Friday, October 31, 2008

In Which I Get Spooked

Today is Halloween.

For most, it is the one time of the year where you are encouraged dress up like a raving lunatic, an axe murderer, a combination Pirate/Stripper, Satan's Uncle, or a naughty nurse, and people will give you candy for it.

For others, including myself, it's just another day of the week. I don't get into Halloween too much, which is something I blame entirely on my parents.

Why, you ask?

After a couple of years of Trick-Or-Treating, my parents didn't let my sisters and I celebrate Halloween anymore. Instead, they took us rollerskating.

ROLLERSKATING. ON HALLOWEEN.

Now, before you get to thinking that a Halloween-themed rollerskating party might not be all that bad, let me explain that it wasn't that way at all. There were no costumes allowed, and there was no candy. The rink was void of any spooky decorations, and instead of creepy music and "The Monster Mash" being played over the loudspeakers, they played alternative Christian rock. A local Christian radio station hosted/sponsored the event by renting out a couple of rollerskating rinks in the area, touting it as a safe and fun alternative to the traditional Halloween.

As someone who routinely had (and still has) trouble with coordination in shoes without wheels, I'm not sure why my parents thought that I'd have fun rollerskating. They'd hand me a pair of clunky brown rental skates and shove me off towards the rink, wobbling and careening wildly all over the place. I'd pull myself along the wall by the railing, cruising at a cool 3.7 miles-per-hour. Towards the end of the night I would gain enough confidence and skill to skate around the rink on my own away from the wall, but it was inevitable that I'd forget about the rubber bumper "brake" on the front of the skate and fall forward on my knees.

Even now as an adult, there isn't going to be any Halloween celebrating this year, either. The Boss and I have to put the finishing touches on cleaning our old apartment, and that will pretty much kill the evening. I was going to try to get The Boss to dress up like Princess Leia from Star Wars VI, but I don't think she'll do it.

For those who are getting out tonight, have fun, be safe, and be sure to blog about it afterwards!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In Which I Show No Mercy

I know, I know. I'm posting twice in the same day. Think of it as a "two-for-one" special. I was going to post this tomorrow, but then I realized that tomorrow is Halloween. Thus, I'm posting this one today, and writing something special for Halloween.

I've written a couple of posts like this one before, (go here, here, or here if you'd like to read them), but Employee No 3699's recent post inspired me to write another one. With today being kinda gloomy (weather-wise), I decided it would probably be better to make fun of people for their ridiculous search terms instead of going ahead with the post I had originally lined up for today, which had a lot to do about gun ownership. At any rate, I bring to you the latest batch of interesting search terms from Google that have brought people to my blog.

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"are boy scouts badass"
You seem to me like a fairly gullible person, since you've turned to an Internet search engine to learn if your role in the Scouts makes you cool. With that said, to answer your question simply, yes. Boy Scouts are decidedly badass. In fact, I would suggest maybe wearing your uniform to school, polishing up those pins you've earned, and talking incessantly about your desire to become an Eagle Scout. Everyone loves an over-achiever.

"badass personality"
If you have to ask about it, you don't have it. To be badass is to just know that you are. The moment you doubt yourself or have to research how to become badass, you've only set yourself a couple of steps back in the opposite direction. Take a hint and go back to your Star Trek forum.

"I feel really sick and I ate a lot of junk and food but I'm not vomiting"
Hello, there. Yes, you, the one under that rock. Welcome to the realm of the semi-cognitive. Ever heard of WebMD? That little-known website that lets you check symptoms and offers treatment suggestions? Apparently not.

"sitting in a dark room constantly thinking I'm seeing wisps of smoke in front of my face"
Hmm. Okay. Just in case you were wondering about the timing of it all, now would be a good time to check yourself into some form of drug rehab.

"talks on personal hygiene"
This one just frightens me. If you're smart enough to spell hygiene correctly, shouldn't you know that the foul odor you keep smelling is yourself? We're in the year 2008, man. Soap has been around for quite a while. Deodorant and toothpaste aren't new concepts, either. Unless you're doing research for the obese guy at the office who clearly doesn't spend a dime of his paycheck on Old Spice, take a trip to your local Wal-Mart and browse the personal care aisles for a few minutes. You'll see what the buzz is all about.

"uniformed adult scout leaders are creepy"
Amen, brother. Amen.

---

In addition to these wonderful and insightful search terms, I've had quite a few hits from people who searched for "badass pumpkin carving", "dreaming of smoking cigars", "badass dorm room", and "kitchen appliances". I'm not entirely sure how that last one brought someone by my page, but in this crazy, mixed-up world we live in, I suppose anything is possible.

In Which I Am In Paradise

Something occured to me the other day, after trudging wearily upstairs at the new apartment to change, shortly after carrying in yet another heavily-laden storage bin. It became clear to me that there was a purpose to working hard to finish moving, something more than just knowing that eventually I'd be done.

I realized that once I was done moving, I'd officially be living in a place that offers views like this from my bedroom window:

Amazing, isn't it? This is what I will see every morning upon waking up.

Here is a sample of what the rest of the new apartment looks like:




These pictures were taken during the summer, when I originally had looked at the apartment when there was someone else living there. As nice as the place is, the rent was too pricey. After a couple of months, the owners couldn't find new tenants so they lowered the price. As you can see, there is a huge stone fireplace with a woodstove, a spiral staircase, two huge screen porches, and we're right on a lake.

Talk about motivation to finish things up, eh?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In Which I Am Battered And Broken

Moving does not agree with me.

My ankles are swollen, I have a muscle spasm between my shoulder blades, and I'm pretty sure I cracked a rib. But I'm not complaining.

Why?

Because today, instead of packing, lifting, and carrying all of the possessions I hold too dear to just fucking get rid of, I have to work. I never thought I'd look forward to work but after my three-day moving marathon, the thought of spending ten glorious hours on my ass was enough to bring tears of joy.

I have a lot of catching up to do, both on your comments and new posts. I haven't been at my computer since Saturday, so bear with me while I get up to speed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Which I Move... Again

The Boss and I are moving this month.

We've moved every six months for the past two years.

We have too much crap.

I hate moving.

Nothing has been packed up yet.

We have two couches and only enough room for one.

We have entire closets full of shit that need to be moved.

I hate moving.

I'll be spending more on gas for my truck than I'll spend on food this week.

All of our heaviest possessions will need to be lifted up to the second floor via rope and pulley.

At least the new place has a dishwasher.

I hate moving.

Moving while getting over a cold should be fun.

I won't be around much until Wednesday.

I'm stocking up on rum and Advil.

Did I mention I hate moving?

Friday, October 24, 2008

In Which I Announce

The time has finally come to announce the winners of...


THE BADASS GEEK FALL SEASON GIVE AWAY!


Before I announce who the winners are, I want to say on behalf of The Boss that judging the contest was very difficult. Each picture had its charm and originality, and she wrestled with the various options before finally making her selections late last night.


The main purpose of this contest was to encourage you all to get out and have some fun. I hope that all who participated enjoyed themselves, and for those who didn't get a chance to submit (or didn't win) there might be another contest coming up soon.


With all that said, here are the winners!


Category 1: Mad Woman Meg


This photograph shows my children jumping into a pile of leaves that they painstakingly gathered. Time and again they would gather up the leaves into a pile, and then run and jump into it. We had just finished a leisurely walk through the park, watching parents hurry their children along to the next activity. In a time when people are so rushed, in an effort to get to the next playdate, the next meeting, the next gymnastics lesson, I think we have lost the ability to just stop. That's it, just stop.

Watching my children jump in the leaves on that chilly day, marveling at the many colors of the fallen leaves, taking the time to have fun - all of it warmed me. If I could guarantee that they would always enjoy the ease of fall, enjoy the changing colors of fall, I would. Sadly, as the changing of the leaves is inevitable, so too is the growing of my children. But I will always have this picture to remind me why Fall is so spectacular.

---

Category 2: Sus

(Editor's Note: In compliance with the rules for this category, Sus sent along pictures of herself while carving the pumpkin, I just didn't post them. The pattern was custom drawn and carved by Sus).

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As promised, Meg will receive a custom blog design by Yours Truly, and Sus (because she doesn't have a Blogger blog) will get a hand-made Badass Geek t-shirt. Meg and Sus, please e-mail me (badassgeek[at]gmail[dot]com) for further information.

For the runners-up and for those who didn't win, I thank you for your entries and I hope you all had fun participating in this contest. Winning or not, that was the main point, after all.

Congratulations to the winners!

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***EDIT***

In a moment of mental obscurity, I completely forgot to mention who the runners-up were, and that there are prizes for them, too!

The runner-up for Category 1 is Pamela, with this photo:

The runner-up for Category 2 is Lola, with this photo:

As the runners-up, and since Sus offered to give away her prize to one of the runners-up, Pamela will get a custom blog design by Yours Truly, and Lola will get a hand-made t-shirt!

Ladies, I apologize for not putting this in with the original post. E-mail me at the address I listed above for more information!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

In Which I Ponder

The submissions for the Contest are in! Here they are, in no particular order:

Daddy Files

Employee No 3699

Sus

Scatterbrain

That Girl

Pamela

Miss Grace

Mad Woman Meg

Lola

Kat

Jessed Up

KelticKaos

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The Boss will be picking one winner and one runner-up from each category. I'll post the winners tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Which I Am Congested

I have a cold.

I started with a sore throat late in the day on Monday, and has since progressed into a lovely combination of nasal and chest congestion, fever, and post-nasal drip. I haven't slept more than six hours in the past two nights, I'm breathing through my mouth because my nose is clogged, and I honestly don't intend on showering today.

Because of my sore throat and the pain that I have when speaking, I called in sick to work today. I haven't called out of a full shift in over a year. While I'm glad I don't have to spend 10 hours talking on the phone today, it's not like I'm going to enjoy this extra day off. I mean, how can one possibly enjoy hacking up phlegm and breathing like James Gandolfini?

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Today is the last day to submit entries for my Contest. If you plan on participating, make sure you e-mail me your submissions by midnight tonight. To be fair, any entries timestamped after midnight will not qualify. I've had some really great submissions, so The Boss will have her work cut out for herself in choosing a winner. As promised, a winner will be announced by this coming Friday, the 24th.

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Heather has tagged me for a meme of sorts. Since I find these things really intruiging, I'll jump on the bandwagon and play along. Here are six of my Favorite Things:
  1. Board Games - As a kid, my family and I would often gather 'round the table to play a game together. We played Monopoly the most often, and the memories I have of playing games with my family are among the best that I have. Despite the fact that just about every game night ended with someone (the loser, often myself) complaining about the rules not being fair.
  2. Car Trips - There is not much else in this world that I enjoy more than going for a ride in the car. To me, the ultimate feeling of freedom is driving with the windows down and the music blaring, driving with no particular destination, driving just to get away from where you were and to get to wherever you are going.
  3. Grilling - I love to cook food on the grill, no matter what time of year. Nothing tastes better than a burger or an Italian sausage cooked on the grill. It is strictly a summertime tradition for most, but I love to break out the grill in the middle of winter and enjoy a meal cooked outside to help break the cabin fever.
  4. Movies That Make You Think - I am a lover of just about any genre of movie, but I especially enjoy movies that make you think. Whether it's having to piece together clues to figure out who the bad guy is, or a movie that challenges you to think and talk about your opinions on certain things, I like a movie that demands something of the viewer.
  5. Ice Water - As someone who is incessantly thirsty, I love me some ice water. Even in the winter time after coming inside from clearing the driveway, I'll gulp down a glass of ice water before I'll consider hot chocolate. It also helps calm me down when I'm feeling stressed.
  6. Music - I am a lifetime band geek. In highschool, being in the band was my life. In college, a bulk of my socializing was done within the music department. I enjoy playing music, listening to music, writing music, discussing music, criticizing music... Anything. I feel as if I understand music more than I understand myself at times.

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This is about all I have the brain function for today. My mind is kind of cloudy from all the cold medications I've taken, and despite vigorous attempts at clearing my sinuses, they remain more blocked than a human test subject at an Ex-Lax factory.

And again, make your contest submissions by midnight tonight!

Monday, October 20, 2008

In Which I Adopt

Here is the newest addition to the Badass Geek household:



His name is Liam, and he is a 10-week-old Maine Coon kitten. These are the best pictures I've managed to get so far, as the little bugger won't sit still long enough to get anything more.

Happy Monday, folks.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In Which I Wince

Today has not been the best of days for my testicles.

I never thought I'd say that phrase ever again, after an unfortunate incident I had with an end table and a slippery floor, but it seems Fate has Her mind set on causing me pain today.

It all started this morning, shortly after waking up for the day. Still groggy, I attempted to put on a pair of pants in my mostly-dark bedroom. I put one foot most of the way though the pant leg and inadvertently pinned the rest of the pant leg to the floor. Not realizing this, I pulled up on the waistband of the pants, expecting to pull them up the rest of the way. My weakened-by-sleep grip slipped off of the waistband, and continuing on its upward trajectory, landed squarely (and with an alarming amount of force) on my nutsack.

Nothing like a self-inflicted punch to the nuts to wake you up in the morning.

(Not that I'd recommend it over a cup of Folgers, though. You can't exactly continue on with your morning routine when you are doubled over on the floor, holding your crotch and moaning in pain.)

The throbbing sac-pain eventually subsided enough for me to get some breakfast and watch the morning news. Once The Boss left for work, thus rendering the bathroom free for use, I hopped in the shower. I found out quickly that there wasn't much hot water left after The Boss' 15-minute so-hot-it-steams-off-the-wallpaper shower, so I quickly cleaned up and made sure all the essential parts were washed. Afterwards, I grabbed my towel off the rack to dry off.

It was business as usual at first, until I went to dry off the Twins. The towel I was using still had the large "washing instructions" tag on it, and in my haste to get dry from the cold shower, I accidentally scraped the tag lengthwise against the Family Jewels. I winced and let out a brief cry of pain before dropping my towel and, for the second time in the same day, reached down and held my balls. I drew my hands back after a moment or two and noticed that there was some blood on them.

That's right, folks.

The tag from the towel gave me a slight papercut on the ol' Potato Sack. It didn't bleed much, but still... I got a papercut on my fucking balls.

The pain from both incidents have subsided for the most part. The cut hurts a little still, and because I don't want an infection down there, I'm going to have to have The Boss help me clean it when she gets home from work. Let me tell you how much I'm looking forward to that experience. It'll be one for the books, that's for damn sure.

I'm kind of scared to see what the rest of the day will hold for me and my anatomy. It's not even noontime yet and I've already had two injuries to 'em.

How's your day going?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

In Which I Get A Little Sappy

Psst. Hey, you.

The Boss.

This one's for you.

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We were walking, her and I, and the weather was unseasonably beautiful. The sun was shining warm, and the wind blew pockets of air through the trees making the shadows dance on the newly growing grass. It felt like the first real day of spring, as we walked along the path together. We didn't talk much, save for conversations on how beautiful the water was beside us, or how charming the neighborhood we were walking through looked.

Suddenly she slid her hand into mine, our fingers lacing together. Her thumb rubbed softly against mine as our grip tightened; strong, but gentle. I looked over at her, a woman so incredibly and unfathomably beautiful. Her hair was moving in the wind, soft brown strands of it crossing her delicate face. Her free hand reached up to tuck the errant strands behind her ear. Feeling me looking at her she looked up, her eyes sparkling, and she smiled her coy smile. Our eyes met for a brief moment, and everything our hearts were saying that went unheard was instantly understood. She looked forward again as we kept walking, our hands entwined and swinging gently between us. It was in that moment that I knew that as long as I held her hand, my life would be as perfect as the day that surrounded us.

Towards the end of our walk we let go of each others hand, our fingers lingering together for a moment before they slipped apart. Her laughter carried on the wind as we went inside. In all my life, never have I experienced any moment so perfect. My heart, filled with pure and strong love, beats only for Her.

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The Boss and I are moving this month. True to form, here we are mid-way through the month with nothing packed and piles of crap still waiting to be sorted through. Because of this, I'm taking a few days off from blogging (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) so I can get rid of all the shit in my house. I'm hoping I come across something interesting to blog about, because I know there are some things I've long forgotten I had.

For those of you participating in the Contest who haven't submitted their entries yet, this is the last weekend before the deadline. Remember to submit your entries via e-mail to me by Wednesday the 22nd.

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Friday, October 17, 2008

In Which I Can't Think Of Anything Else

I have spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what to write here today. I started thinking about it yesterday, but anything I wrote didn't seem to fit. I must have deleted about five posts before this one, never being satisfied with anything. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, The Boss asked me not to post it because it involved using a picture of her. Without the picture the post was useless, so it went the way of many failed posts before it... It's existence eliminated by the Delete button.

In lieu of an anything substantial because I can't shake this mental constipation, I'll give you another work of genius I created over at Magnetic Poetry. Enjoy!


Happy Friday, folks. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

In Which I Write A Letter

Dear Female Employee at McDonalds,

I visited your place of business earlier this week, which is something that I rarely do. However, I wasn't having the best of days and decided that convenience weighed more on my Scale Of Importance than my cholesterol level. I opted to eat inside your establishment that is so loosely called a restaurant, which, the first being my choice of McDonalds over Burger King, proved to be my second mistake.

You see, had I gone to your competitor right across the street, I would have avoided this whole mess altogether. Alas, I chose your employer instead, and had the line at the drive-thru been not as long I would have missed interacting with you by means of a few degrees of separation. I strongly regret both of these decisions, because now I have to live with the memory of you until something more important comes along and replaces it.

I'm writing to you in these tones of frustration because you single-handedly coerced me to never again consider McDonalds as an option when looking for a quick meal. Your blank, apathetic stare from the behind the counter was unnerving as I browsed the menu. The rolling of your eyes when I requested "ketchup and pickles only, please" was both rude and immature, and I certainly didn't appreciate you tossing my soda cup at me. The seemingly intentional spillage of my fries on my tray was the straw that broke the camels back. The urge to reach over the counter and beat you with your Golden Arches visor was very strong, I assure you.

I'm sure you had your reasons why you were upset that day. Maybe it was the fact that you found out your boyfriend likes other guys more than he likes you. Maybe you were wearing your Thursday underwear despite it was a Tuesday. It could simply have been that you hate your job, but that doesn't give you the right to act immature and disrespectful, least of which to the paying customers who give your job a purpose.

I can sympathize a little with you, though, because I hate my job, too. However, I choose to internalize my hatred and drown it in alcohol and heavy metal music when my shift is over instead of directing it at the customers I interact with. I realize that working at McDonalds probably isn't the most enjoyable experience, but it beats the snot out of being unemployed. If you're not satisfied with your job, take control of your situation and get your McGED, already. With some time and effort, they might promote you to manager or something.

In closing, I want you to know that I look back at our interaction with great distaste. I'm regretting the time it has taken me to write this letter almost as much as I regret ever seeing you face to face. The fact that you had such an effect on me feels worse than my stomach did after leaving the restaurant. I hope you take my suggestions to heart, and know that I don't truly despise you as much as I say I do... Only about half as much.

Clearly not lovin' it,

Michael

P.S. Less than a week until the Contest deadline!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In Which I Try To Move On

The Boss and I put our cat, Noir, to sleep yesterday.

We woke up to her curled up in her litterbox, comatose.

We brought her to the vet as soon as they opened, and they quickly determined that there were numerous problems. Her body temperature was low at 94, and her blood sugar was so low that it wouldn't register on their equipment. They administered a couple of different medications to stabilize her, which helped her out of the coma and made her semi-responsive, but it was obvious that she wasn't doing well.

The vet explained that he wasn't sure what caused the drastic drop in her blood sugar, but was fairly confident that the duration of time that she was in the coma had caused damage to her brain. A full work up to determine what the problem was would be fairly expensive, he continued, but even all of that might not find a solution, and either way there would be no treatment that would bring her back to normal. With The Boss crying uncontrollably, her face creased with pain and heartbreak, I made the unbelievably hard decision to put Noir down.

Our cat, rendered deaf and blind by her coma, lay crouched on a warming pad in front of us, barely aware of what was going on. Our cat, who was completely healthy and normal the night before. Our cat, who I'd be digging a hole for in the hours to come that day. Our cat, who was barely over two years old. Our cat, who had a flash of remembrance cross her face when she recognized the smell of myself and The Boss as we both hugged her and said goodbye.

It was over before we had much time to think. The doctor left with an empty syringe, and life soon passed from our cat. I held The Boss tightly as she cried, struggling to hold back tears myself.

We buried our cat just shy of four hours after we woke up yesterday. We said our final goodbye's, placed a flower on her grave, and forced ourselves to continue on with our day. We forced ourselves to move on, though there'd be no clatter of claws on the linoleum from our cat rushing to greet us as we came home, and no more excited scratching at the bedroom door, wanting to see us first thing in the morning when she hears our alarm clock. No more constant residence on my lap while I'm at work.

The house feels empty today, as I sit here at my desk, alone.

It has only been one day, and I'm missing her terribly.

Rest in peace, Noir, and know that you were loved.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In Which I Share, Part Two

Here is the second part of the story, written from the same perspective but from the previous day...

Part Two

Flecks of dust float around in the warm sunlight streaming in from the window. Refracted light through a crystal hanging on the window scatter small rainbows throughout the room, slowly rotating in an unseen, unfelt breeze. The faded carpet is matted down and stained. An upright piano sits in one corner of the living room, with pictures of times gone past on display. The piano's keys haven’t been touched in years, and serves more as a display versus a musical instrument. In the center, a beautiful wooden framed picture of my parents on their wedding day. Pictures of my sisters and I surround them; birthdays, Christmas, and summer days when there didn’t seem to be a care in the world. I smile ruefully, wishing to relive those times again. It has been months since laughter has been heard in this house.

From my seat in the battered recliner I can see the entire living room. A sagging couch sits opposite the piano, its cushions worn from too many years of use. It has seen better days, much like everything else in this house. Even the mismatched curtains, hanging crooked and torn, seem limp and tired. The flowered wallpaper is peeling, its curled edges yellowed with age and cigarette smoke.

Much like the calm before the storm, the tranquility in our house is bound to be short-lived. My mom will be home soon. My sisters are in their room, quietly doing homework. I feverishly scribble answers to my own homework, knowing that I won’t be able to get any homework done when my mother gets home. From the second she walks in the door until she passes out drunk, she is constantly criticizing us, yelling our faults at the top of her lungs.

Trying to find someone to blame for everything that might be wrong, she blames my sisters and I, and when home, my father. She blames my youngest sister Mariah for the missing heavy silver candlestick that was her mothers. She blames me for the hole in the window that lets in the chilly late-fall air. She doesn’t remember that she was the one who threw the candlestick at my dad during one of her drunken rages. My dad was smart enough to move out of the way, and my grandmothers silver candlestick shattered through the glass.

I am putting the finishing touches on my English homework when I hear my mother’s car pull into the driveway. It’s hard not to hear it, with its loud misfiring engine sending birds flying from nearby trees and bushes. I quickly put my books into my backpack and zip it closed. Hearing my sisters stirring in their room, I know that they hear my mother as she comes up the front steps. The front screen door screeches as my mother pulls it open. My sisters walk into the living room as the door slams closed. We wait in silence, like soldiers waiting in their barracks for their general’s inspection.

Her footsteps sound loud and heavy on the tiled kitchen floor, and without even taking off her jacket she begins to inspect the cleaning my sisters and I had done earlier. I walk into the kitchen as my mother sets her purse on the counter. She looks visibly disappointed that my sisters and I had done a good job cleaning and that she couldn’t find anything to complain about. At least not yet.

Her piercing stare slowly moves through the kitchen. I look around as well, trying to see anything that we might have missed. Everything seems to be in place, the appliances gleaming, the kitchen smelling of lemon and surface cleaner. I sigh inwardly as I glance sideways at my sisters. It seems like we may have avoided conflict, if for a short while. I turn around to go back into the living room, and-

“You call this clean?” my mother yells loudly. The sudden outburst makes me jump, and I turn back around to see what she was talking about. She points at the trashcan, overflowing onto the floor with garbage. How could this have been overlooked? One of my sisters was supposed to have done that! It was all too late when I remembered that I told them I would take care of it if they did all of their homework.

My mom starts fuming and mutters curses under her breath as I hurry over and pick up the neglected trash. Things were going so well in my attempt to keep my mother happy until a simple oversight set her off. Getting the last piece of trash off the floor, I hear the telltale clinking of glass against glass. I look out of the corner of my eye to see my mom pouring herself a drink. Not even four o’clock and she is already beginning her downward spiral for the night. She uses drinking as a reason to calm her nerves, but it is more of an escape from the reality of home and her troubled marriage. By the time my dad gets home in two hours, she will be drunk.

“Go to your room!” my mother yells at my sisters as she takes a swig from her glass. The drink should burn as it goes down, but she is so used to it that it is as if she is drinking water. My sisters scurry away to their bedroom. I see my mom sway on her feet as she uses her hand to steady herself against the counter. Looking at me with her eyes half closed, you can see the emptiness in her soul being filled, however temporary, with her drink. She takes the bottle and glass and walks unsteadily to her bedroom. She'll stay there, same as every day when she gets home, and will only come out when she runs out of alcohol, or when she hears my dad coming in the front door, whichever comes first.

I sit back down in the recliner and try to finish up my homework, taking advantage of my mother’s relative quietness. Time passes slowly as we all wait for my dad to come home from work, waiting for the fight to begin. My mom stays in her room, but occasionally I hear her bang up against the wall, or heavy objects falling on the floor. I lose track of time as I become absorbed in my homework.

My concentration is shattered as I hear a car door slam closed. How many hours had passed since my mom went into her room? The clock on the wall says six-thirty. Two and a half hours! My mother hears the door close too, and comes out of her room. Her walk even more unsteady now, her eyes bloodshot and her nearly empty, to meet my dad at the front door. They speak quietly for a minute, and then enter the kitchen. I begin to think that they might not fight tonight, but it is too soon to say. I start to gather my books just as my parents come in. My dad, weary from his long day at work, seems about ready to fall asleep standing up. He glances at me with his empty, dark eyes, as if pleading with me to stay. I pick up the last of my things and leave. I just make it into my room when the yelling begins. It must be a new record; the fight of the night starting just three minutes after my dad arrives home from work. Usually it’s at least ten or fifteen.

“You should have called me if you knew you were going to be home late!” my mother yells, her speech slurred.

“I can’t call you if there is an accident on the road and traffic makes me late,” my dad wearily states, not having the energy to fight. “I made it home as fast as I could.” My mother says something in response, but I put on my headphones and drown her out. More yelling and screaming ensues, and I turn up the volume of my music. I sit in the corner of my room, and try to focus on my music, to let it take me from the fighting and yelling.

Suddenly a loud thump shakes the house, followed by the sound of breaking glass. I turn up my music even louder, and close my eyes. Every loud tantrum that manages to reach my ears was accentuated by a crash of something breaking. I shudder, and turn my shoulder into the corner where I’m sitting, as if to get further away from the fighting. The fight lasts for another hour, and then all is quiet.

I wait a few minutes before venturing out into the living room. The room is dark, save for the last feeble rays of sunlight shining through rain clouds, before it hides behind the horizon. My mother lay on the couch, passed out with a bottle of her favorite booze in her hand. Whatever she had not managed to drink before she passed out was spilled on the floor. Fragments of my parent’s wedding picture lay in her other hand; it’s once ornate wooden frame now ruined, the glass shattered, the picture torn. The front door was open, and I could see my dad outside on the front porch, smoking a cigarette. His tall and strong frame was silhouetted against the night sky, as wisps of cigarette smoke encircle his head.

He must have heard me coming. As I approach him, he turns around to face me. “Be a man, son,” he said, with sadness in his voice. He takes a long drag on his cigarette, and then snubs it out in a nearby ashtray. With a heavy sigh and heavy footsteps, he walks back inside.

He sits down at the table in the kitchen, and begins to read the newspaper. He doesn’t even look up at me as I walk past, heading back to my bedroom for the night. As I quietly walk past my mother, the living room turns dark as the sun is finally gone for the night. I can hear my sisters crying softly in their bedroom. Closing my bedroom door behind me, tears surface in my own eyes. I wrap a blanket around my shoulders to ward off the cold, and fall down onto my bed. The last thought I have is hoping my dreams take me to a better place. I close my eyes, and hearing my sisters crying softy, let the darkness of sleep overcome me.

---

I know this isn't the best writing I've read, nor is it the best that I've written. I posted this story here not only to share it with you, but also as a reminder to myself of how much progress I've made with my writing since this story was written. I kind of feel bad for leaving this post on such a sour note, with the last part of the story ending so negatively, but I can't think of anything else to write. Don't worry, though... I'll have something a little more positive for tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

In Which I Share, Part One

I was going through some documents on my computer this weekend and came across some old writing projects that I had done in college. I was pretty proud of them then, and even now (a couple of years later) I think they are at least halfway decent. Since I am at a loss as to what else to write here today, I'll share a fictional short story I wrote in two parts...

Part One

The heavy rain makes a loud drumming sound on the roof of my dad’s car as we wait at a red light. The wipers slide across the windshield, pushing the fallen rain drops away as new ones come to replace them. Those are the only sounds to be heard as we drive to school. The same mundane routine, driving the 3-mile stretch to my high school in silence, has not changed for months. No words need to be spoken; his body language screams what he does not say. The light changes to green as my dad’s voice echoes in my head: “Be a man, son. A man does not show others his emotions or problems.” That’s what he lives by, because if he spoke his mind at home, the problems there would be worse by ten fold. Going to school is an escape for me, a way to avoid the troubles of being home, if only for a few hours.

As our car approaches the front entrance of my school, I gather my backpack and pull my hat down over my ears. We roll to a stop at the curb, and I turn and look at my dad. Our eyes lock, and I notice that his eyes are gray and emotionless. He turns his head slowly forward as I open my door and step out into the rain. Closing the door behind me, I follow my father’s car with my eyes as he drives away. The rain seems colder as he rounds the corner, and is gone. I shrug my backpack onto my shoulders and enter the school.

The lobby behind the front doors is flooded with people. It seems like all the popular people hang out in the front of the school, as if to show off that they are better than everyone. The jocks with their Letterman jackets gather in one corner, talking about the game tonight. Their cheerleader girlfriends stand nearby, so beautiful and perfect that it almost hurts to look at them. That does not matter. I don’t look at anyone, and its not like they would notice me anyway. I gaze at the carpeted floor, stained with wet footprints from the rain, and I make my way through the crowd of people.

Still staring at the floor, I weave my way down the hallway. I find my locker and lean my head up against it, closing my eyes. The sight of my dad’s car driving away in the rain flashes in my mind’s eye. The pounding rain, his taillights fading away. I turn around and open my eyes, watching people walk past me. They all seem to be happy, not having any troubles at all. It seems like I have all of the weight of their troubles on my shoulders. All I want is a father, hell a family, who cares for me. Not my father, who works long hours to avoid his troubled marriage and family, nor my mother, whose favorite activities range from yelling at my sisters and me, to drinking until she passes out.

I let my mind wander as I peel off my jacket and hat. My mind drifts back to last night. I was sitting on the floor in the corner of my bedroom with my headphones on, trying to tune out the yelling and screaming. Every loud tantrum that managed to reach my ears was accentuated by a crash of something breaking. I shuddered and turned my shoulders into the corner, as if that would get me further away from the yelling. The fight continued for another hour, and then faded away. I rose from the floor and ventured out into the living room. My mother lay on the couch, passed out with a bottle of her favorite booze in her hand. Whatever she had not managed to drink before she passed out was spilled on the floor. Fragments of my parent’s wedding picture lay in her other hand; it’s once ornate wooden frame now ruined, the glass shattered, the picture torn. The front door was open, and I could see my dad outside on the front porch, smoking a cigarette. His tall and strong frame was silhouetted against the night sky, wisps of cigarette smoke encircling his head.

He must have heard me coming. As I approached him, he turned around and faced me. “Be a man, son,” he said, with sadness in his voice. He took a long drag on his cigarette, and then snubbed it out in a nearby ashtray. With a heavy sigh and heavy footsteps, he walked back inside. From what I gathered from the yelling, my dad had come home late from work, and my mother greeted him at the door. She was just warming up to her favorite drink, and was upset with my father for not calling her to let her know that he was going to be late. Harsh words were traded, built up frustrations exploded, and the nightly argument between my parents had come to pass.

My reverie is shattered, gladly, by the piercing shriek of the bell announcing the start of class. I had not even heard the first bell; I did not notice the hallways had cleared of people. The bell rang once more as a warning to the remaining stragglers, and I gather my books and hurry to class. I am forced to leave all my thoughts and worries of my life at home in my locker as I open the door to my first period class.

No seats in the back are open, so I am forced to reside at the front of the class. The teacher casts me a disappointed look at my coming late, but its something he is used to and tolerates. He continues with his lesson, and I grab a notebook out of my backpack. Rather than writing down notes, I write down my thoughts and feelings, to make some sense of them before they come bursting out of the seams. So many emotions swirl inside me. Anger, desire, want of love, want of a place where I feel welcome. So many feelings of want, but no venue to obtain them. Words fill the page, and I feel less full of emotions. Peace replaces anger, and I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. The room seems brighter, and I smile.

Part Two, tomorrow...

P.S. You can still find Contest details here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In Which I Write A Semi-Worthless Post

Despite my previous claims of not blogging on the weekends, I just can't leave this damn thing alone. And while I can't think of anything truly worthwhile to post here today, there is something deep within me that wants, nay, needs to post.

It seems like I am hopelessly addicted to trying to make you laugh. If that, my friends*, is a crime, lock me up and throw away the key.

There are many reasons why I shouldn't blog on the weekends, the first of which being that most of those I follow only blog during the week. Whenever my Google Reader says there is a new post to read from any of you on the weekends, I don't realize that having a weekend post is like finding water in the desert, and that I should ration it out so it can last me as long as possible. Instead, I recklessly guzzle the words down, soon to die of thirst as the inevitable scorching Sun Of Boredom raises in the sky, once all new posts have been read.

There are, of course, more logical reasons why I shouldn't blog on the weekends, like the documented and proven fact that my blog traffic is significantly lower on the weekends, and also that I tend to write things I come to regret later. Whatever the reasons may be, I simply do not care. I am stuck here at my desk at work every Saturday, so I have no choice to subject you all to the drivel that I come up with, lest I resort to alternative methods of ending my boredom, like jabbing a mechanical pencil in my ear or making karaoke video tapes of me singing along to The Best Of STYX .

All of that aside, it turns out that I do have a point to this post today. I came across a picture of myself that I had all but forgotten about, and I want to share it with my fellow weekend bloggers. And for those reading this on Monday, well... I hope this gives you a good laugh, too.


This was taken a few years ago. I was experiencing the joy that only a cellphone with a camera can offer (yes, I know. I'm a geek). As an added bonus, you also get a rare glimpse into my college dorm room.

Happy Weekend, everyone.

*No, I'm not trying to be John McCain. You'll notice I only said "my friends" once, not after every sentence.

P.S. I also can't seem to shut up about this contest, either.

Friday, October 10, 2008

In Which I Meet A Girl

Moonspun has asked me a couple of different times to talk about how The Boss and I met. I will oblige her request today...

It was late October of 2004, just over a month into my sophomore year of college. It was my best friend's birthday, and I was joining her for lunch with one of her friends at the campus cafeteria. I was running a little late, and my friend and her friend had already found a table by the time I had picked out my lunch and joined them.

As I sat down, my friend introduced me to her friend. She was sitting diagonally across the table from me, dressed smartly in a light jacket and a scarf that complimented her long brown hair. She was cute, and seemed to be really nice. Lunch went by quickly, with me teasing and jokingly making fun of the both of them. We parted ways as we left the cafeteria, and I rushed off to class. Over the next month or so I had lunch a few more times with my friend and this girl, gradually getting to know her better but still teasing her jokingly as often as I could. I enjoyed spending time with this girl, but I was having problems convincing a crazy ex-girlfriend that it was over, so I never really let myself feel attracted to her.

In late November, this girl and I were walking together after lunch. She was heading to class, I was going back to my dorm room. Our shoes were crunching loudly on the packed snow beneath us as our exhaled breaths formed into clouds in the cold mid-day air. We paused for a few seconds where the walkway split into two directions and said our goodbyes. It was at that moment that I realized I had a pretty big crush on her. I did nothing about it at first, though, not having much confidence in myself after a number of failed attempts at relationships.

About a week into December my best friend approached me. It turns out that this girl had a crush on me, but didn't have the courage to ask me out. Like the complete geek that I was (and still am, really), I got her screen name and we began talking online. We set up a time to hang out together, just the two of us. I made her hot chocolate and we watched a few movies, not really paying attention to them but rather talking the entire time.

On December 16th, I was over at her dorm room, watching a movie as we had become accustomed to doing together. Midway through the movie, I asked her a question.

"Can I see your hand for a minute?"

"Sure," she said, looking puzzled.

I placed her hand in mine, our fingers intertwined. "I just wanted to see how it fits."

Still looking at me with a confused look, I continued:

"It fits perfectly."

That night, we officially started dating.

---

It's almost been four years since the day we met. I proposed to her on our one year anniversary, in front of a roaring fireplace inside a log cabin in northern New Hampshire. We were married six months later. It hardly seems like four years have passed already, and much less that we've been married for over two years already.

Regardless of all that, I'm lucky to have spent them with a woman as wonderful as she is.

P.S. Contest? What contest?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

In Which I Am Grossed Out

I have a pretty strong tolerance for gross things. I can watch all the various TV shows and documentaries about medical procedures and not get upset by the sight of blood. I can watch horror movies where the lead character has his limbs unnaturally removed and still keep my appetite. I thought I was invincible when it comes to the ultimate gross-out, but that theory was proven wrong earlier this week.

Just like every Tuesday morning for the past couple of months, I was at the laundromat. I tend to bury my nose in a book when I'm there, to avoid eye contact and thus an inevitable long-winded conversation about the nutritional benefits of Moon Pies (its happened) with any of the creepy patrons who happen to be doing their wash at the same time. I had just sat down after switching my laundry from the washer into the dryer, and was just about to open my book when She came and sat near me.

She was, for lack of a more polite adjective, unappealing. Her long, matted brunette hair was tangled up in a hot pink elastic, her grey t-shirt had a faded image of Tweety Bird screen printed on the front, and her baggy teal-green sweatpants had lost their waist-elasticity a long time ago. She settled down into a chair a few seats away from me, unwrapping a piece of hard candy as she did so. After popping the candy in her mouth, she proceeded to rattle it against her teeth with her tongue while breathing loudly through her nose. An odd odor began to waft over in my direction, smelling strongly of body odor, morning breath, and cigarettes. I glanced over at her, annoyed mostly by the clacking sound she was making with the hard candy, and then faced forward again to read my book. No sooner had I removed my bookmark when She spoke.

"Whatcha readin'?" she asked in a raspy, wet voice, amid the candy-clacking.

"'The Stand', by Stephen King. I'm just getting to the good part at the end, too," I said, barely looking up and hoping she'd get the hint.

"'The Stand'? Never heard of it. Whatchit's about?"

"It's about a plague that kills just about everyone on Earth," I said hastily, not wanting to get more into an explanation than that. I was just getting to the good part at the end, and I wanted to read in peace. She remained silent for a moment, so I resumed where I had left off when she interrupted me.

"A plague, huh? Interestin'," she said to herself quietly. She fidgeted in her chair for a minute, positioning herself to face me, still rattling the hard candy against her teeth. She picked up a tattered magazine from the rack to her left, and held it up in front of her face. I could feel her looking at me over the top of the magazine, and every so often I would look up and turn to face her. Each time I did she would quickly raise the magazine to cover her face, trying to hide the fact that she was staring at me. When I would begin reading again, I could see in the corner of my vision her magazine slowly drop a few inches, and she would begin to stare at me again with her large brown eyes beneath overgrown eyebrows reminiscent of Bert from "Sesame Street".

After thirty minutes of this frustrating routine, I had read only a few pages from the constant distraction. My laundry was finally dry, so I put away my book, grabbed a cart to take my laundry out of the dryer, found an empty table and began folding. She continued staring at me until her own laundry was done drying, at which point She gathered her laundry up and began folding on the next table over that faced me directly. Fuck wrinkles, I just want the hell OUT of here, I thought to myself, and quickened my pace. Shirts first, pants next, boxers and socks last. I was folding together my last pair of socks when She cleared her throat.

As I would soon come to regret, I looked up.

There she was, head cocked to the side, holding a pair of stained white control-top underwear. She smiled and batted her eyelashes, and licked her lips as she folded them slowly and deliberately.

My jaw dropped, and I suddenly felt like I had a bull rider desperately holding onto my violently bucking and lurching stomach.

I snapped my mouth shut, and quickly looked down . DON'T vomit. You will NOT throw up.

I grabbed my laundry and shoved it into my laundry bag. She cleared her throat again as I walked as fast as I could out of the laundromat. I kept my head down the entire time, for fear that if I accidentally made eye contact with her again that I would barf all over my freshly laundered clothes.

I can handle watching a graphic televised autopsy, but not that. Can you blame me, though?

I need to find a new laundromat.

P.S. There is still plenty of time to make your submission for the contest!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In Which I Rock

I downloaded the new Metallica album earlier this morning.

I've been listening to it all morning since, jumping around my apartment and head banging along to the music. I may also have been spotted by my landlord playing the air guitar and/or air drums. I don't care, though. I don't mind being seen acting like a tool. I've been waiting for this album for a while now, and waiting almost a month after the release date to get it almost killed me from anticipation. Besides, I love Metallica and I'll probably never get to see them in concert because their ticket prices are outrageously high.

To help complete the image that I'm sure you are forming in your mind, of a 23-year-old guy, jumping around like a crazed metalhead, here is a glimpse of what my hair looks like today:



Not quite the "badass" look I was going for, but The Boss thinks its sexy.

Monday, October 6, 2008

In Which I Fall Back

The second my alarm went off this morning, I knew something was wrong. I felt that old feeling, the irrationally scared tension of anxiety creeping over me, its long, cold fingers wrapping slowly around my mind. Before I even swung my feet out of bed, before I had rubbed the sleep from my eyes, my heart was beating fast, already in the throes of a panic attack.

I placed my hands on my knees and tucked my chin down towards my chest and took some deep breaths. Closing my eyes to focus on my breathing with The Boss still sleeping under the covers next to me, I try to think about what could have caused this early morning attack. After a few moments my mind flashes back to a dream...

---

I see myself, lying still under the thin cotton sheets on a hospital bed. The top of my head is wrapped in gauze, and there is an oxygen mask covering my nose and mouth. An IV bag hangs near the head of the bed, slowly administering fluids through a line in my right arm. A harsh glare is cast on me from the fluorescent light on the wall above me. On my right side is a rolling cart with a variety of different machines, controlling and monitoring my breathing and brain activity.

To my left is my wife, trying in vain to clear the cascade of tears from her eyes with one hand, while holding the hand of our five-year-old daughter in the other. Our daughter, her brunette hair and brown eyes borrowed from her mother, looks on, confused as to why her father won't wake up. Mother had talked with the doctor in hushed tones for a long time this morning, but no one would tell her what was going on. She continues staring at her father on the bed, not sure why his eyes wouldn't open, and not sure why Mother was crying.

A man walks in the room, looking somber and pale, no contrast to the white lab coat he's wearing. After checking the time on his watch, he sets a sheaf of paperwork down on top of one of the monitors. He clears his throat quietly and says, "It's time."

My wife nods slowly, and picks up her daughter, turning her face away from what is about to happen. The doctor reaches over to a large button on the side of the rolling cart, and pushes it down. With a hiss, the breathing machine comes to a stop, and the heart monitor flat lines. The doctor shuts off the displays and other machines on the cart.

I'm gone.

---

I flash back to the present, hands still on my knees. I open my eyes and try to rid myself of the memory of that horrid dream, but the image of myself dying has been seared into my mind's eye. This isn't the first time I've had this dream, and I don't think it will be the last.

Even now, as I process the dream and try to tuck it away, I realize that I've taken an inadvertent step back. After so many days of being strong, all it takes is the figment of my subconscious imagination to send me reeling and gasping for air.

It's okay, though. I'm only human.

I'll get through it.

P.S. Don't forget about the contest!

Friday, October 3, 2008

In Which I Make Light Of Things

It seems every where I went to on the Internet today, everyone was talking about the economy or the Vice Presidential debate that was on TV last night. I know these are important things and both deserve equal discussion, but is anyone else tired of hearing about it? But I digress.

I spent a little more time than I should have this afternoon over at MagneticPoetry again, and made another short poem in hopes of making you all laugh a bit, and to put a little pep in your step as you finish off your Friday afternoon...


I hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In Which I Give It All Away

The time has finally come to talk about the Give Away I mentioned a few posts back. Before I skip ahead and blurt out what the prize is, I first must tell you all how this is going to work, as it's going to be a little bit different than the give-away's that Employee No 3699 and Heather did. More specifically, to be eligible to win, it is going to involve some work on your part.

Announcing...

THE BADASS GEEK FALL SEASON GIVE AWAY

Fall is my favorite season, and while I'm trying to make an effort to enjoy this time of year, I want you to be able to take some time from your busy lives and enjoy it, too. To encourage that, I thought a contest with an incentive would help.

Choose one of the following options:
  1. Take a picture that you feel best describes the fall season.
  2. Prove your worth by carving the best Jack O'Lantern.

Participants in Category One will need to submit, in addition to their photo, a short paragraph detailing why they chose the subject of the photo, and how they feel it best describes Fall. Participants in Category Two will need to submit, in addition to a picture of the final product, photo's of the "work in progress" (you don't need to show the faces of those involved, just prove that you actually did the work). One winner be selected from each category, and the entries will be judged on originality and skill. To help keep things fair and unbiased, I'll have The Boss pick the winners.

Submissions should be e-mailed to me (badassgeek[at]gmail[dot]com) no later than Wednesday, October 22nd. The winners will be announced by Friday, October 24th.

As Employee No 3699 so aptly guessed, each winner will receive a free custom blog design by Yours Truly. If the selected winner does not have a Blogger account (as I currently only work with Blogger designs), as an alternate prize the winner will receive a custom designed and hand-made Badass Geek t-shirt.

Sound enticing enough? Good luck!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

In Which I Need To Man Up

My job requires me to have a slightly less-than-normal schedule, thus making Wednesday's the start of my work week. During the first couple hours of my shift, I have a routine where I sit back in my desk chair and quietly wonder how my days off went by so goddamn quick.

Today being Wednesday, it started no differently than the multitude of Wednesday's behind me. I logged on for work, reclined in my chair with my hands folded behind my head, and sighed the heavy sigh of a man destined for a long and trying day. I closed my eyes, and started going through the list of things that I did on my days off...

Wash, dry, and fold The Boss' and my laundry... Wash the dishes... Pick up clutter around the house... Clean the cat box... Cook dinner...

Wait.

Wait a minute.

Now, before I upset anyone, I've never been one to support or encourage traditional gender roles. However, after realizing all the various chores I did this week, and how many times I've done all these chores in previous weeks, I'm beginning to feel like there is a lack of a certain piece (or pieces, really) of anatomy between my legs.

Don't get me wrong... There is nothing wrong with a guy who does chores. I think every guy should help out with things around the house, and not just expect his wife or girlfriend to do certain things. I've not once expected The Boss to do the cleaning or the cooking while I sit around and scratch myself; It's more often than not quite the opposite (minus the scratching). I actually feel better about myself when I know that I'm contributing to the greater good of my household, but that good feeling stops when I feel like I'm losing my masculinity.

Ever since I've made this realization, though, I've felt the need to go out and do some stereotypical "guy" things. Like drink beer. Gorge myself on pizza, burgers, or hot wings. Watch football. Drive my big truck around. Go to the hardware store and buy some tools. Watch an action movie with fast cars and hot women. Something, anything that will help restore faith in the fact that I still have an ounce of testosterone left in my body.

But before I do any of those things, will you hand me my balls, please?

They are right there... Right next to my purse.

P.S. What's that? What about the give-away I mentioned yesterday? That's right, I almost forgot. I'm still working out the details. I promise I'll reveal everything about it tomorrow.