Thursday, July 31, 2008

In Which I Am A Killer: Part Two - The Stand

9:12:22 PM.

A dusty Ford F-150 lumbers up a quiet dead-end road, and pulls sharply into a dirt driveway about three hundred feet up from the corner. Once in the driveway, the driver slams on the brakes. The tires lock up and dig into the dirt, causing a cloud of dust to catch the light breeze.

As the breeze carries the dust cloud into the brush lining the driveway, the doors to the truck open and a man and woman jump out. She is carrying a grocery bag in one hand, the outline of a small rectangular box pressing against the thin plastic. He is carrying nothing but the keys to the truck, and quickly puts them into his pocket.

"This better fucking work." Michael says grumpily, "If it doesn't, I'm going to torch the place."

"This should work. I mean, unless the flea's are radioactive, they shouldn't be able to live through two insect foggers." says The Boss, opening the front door to their apartment.

"Even still. We've been treating both the cat and the entire fucking house for flea's for almost two weeks now. They keep coming back! I'm sick and tired of brushing flea's off of me when I get up in the morning to take a piss."

Michael takes the bag from The Boss, and removes the carton of insect foggers. He begins reading the warning label and instructions for use, shifting every few seconds to brush a flea from his calf, skin, or ankle. "'Effectively kills adult and infant flea's and larvae'. For thirteen bucks, I'd fuckin' hope so."

"Seriously. We'll use two of 'em tomorrow, and if that doesn't work, we'll use the third one in a few days." The Boss says, kicking her flip-flops off into the corner near the door. "And if that doesn't work, then we can torch the place."

As both Michael and The Boss enter the bedroom to change into their pajama's, the cat scratches vigorously at her neck with her left rear leg. She jumps up on the back of the couch and scratches some more, depositing dozens on fleas into the various crevices and canyons between the cushions and pillows.

Unaware of the latest additions to the crumbs and spare change under the cushions, The Boss leaves the bedroom and drops onto the couch. She turns on the television, rapidly switching from channel to channel in search of anything decent to watch. Michael now stands at the kitchen counter, serving ice cream into two mugs with a large spoon.

"I'm beginning to think that the flea's we have are mutant flea's," He says over his shoulder. "For the amount of chemicals we've already tried, and we're still having problems? Unless they have a physician hidden somewhere with vaccines or drugs to counter-act what we're using to kill 'em, I can see no other feasible explanation."

"I know, right? We've given the cat a bath and used flea medication, treated the carpet and the couch with countless sprays and powders. How much more money do we need to spend before this problem gets resolved?"

He hands her her favorite mug, with a more-than-adequate serving of ice cream inside. The Boss blows him a kiss as he sits down next to her. Their conversation drifts from subject to subject as they watch television, and before long the eleven o'clock news is on. After catching the forecast for tomorrow's weather, Michael gets up from the couch and switches off the TV.

Tired and eager for sleep, The Boss puts her empty mug in the sink, visits the bathroom one last time, and climbs into bed. After finishing a tall glass of water, Michael shuts off the kitchen light and heads towards the bedroom. He stops a few steps shy of the door, and turns to face the living room on last time. The darkened room seems strangely foreign, with odd shadows cast from the moon outside obscuring the shapes of its contents.

"Rest well, flea's and various other pests." he mutters under his breath.

"For tomorrow... You die."

11:07:36 PM.

---

Part Three - The Resolution... Tomorrow

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Which I Am A Killer: Part One - The Infestation

7:29:57

7:29:58

7:29:59

7:30:00 AM.

The alarm clock goes off, shattering any dreams Michael may have been having. He quickly hits the snooze button, desperate for those few extra minutes of sleep, despite knowing (in the more sensible portion of his mind) that he should get up. The warmth and comfort of staying in bed is too strong to resist, and he thinks to himself, I can be a little late to work this morning. I've earned it.

No sooner after closing his eyes (it seems), the alarm clock is jangling away again, with more ferocity and at a higher volume. That was the quickest nine minutes EVER. He begrudgingly throws the blankets off and swings his feet out of bed, wondering who decided the length of time allotted by one push of the Snooze button, and where the damn bastard lived. A quick stretch of his arms and legs induces a chorus of creaking and popping sounds, and he shuts off the alarm clock in disgust.

7:39:41 AM.

What a horrible time to have to wake up.

The first couple of steps towards the bathroom are awkward, like a drunk stumbling down an alley after last call. The rising protest from his bladder makes the rest of the trip hurried. Still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes he feels something on the back of his leg, but absentmindedly brushes it away. After the morning ritual of releasing last nights fluids, flushing, soap application, rinsing and hand drying has been completed, Michael feels again the presence of something on his legs.

He looks down at his legs, and finds two-to-three dozen black specks, all of which weren't there last night, all of which are moving around erratically. His recently-awakened brain slowly absorbs this new and perplexing condition, but can't quite place what is going on. A quick and slightly painful "biting" sensation quickly brings an answer to mind.

Fleas!

He quickly reaches down and start swatting at his shins as if his legs are on fire. Like miniature superhero's, the fleas jump off his legs and disappear. The remaining stragglers are the ones who have already bitten him, sluggish and heavily laden from drinking his blood. He pinches them between his thumb and forefinger, flicking them down into the sink, warm water already gushing out and gurgling down the drain. The struggle to rid himself of fleas continues on for a few minutes.

His cat sits on the tile floor just in front of him, as he looks up and catches his breath. She licks her front paw, and looks at him with an expression that seems to say "Now you know how I feel." She stands up and walks away, swishing her tail behind her. Small black specks jump up onto her as she walks towards the couch on carpeted floor of the living room.

A pit arrives in the base his stomach, heavy with dread and horror. The infestation has gone unnoticed, and the living room carpet and furniture are now host to thousands of flea's. Michael's overactive imagination kicks in, and the Berber carpet seems to start moving.

With an acute sensation of what is better known as the "creepy crawlies" (that will stay with him the entire day at work), he realizes the extent of the work ahead of him.

7:43:27 AM.

---

Part Two - The Stand.... Tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Which I Hate Morning Television

When The Boss and I moved into our current apartment, we moved with the understanding that we would not be getting cable television. We've had cable in the past, and found ourselves spending too much time watching TV instead of doing other things. With that decision made and firmly in place, we've managed to get by with decent reception through our old "rabbit ear" antenna. I've had no complaints until recently.

On my days off, after I've stumbled out of bed in the morning, I like to turn on the TV and watch the local news. Generally speaking, I'm up early enough to catch the last few minutes of news and maybe get the forecast, but then everything switches gears to The Early Show.

After a few months of watching lame commentaries, piss-poor interviews, and politically biased "news" reports, I've grown to despise The Early Show.

I know that a show like that has to run on a tight schedule, but it seems like the are trying to fit their content around their commercials, instead of the other way around. They try to fit too much into their shows, spending literally just a few minutes on a topic before switching to a different one. Instead of that, how about presenting less on each show, and spend more time on each segment? One might actually learn something from the show instead of having everything just glazed over. How can they expect people to retain any information when its only mentioned briefly before the subject is changed? I usually end up shutting the TV off in disgust and confusion.

It's not just The Early Show I can't stand.

I can't watch The Early Show without thinking that Maggie Rodriguez is the office slut.

Watching Regis and Kelly makes me want to stab pencils into my neck.

I feel like inducing vomiting with razor blades when I watch Good Morning America.

The Today Show puts me to sleep faster than Novocaine that the dentist's office.

Give me "Mythbusters" or "How It's Made" or "Dirty Jobs" any day of the week. Hell, I'd even watch The Food Network instead of those shows. And for a fat man, watching The Food Network is almost as bad as going on a diet... You see all this great food, but you can't eat any of it.

I know I'm not one to rant, but I'm doing so because other than watching these morning news shows, I have nothing else to watch on TV without getting cable. I'm thankful that I have good reception to watch the shows I do like (like CSI, The Office, Heroes, etc), but I wish there was entertaining television to watch in the mornings.

That's why I'm always browsing the Internet for free porn. Any suggestions?

Monday, July 28, 2008

In Which I Am Observant, Part Two

Have you ever noticed that when you arrive early to the movie theater to get a good seat, that the tallest person in the world happens to sit down right in front of you just as the movie starts?

Have you ever had a really hot girl walk by you and smile, and realize afterwards that she wasn't smiling because she thought you were attractive but because your fly was unzipped?

Have you ever realized that downloading "Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz was a mistake, not just because the song is horrible but that the $1.05 transaction via iTunes overdrew your bank account?

Have you ever woken up and thought you were late for work? And then rushed into the shower and got dressed before you realized that you didn't have to be up for another three hours yet?

Have you ever picked your nose while waiting in traffic, and not cared if anyone saw you or not? Have you ever been grossed out by the guy in the car in front of you picking his nose while waiting in traffic?

Have you ever noticed that the only open seat inside a busy train station is the seat that has a piece of gum the size of Rhode Island stuck to it? And that you won't realize it until you go to stand up to board the train and realize you are stuck to the chair, and something suddenly smells like spearmint?

No?

Well, I have. I've noticed all of these things.

Have you noticed anything this week?

(Before you think you've gone crazy, I've written a post very similar to this before. I thought it'd be a good "filler" post while I'm trying to think of what to write next.)

---

I wanted to take a minute to write my thoughts about "The Dark Night". I saw it Saturday evening with The Boss and my father. I enjoyed it, but I am not going to rave about how amazing it is. I didn't like how slow the first 1/3 of the movie went, and how they left out some of the character development. I also didn't care for the dark, raspy voice Bruce Wayne had as Batman. It wasn't believable, but I know why they did it that way.

To say Heath Ledger did an amazing job would be to echo many other's opinions. I almost didn't believe it was him. It has been a long time since I had seen a role was portrayed that well.

It was a good movie, but there could have been more talk and less action, in my opinion at least.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In Which I Come To Terms

I've always been an emotionally strong person.

I was the one who has always waited until I was alone to break down, being constantly afraid of appearing weak.

I was the one that comforted my wife and aunt when we learned that my grandfather had passed away while we were on vacation, even though my heart felt like it had been ripped out of my chest.

I was the one that held my family together when my younger sister was admitted into the psych ward for attempted suicide, even though I was reeling from the knowledge that she didn't follow through with killing herself because she wanted to tell me she loved me one last time.

But yesterday, as my wife held me in her arms, I cried like a fucking baby.

---

I approached my wife yesterday, as she was getting ready for work, and asked for a hug. She wrapped her arms around me and pressed her head against my chest, and I could feel the cool moisture from her still-wet hair soaking into my shirt.

"Are you okay?" she asked quietly.

And with that, I broke down.

I could feel every piece of the facade I've built around my emotions crumbling, and for once I didn't struggle to rebuild. I didn't bother to wipe away the tears streaming down my cheeks.

I just cried.

---

After more than a year, I have finally come to terms with my medical problems. Seeing my MRI and EEG results in person made it sink in: This is real. I have proof that there is something wrong with me that is causing these problems. And it was like a weight being dropped heavily on my shoulders.

I'm scared. I feel vulnerable. I feel like everything is spinning out of control, and that there is nothing I can do to stop or change any of it. I'm scared because this condition is slowly and irreversibly changing my life. I've seen how it has changed my mother's life (she has the exact same thing), and I'm scared for whats going to happen to me. I feel vulnerable because there was never anything I could have done to avoid any of this, and there is nothing that I can ever do that will stop the progression.

Ultimately, I didn't learn too much at my appointments last week. My doctors pretty much reviewed what I had already been told, and we discussed what the next plan of action was going to be. Even though I've only seen my doctor's twice in 10 months, they've apparently spent large amounts of time poring over my test results trying to find something, anything, that they could link to as a cause.

When reviewing my MRI, I learned where in my brain the GMH is. It is a 5mm-wide piece of extra gray matter located on a portion of the basal ganglia. There are two halves of the basal ganglia, one on each side of the brain. The GMH that I have is on the left side of the brain, which controls the right side of the body. The theory at this point, is that the extra gray matter on the part of the brain that controls motor function is causing "bursts" or "episodes", that translate into the movements that I have.

The EEG that I had showed abnormally high "bursts" of electrical activity in certain portions of my brain, but that there was no clinical (ie. visual) proof of anything.

One thing I'm trying not to focus on is one sentence that my doctor said very quickly: "At this point, we do not believe it is a tumor." That statement went against what they had told me earlier, and that is quite a statement to grasp. Only because I have direct family history, in two different relatives, of brain tumors.

The next plan of action is going to be a sleep study. There is suspicion that I might have sleep apnea, so they are going to try to diagnose that, in addition to getting visual proof of my movements and another EEG scan of my brain while sleeping. I'll be going down in September for that.

Both my neurologist and epileptologist want me to start medication for treatment. They don't feel that there is any danger if I didn't start medication, but they said since its been going on for a year with no treatment that I would probably benefit from it, at least a little. They gave me two choices of medications:
  • Keppra, which is an anti-convulsant, reduces the activity in the brain that causes the movements.
  • Benzodiazopene/Clonazepem, also an anti-convulsant, works also as a mental sedative.

While each might help control the symptoms I'm having, there are downsides to each drug. Due to its potency, Keppra can damage the brain if you take it when you don't really need to. Clonazepem is habit-forming, so as your body builds tolerance to it, it demands a higher dose to make the medication effective.

My mother has taken both of these drugs through the course of her treatment. She has been trying to come off Clonazepem for about 8 years. Keppra is the only drug that she has tried that has lessened the symptoms, but there is the danger of brain damage from it.

What a choice to make, eh? Become a vegetable or a drug addict... Not exactly like trying to figure out what t-shirt to wear in the morning. I'm going to talk things over with The Boss and my parents, and give a response to my neurologist by Wednesday. At this point, I'm not sure which way I am going to lean towards.

---

I'm still struggling to remain strong about this. As I've typed this, I've had to stop a few times to wipe the tears away. I'm not used to feeling this way, and I don't like it much. I know I need to be strong about it, because it is not just scary for me. The Boss is scared and worried, too. This is uncharted territory, both for me and my doctors.

In the end, I know I'll be okay. I have an amazing circle of people around me that provide support and empathy, and that is the best form of treatment for me right now.

P.S. There has been a drought of funny around these parts lately. I'll make you laugh with tomorrow's post, I promise. It'll include my thoughts and opinions of "The Dark Night".

Saturday, July 26, 2008

In Which I Am Home From Boston

I have much to say about my trip to Boston. There are so many things to mention that this post will practically write itself. Before I get into that, I want to thank you all for your kind words and support. It touched me deep down inside, (not in a dirty way, you perv) and I'm greatly thankful to know all of you and have you all as readers.

I don't want to give you a play-by-play of the trip, because I'm pretty sure it'd be very boring. I'm going to anyways, but condense it a little bit to avoid putting you all to sleep. There really wasn't much that happened that is worth talking about, but I am not completely without some stories. Let me break it down:
  • Both the train ride down to Boston and the subway trip to the hotel was uneventful. The Boss and my sister enjoyed ganging up on me, and teased me the entire way down. It was, for the most part, fun. It was raining lightly, so we started out the day in Boston slightly wet and soggy. We spent a majority of the morning at the Cambridgeside Mall, wandering around all three stories of it. I was fortunate enough to be able to follow The Boss and Maria around such awesome stores like Old Navy and Lane Bryant.
  • We grabbed a shuttle from the mall to the Kendall/MIT station, and headed towards MGH. It didn't take as long as we had thought, and we got there about an hour early for my appointment. I spent that time sitting in the waiting room, struggling to stay awake, my head bobbing up and down. It probably looked like I was giving the world's worst imaginary blowjob.
  • After the appointment, we went to the hotel to officially check-in and clean up. My mother was coming to Boston for a conference the next day, and we were going to meet up for dinner. We were six blocks away from the Cambridgeside Mall, and dinner was at The Cheesecake Factory. I got soaked from the rain, enough to need to purchase another shirt prior to going to dinner. Dinner was great (I had the classic burger, and Dutch Apple cheesecake), and was over quickly. Then it was back to the hotel, and I fell asleep at 10:30.
  • We were up early the next morning. The continental breakfast sucked more than I thought was possible, and then we were en route to MGH for my second appointment. After that was done and over with, we headed off to Quincy Market. We hung out there until 4:00, when we headed back to the hotel to grab our luggage, and then we were on our way to the train station for the ride back home.

Pretty un-interesting, eh? That's probably because I left out that I was solicited for spare change by seven different yet equally scary-looking men. And that I had an employee at Sears try to sell me gutters, even when I told him I didn't own a home ("Ask your landlord! I really need this commission!"). Or that I almost got ran over by an old man on a purple kids bike, complete with handlebar streamers. Or that I came across a girl on the subway who was wearing a mini-skirt and needed to be taught the value of crossing one's legs when sitting down, and also the importance of wearing underwear and/or personal grooming.

I could also mention that I saw more nun's roaming around Boston than there probably was on the set of "The Sound of Music". Or that the "interpretive dance" group that I saw performing allowed me to laugh harder than I've laughed in a long time. Or that the guy that took my order at a pizza joint looked like he was one more "NEXT PLEASE!" away from stroking out on the floor. Or that the pigeons in Boston are so brazen and unafraid of people that I was slightly afraid of them.

I managed to take a few pictures of things, but only during the train ride to Boston and the train terminal. After that, I had put my camera away and promptly forgot about it. I wouldn't have had much of a chance to catch anything, between the rain on Thursday and rushing around on Friday. It's Boston, though. Anything worth seeing is easily found by doing quick searches on the Internet.

Except for the cooter of that chick on the subway. I could be wrong, though. Judging by the way she was dressed, she might own a webcam. Or at least have a voyeuristic boyfriend.

The Boss and I arrived home at 10:30 last night. We were both exhausted, and wanted nothing more than to go straight to bed. Alas, our apartment had been taken over by fleas in our absence, so we were up until midnight getting it under control. Upon getting up this morning, I was greeted by 34 new feeds, 28 e-mails in my inbox, and four pages of Twitter updates. It took me four hours to get caught up. It is a reminder to not leave my laptop at home next time. Reading and commenting on 34 entries is a lot of work for one morning.

Now, before you think I'm leaving something out of this post, I'm not going to be talking about my doctor's appointments in this entry. This entry has become long enough already, and I still have to wrap my head around everything I was told. It is nothing serious, so don't worry. I'm coming to terms with a few things, so writing it out should help. I'll be working on it this weekend, and should have something up by Monday.

I'm going to see "The Dark Night" tonight with The Boss and my father. I'm excited to see it, and I don't think I'm going to be let down. I hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In Which I Go To Boston

A couple of months ago, I wrote about some neurological problems that I have. For those newcomers who haven't read through the archives yet, I would suggest clicking on that link to read the story. Quite frankly, it is a long story and I don't feel like typing it out again.

Go ahead and click on the link. I'll be here waiting for you to come back.

...

All done? Okay, good.

I haven't written much about my health since then, because I'd feel like I was complaining or seeking sympathy for my problems. What I have going on is nothing compared to what other people go through, and I don't want to make a big deal out of it. With that said, I want to mention a couple of things without it coming off as if I'm throwing a pity-party for myself.

Since I last wrote about this, I've developed a new symptom that scares me a little bit. I seem to be having head or neck movements while sleeping, that, in addition to causing neck pain, make me bite down quite hard on my tongue. I've woken up numerous times with a mouthful of blood and a rather large tooth-shaped gouge on the underside of my tongue. This is completely new and startling to me, as most of the movements I experience involve only my legs and arms. It also scares me because all of the symptoms that I have currently, I started having while sleeping and have progressed to having occurrences during the day. I can handle the leg/arm stuff, because I don't see that as ultimately affecting my way of life. But having head or neck movements, too? That could be a problem.

Another thing I've been "tough" about is the fact that there is no "cure" for what I have, because there is no known cause for it. The doctor's that I see can only speculate what the cause is, and from there it is trial-and-error as far as treatment is concerned. There are hundreds of different medications I can take that will control the symptoms, but nothing short of deep brain stimulation or surgery to remove the GMH would ever cure me of what I have.

I'm writing about this now, because early tomorrow morning, I am boarding a train with The Boss and my older sister to head down to Boston for two appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital. Both are follow-up appointments, the first with my neurologist, and the second with a new doctor I've never seen before. We're going to discuss the results of my latest round of testing that I had back in January, and hopefully order a sleep study so they can see for themselves what happens to me when I sleep. I refuse to start any treatment until they have more of an idea of what is going on.

As far as the trip to Boston goes, we'll be staying over one night, and coming home late Friday evening. Since I'm not going to be gone for very long, I'm leaving my laptop at home. Tragically, that means I'll be without a means to read and comment on all the places I frequent. I promise to make the rounds when I get back, but don't think I'm ignoring you if I don't get to your posts or comments until mid-day Saturday.

Since I love you all dearly, I'm going to give you a few options to keep up with me while I'm gone:
  • I'll be updating frequently with Twitter, so if you are at all interested as to what I'm doing (like avoiding subway butt-gropings, or dodging homeless people with Windex bottles, or eating at The Cheesecake Factory), you can check that.
  • You can also e-mail my cellphone (yes, e-mail) by sending short messages to badassgeek@vtext.com, and I'll do my best to write back.
  • I'll be taking and sending pictures with my cellphone, and uploading them to my Photobucket account. Check that if you'd like to see what strange things I encounter.

And of course, I'll write about the trip when I come back this weekend.

Wish me luck!

P.S. I think I just set a new personal record, for the most hyperlinks in one blog post (eight!).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In Which I Give Advice

As I've mentioned earlier, I am a huge fan of Google Analytics. It makes me happy in my pants, and I can spend hours pouring over the data it provides to me. Well, maybe not hours, because I'm not that much of a geek.... Okay, okay, so I am that much of a geek. But you like it.

Anyways, earlier this weekend I reviewed on my GA stats the most recent search terms that brought people to my site. I don't get very many hits from search engines, and the ones that I do get aren't that funny or intriguing. Except for this one:

"how to be a badass"

Now, I know that doesn't come off as funny. But remember the full name of the blog you are reading... Badass Geek. I know he probably came by here because I wrote the "Badass Geek How-To Tutorial" a few months back, but I doubt it was much help to him. Anyone hoping to become just a badass by reading this blog is sorely mistaken. Since I'm pretty sure he didn't get what he was looking for, I'm going to offer Mr Wannabe Badass some helpful advice.

---
  • If the word "geek" can be applied to one or any of the things you do, refrain from it immediately. That includes using Google to help find instructions on how to change your lifestyle. I know you can't just approach a guy that appears to be badass and ask "How can I be like you?" without getting punched in the nuts, but there is something to be said for simple observation.
  • I would suggest taking up smoking. Combined with a leather jacket and aviator glasses, it might help your image a little. If you like flirting with danger, smoke a few packs a day. Willingly lowering your chances of ultimate longevity might make you seem cool.
  • A heavy drinking habit might also help. Warn your liver first.
  • Move out of your grandmother's basement.
  • Telling the ladies you ride a bike is only cool if you are referring to a motorcycle. The Huffy 6-speed you've had since you were 9 doesn't count.
  • Don't keep the same job for more than a week. Try to get fired if possible. Be careful with this one, though. Too heavy of a focus on this might make you appear to be what is called a "douchebag".
  • Define your "originality" by whatever the media states is popular.
  • Get a leather wallet, and throw out the canvas Velcro one you've carried around since you won it at the county fair. Remove any membership cards to any fictional groups, such as the Star Wars Fan Club or the Star Trek Fan Club.
  • Get a couple of tattoo's. Tribal armbands are unique, because not too many people have them. Avoid selecting cartoon character's such as Spongebob or Dora the Explorer, even if they are your favorite shows and you have all the episode's recorded on your DVR.
  • Commit a couple of small crimes, to build what is called a "rap sheet".
  • Gain, and build upon, relationships with people known as "dealers", who distribute and sell addictive chemicals, plants, or illegal pharmaceuticals.
  • Acting generally irresponsible is encouraged.

---

So there you have it. Follow these instructions carefully, and you'll be on your way to being a bonafide badass. But don't use the term "bonafide", as it might ruin all of your hard work in this matter. Good luck, Mr Wannabe. Let me know how it turns out.

P.S. One more suggestion. Never take any advice seriously from a guy who, even at one low-point in his life, looked like this:

Monday, July 21, 2008

In Which I Write About Sex... In Verse

Mr Daddy Files, in response to my entry yesterday, asked to hear the story of how I lost my virginity. Since I lost all sense of pride and humility a long time ago , I will oblige his request.

Even though it makes me feel a little creepy.

---

Virginity, Where Art Thou?
A Story of Grand Accomplishments

My first time with sex was in college,
At the start of freshman year.
My girlfriend got "that look" in her eye,
And my eye's began to tear.

My nerves made my stomach churn.
Was I horny? Far, far from it.
I rushed down the hall to the bathroom,
As I was sure I was going to vomit.

"It's not that you're ugly!" I cried.
"I've just never done this before!"
Her smile disappeared as she left the room,
Making sure to slam the door.

"I guess, not tonight" I said to my crotch.
"There will be another time soon."
No sooner were those words out of my mouth
When my girlfriend re-entered the room.

She held in her hands a small plastic wrapper
With "Durex" on the label.
When I noticed that her other hand held some KY,
My knees suddenly felt less stable.

I'll let you imagine what events happened next,
I haven't the stomach, nor the words, to describe.
Suffice it to say it didn't last long
Which I expected, at least for my first time.

When I rolled on my back in a post-coital haze,
Exhausted and physically spent,
My girlfriend asked for an encore performance...
Let me tell you how that went.

Once everything was "up and running" again
(A better term? There is a lack),
For the second time in the same evening
I was part of a beast with two backs.

I thought everything was going well,
And I mistakenly quickened the pace.
Alas, it was over in thirty seconds flat,
And a frown crept over her face.

She withdrew from me, and I from her,
Disappointed, but what could I do?
She turned on her side, and that was it.
The night was clearly through.

And that, my friends, is the story
Of how my virginity was lost.
"Am I better at sex now", you ask?
You'll have to ask The Boss.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

In Which I Am Poetic

I wasn't feeling very creative today,
A point I am embarrassed to boast.
My metaphorical well of ideas and thoughts
Has dried up; I've got nothing to post.

I thought of writing about another "First Time",
But I wasn't sure what about.
After all, the story of how my virginity was lost
Should probably be left out.

"I could complain about work," I said,
But I didn't want to appear to you as whiny.
I then thought of describing my blog troll,
Mr Pineapples, whose dick I'm sure is tiny.

"No to all that!" I cried. "I must think!"
And wracked my brain in thought.
It was then it occurred to me that there was something
I've meant to say, but forgot.

You see, it appears that I have this talent
Of turning a phrase in time,
And selecting the proper corresponding words
That make it flow smoothly, and rhyme.

I can spin a quick line or write a stanza,
And give it an emotion, (happy, or sad).
I've used this in the past to poke fun at my sisters,
To get them good and mad.

There is not much going on today.
My e-mail inbox is desolate and void.
The weather outside? It's warm and sunny,
Just begging to be enjoyed.

Alas, I'm stuck at my desk 'til late,
Answering calls and being nice.
I ask "Can I help you?" but think to myself
The solution is a quick motion, and a knife.

No, I'm not planning a homicide;
I wouldn't fare too well in jail.
Besides, I've got little money, and no rich uncle
That could help me to post bail.

I've never posted an entry before
Written entirely in verse.
Considering what else I could have written,
This can't be that much more worse.

So, how about it folks?
What do you think of this new style?
It is quite fun to write like this,
But I'll admit it takes a while.

I've begun to ramble, so I'll wrap things up.
Leave a rhyming comment if you care.
I might turn this into a meme,
So commenter's, beware!

---

Just kidding. I wouldn't subject anyone to mandatory poetry writing.

Unless they deserved it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

In Which I Drop Out Of Boy Scouts

Generally speaking, I had a pleasant childhood. I would say that I have no real complaints at all, but that is simply not true. There are always exceptions to the rule, and how I came to be a Boy Scout is one of them.

I was a pretty shy kid growing up. I didn't have many friends, and preferred to be alone most of the time. Because of that, and probably because they didn't want me to grow up to become a serial killer, they enrolled me into Boy Scouts. A lot of kids that I went to school with were in the local Pack, and my parents thought it'd be a good way for me to come out of my shell and make friends, and have fun. In theory, they had the right idea. As you will learn, though, I proved them wrong.

I remember being nervous on the ride to my first Scout meeting. I was wearing my brand new uniform, had my handbook and weekly due money, and my father in tow. I reluctantly got out of the car, and my fathers firm grip on my shoulder convinced me that I truly wanted to go. Upon entering the room where my fellow Scout's were, I noticed something was horribly wrong. My parents unwittingly had bought me the wrong uniform and handbook. Not only was I embarrassed to be the newcomer to the group, but I was also forced to sit through my first meeting wearing the uniform of the junior class of Boy Scouts. I wasn't ridiculed for wearing the wrong uniform, but it made me want even less to go to the next meeting, despite eventually getting the correct uniform.

There were a lot of kids there that I didn't know, but as young boys are wont to do, I quickly made friends with most of them. As much as I hated to admit it to my parents, I eventually came to look forward to going to Pack meetings each week. It was fun, and I learned a lot about nature, tools, and other stuff that I can't now remember. I was always a bit behind when it came to merit badges, because my dad didn't have much spare time to help me with things. He was going to college and working, both full-time, and I knew it hurt him to have to say "no" when I asked for help on the weekends.

I don't remember much about most of the kids in my pack, but I remember quite clearly the Pack Leader. His kid was the over-achiever of the group, always having the most badges, always completing new assignments first, and the first to have rumors spread about him becoming an Eagle Scout. I didn't mind the kid so much, but his father was very creepy. He was short, and not quite skinny. He had a beer gut that looked like he was hiding a party balloon under his shirt. He always wore a plain Hane's t-shirt with a pocket, and blue jeans with suspenders. He wore large, slightly tinted glasses, and had very bad teeth. He rubbed his stomach when he talked, his laugh sounded like an emphysema patients last dying breath, and he stood too close to you when talking. I always wondered how someone so uncomfortable to be around could have been appointed to a leadership position.

My pack never went on any camping trips or field trips. We didn't do much at all, actually, short of our weekly Pack meetings and monthly regional meetings. Sure, we did pinewood derby racing and we learned how to make birdhouses, but there was never any trips anywhere. I was always disappointed by that. When it came close to the end of the year, I was the furthest behind in my Pack. My Pack Leader sat down with me and basically went through my handbook and scribbled in completion dates so it looked like I was caught up with everyone. Even though it appeared that I was a model Boy Scout, all I knew how to do was carve a block of soap and tie a few knots.

I ended up dropping out of the Scouts before the next year began. I didn't retain the few things I did learn, and I didn't actually do most of what was required to pass on to the next level. It had become more work than fun, and my parents let me decide whether or not I wanted to continue. I can't say that going to Boy Scouts as a kid helped me become who I am today, because nothing I did while in the program helped me in other parts of my life. Unless you count learning how much fruit punch and cookies I can consume without getting sick as vital life knowledge.

---

Since I've had a few people ask, I'm going to explain Twitter. To quote their FAQ section verbatim:

"What is it? Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: 'What are you doing?' Bloggers can use it as a mini-blogging tool."

"How do I use it? Tell us what you're doing in 140 characters or less! Send your thoughts, observations, and goings-on in your day. Whether you're "eating an apple" or "looking forward to the weekend" or "Heading out of town" it's twitter-worthy."

When you have your own Twitter account, you can "follow" other people you know who have Twitter, and they can "follow" you ("following" means that their updates are shown on your Twitter homepage). You can send updates via the Internet, or via txt message from your cellphone. So if you're walking down the street and see two homeless people making out, you can let the world know about it by txting in from your cellphone. If you're at your computer at work and your cubicle neighbor just farted and it smells like skunk-meat tacos, you can tell the world how bad it smells.

It can be an interesting tool. I use it to make quick statements about things I'm thinking about currently, or if I'm going to be away from my computer for a few days I can still let people know what I'm doing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

In Which I'm Excited

I casually mentioned something on Twitter a little while ago, and realized that it deserved further explanation. Before I get to the explanation, I need to preface it with a pre-explanation.

I am something of an amateur photographer. It is nothing that I do full-time, mostly just as a hobby when I can. I've done a few weddings for friends, but I prefer to do what I call "art" photography.... Landscapes, waterfalls, sunsets, etc. I haven't done much with my portfolio, although I did recently try selling greeting cards and things like that in a local store. I didn't mention my photography hobby before, mostly because I'm trying to keep certain parts of my life separate from my blog (to keep family members from finding me here). It also isn't an all-too active part of my life, but what happened today definitely deserves mentioning.

Earlier this afternoon, I was contacted by the Art Department at a Warner Brothers television production company. They said that they are filming a new television series called "Fringe", and the set designer was searching for art to include on a set. They were originally searching for a painter with a name similar to mine, and accidentally came by my photography website instead. After browsing through the gallery of photos I have taken in Maine, they decided they liked my work better, and asked to purchase some of my photos for use on their set.

Holy shit, people.

Holee-shit.

I was completely blown away by this. It took me a good two hours to calm down, but I managed to pull it together enough to speak with a couple of people in the Art Department at WB, to understand what they were looking for and to come to an agreement.

What I know right now is this:
  • They have selected three of my photographs.
  • They are going to use them on the set that is for the main character's apartment, to tie in with the character's back story.
  • They are paying me for rights to use them on set for the duration of the show, and will be express-mailing a check to me by Saturday.
  • I will FedEx them one 8X10 print of each picture by Tuesday morning of next week.

I'm not getting rich overnight from this, by any means. I'm sure I could have haggled my way into a bigger check, but I didn't want to risk losing the deal. The money I will be getting will be a nice reward for my work in photography, and damn fine way to end the week.

So. Let's re-cap.

Big television network + Small-town amateur photographer + Three Photographs = $$$

Fate, how I LOVE thee!

In Which I Make My 50th Post

With the words I write in here today, I will have reached a milestone.

This is my fiftieth entry.

I realize that my blog is still relatively young, but I'm proud of the fact that after writing fifty different entries, there are still people coming by to read. That means that either I haven't bored anyone to death yet, or you people have too much free time. At any rate, I'm glad to have those who read and comment, and to those who read and don't comment, I'm glad to have you, too, but I'd like you more if you did comment. I ask you politely to de-lurk.

Being my fiftieth post, I thought it might be neat to compile a list of quotes from each entry. After gathering a few quotes, I realized that it involved a little bit too much work than I wanted to commit to for just one entry. I then came up with the idea to post a list of 50 things I've learned about blogging since I've started writing here. I've learned a lot, so I figured I'd share that with you.

50 THINGS I'VE LEARNED ABOUT BLOGGING
  1. Originality in writing is more difficult to achieve than I thought.
  2. It is hard to write anything when you write out of obligation.
  3. What you might think is funny, might not be funny to someone else.
  4. What you might think is not funny, might be hilarious to someone else.
  5. Retaining anonymity when writing about yourself can be tricky.
  6. Relationships can be made, and broken, by a single comment.
  7. Entries about farting are pure gold.
  8. People love to read entries riddled with swear words.
  9. One comment can change my day around completely.
  10. A clever title or catch-phrase does not make a blog more or less popular.
  11. Commenting on other blogs is essential to gain more readers.
  12. A response to a comment you left from the writer of a popular blog is very empowering.
  13. Google Reader is a godsend.
  14. Twitter is not all that useful, yet I use it anyways.
  15. I spend more time proofreading my entries here than I did on any paper I wrote in college.
  16. Anonymous comments are kind of creepy.
  17. I can suffer from writers block for a few days, and then in one day have enough things happen to have blogging material for a week.
  18. It ultimately doesn't matter what you write about. Just write.
  19. The advertisements provided by Google AdSense can be ridiculous.
  20. I will never put ads on my blog.
  21. I'm no longer embarrassed to say "I'm going to blog about this later."
  22. Creating mastheads or banners is more fun than it should be.
  23. I don't like blogging about my daily events.
  24. I'm constantly afraid of being a boring writer.
  25. I greatly respect lots of people I've never met in person, but know through blogging.
  26. I love Google Analytics more than I know how to say.
  27. Selecting an original nickname for my wife was incredibly hard.
  28. Being funny isn't about making jokes.
  29. People can tell when you're lying.
  30. Writing about a struggle or problem can be therapeutic.
  31. Coming up with 50 things I've learned about blogging is harder than I thought.
  32. People can be judgemental of what is written on a blog.
  33. There are some really close-minded people who have nothing better to do than criticize complete strangers for their choices and lifestyles.
  34. There is a fine line between being open, and sharing too much.
  35. Writing about your job can be dangerous.
  36. I worry about offending people, yet
  37. I don't believe in censoring one's writing.
  38. I believe in being tasteful and tactful.
  39. Sharing memories is a way to connect with others on a whole different level.
  40. One doesn't have to have a complex and fancy-looking blog for it to be popular.
  41. The rules that I follow for my blog don't necessarily apply to others.
  42. The stories I've read from mommy/daddy blogger's don't make me want a child any more or less. It just confirms the fact that I'm not ready to be a father.
  43. I refuse to let any relative popularity affect me.
  44. I am wrong for ever idolizing any blogger's success.
  45. Individuality and honesty is key.
  46. I'm not as good of a speller as I thought.
  47. If I put half as much effort into my college education as I put into this blog, I would have my degree by now.
  48. All of my grammar teachers in high school were wrong.
  49. A reality check is always one click away.
  50. I never thought blogging would be this rewarding.

There you have it. Fifty things I've learned since I've started blogging. I know there are other things that I've learned other than what is listed here, but I'm too exhausted from thinking that much to type anything else.

Thank you, my readers, for staying with me through these first wobbling baby steps. I appreciate your constant support and comments, and I'll try not to let you down. For those who lurk around these pages, I urge you to comment on this entry. If you've been hiding around long enough, you know I don't bite.

I'll be writing about my experience with Boy Scouts next... Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In Which I See Weird Al In Concert

In a word, the concert last night with Weird Al was awesome.

It was more than a concert, though. It was a performance, complete with costume changes, fog machines, and gyrating pelvic thrusting dances. This was my third time seeing Weird Al in concert, and as with the other two shows I've seen, I sat there with a goofy smile on my face, singing along with the lyrics in my head. While I would like to describe all the aspects of the concert to you, I don't want to write a review of it. That's not my style, and I would rather write about my experience in general.

The day was uneventful leading up to the concert, and there was nothing notable that happened until my father and I went to enter the arena. We approached the turnstiles with our tickets in hand, and were greeted by two overly enthusiastic employees in blue polo shirts and dark pants.

"Hello!" shouted Blue Shirt #1. "Welcome to the Meadowbrook Arena!"

"Hi," I replied, unsure why she was yelling. She made no move to see my ticket, so I continued walking past her.

"Hold on, Sir." Blue Shit said curtly, holding an arm out in front of me. "We have a strict 'no weapons' policy here at the Meadowbrook. Do you have any knives, handguns, poisonous gas, or hand grenades?"

"No, but I ate baked beans prior to coming tonight. Is that okay?"

Blue Shirt blinked confusedly for a few seconds, and then smiled awkwardly as she let me pass. I handed my ticket to the next attendant, who silently scanned the bar code on the stub and motioned for me to go through the turnstiles. My dad was right behind me, and we were in!

We had an hour to kill before the show started, so we found a place off to the side and people-watched for a while. What struck me as strange, other than being asked about my weapons arsenal, was the diversity of people present for the concert. One would expect there to be a wide variety of geeks there... The ones with long hair and patchy beards, or the diehards wearing concert shirts from 15 years ago, or the group of three scrawny, pimply-faced teenagers wearing tube socks with sandals. What I didn't expect to see were the older couples dressed in expensive clothing with their ticket stubs in clear protective cases hung from lanyards around their necks, or the young girls decked out in their designer sunglasses and all-too-revealing tops, or the gaggle of grandmothers huddled together, laughing amongst themselves. I guess it made sense that the crowd would be as diverse as Weird Al's music and parodies, but it caught me off guard at first.

Also in the crowd what a guy with a full scale, remote-controlled model of R2D2. It was a big hit, with people chasing after it and posing for pictures. There were vendors trying to sell their overpriced food and drinks, and there was a line of people waiting to get fake air-brushed tattoo's. There was a small band off to the side of the arena, and they weren't all that bad until they tried playing Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust". They murdered the song, and as we walked away I could sense that Freddie Mercury was rolling over in his grave. We purchased 50/50 tickets, and made our way to our seats. We found our seats with no trouble, and we remained there throughout the show. The seats were decent, but too far away to take a decent picture with my cell phone. The arena filled up quickly, and I was fortunate to have a neighbor that was respectful of the common armrest.

The show was entertaining and very high-energy, and the crowd of 4,000 loved every minute of it, myself included. He sang most of the selections from his latest album, and did a lot of the fan-favorites, too. My favorite part of the show was his Star Wars set. With everyone dressed in Star Wars costumes, he sang his parody of "American Pie" by Don McLean ("The Saga Begins", a re-telling of Episode I - The Phantom Menace) and "Lola" by The Kinks ("Yoda", a re-telling of events from Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back). Both songs are favorites of mine, and the performance of those two songs were the best out of the entire show.

The show ended with a hilarious rendition of "Fat", the well-known parody of Michael Jackson's "Bad". He did a large portion of the dance routines from his music video, complete with the fat suit. He returned for an encore ("Albuquerque"), and that was it. My dad and I trudged back to the car, and drove home.

If I don't sound too enthused about about the show, it's probably because I'm coming off of a pain killer and muscle relaxer hangover. I re-injured my back yesterday, but refused to let it keep me from going to, and enjoying, the show. I really did have a great time, and I would recommend anyone to see a Weird Al show, whether you are a fan or not.

In addition to not feeling too well, I'm working a 12-hour shift today. That should give me plenty of time to come up with a more interesting post for tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Which I Am Spontaneous

I am generally not one to do things spur-of-the-moment. I like to have things planned out so I can have all of the essential information locked away in the steel trap that is my brain.

That said, my father and I decided to go to a concert that is taking place tonight. We decided on this last night. There was only hand handful of hours between the initial conversation and the purchasing of tickets.

Who are we going to see, you ask?

None other than Weird Al Yankovich.

We are heading out this afternoon for the 8pm show, and will probably be home past midnight. I'll take some pictures with my cellphone if I can, and I'll post them, along with details about the show, during the day tomorrow.

P.S. I don't normally write short posts, and I think this sets the record for my shortest post to date. I'm feeling a little inadequate, but I'll make it up later on this week.

Monday, July 14, 2008

In Which I Am Patient

In an apparent attempt at cruel humor, Fate, it seems, is testing my ability for patience. Unfortunately for Her (I'm assuming that Fate is a female. I could be wrong, but I'm too embarrassed to check), I am a very patient man. I might even be so bold to say that my ability to withstand extreme annoyance borders on super-human strength. Alas, I am only a regular-human, and I do have a breaking point. Which, if Fate continues Her quest, could happen at any moment now.

I probably wouldn't have noticed that Fate was targeting me, if it hadn't been for a series of specific events. I don't think that it's a coincidence that, at work, I just happen to get back-to-back calls from mothers holding their screaming babies, who get upset at me when they can't hear me. I'm positive that Fate caused every person in the state of Maine to forget to call in their prescription refills during the week, and made them all call in at the same exact time, when the office isn't open, to complain about it. I think it was on purpose that when waiting in line at the grocery store on my lunch break, the person behind me in line would have a little ankle-biter of a kid who would keep jamming the cart into my heels. I know it was Fate's fault that I would forget my wallet at home, thus effectively wasting my entire lunch break.

Despite these (and other) unprovoked attacks on my patience, I am standing strong. While the events of this past weekend have caused me to dip into my Emergency Backup Reserve of patience, I'm holding my ground. If Fate wants to play dirty, I urge Her to bring it on. I am a patience camel, people. I mean, I grew up with two sisters, and I'm married to quite possibly the most indecisive person on earth. I hardly think that what I've been through recently is the best of what She can throw at me.

I know that one isn't supposed to tempt You, but seriously?

I think You can do better.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In Which I Drive A Buick

This is another installment in the "First Time" event series. I'll be talking about my first car.

Due to my parents being over-protective, I didn't start taking my driver's education course until my senior year in high school. While it was hard to see all my friends driving around on their own already, I was already pretty used to not being as cool as them. I swallowed my pride, got my learner's permit, and drove around with my parents for a couple of months until I could send away for my license.

By the time I received the notice that I was scheduled for my driver's test, I was a few months into my freshman year of college. I skipped a day of classes to head back home for my test. Despite being a bundle of nerves, I passed with flying colors and got my license on the first try. I couldn't afford a car, but at least I had a license to drive one. This was in November, and I would remain without my own set of wheels for another couple of months.

In March, my father got a new car. Knowing that I was itching for a car, he offered me his old one. Even though it was a little run down and wasn't much to look at, I jumped at the chance. They wouldn't let me have a car on campus, but when the semester let out, it was all mine. Here is an example of what my car looked like:


I was the proud owner of a 1991 Buick LeSabre. It looked almost exactly like the car in the picture, so much in fact that I thought it was my actual car. The paint was fading and chipping in more spots than I could count, and it looked like it belonged to someones grandparents. All it needs is an afghan and some screen-printed hats on the back ledge, I would joke, and it'd look like ol' Grandpa Geezer's car. In my feeble attempts to make my car seem less "old", I hung my graduation cap tassel from the rear view mirror, and shined up every square inch of chrome I could find. I washed it weekly, and waxed it as often as I could. I upgraded the speakers, so when I blasted my music it would sound halfway decent.

What this car didn't have in looks, though, it made up for in other ways. It had all leather seats, power everything, and there was more room in the truck than any Mafia hitman would ever need. The engine was a responsive and efficient V6, and could get up and go very quickly. The ride was very smooth, almost like you were gliding over the road. It handled like a dream, and there was more power under the pedal than I probably should have had. I loved this car, but refused to give it a name. My parents called it "Thugger" (I'll let you decide why), but I referred to it simply as "The Buick".

I've always been a responsible driver, but the ancient appearance of The Buick got me out of a couple of situations that could have resulted in a ticket. Two incidents come to mind, really. The first being the time when I ran a red slight, squealed my tires, and fishtailed around a corner... all in front of the County Sheriff. I expected him to pull me over, having violated three traffic laws, but when I was on the shoulder of the road, license and registration in hand, he drove right past me.

The next incident was when I was in a hurry to get home from my younger sister's graduation ceremony. The 64 ounce beverage I had consumed was crowding my bladder, and I needed to relieve some pressure. Too concerned about not pissing myself, I drove by a pair of State Police squad cars parked in a break in the center median, cruising at a cool 87 miles per hour. The posted speed limit? 45 mph. One of the Troopers pulled out and headed towards me, and I hit the brakes. Before I could get any slower than 35 mph, the Trooper was behind me, roof-lights flashing. As I moved over to the side of the road, he whipped around to my left side. Slowing down just enough to shake a finger at me and mouth the words "Slow Down", he surged ahead and down the road. Needless to say, I respectably drove the speed limit the rest of the way home.

I was allowed to take The Buick with me to college the next fall. I was working part-time at home on the weekends, so I needed to have transportation. It was also nice to have a means to get away from campus when I needed to. The girl I dated that year (who will later become known as The Boss) thought my love for my car was amusing. She said she was never embarrassed to be seen in my car, but that's probably because her car was more of a piece of crap than mine was. There were many dates between her and I that The Buick was part of.

I drove The Buick for just under a year before it died. One of the piston seals burst while on my way to class one morning, and that was it. No struggle for breathe, no feeble attempts at forward motion... It was simply and irreparably dead. It rested in a 7-11 parking lot until it was towed away, and was later purchased for $200 because the tires still had some tread on them.

For my first car, I don't think I could of had anything better. Even though I might have complained about its appearance, it suited the need and I grew to love the car more than I thought was possible. I still miss it from time to time, but deep down inside... I'm glad I drive something now that looks like its from the same decade.

Friday, July 11, 2008

In Which I Am A Winner (For Once)

Something happened to me today. Something that made the fact that I consumed curdled milk yesterday fade into a distant memory. Something that gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling in a special place.

No, not that place. Pervert.

Lola, over at Sassy Mama Says, has selected me for the Arte Y Pico award. Since you have to be fluent in Spanish (I am many things, but that I am not) to read about the award on its website, I will briefly describe it as something you give to other bloggers whom you feel deserve recognition. Not only did I receive said recognition on Lola's blog, but I got to steal the following image:


I'm going to place this on the trophy shelf I put up a couple years back. You know, the dusty, empty one over in the corner.

I feel special to been talked about in such glorious terms such as "big guy", "great writer", and "very funny". I don't normally let compliments go to my head, but I couldn't help it this time. Lola and I are relatively new friends in the blogging world, and I'm glad she thinks as highly of me as I do of her.

And, as with a lot of things dealing with blogs these days, there are rules that I'm supposed to follow upon receiving this award. I'm supposed to give out this award to other bloggers that I feel deserve the same recognition. I was going to be selfish and horde all the glory to myself, but I ultimately decided that wouldn't be fair to the people that write the amazing blogs that I follow on a daily basis. With all that said, here are my selections:

Moonspun: I'm not sure how she came about my blog, but I'm glad she did. She is a very intelligent and warm person, and I enjoy following her writing. She lives in Vermont, which makes her a pretty cool person in my book. She also comments on everything I write, which makes me feel good. I envy her ability to appear very "human" in her writing. She is very honest and I appreciate that very much.

Joy Is Everywhere: There is too many good things to write about this person. She's awesomely vulgar, has a great taste in music, and is a talented painter and photographer. She exudes so much of her personality in her writing, and she doesn't hold back much at all. As a fellow photographer myself, I give major props to her.

Sometimes Funny Is All I Have: Leonie and I have quite a history. I've been following her for about three years now, and she is the first person I've ever known who lives in a different country. She is funny and witty, and recently wrote a review about a vibrator in very careful and tactful terms. She also is a great musician and singer, and I would highly recommend checking out some of her music, in addition to her blog.

Even though the rules state otherwise, I'm only going to recommend these three for this award. While I highly value and respect all of the bloggers that I follow, please know that it was hard having to choose, and I feel you all deserve recognition. Putting your thoughts, feelings, memories, and opinions out on the Internet can be hard to do, and I highly respect everyone I have encounterd. To risk being a little cliche, you people are a beacon of light in an otherwise dark world, and I have the strongest of platonic feelings towards all of you.

For those that I did select, here are the rules for this award, should you choose to obey them:

  1. Pick five blogs that you consider deserve of this award, (whether for creativity, design, interesting material, or contributions to the blogging community, no matter what language).
  2. Name each nominee and link to his/her blog.
  3. Show the award, and include the Name and/or link to the blog of whoever presented you with this award.
  4. Link to the Arte y Pico blog so everyone knows the origin of this award.
  5. Post these rules.

Tomorrow, I'm going to write about my first car. It should be an interesting and bumpy trip down memory lane... Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In Which I'm Amazed By My Own Stupidity

I need to preface this post by saying that in day-to-day life, I'm generally a pretty awkward person.

I stumble over my words, and even when I manage to pronounce my words clearly, it doesn't always make the most sense. I trip on my own feet at least once every fifteen paces, and I've been known to forget to zip up my fly. I don't realize that wearing a brown shirt and brown shorts together would probably make me look like a giant, walking (albeit clumsily) turd. Even on days when I seem to have most of my metaphorical shit together, I'll still come out with a brilliant statement such as, "Wow. Wal*Mart has a lot of shopping carts".

Lucky for me, I don't care much about any of this. I carry on in my life in a semi-permanent state of ignorant bliss. With all that said, I've seem to be afflicted by a rash of stupidity so severe, that I'm not entirely sure what to do. I thought it would go away after a few days, but its still present, and I'm beginning to get concerned. Here's why:

STUPID THINGS I'VE DONE SINCE MONDAY:
  • Asked for a quarter of a half-pound of smoked ham at the deli counter.
  • Put three letters in the mail without putting stamps on them, before getting in line to purchase stamps at the Post Office.
  • In reply to a cashier's statement of "Its pretty hot out there, huh?", I reply "No, its not that bad", and proceed to wipe away the river of sweat coursing down my face.
  • Completely forgetting to put on underwear before leaving the house.
  • Announced myself as a "mouth breather" instead of an "operator" with a customer at work, because I was reading something online while talking.
  • After noticing the rancid smell coming from the milk carton, deciding that it was still okay to drink from it. And then swallowing the mouthful of chunky milk instead of spitting it out.

I know these events aren't overly concerning, but I'm not normally so dense. Why deny the temperature outside when its obvious I'm sweating profusely? How could I possibly forget to put on underwear, when I've done it every single day for almost my entire life? Why ask for such a foolish measurement of deli meat when there is a much simpler way of asking for it? And why, Dear God why, did I think it would be okay to drink milk that smelled and looked like maggot soup? I've brushed my teeth six times, and I'm still having to ward off the bad taste with breath mints.

I hope this doesn't continue much further. I've been overloading myself on Sudoku puzzles to try to get my brain back in gear. I'm not sure how much more of this I can take.

Has anyone else done something stupid this week? If so, tell me about it. Misery loves company.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In Which I (Almost) Get Into A Fight

***WARNING: I use some potentially offensive words in this post.***

This past Monday, on my way to pick up The Boss from work, I stopped at a grocery store to pick up a few things. As customary for me, I parked at the end of the row in the parking lot, and went inside to do my shopping.

The weather has been very hot and humid here in Maine over the past couple of days, and the air has been very thick and heavy. That said, on my trek back to my truck in the parking lot (about 800 feet up a slight uphill grade) after shopping, I began to breathe a little hard. I passed a car parked in the lot, with a man sitting behind the drivers seat, windows down. I gave him the obligatory male "head nod" acknowledgement.

As I walk nearer towards the car, he says "Having a hard time walking uphill, fatty?"

I stop walking, stunned. Did he just say that? This complete stranger, calling me a fatty? I stood there for a moment, and just looked at him. He sat there and smiled at me smugly. I'm obviously angered by this totally unneeded and offensively rude comment.

"Shut the fuck up, faggot."

At that, Rude Man throws open his car door and walks towards me, incredulous. "What did you just call me?" he yells.

"You heard me damn well. Shut the fuck up and get back in your fucking car." I start walking towards my truck. I'm no more than a few steps past his car when he calls out again.

"Hey!" Rude Man is walking towards me with his hands balled up into fists. He is thin and wiry, and looks like he has been wearing the same clothes for a few days now. "Who you callin' a faggot?" He spits the words out like they left a bad taste in his mouth. He is about five feet away from me when he starts to lift his arm up.

"I'm calling you a faggot. And seriously? Don't even think about it. Just get back in your fucking car." I say to him. With Rude Man still approaching, I drop my groceries on the ground and ready myself for the fight that's about to come. Adrenaline surges through me, and my knuckles crack and pop as my hands form into fists.

"I'm no faggot! Where do you get off callin' me that?" Rude man yells.

"Where do you get off calling me a fatty? Back the FUCK off, man."

We're about three feet away from each other at this point. My heart is rattling in my chest, and I can hear my pulse pounding in my ears. Rude Man plants one foot forward, and leans back with his right arm. I raise my left fist up, and take a full step towards him.

"Get back in your car before you make another mistake." I say through my teeth. "Back. The. Fuck. OFF."

I'm close enough to smell that my suspicions about his clothing had been correct. Staring hard into his beady eyes as they dart back and forth, I see a look of nervous fear creep across his face. I tighten my fists again.

"I'm no faggot," says Rude Man weakly, and takes a few staggering steps back. He lets his hands fall down to his sides. I take a few steps back myself, and Rude Man slowly turns around and walks down the lot towards the store. I wait until he is about thirty feet away before calling him a chickenshit. I wasn't about to let such a pathetic excuse for a human have the last word.

Just like that, the confrontation was over... Almost as soon as it had began. I pick up my strewn groceries and head back warily to my truck, a little shaky from the adrenaline but otherwise no worse for the wear.

And that's the story about how I came this close to being in my first fist fight.

For the record, no exaggeration was used in the re-telling of this story.

Monday, July 7, 2008

In Which I Celebrate

Today is my older sister's birthday. I write this story in honor of her, and for reaching the ripe old-age of 24.

My older sister Maria* and I never really had much to do with each other, despite the fact that we did a lot of the same activities. For that I think there were times when she resented me, because she wanted very much to be her own person. She had her own friends, and almost made a point to make me an outsider at times, but there were times when she came to my aid. Growing up with her was an experience all to itself, and when thinking of my childhood, I have one prominent memory of her. Read on...


In high school, Maria and I both were in marching band together. We both played the saxophone, which always put us in the same section on the field. Since she was older, she was always trying to tell me what to do. This went far beyond being helpful... She was downright bossy. I couldn't seem to do anything the right way, and while I was willing to learn, hearing my sister mentioning loudly that I was doing things wrong didn't feel too good.

The incident in question happened after a long, difficult, day on the practice field. It was hot and humid, and I was frustrated with having to repeat the same section over and over again. Maria and I happened to be right next to each other at this particular part of the show we were rehearsing. On what was supposed to be our last attempt for the evening, our director stopped us and pointed out that I had been out of step. From behind me, I heard Maria snicker to her friend:

"Figures. He never does anything right."

I was instantly furious. I had put up with her snide remarks and hurtful comments all day, and I finally had enough. I spun around on my heel and faced her.

"What did you say?" I asked angrily.

"Nothing. It just figures that you'd be the one to screw up."

That hurt like a slap in the face.

"You're not perfect. You're just a... a..."I said, my anger causing me to stammer.

"A what?" Maria asks expectantly, her lips turned up in a smirk.

My mind raced to think about what I could call her that wouldn't get me grounded (again).

"You're a four-eyed... supreme... know-it-all!"

Maria's friends, who had been watching our verbal exchange, started to laugh. Despite being called one of the lamest insults ever to be uttered, Maria started to cry. I couldn't believe it.

After practice was over, my parents got wind of what happened. Even though Maria was the one saying the mean things towards me, I was the one who got into trouble for making her cry. I think she knew all along that if she played it up, she would get away with her dirty deed, thus leaving me holding the bag for the entire incident. I don't recall what my punishment was, and I didn't know enough to file a retrial.

Her sense of humor has improved greatly since then. So, I call her a four-eyed supreme know-it-all every now and then, for old time's sake. It is as funny now as it should have been back then.

Happy Birthday, Maria.


*Not her real name.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

In Which I Get In Trouble

I came to realize today that although I've mentioned the fact that I have two sisters, I've never really talked about them. I find that strange, because I have plenty of things I could say about them. Rather than bore you with descriptions, I figured I'd do what I seem to do best: Tell you all a story about them. This particular one involves me and my younger sister.

The day was rainy and cold, and also a Saturday. The television had long since stopped providing entertainment, and since playing outside was not an option, my parents sent my sisters and I to our rooms to find something quiet to do. My older sister, Maria*, went to her room to read. My younger sister, Jen*, followed me into my room. My bedroom held all of the toys and various things to play with, so my room was often the hang-out spot.

We agreed on a board game, and that kept us occupied for a short while. I eventually grew tired of playing, and wanted Jen to leave. She wanted otherwise, and would not leave.

"Jen, please leave. I want to have some time to myself." I said nicely.

"But Miiiike! I don't wanna leave! Maria isn't gonna want to do anythin', and I'm borrrreduh!"

"Go ask Maria if she'll play with you. I want you to get out of my room, please."

"Puhleeease can I stay? I'll be quiet an' I'll stay out of your way, I promise! If I do anthin' wrong, I'll leave. Pleeeeeeeese?"

"No, Jen. I've asked you nicely, and I want you to leave. Don't make me get Mom and Dad..." I trailed off threateningly.

Jen's eyes widened in fear, and took a few steps backwards towards the door.

"Okay, I'll go... No one ever wants to play with me." Jen mutters under her breath.

"Its not that I don't want to, its just that I want to be alone right now. You can come back later."

She turns around and comes back into my room. "Can't I just stay here? I'll sit in the corner nice an' quiet. You won't even know I'm here! Promise!"

"No!" I say, getting frustrated. I grab her arm and start to push her out the door. I'm able to move her easily, until she grabs hold of the door frame on both sides.

"GET OUT!" I yell.

"I don't WANNA!" Jen yells back.

A human tug-of-war ensues, with me pushing her out the door, and her pushing back. Our loud exchange continues as a muffled "Guys! Be quiet!" comes from behind the closed door to my parents bedroom. Knowing I could get in trouble, I give one last hard shove, and Jen's hands let go.

She stumbles backwards a few steps, and that's when it happened.

*CRUNCH*

Jen hit the other side of the narrow hallway, and came to a sudden stop when her ass broke through the drywall. In that exact instant, we both became silent, knowing full well just how much shit we were in. We looked at each other in fear as we heard stirring in my parents room.

My mother, long-since fed up with our shouting, emerged from my the bedroom just seconds after Jen ass-planted herself.

"BOTH OF YOU. TO YOUR ROOMS. NOW!" she yelled.

With her ass still sunk into the wall, Jen looked at her, tears starting to pool in her eyes, and slowly shook her head 'no'.

"I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU AGAIN. GO TO YOUR ROOM!" Mom yelled even louder.

Sniffling, Jen looks at me, and then back to Mom again. "I can't!" she pleads innocently.

Clearly not having the patience, my mother, with two quick steps, moves down the hall and stands over Jen. She grabs her arm and begins to pull her down the hall to the bedroom she shares with Maria.

Only then does she see the butt-shaped hole in the wall.

From here on, my memory of this event is shaky. I remember that there was lots of yelling and finger-pointing, but ultimately, both Jen and I ended up grounded. Jen was lectured about listening to people, and I was lectured about not being so physical. My dad spent the rest of the weekend attempting to patch the hole. Maria spent the rest of the weekend with a smug grin on her face, enjoying the fact that she wasn't involved. My mom spent the rest of the weekend with her head in her hands, wondering how she raised such hellians.

Through the years there would be many more incidents where Jen and I would get into trouble together. She never did learn how to listen, although I eventually learned to use words before actions. Even when she was the instigator, I was often the one to get the blame for yelling at her. She hasn't changed much since childhood, and still knows which buttons to push to get me angry. We all look back on that day and laugh about it, but I still claim my innocence.

*Names changed to prevent my ass from getting kicked when my sisters find out I wrote about them on my blog.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

In Which I Am Nostalgic

Earlier this morning I was thinking about the plans that The Boss and I have for tomorrow, the 4th of July. I have the day off from work, and I'm going to be spending a large portion of the day helping my father do some work around his house. The Boss will be doing her own thing around the apartment until late afternoon, when the BBQ (yes, Heather... a BBQ!) my parents are hosting kicks off. We'll probably go catch some fireworks once the sun goes down, which should make for a pretty good day overall.

All of the planning of events for tomorrow got me thinking about how I've celebrated the 4th of July in the past, and I got a little nostalgic. I figured it would be fitting to talk about a fond memory I have of celebrating the 4th from when I was a kid.

---

When I was in the sixth grade, I had finally come out of my shell enough to make two good friends. For the sake of anonymity, I'll call them Alex and Tim. We were pretty much inseparable throughout the school year, and they both lived close enough to me where we could still hang out during the summer time. It felt good to have some real friends, because prior to them, I didn't have any.

A few weeks after school let out for the summer, I got an invitation in the mail to Tim's birthday party. His parents owned a summer house on a lake, and the invitation was to camp out at the lake house for a few days. I learned that Alex got the same invite, and quickly begged my parents to let me go. Tim's birthday happened to fall on July 4th, and we heard rumor that there was going to be fireworks. Alex and I finally got the approval from our parents, and I waited impatiently until July came around.

The day finally arrived, and my parents drove Alex and I to Tim's lake house. I couldn't wait until my parents left the driveway. I had never had time away from home with friends before, and this was going to be great. Excited as I was, I was also very nervous (As an aside, I believe this is the origin of my nervous stomach problems). Tim's parents must have noticed my nervousness, and they quickly made me feel at home.

There was much to do while at the lake house, but it was raining when we first got there so we all went into Tim's room until the rain passed. We read, played with Lego's and boardgames, and talked incessantly. The rain didn't stop until sometime during the night, so we weren't able to sleep in the tent that night. The next day was bright and sunny, and so the fun began.

We spent as much time as we could outside, and we acted as much as we could like 11 and 12 year old boys do. We went swimming for a while, and then went out in the boat to go fishing. We noticed, and talked about, the group of girls camping on the other side of the lake. We refused help from Tim's dad when setting up the tent, and then realized we had no clue what we were doing. We felt empowered when night came, and we were allowed to light our own sparklers. We burped and farted loudly, and we teased Tim's younger brothers. We ate too much and drank too much, and we complained of sore stomachs until the birthday cake was brought out.

We shouted and yelled excitedly when the fireworks started. We got reprimanded for being so loud by Tim's parents. We laid on our backs with our heads on our hands, watching the fireworks leap into the sky, the smoky path behind them briefly illuminated with its colorful explosion. We used our flashlights to send Morse Code messages to the girls across the lake. We clapped loudly as the fireworks ended, in the traditional chaotic flurry of explosions and spiraling pyrotechnics.

We stayed up late talking, whispering between ourselves about who we had crushes on and which teacher we hated the most. We got scared by strange noises in the woods, and pretended otherwise. We slept for a few hours before the sun came up, and made plans to go out on the boat to see the girls across the lake.

The next morning, we got up and ate breakfast, and made ourselves presentable. We piled into the boat to go see the girls across the lake, but we chickened out halfway there. We went fishing for a little while, and played pranks on the guys buzzing around the lake on jet ski's. We would wait until they would zoom by, and then yell something loudly to get their attention, causing them to turn around too quickly and flip over. That made them very upset, and got back to shore as quick as possible when they started to come near us.

We were overtired from sleeping too little, so the rest of the day was pretty low-key. The rest of the time at the lake house passed all too quickly, and before I knew it my parents had arrived to take me home.

I remember talking to my parents on the way home about how much fun I had, mentioning everything I could think of. I talked so fast that I tripped up on the words, constantly having to pause for a breath and to repeat myself so my parents could understand me. The July 4th camp-out became something of a tradition, and "us three guys" would have two more summers together before high school would start and take us in different directions. As with most people I grew up with, I haven't talked to either Tim or Alex since before graduation. I hope my old friends can look back at those times, and remember then with as much fondness as I do. Those moments of freedom and childhood rebellion are one of the best memories I have of my life, both as a child and as an adult.

Life has changed so much in the years since then, and during the times when I feel just how incredibly small and insignificant I am in this world, I like to be able to remember the moments where I felt so unstoppable.

---

Whatever your plans may be, I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Have a beer for me.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

In Which I Am Observant

Have you ever noticed that when you realize your friend has the day off from work, and you don't, that your shift will seem to last incredibly long, and the people you'll interact with will have the personality of lint picked from between your toes?

Have you ever noticed that the checkout lane with the fewest people in it always has to do a price check on an item at the opposite end of the store? And when paying for your items with cash, that you're going to be $0.27 short, with no spare change, and will have to use your debit card?

Have you ever pulled up to a busy gas station and got the only available pump, and then realize your gas tank is on the other side of the vehicle? And when you move to the correct side, you have to wait fifteen minutes for the next open pump?

Have you ever noticed that you always forget to pickup toilet paper, even after wandering the store trying to think of what else you were supposed to get?

Have you ever noticed how long it takes for the toilet to fill after someone flushes it while you are in the shower?

Have you ever noticed that when you are hungry, the strangest combinations of food sound appetizing? And then realize afterwards that hot dogs, apple sauce, and milk really don't mix well together?

No?

Well, I have. I have noticed all these things.

Has anyone else made random observations this week?