining unspoiled all around her. She broke the news to me that there was no Peanut Butter Cup option. There was peanut butter. There was Reese's Pieces. But no cups.

So there I stood, debating between peanut butter and Reese's Pieces. Peanut butter . . . Reese's Pieces. Reese's Pieces . . . Peanut Butter. The words tumbled around in my head until the answer came to me like a lottery ball. And then I said it.

"Reese's Pianist." Only, I didn't say pianist. It sounded kind of like pianist. More of an organ, actually.

I was shocked. The girl behind the counter (GBC) was frozen. An avalanche of embarrassment engulfed us. But there was still that small chance, that tiny window of hope shining through the piles of frigid awkwardness, that maybe, just maybe she and everyone else could believe they just didn't hear me correctly. That gap of breathing room was quickly filled in by the next words to come out of my mouth.

"I mean pianist. . . . I said it twice!" And I did. I said that word that sounds a lot like pianist twice, and then I said that I said it twice. Forget a slip. It was a total Freudian wipe out.

GBC's expression didn't change. Her male (and far less innocent) co-worker was seriously in danger of dying from laughter. He shouldn't have tried to stop. It really could have killed him. Heather was shaking her head, laughing, and looking at me in the way I've since come to understand means, "For some reason, I love you even more . . . and I'm not all that surprised you just said that, and it's too late to turn around and run for my life, so let's just move on back here toward a place I like to call 'Normal,' okay?"

I have to give GBC credit. She kept her composure and just tried to move on. Yeah, her eyes were bugging out, but her voice never wavered in her attempt to restore order by asking the question I'm sure was on everyone's mind:

"Would you like vanilla or chocolate?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We Walk

Monumental Moment of the Day #1: I left the house. Since the advent of home-officeness, I've been inside. We have a chaise lounge that goes out more often than I do. That's a lie. We don't have a chaise lounge. But I don't get out much anymore. This is not a complaint. I am a homebody and proud of it. But I haven't officially broken up with the great outdoors, we've just been seeing other people. We ran into each other, and it wasn't awkward at all.

Monumental Moment of the Day #2: I went on a walk with Colin. This was our first father-son walk without company. It was pretty cool. Yeah he spit up on me as we were headed outside, but still, it was magical. The spit-up wasn't magical. But the walk, that was cool.

Monumental Moment of the Day #3: It was not cool. It wasn't cool at all, meteorologically speaking. It was really, really warm. Kinda felt like a dragon was blowing on us, because it was also really, really windy. But the warmth was the prevailing element. It was so warm, I had to take Colin's jacket off. I would have taken my jacket off, except the shirt I was wearing was covered in orange spit-up stains. Still, it was nice to be outside and warm and with Colin. As we were walking around, I just saw new life springing up everywhere. It was one of those Disney moments when birds are just kind of fluttering around you, singing merry little tunes, punctuated by the occasional spurt of a sump pump. Okay, so it wasn't completely Disney, but magical nonetheless.

Monumental Moment of the Day #4: I got offered a ticket to the Cubs game tomorrow, and I'm going. An old friend from church called up out of the Cubbie blue, and we're heading to Chi-town tomorrow.

All in all, not a bad day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mess Blessed

My office at home is a mess, but I'm in it. I shouldn't say "but" like the mess and my inhabitation of it are contradicting points. It is neither a statistical unlikelihood nor a personal inconvenience that my workspace is messy. I happen to like working amid clutter and disarray. But usually the mess is of my own making. This is more of a general byproduct of the transition. There was a ton of stuff in our old computer desk (OCD). Our OCD/hutch/walk-in wardrobe was a beast that, ironically enough, happened to house our old computer. The old computer is broke, rendering its monstrosity of a home somewhat unwelcome in our cozy little guest room/office complex.

So we decided to downsize our office equipment to just a desk. And when your main computer is a laptop, your desk need only be as big as . . . a lap. We got a rather small desk from Target, emptied out the OCD, and temporarily put its contents all over the guest room bed and floor as well as the small Target desk (STD). As it turns out, the OCD may have been the single largest storage space in our house. Heather wanted to go through everything before the ginormous mounds of clutter found a new home, and I had been working on the couch using my coffee table and/or lap as my primary work center.

Unfortunately, I had been taking up Addison's primary afternoon fun center, and I just couldn't live with myself. Heather and Addison were finding it hard to live with me, too, so I cleared off the STD and got to work. So I'm in the messy office that's getting less and less messy as time goes by and Heather goes through it.

But honestly, I'm gonna miss the mess when it's gone. I'd show you a picture, but Heather would not approve of posting photographic evidence of messiness in our house for the entire wired world to see. This written account is allowed only because my reputation for twisting the truth is sufficiently widespread to undermine the credibility of any claims that said chaos does in fact exist to the degree I have maintained herein.

Since cleanliness reigns in our home, I like to have a mess to call my own, and the office really fits the bill. Although, while I'm typing this, I think Heather's cleaning. You could probably peform surgery in there by now. Anyway, a mess is a sign that work is in progress, that the end is not yet upon us . . . that it's safe to be imperfect and untidy. When everything's clean in an office, starting to write feels like trying to break into an impeccably shrink-wrapped package. There's no gap. No bubble. No entry point. In a messy office, writing feels like opening a present your kid giftwrapped. Anywhere you start, you know you know you're gonna make headway.

So . . . goodbye, mess. It's been great. I won't get too sad. As long as I'm working in that office, I know . . . you'll be back soon.

P.S. My nephew's name is Theodore KaYin (gah-yeen) Kellogg (or as he will be known to me from this point forward, Teddy K).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Odor Eater



Addison hates the smell of baby food. All of it. If he sees us break out any food for Colin, Addison will switch seats to escape the scent. This morning, he took it a step further by constructing a cereal box barrier. The funny part to me was that Addison was eating waffles. He actually had to get up (which he loves to do) and find something to block the aroma of mixed berries and rice cereal. That was breakfast.

Lunch was great, too. Cajun turkey with bacon and cheese on wheat toast. It was quite tasty, but the thing that cracked me up as I savored each and every bite was that it was just another new thing for lunch. See, at work, I had the same thing for lunch every single day: Lean Pocket, carrots, Cheez-Its, cookies, raisins. The pockets varied, the cracker option rotated, the dessert and fruit changed from time to time, and the carrots were an absolute constant. It was a well balanced meal (made daily with love by Heather), but the consistency made people laugh. I loved it.

I like my routines (I make no secret of it). But now, I have something different for lunch every day. Actually, my routines aren't as numerous anymore now that I'm at home all the time. I'm starting to think they were a coping mechanism for just getting through the days. It's possible that I was dealing with my fear of being trapped without options by deciding to restrict myself on my own terms. Now there's no need, and I mix things up every day. Huh, who knew?

Then dinner came. We ate at my parents and I got to meet my nephew Zachary (not Robbie's kid, whose name I still don't know ). My oldest sister, Heidi, had him just after Colin was born, and since Heidi lives in the Bronx, we don't see each other every day. But she flew in with the kids today, so she got to meet Colin, we got to meet Zachary, and we all got to eat pork loin, topped off with my mom's homemade chocolate chip cookies.

All in all, it was a fine, eventful day of eating. In fact, I might have just one more cookie before bed. Don't tell Addison. We cut him off at four, and I'm going on my ninth or so.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Baby to be Named Later

My baby brother and his wife just had a baby boy. He was born Saturday night, and as of six o'clockish Sunday evening, he still didn't have a name. Well, he had one name. I assume his last name is Kellogg. But that's it, so far, Baby Kellogg.

And I think it's awesome. I know the trend is to have the baby's name picked out well in advance, but I have never been able to understand that. Okay, okay, John the Baptist and Jesus set a precedent of ahead-of-time naming, but barring some angelic revelation of a divinely appointed moniker, I think a kid deserves a face-to-face meeting before getting locked into a long-term label.

So kudos to you, Robbie, Lydia, and . . . dude. I think you have a name by now, but I'll always love the fact that you spent a day out in the open without a handle. Congratulations on everything. You're gonna have a lot of fun, no matter what people call you.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring Back



One casualty of working at home has been my habit of setting the time on my alarm clock 15 minutes ahead of reality. If the clock on my dresser told me it was time to be where I was going, I knew it was actually time to leave. I was never actually on time. The ploy didn't actually work. But it did prevent me from having to do math at 4:45 in the morning . . . or at 4:54 . . . or 5:03 . . . or 5:12 . . . or any of the other times my 9-minute snooze went off . . . or when I finally got myself ready. I knew that when I headed out of my room at 5:53 (ACT)* I was going to have to hurry to be just a little bit late.

There's really no need for it anymore. So finally this week I set the clock back to normal time. I'm still not quite adjusted, because I'm so used to looking at the clock knowing full well it was full of it. Now it's right . . . but I don't trust it.

Still, there's a bit of corny comfort when I get over my chronological trust issues. When I finally realize the clock's not lying to me anymore, it also hits home that I'm not going anywhere. When I leave my bedroom, the time is now, and I'm already where I'm supposed to be.

*Alarm Clock Time

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mail Man


I'm a mail addict. I always have been, as long as I've been aware of the concept of postal delivery. When I was a kid, I would spend some summer mornings doing nothing but waiting for the mail truck to drive by.

I had the route memorized, so I knew when I saw the mail truck first emerge onto Crockett how the dance would go. That gleaming white messenger of glory would waltz up and down Truman, twist around Sturdy, trot back and forth along Eisenhower, and then saunter to and fro across Crockett. And when it arrived at 2001 (a mail odyssey) my wait paid off with a rustle through bundles of letters, a flip of the box, a wave of the hand, and a big stack of bills, junk, checks, and the occasional letter.

I always had the faintest hope there would be something for me in there, but a moment of truth was rare. Didn't matter. I loved the fact that people all over the country wanted to send my family stuff for whatever reason. It made me feel important by association. On those days when I would get a birthday card (especially the Baskin Robbins free cone birthday card) I was ecstatic, made all the better since it was most likely my birthday. Oh, and the day when the free mail-in offer from a cereal box came in . . . that was pure ecstasy.

One time, my older sister devised a postal system in our house. She made mailboxes for the doors to everybody's rooms. It was awesome. It lasted about a day, which was extremely disappointing.

Then they invented email. Whoever did so was out to get me. Because there are times when I recreate the childhood obsession. But it's worse because there is no mail truck. There's no typical time of day when email shows up. I'll just go to my email browser and click "Check Mail" over and over and over and over as I stare at the screen to see if anything's coming. I'm not expecting anything in particular. I don't even mind spam. At least someone cares.

I could explore the issue deeper, launch an internal investigation into the reason behind my need for validation by courier . . . but I gotta go check my email. (If you've got a theory, though, feel free to comment . . . I'll receive it by email, which might take the edge off the cutting truth.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Must See?


The Office came back anew tonight, and it was superbly funny, in parts. That show has the uncanny ability to throw me into fits of laughter and then suddenly make me feel very uncomfortable. Tonight, it actually started with the promo (which popped up when the DVR kicked in as Addison and I were watching the Cubs win). About two seconds in I had to avert Addison's eyes and tell him, "That's not the kind of show you should be watching." Then I thought, But it's your dad's favorite show. And then I turned, looked into the camera, and kind of smirked a little. But the show itself was . . . I don't know, it was a bit much. Usually when it ends I don't know what to think. So, I guess it was as good as usual.

Then came Scrubs, and it had one of the funniest openings to any form of entertainment from any culture of any era. It had J.D. and Turk throwing water balloons from the hospital roof onto the heads of interns, moving in formation to resemble Space Invaders. Need I go on?

Somewhere in there I caught a glimpse of the ousted Idol contestant and was just a little bit shocked. I won't spoil it.

[insert segue between two completely unrelated thoughts]

I also decided that when the person you love does little things you don't like, those can turn into the things you're absolutely crazy about. When Heather and I eat chips and salsa at a restaurant, we both dip out of the same salsa bowl. When we have it at home, she spoons hers out onto the plate. That really bugs me, but I love it so much I want to cry. I don't know why, but I feel like we're Moonlighting in reverse. You know, David and Maddie started out driving each other crazy with all their differences (but everyone knew they totally wanted each other). Then they hooked up, and it ruined the show because they couldn't fight any more. With us, we hardly ever argued about anything until we got married. Now, we have all those tiny little arguments over silly things that only confirm we're completely meant for each other. It's really hot.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

No Mommies Allowed


That's an X. A red X that Addison scrawled on a piece of paper and taped onto his door. It is quite possibly my favorite artwork of Addison's.
It isn't the best X ever made. It's not even the best X Addison's ever made. The one he made directly on the door just five minutes prior to this one was pristine. And if I hadn't been asked to take the Mr. Clean miracle sponge to it, the original X would have been my favorite. There is, of course, a story behind it.

A couple weeks ago, Addison attended a birthday party that featured an indoor scavenger hunt. The mother giving the party had quite astutely hung small makeshift signs emblazoned with red X's on the doors of rooms in which nothing was to be scavenged. Addison liked the idea. So he copied it.

One night last week, Addison had one of his small disputes with Heather. The kind where Addison wants something, Heather doesn't want him to have it, and Addison calls the ACLU. It happened right about the time I was taking my turn in the putting-Addison-to-bed ritual. When Heather left, Addison was still a bit . . . insane with rage, so he said, "I don't want Mommy in my room ever again." That would show her to deny him candy at 8:30 at night. The moment demanded a certain stoic silence, but that was spoiled by my giggles when Addison added, "I'm gonna put a red X on my door." I got it. It was funny. It cracked me up that he had analyzed this tidbit of house-visit etiquette and synthesized it into the foreign policy of his domain. Then it passed.

The next day, right before lunch, he just got up from his seat at the table, grabbed a red marker (sneakily enough, I should add), came back a few seconds later (at this point I noticed the marker), and said, "I want to show Mommy what I did." You know what he did. You know I erased it. You know we helped him hang a proper, less destructive sign. The only blank left to be filled in is the conversation.

Addison: No girls allowed.

Me: Not even your friend Allie? Or Emma? Or cousin Maddie? Or Macintyre? Or Mackenzie?

Addison: (thoughtful pause) No, they can come in.

Me: So it's just, "No mommies allowed" then?

Addison: Yeah.

And he never once tried to enforce it. But he does go in there and close the door, and we pretty much leave him alone, unless it gets too loud . . . or too quiet.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Food



I'm so bummed that my camera's auto-focus wouldn't work tonight . . . but I wasn't about to waste too much time with it. It was all I could do to postpone eating this strawberry shortcake Heather made. I wanted to share it with you . . . that's a lie. I wanted to show you what it looked like. I really had no desire to share it with anybody. I ate it all, and it was dang freakin' good.

On a related note, David Archuleta is such a goober. I mean, he can sing . . . but he's a goober. I can't take him seriously at all anymore. He constantly bears the look of a kid resisting a tickle torture. I mean, I'll give him credit, he's not giving in. He's really good at not laughing. Barely a giggle tonight. But I swear, someone's tickling that boy.

P.S. Heather's making fun of me for titling this post "Food." Now I can't change it, even though it is completely lame. Now it's ironically awesome. And yes, Jason Castro is still the long lost lovechild of John Travolta and Minnie Driver. And my TV is a little fuzzy, but I seriously hope that what David Cook had scrawled on his palm was "Give Me a Break."

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sasha, Chaka. Chaka, Sasha.


Chaka Khan and Sasha Kaun have to get together for some kind of photo op. In the meantime, here they are together at last. Honestly, I don't know how announcers say Sasha Kaun's name at all without breaking into "I'm Every Woman."

For the record, Chaka Khan's name is much funner to say. I'm not at all familiar with her music, but the songs I have heard all seem to involve her singing her own name. If I had that name, I'd sing it, too. The first time I can remember even hearing of her existence was, I believe, during a Grammy's in the 80s. Prince might have been there, too. I can't remember too many details, but I can never forget hearing her name repeated over and over rhythmically, hypnotically, "CHA-ka KHAN, chakaKHAN, chakaKHAN. CHA-ka KHAN, chakaKHAN, chakaKHAN." I may not have heard of her before that, but I believe all six kids performed various renditions at multiple venues over the days, weeks, months, and even years that followed. In the off chance I find it on YouTube*, I'll post a link. But for now, your imagination will have to do the work.

Anyway, she probably has the most onomatopoetic name in the world (with Jack Kerouac and Jacques Chirac close behind). Now I've got to find a song that goes with this post . . . I'll go with a musical reference** to the team I thought had the best chance to win the tournament.

*You must follow this link if you have a single funky bone in your body. And you gotta love the Grammy's for having John Denver introduce this performance.
**I really wanted to go with "That's How I Got to Memphis," by Solomon Burke, but can't seem to make it work. Too bad. It's a great song.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday Dress

Addison decided Sunday was a day to dress up. Some people feel the need to rush home from church on Sundays to switch into their football-watching clothes. Not Addison. He wanted to merge the two worlds. Actually, he wanted to clip a tie onto his Cubs jersey, but that one was in the wash. The dude is stylin', that's all there is to it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

I Peeked

I just found out what I'm getting for my birthday, and I'm not at all disappointed.

The Speed Racer movie is coming out May 9, the very day I turn not too old to love Speed Racer. I don't know quite how it happened, but I have completely fallen off the cliff of movie awareness. I hardly ever see movies. I used to see everything. It's a troubling development, but when I finally do get to see a movie, my grief over being out of touch dissipates somewhat. I can't name the last four-star movie I've seen.

Who cares, I'm getting off the general track of glee. I'm seeing Speed Racer. It was made by the Matrix brothers . . . I really don't expect it to be the Matrix. I really don't care if it's any good. I'm seeing it. Happy birthday to me. Here's a kickin' trailer:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Hope and Doubt

When you're a Cub fan, strange things happen to you. Bipolar things. Like, you start believing that anything can happen. That "anything" could be a World Series championship. Or it could be total devastation. And even thought it's always total devastation, you still believe it could be anything. The loftiest hope and the most stubborn doubt can be mere moments removed from each other.

At the beginning of every season, I temper my expectations by swearing off any hopes that the Cubs can win this year. I then imagine what my reaction will be when they do win it all. And I do it every game. Cubs down by 5 runs with two outs in the ninth? I doubt with certainty that they'll win. Three walks later, I'm convinced with all the hope I can handle that they'll win. Then they lose, and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. I am at once assured that doubt is the way to go as my hope longs for another bay of optimism in which it can drop anchor and eagerly float.

Cubs winning? I envision every possible losing scenario. If they win, I'm elated. Never doubted it for a second. If they lose, I knew it was coming. Hope and doubt happily coexist in my brain, heart, soul, and left foot.

But this isn't baseball. This is life. I quit my job, and now I'm relying on God to provide opportunities, sustain my skills, and overcome my tragic weaknesses consistently enough to put food on the table . . . and keep said table in a house upon which foreclosure does not fall. And I have all the confident hope in the world that this is going to go great. But doubt still likes to play on my swingset.

It's kind of amazing. Pretty much every time I sit down to write something, I doubt that I can do it. And I've written a lot of stuff. Yet, I also have this strange feeling that it might turn out pretty good. There's no in-between feeling at all. I doubt myself. I believe in myself. It's the same kind of rush I get from watching the Cubs. When things go well, I am all adrenaline. When they go bad, I'm not at all surprised. I'm devastated. I'm sure there's a reason. I'm hopeful for next time.

I say all this, because so far . . . everything's going great. Really. It's all good. As a Cub fan, I know better than to believe it will stay this way. And despite whatever this rambling might indicate, I'm actually giddy. I gid. But it feels weird. At least the Cubs keep losing. If I forget to doubt, I don't know what that'll do to me.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Maybe It's Time to Change Again


Nothing major. But one thing that evolved out of commuting every day and waking up really early was an insane habit of staying up as long as humanly possible.

It had nothing to do with where I worked*, it was just . . . I knew when I went to sleep, my mind would be turned off until it was time to leave again. And leaving was something I couldn't bear to do. Staying awake into the wee hours of the morning was my way of hanging on to my time at home. I didn't make the most of the time. I didn't seize the moment. It was just procrastination of the inevitable.

And so far this week, I've found that even though I love waking up in the morning while the sun is up. I love the fact that I'm not sneaking away from my family while they sleep. But habits don't break easy with me. So I'm shooting for earlier. I'm making a commitment right now to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Dang, it's after 10:30, and I'm kind of into this episode of Scrubs. Oh well. Next week, I'm totally going to change.

*most of the time
Or maybe I should just write up a new post.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Perfect Storm


On my last day at work, I felt younger but still stressed.

Actually, it was an overwhelming onslaught of mixed blessings. It was my last day at Moody . . . but it was crazy busy. It was Opening Day, and the Cubs' new right fielder Kose-kay Fooka-dough-may erased a three-run deficit with a "welcome to Chicago, baby" homer in the ninth . . . only to see the Cubs pen blow it in the tenth. The day was sandwiched in between releases from the Counting Crows and R.E.M. . . . but neither album was all that great. Still, it wouldn't be life it was all great.

And now I have two days of freelancing in the books, and it's been much busier than I thought. There's been no working in my pajamas. No golf. No written-off business lunches. I'm just working. In normal daytime clothes. At home. Where I eat lunch. Without a lunch hour.

But there's also no driving. My family is there. And today, when the Cubs came on, I didn't check the score every now and then. I turned on the game and I watched it. And that's the beauty of baseball. Watching the game actually enhances your concentration on other things. Since the game ended, I can't get anything done. But during the game itself I was a fountain of ideas.

And that's the beauty of being self-employed. Your boss is very understanding about the peculiarities of your work habits.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Overheard . . . this kid should have his own blog.

Addison stumbled down the stairs tonight. He was fine, but he played it up real good. I went down to check on him and asked what happened.

"I hurt my foot."

"What happened?"

"I hurt my foot."

"How?"

"I fell down the stairs. Call 911."

Overheard . . . The Meaning of Life

Addison is starting to get all profound on us. As we were driving by the funeral home this weekend, he says, "Is that the die place?"

Heather: "That's the funeral home and the cemetery. That's where we buried Grandpa Jim. But do you know where he is?"

Addison: "Jesus' house."

And then this morning, the first morning of my freelance-only career, I asked Addison if I was at work at Moody. He replied hesitantly, "No. Where are you going to work?"

Me: "Here."

Addison: "You're going to work at home? This is gonna be fun."

And a few minutes later, he looked at me with his arms wide open and said, "Daddy, believe in your life. I am here." I'm not even sure what that means, but I was inspired.

This is gonna be fun.