Monday, August 31, 2009

In Which I Get Around To It

Remember this story? No? Well, click here for a re-cap before continuing on.

Happy Monday, folks.

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Sarah stepped out of the cab and into the rain, slamming the door behind her. I sat in the cab for a moment, my arm outstretched after her but paralyzed from shock. The cabbie leaned back to look at me. He asked me something, his hollow voice booming in my head. I was too focused on breathing, too focused on wrapping my mind around what had just happened. I didn‘t hear him. He waited a few moments before he shook his head and turned back to face the front of the cab. My arm fell heavily down to my side, dropping like dead weight.

I looked out the window, and through the layer of fog on the glass I saw that we had come to a stop in front of an old movie theater. The patrons were spilling out onto the streets after the last showing of the night, the revival of an old Hitchcock movie starring Cary Grant. The sidewalk was a tangle of overcoats and umbrellas, but through the fog on the window I saw a flash of Sarah’s rain jacket disappearing into the crowd. My mind screamed for me to get up, to follow her, to grab hold of her and tell her what I had failed to say before she left the cab, but I still couldn’t move.

“Well? What’s it gonna be, buddy?” the cabbie asked again. He tapped on the dial that displayed the fare for the mileage we had accrued from when he picked us up. “Time is money.”

“I… I don’t…” I stammered. My mind was in overdrive, revving too high in too low of a gear, just trying to catch up. A horn blasted impatiently from the car behind us in traffic, and I turned my head instinctively. The noise jolted me back to the fast reality that Sarah was gone, slipping further and further away from me with each second. As if the brakes on my body had been lifted, I slid across the seat, grabbed for the door handle and kicked it open.

“Sarah! Wait!” I yelled.

“Hey! You’ve still got to pay your fare!” the cabbie cried.

Halfway out of the cab now, I dug into my pocket and grabbed my wallet. Rain splashed down my neck, and stained the bills and receipts in my wallet as I thumbed through it. I grabbed a few bills and threw them over the partition, hoping it was enough. The cabbie yelled in protest, but the noise on the street drowned him out. I slammed the door closed and leapt out into the crowd after Sarah.

I pushed my way through, leaning into the rain. The weather added a different element to the sounds on the street, drumming heavily on the cars waiting in traffic and tapping staccato on every umbrella or raised fold of newspaper around me. A peal of thunder cracks in the sky, sounding like a massive tree being snapped in half. Despite its volume, the sound of the thunder goes mostly unnoticed, echoing off the surrounding architecture.

One of the few good things about living in the city is that people are used to being shouldered or elbowed by rushing passersby on the sidewalk. There is always going to be someone who is in more of a hurry than you are, who is paying more attention to their own agenda or the person on the other end of their cell phone than to care whether or not they brush shoulders or flat out collide with someone. You’d be wasting your breath to complain each time it happened, so it is universally accepted as a fact of life, and ignored. I used this to my advantage, squeezing between and forcing my way through anyone who was in my way of getting to Sarah.

I could see her up ahead, maybe twenty or thirty feet away from me, hands burrowed deep into her pockets. The collar of her coat was raised around her neck, shoulders hunched together to ward off the chill from the rain. She stuck close to the buildings on the far side of the walk, almost leaning into them as she walked, shying away from people around her. Her feet fell heavy on the concrete, sloshing through the puddles as if they weren’t there at all.

I called out to her.

“Sarah!”

A few people nearby looked up, confused, and turned to see who I was yelling at. A large cluster of tourists paused by a sign displaying a public transit map, extending themselves into the middle of the sidewalk. I tried to muscle my way through them, but they were huddled together too close. I scrambled around them and broke free.

“Sarah! Just wait a second!”

She turned her head back towards me. Her face was wracked with pain, the tears in her eyes evident in the yellowish light cast by the streetlamps. She brushed her hand across her forehead, pushing aside the strands of hair that had become stuck here.

“Leave me alone, Shane,” she said darkly. Her voice was trembling, on the verge of cracking. She turned slowly forward, and quickened her pace.

There was finally a gap in the crowd leaving the theater, so I dropped into a run. The distance between us shrank quickly, but it felt like there was still something insurmountable between us. I reached out and placed my hand on her shoulder. She jumped as if my hand was red hot, and wrenched away from under it.

“Sarah, would you just give me a minute? Please?”

She stopped walking and spun around to face me.

“What, Shane?” she snapped. “What do you want?”

She crossed her arms in front of her and looked at me expectantly. I took a moment to catch my breath.

“You‘re… pregnant,” I said. The words felt foreign on my lips.

“Yes, Shane. I’m pregnant. You didn’t seem too thrilled to hear that back in the cab.”

“You didn’t give me a chance to respond!” I said. “You were up out of the cab and halfway down the street before I could say anything!”

“The expression on your face said more than plenty,” she spat. “I have never seen anyone look so completely disgusted before.”

Her words stung, clawing deep in my chest. “Disgusted? I was shocked, not disgusted! We were in the middle of a completely different conversation, and you cut in and tell me that you‘re pregnant. How else would you expect me to respond?”

Sarah looked at me, her eyes probing deep within mine, ticking side to side. I could tell she was hurt, and it was all that I wanted to do to absolve that pain. How could I have reacted differently? My mind raced to find an answer to my own question, but came up empty.

“I don’t know,” she said at last. She sounded defeated, and her shoulders dropped. Aware that we were being watched by the crowd passing around us, she moved over to the side of the walk near the stoop of an old brownstone. We stood in silence and watched a bulk of the crowd pass by.

“How long have you known?” I asked quietly when most of the crowd had gone.

She hesitated.

“Three months.”

I breathed in sharply. Three months.

“Why did you wait until now to tell me?”

“I don’t know,” she said again. “I know I should have told you sooner, and I was going to tell you… But I just wanted to make sure it was real first. I was afraid of how you’d react if I told you before I knew for sure.”

She fiddled with the buttons on her jacket as she spoke. The wind was picking up now, causing the rain to slant in towards us, hard and cold and relentless. The streetlamp closest to us flickered bright for a moment and then faded out, casting a shadow that hid most of Sarah’s face.

“So it’s real, then,” I said.

Sarah reached into her pocket and pulled out a small square of glossy white paper. It was creased and wrinkled, worn from being carried around in her pocket, from being worked over with nervous fingers. She held it out towards me. The wind bit at the edges of the paper, trying to tease it out from between her fingers. I reached up to take it from her, and found my arms had suddenly gotten heavy.

It was an image from a sonogram, dated two weeks ago.

The profile of my baby’s head lay center on the page, surrounded by black and white static. I could see the outline of it’s skull, the fluid form of it’s torso and arms. I held the picture with both hands, and lost myself in it. The air rushed out of my lungs with an audible sigh, and suddenly I was reeling.

For the second time that evening, all I could hear was the beating of my heart in my ears. I couldn’t take my eyes from the picture of my child, my child. In my head now I hear the beating of a second heart; faster than mine, higher pitched, strong and steady. My child’s heart.

Our child’s heart.

I looked up at last, and Sarah…

Sarah was gone.

She must have slipped away while I was entranced by the image of our growing child. She must have feared the worst, thinking my silence meant that I wasn’t happy, instead that I was at a loss for words because of how excited I was, seeing the picture of our child for the first time. I looked fervently for her, scanning the faces of thinning crowd, searching for her.

I turned around to check the crowds behind me, but the sidewalk was empty. I looked down the street to the corner. The group of tourists that had been looking at the transit map were waiting to cross the street, one of them impatiently pushing the signal button.

The crosswalk sign lit up white, and I spotted Sarah at the front of the crowd.

“Sarah!”

She stepped off the curb and turned her head, and our eyes locked together. Her eyes, brilliant blue even in the dark, even at the distance between us, were heavy with tears. She swung her head back to face the open street before her, and began walking.

I ran. I ran as hard as I could to the corner to catch her, to stop her before she was lost among the people crossing the street with her.

I wasn’t fast enough.

She had reached the other side of the street by the time I got to the corner. I skidded to a stop on the curb, inches away from the traffic that started roaring past. I scanned the flow of traffic, searching for an opening that I could dash through, knowing that it surely would be suicide, but considering it anyways.

We locked eyes again, between the rain. I tried to call out to her, but my voice was lost, carried off on the wind and rain. The blur of traffic made me dizzy, but I wasn’t going to lose sight of her again.

“Hey, buddy, you’re standing too close to the edge,” someone said behind me. A strong hand gripped my shoulder and pulled me gently back from the curb. I fell back a few steps, and was turned forcibly to one side to catch my balance. I whipped my head back up to where Sarah had been standing, but she was gone.

The cycle of traffic let up as the lights changed from green to yellow, yellow to red. The crosswalk sign lit up again, and I walked numbly across the street. A growing pit in my stomach made my mouth seethe with nausea.

Sarah was gone.

I turned the city upside down that night, looking for her. I called her name until my throat was hoarse, until I had no voice at all. I collapsed on a bench on a nameless street in a long forsaken neighborhood, and stared at the picture of the sonogram.

My child. Our child, innocent and not yet complete.

I could not find Sarah anywhere. The rain that had given the night an edge of magic earlier now hid the tears I could no longer hold back.

Friday, August 28, 2009

In Which I Go Way Back

Thanks to a particularly stubborn case of writers block, I'm going to recycle an old post of mine from about a year ago. You can find the original post and comments here. Enjoy!

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Throughout my life thus far, I have experienced many things that I wish I had known more about before having to experience them. Knowing more would have saved me a fair amount of embarrassment, but they say hindsight is 20/20.

THINGS I WISH I KNEW:
  • I wish I knew that I was going to have a cute female nurse do the prep work for my hernia exam, so I wouldn't be standing there, boxers around my ankles with a half-boner, when two male doctors walk in.
  • I wish I knew that my new khaki shorts clearly showed the presence of the slightest amount of sweat prior to wearing them to work and spending six hours mowing the lawn, so it wouldn't look like I crapped AND pissed myself for the rest of my shift.
  • I wish I knew that the bathroom window shade was wide open before standing naked at the sink for ten minutes shaving my face after getting out of the shower, so I wouldn't turn around to see my 87-year-old female neighbor sitting on her porch watching me.
  • I wish I knew that I had the world's largest pimple on my upper lip prior to trying to impress the girl I had a crush on at band practice when I was a freshman in high school.
  • I wish I knew that there was someone walking behind me in the parking lot of the grocery store before I released the longest, loudest, and possibly smelliest fart of my life.
Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Has anyone else wished they had known something that could have saved them embarrassment and years of anguish?

Have a good weekend, folks.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

In Which I Feel Young Again

Staying at my parents house this week has made me feel like I am reliving my teenage years. Before you think that things are going to get all nostalgic up in here, let me assure you that reliving my teenage years is something I hoped never to do. Let's just say that if I ever got a chance to be 17 again (like in that lame movie with the annoying guy from Friends and that annoying kid with the exhibitionist girlfriend, both of whom would be nothing if it wasn't for Disney), I would save the varsity football team some trouble and shove myself into a locker all on my own.

The things that I am getting a chance to re-experience here are not the things of fond memories with rosy vignettes. There have been no games of catch in the backyard, no freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, no laughter around the dinner table at a funny joke. No, these things are the stuff that repressed memories are made of, the worst of which are best saved for tacky therapist couches.

Take last night, for example. I made one last trip downstairs to the bathroom before bed, and as I passed through the living room I witnessed my dad sitting on the couch in his boxers and a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, trimming his toenails while watching the 11pm news. He had one leg crossed over the other, with a pile of jagged nail clippings balanced carefully on his knee. With each squeeze of the trimmer, a loud click echoed off of the walls. He would pick up the sliver of toenail, inspect it carefully up close, and then put it with the rest of the clippings on his knee.

If only The Boss had been there, she would have had an illuminating glimpse of what she can expect me to look like 20 years into the future, and be able to plan for our divorce accordingly.

I used the bathroom and retreated back upstairs, and read for a while until I heard the TV shut off downstairs. I shut off the lamp on my nightstand and stared off into the dark. As if seeing way too much of my fathers pasty-white thighs wasn't traumatizing enough for one night, I was just about to drift off when I heard something. I sat up on one elbow and focused my ears on the sound... and almost immediately wished I hadn't.

I wished that I had ignored the sound. I wished I was deaf. I wished that a hurricane would form right over the house and the howling wind would drown it out. I wished that Fran Drescher would suddenly appear and laugh loudly in my face... Anything but what I feared the noise truly was.

I told myself that the noises I heard coming from my parents bedroom directly below me were not what I thought it was.

My parents just snore differently than most people, that's all, I assured myself.

Maybe they are just trying to pass some gas.

The noise was probably from their mattress, from them positioning - NO! Don't say the word position! - getting comfortable before going to sleep.

Surely it will be over soon. They're just fluffing their pillows or something.

Or something.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon your perspective), life as a teenager had prepared me for such a situation, as my bedroom in the house I grew up in was also right above my parents. There were many nights where I fell asleep with my pillow over my head or with my clock radio on, trying my hardest not to hear my parents get it on.

At least I know that even with an empty nest, my parents aren't trapped in a love-less marriage. Although, I would have been okay with not having heard the proof of that fact first-hand.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Which I Am In Exile

As you all know, The Boss and I surrendered Stella back to the humane society on Monday.

Since we knew it was coming, I thought I could prepare myself for it. As we got closer and closer to the shelter, though, the more and more I felt myself starting to unravel. We only had her for a week, but I could not deny the bond that had formed between us. As she whined and scratched at the walls of her crate on the drive over, I tried to assure her that everything was going to be okay, but I fear she already knew what was happening. She had already been abandoned at the shelter once before, and it hurt me to wonder if she felt that we didn't want her anymore, either.

I had to stay away from Stella when we let her out of the car in the shelter's parking lot. She strained against her collar and leash to try to get to me, excited, her tail whipping side to side. She barked and whined, just wanting a scratch behind the ears or a belly rub. After a few moments, she stopped struggling against her collar and looked at me, confused. I couldn't bring myself to look at her in the eyes. I couldn't even get within three feet of her.

Her tail stopped, and she sat down.

I wanted to hold her. I wanted to scratch behind those floppy ears one last time. I wanted to see the goofy smile that dogs display when they are happy, when they know they are loved. Instead, she sat there on the hot asphalt, confused.

"You didn't do anything wrong, Stella," I said to her in forced dulcet tones. "I'm sorry we can't keep you."

The Boss pulled in a ragged breath, and I looked up to see the afternoon sunlight catch on the tears rolling down her face.

"I'm sorry, girl," I said again. "I'm sorry."

Without saying anything, The Boss started walking towards the shelter. Stella got up and walked with her, but stopped after a few yards when she realized that I wasn't coming along.

She barked and pulled against her collar, leaning towards me.

"Be a good girl, Stella," I called out.

The Boss never stopped walking. "Come on, girl," she said. I could hear it in her voice that she was trying to be strong, but her resolve was fading. Stella skipped forward to catch up. They disappeared behind the doors, and my heart broke.

I tried to focus my thoughts on something else, anything other than the guilt I was feeling. I leaned against the hood of the car and waited. When I heard the doors swing open a few minutes later, I turned around to see The Boss walking hurriedly towards me, trying in vain to hold back her tears. We met in the middle of the parking lot, and I held her tight.

She cried. She cried brutal, painful tears. I did what I could to hold myself together, to be strong for her, but I failed. I began crying, too. We left shortly after, in silence.

---

Later that evening, after being back at our apartment for no more than five minutes, my body exploded in hives. My hands and arms, chest, back, inner thighs, groin... everywhere. Despite our best efforts at cleaning the apartment and trying to get rid of the allergen, there was still enough of the dander circulating in the air to bother me. I showered and took an extra dose of prednisone and benadryl, and tried to keep from screaming.

We left the apartment for a couple hours, and the hives eventually faded. I dosed up again on my medication once we got home, and finally got to sleep at 11:30, hive-free.

I woke up two hours later, covered in hives again. I woke up The Boss, and we went to the Emergency Room. I was put on two more medications to try to control the hives, and then discharged.

It was clear that I couldn't go back to the apartment, so I packed up what I needed to spend a week at my parents house. We arrived sometime after 3:00 AM, and crashed upstairs in their guest bedroom, where I sit currently. Until we feel that our apartment has been aired out sufficiently and is safe for my return, I have been exiled.

Even without exposure to the dog, I am still having symptoms. I'm trying my best to keep the medications active in my system, but it is hard to keep track of everything. I am on three different antihistamines, one steroid, and a medication to prevent airway inflammation, not to mention the bendaryl as needed. I've been carrying around my EpiPen everywhere I go, but am crossing my fingers that I will never have to use it.

The past four days have been a whirlwind, and I'm trying hard to get caught up. I clicked "Mark All As Read" on my Google Reader last night, which is something I have never done before. Please forgive me for missing all of your updates over the past few days, and bear with me as I try to get back into the swing of things.

Also, thank you all for your concern and well wishes over the past couple of days. The Boss and I both greatly appreciate it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

In Which I Am At A Loss

To put it in the lightest of terms, this weekend did not go well.

I woke up Saturday morning with hives all over my arms, my hands swollen to the point where I couldn't make a fist, and constriction in my throat. It doesn't take a medical degree to know what was going on.

I was having an allergic reaction to something, again.

Not wanting to fool around with it after what happened the last time, The Boss and I decided that a trip to the Emergency Room was in order. (For those getting up out of your chairs and stretching your legs to give me a good ass-whooping, I had no trouble breathing at all, and The Boss was the one that drove. There was no medical need to call 911 this time around.)

As we prepared to leave, The Boss and I talked about what could be causing the reaction. There has been no introduction of new foods or drinks that I had consumed, and no new soaps, shampoos or detergents, either. The air filter in the air conditioner has been kept clean, and there is no funky mold in our apartment (to the best of our knowledge, anyway). What's more, short of the random allergy attack over a week ago, I have never had an allergic reaction, much less hives, ever before.

The more we thought about it, the more things we crossed off the proverbial list, the more it became clear that my allergies were being caused by one thing:

Our new dog, Stella.

She is the only thing new that had been introduced to our home environment before my reactions started. We looked up her breed (daschund and minature pinscher), and sure enough, she is a high-dander breed of dog. From the research that I did quickly online before we left for the ER, I read that most people who don't know they are allergic to dogs start showing symptoms 3-4 days after the dogs introduction to the home.

The timeline fits. We took Stella home Monday afternoon, and I started showing symptoms Friday, with an itchy head and minor hives on my arms. All of my symptoms on Friday went away with a dose of Benadryl, but my symptoms were back and much, much worse on Saturday morning, having spent the night before sleeping right next to Stella in bed.

We listed our concerns to the ER doctor, who agreed that it mostly likely was an allergy to the dog. I know that people can develop allergies at any point in their lives, but until this happened, I have never been allergic to dogs or anything else. What makes it all make sense is finding out that the only dogs I had previously spent longer periods of time with are my parents dog, a yorkshire terrier, and The Boss' parents dog, a schnauzer, both of which are low-dander breeds. So, even if I was allergic to dogs at the time, I most likely wouldn't have shown any reaction around them at all.

As far as resolving my symptoms, I left the ER with a prescription for prednisone. I've been taking it since I got home on Saturday, and I'll be on it throughout Wednesday. I've also been taking regular doses of Benadryl just in case. We took Stella to my parents house late Saturday night to get her out of our apartment, and we spent the night at my parents house so we could sleep on bedding that hadn't been exposed to pet dander. On Sunday, Stella stayed with my parents, and The Boss and I went home to gather up our bedding, clothing, towels, blankets, anything that Stella had been around or laid on, and spent a couple hours and $20 at the laundromat.

Unfortunately, we know for sure that my allergy is to Stella. I purposefully exposed myself to her before taking one of my doses of prednisone, and my throat started to become constricted. My hives started to appear again by the time I got my medication in my system. I also had a reaction when gathering up our blankets and things to bring to the laundromat.

To make a long story short, Stella will be going back to the humane society today. It was an unbelieveably hard descision to make. We've only had her for a week, and just started to fall into a routine with her. Taking allergy medication daily to cope with my allergies to Stella would just make me more tired, and you all know that I have enough problems with being tired as it is. When it all boils down, my health and well-being comes first.

It has been a rough weekend, but on top of an Emergency Room visit and having to give our new puppy back to the shelter, we came home yesterday to find that our air conditioner had broken. Our normally darkened and cool apartment was still dark, but a sweltering 85 degrees.

I guess when it rains, it pours.

So, like I said... This past weekend wasn't the greatest. Here's to hoping that, once we emotionally recover from having to surrender Stella back to the shelter, the rest of the week goes better.

Friday, August 21, 2009

In Which I Am Burnt Out

I've had a bit of a rough week with my anxiety, so I apologize if my posting has been sub-par lately. The warmer weather tends to wreak havoc on my body, making worse all of the symptoms that I deal with on a day-to-day basis. It's not the end of the world by any means, it just means that I'm tapped out when it comes to brain power.

I did manage to find a couple of things I wanted to share with you all. The first is a pairing of advertisements that I found while kicking around Facebook the other day. Perhaps you've seen them; the ones that offer to make a cartoon version of yourself if you upload your picture. I took a screen shot, just in case you have no idea what I'm talking about:


It's not the ads themselves that I find to be amusing. Like most of you I'm sure, I've always wondered what a cartoon caricature of myself would look like. Would I have Dumbo-ears? Would my chin be accentuated? Would my eyes be cast far apart or close together?

What I found to be the most amusing about these ads was the lame attempt at out-doing each other. As you can see, the first ad states that you can "Cartoonize Yourself". Fine, I've got no problems with that. Then, immediately below it, the second ad comes along with the brilliantly clever advertisting slogan, offering to all who view it to "Really Cartoon Yourself".

As if adding the word "really" into the mix made it seem that much more appealing. My guess is that the exec in charge of making the advertising campaign didn't give a shit. Or perhaps he "really" didn't give a shit.

The other thing I found was an interesting CAPTCHA word verification that I came across while commenting on a blog. Again, I have provided a screenshot:


Blinguin, eh? Is that like a penguin decked out in expensive jewelry? A gangsta-penguin, if you will? This may be an indication that I have too much time on my hands, but I came up with a sketch* of what I thought a blinguin would look like:


The only thing missing is this blinguins posse. Because everyone knows that any good blinguin has a posse.

That's all I've got for today. I hope everyone has a good weekend!

*I know, I know. I have some mad skillz with Microsoft Paint.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Which I Get A Dog

Earlier this week, The Boss and I got a new addition to our home.

Her name is Stella.


She is a six-month-old daschund-miniature pincher mix, and as you can see, she is too cute for her own good. We adopted her from the local animal humane society.

There is an interesting story behind her name. We were originally going to name her Lola, but we didn't want to upset the real Lola into thinking that we named a dog after her. It wasn't until I saw a recent post by Lola that I remembered that she has a dog named Stella, too. I had totally forgotten!

She is very hyper, but is quickly adapting to living with us, and has slept in bed with us for the past two nights. We've had a few accidents in the house, but we're starting to learn the signs she displays when she needs to go outside. She has already totally destroyed two of her toys, so until she gets older she'll be put in her crate whenever we have to leave the house. We will be enrolling her into obedience school soon to try to train her out of some of the bad habits she developed while in the shelter.

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I've been putting some work into my photography website lately. I've changed how the pictures are displayed a bit, and I've added watermarks to the larger versions of the pictures for some added security. If you wouldn't mind, please check out the site and let me know if you have any problems with pictures loading or with site navigation.

Thanks!

Monday, August 17, 2009

In Which I Meet Up With Some Mainers

Yesterday, I had the fortunate chance of meeting up with two of my blogging friends, Jenn(ifer) and Amanda. To the best of my knowledge, they are the only people in the state of Maine that publicly follow my blog. Thanks to my trusty friend Google Analytics, I know there are more of my fellow Mainers lurking around this site than just those two (de-lurk, I beg of you!), but I don't know anyone else specifically.

At any rate, this is the first time I have met up with people I've known only through blogging, and it was fun! The Boss and I met up with them at the local Starbucks here in town and chatted for a little while. I was a little worried about what exactly we'd have to talk about, seeing as I've already told all of my good stories here on this blog, but there wasn't an awkward moment at all. Even though I tend to be slightly different in person than I am online, I don't think I scared them off. If I did, they were nice enough to not run away screaming to their car and peel out of the parking lot when we parted ways.

I hope I get a chance to meet some of the other people I know through blogging sometime soon. I've got some vacation time coming up in September (hint, hint), so if anyone would be interested in meeting me and The Boss in a mutually agreeable place some Sunday next month, just send me an e-mail.

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In other news, while doing some late night shopping at Wal-Mart this past weekend, I followed The Boss as she meandered towards the book section. As I normally do while waiting for her to finish browsing through the books, I made fun of the titles of the Harlequin romance books. Some of them are just begging to be made fun of. Especially this one:


I was speechless, but it was the tag line that put me at a loss for words:
It's all about scoring - on the field and in the bedroom!
I wonder if, within the pages of this book, there is any mention of the lead male character, the muscular and shirtless wonder on the cover, stealing any bases. If so, I don't know how anyone would find that to be romantic. I mean, unless you find rape arousing, I think there are better ways to go about describing it.

Thinking about that innuendo got the ol' wheels turning. There are just so many other innuendos possible with this book theme. The game of baseball is ripe with terms that could be turned around into something sexual. Here are just a few that I could come up with:
  • Batting practice
  • Pitcher's mound
  • Center field
  • Dugout
  • Bullpen
  • Scoring position
  • Fastballs, Curve balls, Knuckle balls
  • Double or Triple play, Squeeze Play
  • Switch hitter
  • Strike zone
  • Ground ball
  • Grand Slam
So many jokes, so little time.

I was glad to see that romance authors are branching out a bit by writing stories about other types of men. It's not just about cowboys and rich, affluent bachelors and muscular, olive-skinned natives any more. Baseball players, construction workers, toll booth operators, janitors, the valet at the hotel, that guy with the ear hair at work, your urologist... They all have a chance to shine in the spotlight now.

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, August 14, 2009

In Which I Learn The Hard Way

I had a bit of a harrowing experience on Wednesday.

I was sitting at my desk, working, an hour after coming back from my lunch break, when I felt a little tickle in my throat. Like I had something caught in it. I coughed to try to loosen it up, but it wouldn't go away. I tried drinking some water to see if that would help, but it didn't. Over the span of the next few minutes, the coughing became worse, uncontrollable.

I realized then that my throat was starting to feel tight, and that I couldn't take a full breath. I was talking with Aunt Becky online at the time, so I typed to her:
I think I'm having an allergic reaction.
She urged me to call 911, but I didn't think it was urgent enough for that. It was clear that something was happening, but I wanted to see if we had any Benadryl. Trying to keep myself calm despite not being able to breathe normally, I rummaged around in our medicine cabinet.

Nothing.

The Boss was at work, but I called her anyways. I explained the situation as best I could, trying to breathe evenly. I was only able to take short, half-breaths at this point. The tightness in my throat was worsening, and I was still coughing heavily.

I was starting to feel a little light-headed, and I knew that I had to do something, and soon. It would take about 20 minutes for The Boss to leave work, pick up the Benadryl and get home; I knew I wouldn't make it that long. I could call 911 like Becky advised, but even in as bad a shape as I was then, I was stubborn, and refused.

There is a Rite-Aid pharmacy less than an 1/8th of a mile up the road, but walking there was out of the question. Just walking across my apartment made me short of breath. I'd have to drive.

I grabbed my keys and made my way slowly down to my truck. I tried to force myself to breathe through my nose to try to keep things under control. I could feel the panic starting to edge its way in. Still feeling light-headed, I cautiously pulled out of the parking lot and headed towards the pharmacy.

I was wheezing by the time I got there, about a minute later.

I stumbled inside and grabbed a bottle of water from the coolers in the back. I shuffled over to the aisle where the Benadryl was, grabbed a package and ripped it open. I popped a pill out through the foil backing and gulped it down, right there in the middle of the store, not having paid for anything yet.

There happened to be a store associate in the aisle next to me. He looked up at me with wide eyes, shocked.

"Are you okay?"

I pulled the water bottle from my lips and gasped, "I should be okay now," gesturing with the open box of Benadryl.

He followed me to the registers up front, the wide-eyed expression never leaving his face. I paid quickly and left, leaving a frightened-looking cashier behind me. I imagine they talked about me for a few minutes after I was gone, wondering what was wrong with me.

When I got home a few minutes later, the wheezing and coughing were fading. My throat was still tight, but I felt like I was starting to be able to catch my breath. I took another pill just to be safe. Within 15 minutes time, I was mostly back to normal. Within 30 minutes of that second dose, I was drowsy, the unfortunate but welcome sign that the Benadryl was working.

I've thought long and hard about it since this happened on Wednesday, but I have no idea what could have caused the allergic reaction. Until this happened, I had never had an allergic reaction before, to anything, in my life. It had been an hour since I had eaten anything, so I know it wasn't likely a food allergy (and I hadn't eaten anything outside of the normal, anyways). It's possible that I was bitten or stung by a spider or something, but I didn't feel anything, nor do I have any bite or sting marks.

To say the very least, it was a frightening experience. It scared the piss out of both The Boss and Aunt Becky, not to mention myself. For the record, I would have called 911 if I had thought it was bad enough. I'm stubborn, yes, but not stupid.

Take this story as a public service announcement of sorts, to always have Benadryl or some type of antihistamine in your home. You never know when you'll need it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In Which I've Got A Complaint

Knock knock knock.

I can hear her talking, presumably on the phone, and I shift my weight impatiently. The gleaming placard mounted on the wall next to the door reads Mother Nature: Vice President of Environmental Services, North American Region. A few moments pass with no response, so I knock again. Harder this time.

"Who is it?" a pleasant but distracted voice almost immediately calls out from behind the door.

"It's me, Mike," I respond, raising my voice to be heard through the door. "Do you have a minute?"

There is no response at first. Just as I am about to knock again, there is the distinct clatter of a telephone being placed back on its cradle, and a chair being rolled back. Light footsteps approach the door, and the deadbolt slides with a click. The door opens, and there she is... Mother Nature herself. (For the curious, she looked like a slightly less trampy version of this.) She smiles warmly, and beckons me inward with an open hand.

"Sure, Mike. Come on in. Have a seat."

We sit, her in an ergonomic and expensive-looking chair, me in a hard plastic and metal chair reminiscent of a high school cafeteria. As I try to make myself comfortable, I gaze around the office. A stack of papers lies on the edge of the humble wooden desk. No computer. A giant Rolodex. A multi-line telephone. A massive calendar with just about every centimeter of space scribbled on with different colored ink. A wire cup holding a few pencils and pens, the pencils wearing bite marks and worn-down erasers.

"So," she says, pulling my attention back to her. "What can I do for you?"

"Well," I began, clearing my throat, "I've got a few things that I wanted to address with you. Nothing major, just a couple of concerns. But first, I've got a question."

"Okay, shoot."

"I had a heck of a time finding your office. Why are you down here in the basement, instead of upstairs with the other VPs? Wouldn't you like to be able to look out the window at all of your handiwork?"

"People are always asking me that. I chose to be down here, okay?" she says defensively. "It's quieter, and I don't have the VP of the European Region breathing down my neck all day. He's such a prick, you know?" She pauses for a moment. "And besides. It's like when you work in a pizza parlor, how the last thing you want to eat is pizza? I deal with weather patterns and shit like that all day long. The last thing I want is to have it staring at me every time I look up."

"That's fine, I was just curio-"

"Okay, fine. It's mostly because of the European VP," she says, interrupting me. "He's always asking me if I've got the schedule complete, what the ETA is on the current pattern, and he's always late sending me his pattern differential requests. He and I had a little... fling... at last years Christmas party, and now he thinks he can just walk all over me."

She stops talking to catch her breath, her face flush. She wrings her hands.

"Take some deep breaths," I said soothingly. "I'm sorry I brought this up. I didn't know it was such a touchy subject."

"It's okay. I really shouldn't get so upset. He just hasn't returned any of my calls since that night, and I'm still a little sensitive about it." She sighs, and then smiles. "Anyways, what really brings you down here? Not to be my stand-in therapist, I'm sure."

"Truthfully, no." I smile. "Over a month ago, I submitted a request for sunshine, mild temperatures, and a light breeze, and-"

The telephone rings. She checks the caller ID, and motions me to pause with one finger. "I'm sorry, I've got to take this." She picked up the cradle on the fourth ring.

"Mother Nature, North America speaking," she said professionally. "Oh, hello, Father Time... Yes, I can talk." She glances at me and shrugs. "Yes, I'm aware that it's August now... Yes, I know. Fall starts on September 22nd this year.... What? Early? What do you mean, early?"

She leans back in her chair and looks at the calendar on the wall. "Yes, I suppose I could work out a deal with... Okay, by the first week in September. I'll alert Temperature Control and have them start cooling things down by September 1st." She scribbles something hastily on a scrap of paper. "Mmm-hmm. Sure thing. Okay. Bye-bye."

She hangs up the phone and finishes writing her note. "Sorry about that."

"It's alright. Can't keep the boss-man waiting," I sympathize.

"No, especially not Father Time. He claims that he is just so busy managing the time zones and making sure that the Sun and Moon keep their act together that he can't assist me with a simple project like next months flash flood or the next big tropical storm, but he has time to make phone calls all day long. I don't care that he started this company a couple thousand years ago. That shouldn't give him the right to just up and decide to change the start time of an entire fucking season with only a few weeks notice. Do you know how much work is involved in coordinating that?" she rants.

I cringe at the rising pitch of her voice. She stops and catches her breath again.

"Look, I can come back another time if now isn't good for you," I said quietly, and I get up to leave.

"No, no, now is fine. I'm sorry for the interruptions. Really... sit back down," she urges. "I've just felt a little under-appreciated lately. That, and I haven't gotten laid since... well... Christmas. I'm a little on edge."

"I can see that," I said awkwardly. "Well, like I was saying before, I put in a request for some decent weather well over a month ago for the weekend before last, and it appears that my request was ignored."

Mother Nature says nothing, but nods her head.

"The past is in the past, and I'm not here to complain about that. What I really came down here for was to see if there was any way I can ensure some good weather in late September. I'm planning a camping trip for my birthday around the 20th, and I'd really appreciate some cooperation here."

"Oh, I see." A pause. She glances at her calendar. "Well, with the new plans to bump up Autumn a little bit earlier, coordinating specific requests around that time might be difficult. Maybe. I'll see what I can do."

I sit back in my chair, incredulous.

"Seriously? Excuse me if I'm being rude, but that's the best you can offer me? After it rained on my wedding day? After it snowed 20 fucking feet of snow in recent winters? After you make it rain six days out of seven this entire summer so far? After ignoring my only previous request so far this year, the best you can do for me, for one simple request, is a maybe?"

"Okay, okay!" she says. She opens a drawer on the side of the desk and pulls out a sheet of paper. Selecting a pen from the wire cup, she fills out the paperwork and hands it over to me.

"Here. On your way back upstairs, hand this to the guy in the Indian Summer department. He's a crusty little fucker, but he's long since owed me a favor. Tell him that I sent you, and that this should be considered first priority for that week."

I took the paper from her. "This is the year 2009, and you guys are still dealing with couriers and paperwork? When does the next Pony Express come into town? Or should I use a carrier pigeon?"

She doesn't seem to appreciate my humor.

"Why don't you send him an e-mail about this? Wouldn't that be faster and easier for everyone, not to mention better for the environment? Especially since you have to coordinate this with, I dunno, the rest of the world?"

She sighs heavily, and gestures to show that she has no computer. "Look. Our ecosystem was put into action long before the age of computers, and we just haven't made the switch over yet. This way has worked for us for a long, long time. If you'd prefer not to do it, I can take your request up to him myself." She reaches to take the sheet back from me.

"No, I can handle it," I said, snapping the paper closer to me. "Doing it this way seems so... archaic."

"Well, again... it works for us." Her voice was now clipped and terse, a great change from the cheery person who first greeted me.

"Okay, then." I get up from my chair and head towards the door. "Thank you for your time, and for this," I said, gesturing with the paperwork.

"You're welcome. I'm sorry for all the interruptions, but you know how it is with nature... things change around here at a moments notice." She rises from her chair and stands by the door.

"Believe me, I know." I open the door and step out of her office.

"Have a good day, Mike," she calls sweetly. I'm barely outside the door when it closes swiftly behind me. The deadbolt slides shut with a heavy click.

I guess that mostly depends upon you, now doesn't it?

---

I do have some vacation time planned around my birthday next month, so we'll see what happens.

Monday, August 10, 2009

In Which I Grow

Early last week, The Boss and I bought some pizza dough. We were going to make calzones that night for dinner, but decided against it when we walked into our stifling hot third-floor apartment. The prospect of having calzones went promptly out the window, as we didn't want to further increase the temperature in our apartment by firing up the oven. So, the doughball went in the fridge and was quickly forgotten.

Until the weekend arrived.

I opened the fridge late Saturday morning to get a drink, and I was confronted with this:


We had forgotten that dough, when left alone, has the tendency to rise. The little motherfucker known as yeast did what it does best and converted the sugars found in the dough into carbon dioxide gas. The dough, once a respectable lump the size of a softball, expanded to nearly twice its original size and was now fighting for freedom from the plastic bag we bought it in.

I chuckled and snapped a quick picture with my cell phone, because it looked like the dough had sprouted genitalia. I then did what anyone else would do with such a picture... I put it on Facebook.

Not sure what to do with the dough, I left it in the fridge. I didn't think that it'd get any worse, but that thought was proven wrong when I checked on the dough a couple hours later:


It had grown! More dough had wriggled its way out of the hole in the plastic, and the little sprig that looked like a weenis now was something that was almost frightening. The dough-penis looked like it had contracted an incredibly fast-acting case of elephantitis. I snapped another picture and posted it alongside the first one on Facebook.

Later that evening when The Boss got home from work, we removed the dough from the fridge. It was clear that the dough was beyond usable, so The Boss went to throw it in the trash. Just as she was about to, I saw something.

"Wait!" I cried. "It looks like a marshmallow peep!"

It's not a perfect example, but for a lump of pizza dough, the resemblance is quite uncanny:



We both had a good laugh, but once the humor wore off, the dough wound up in the trash. The memory of it will live on, though.

At least on Facebook.

P.S. Did I mention I'm on Facebook? If you're not already my friend on the site, you can find me here. Don't forget to follow the official BAG page and the BAG blog on Networked Blogs.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In Which I Distract You

My brain is still fried from the Q&A session yesterday, so I don't have much mental stamina left in me for a normal post this weekend. Instead, I'm going to put up a picture of my niece, (which is I have been known to do in the past) in hopes of distracting you from the fact that there is nothing of any real value in todays post.

Short of cuteness, that is.


She turned two months old this week. Here she is, holding a stuffed animal that has been dubbed "Kittybear" that The Boss gave her. I've been told there was no posing involved in taking of this picture. She is too cute for her own good, but that cuteness fades quite fast when she fires up those lungs and starts wailing.

Enjoy the cuteness, and enjoy your weekend.

Friday, August 7, 2009

In Which I Talk At Length About Myself

This post is going to be considerably long enough without a lengthy introduction, so I'll just get right down to it. Here are the answers to your questions from yesterdays post.

---

Why Mom Drinks Rum... What does the Boss think about your blog? And your online friendships? Also, boxers or briefs?
In my opinion, I think The Boss feels that my blog is a good thing for me. It's a place where I can spill out all the thoughts and stories that I have to tell, and since I've pretty much told her everything at least once before, that means she doesn't have to hear it again. As far as my online friends go, well... she's just glad I have friends, even if they are in the computer. Also? Boxer briefs.
Notes From the Grove... What is it that draws you to other people's blogs?
I like to hear other people's stories. What made them into who they are, what they've experienced, their triumphs and their heartaches, their joys and fears. We tend to live life wrapped up in our own lives, and it can be easy to forget that the people around you have a story to tell, too.
For The Love Of Pictures... If you were creating a new holiday, what would you call it and what would it celebrate? If someone made a film about your life, who would play you?
The holiday I'd create would be on March 3rd, and it'd be called BAGstille Day. It'd celebrate the anniversary of the creation of this blog, of course. And if someone were to play me in a movie about my life, I'd want Seth Rogen. Because he is fucking hilarious, and better looking than me.
Organic Meatbag... Yes, I have always enjoyed the Devo-esque drawing of the "geeky guy" on this blog that represents you...so fo' reals, do you have the badass plaid jacket?
Sadly, no, but I'm trying to find one. I want to dress up like the guy in the image this year for Halloween, but it is hard to find a plaid jacket at thrift shops that A) Doesn't smell like it was used at a funeral home, B) Isn't torn or stained, and C) Is in my size.
Myster G... What is your favourite quote and why?
My favorite quote is actually from Star Wars, which is quite fitting for a geek. In episode V ("Empire Strikes Back"), when Luke is training to be a Jedi with Yoda on Dagobah, Luke expresses that he'll "try" to lift his sunken X-wing fighter out of the swamp. Yoda interjects, saying, "Do, or do not. There is no try." I've thought of this quote when I've been faced with something I wasn't sure I could do, and it has been motivation to prove that I can do it, and not to fail trying.
Aunt Juicebox... 1) Any more consideration on the baby issue? For example, how is her female trouble factoring into you holding off compared to the not ready to be a dad factor? Do you have a pros and cons list, and at what point would you consider that the pros have it? 2) Did you ever get to see your photos on the show Fringe? 3) Why didn't you take a picture of the pile of poo in the Christmas shop? Or some of the other crazy people/situations you experience? I sometimes forget myself so I understand, but it just strikes me as funny, with you being a photographer that you don't post more photos.
1) The baby issue is much like it has been for a while now: I am just not ready. Having my niece around has made a slight difference, but not in the way that The Boss would hope. I know she probably wants a baby more now because of my niece, but for me? It's further cemented the thought that I do not feel I am ready. I have a hard enough time taking care of just myself some days. There is no pros/cons list at the time.

2) I caught a glimpse of one of my photos on Fringe once. It was just for a second, but it was there! I'll be getting the first season on DVD when it comes out next month, and I'll scour every scene for them. (Confused? Read this post.)

3) I know, I know. I just don't carry around my camera with me when I go places. The only decent camera I have is too expensive to replace if it got lost, stolen, or damaged. Until recently, my cell phone camera wasn't good enough to cut it. Now, though, my cell phone actually takes decent pictures, so I've tried to make an effort to use it. I don't post a lot of photos because my focus of this blog has always been on the writing. Picture posts just aren't my style.
Children of the 90s... I was also going to ask a cheesy question about you and The Boss, but I'm not sure what's been done before. How did you meet? First date?
We were introduced by a mutual friend while in college. We were friends for a little while before we realized that there was a little something more between us, and our first date was about two months after we met. She came over to my dorm room, and we watched "Spiderman 2". Well, I shouldn't say we watched it. We talked the whole time, over hot chocolate and animal crackers. The rest, as they say, is history.
Shari... Is the glass half full or half empty?
I am an eternal optimist, so my glass is always half-full.
Natalie... Have you ever kissed a moose?
I have not. I've heard they are sloppy kissers, so I probably won't. In fact, I'll make it a point not to. Deer, though, are another story.
Jaime... If someone you looked up to in your family told you that you were 'fucking gay' because you were going to meet some online blogging friends, how would you reply? And would it hurt your feelings?
Once I recovered from the shock of someone in my family using the F-word, I'd probably brush it off and not let it bother me. People who don't blog who make fun of those who do are just jealous of the connections and the friendships we make. I've met some really awesome people through blogging that I wouldn't have had the chance to know otherwise. So what if I only know them online? That's enough for me.
Mrs Soup... 1) How geeky are you? And more specifically, what type of geek? 2) Do you like your new place? If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 3) If you could do anything in the world regardless of monetary compensation, what would it be? 4) If you had to go back to school to get a degree and take classes in something you had never done before, what would it be?
1) I am super geeky. Specifically, I am a music geek. I've played the saxophone for 12 years, and have been writing music for about as long. I've taught myself how to play the clarinet, piano, and guitar along the way, but the saxophone is my main instrument. I used to compete in district competitions, and I placed second in the state of Maine one year. I can't really listen to music without trying to figure out the chord progression, or what key it's in, or what the notes might be. It's a gift and a curse.

2) I do like our new place. It's small and humble, but there is enough room for what we need, and it's affordable. If I could live anywhere in the world, though, I probably wouldn't move out of the country. I'd try out a different state, probably southern California or some place of relatively neutral temperature.

3) I would write. Whether it was a book or a song, I would write. It is what I love to do.

4) I'd probably take classes in criminal justice. It'd be a lot of work I'm sure, but I've always thought that working to solve crimes by piecing together the evidence would be a rewarding job.
Mrs. B... What is your all time favorite book? What genres do you like to read?
Stephen King's "The Stand", no question. I read it last summer, and I was absolutely blown away by it. So many individual stories so intriciately woven together... I am still in awe at King's writing power in that book. I read it cover to cover and when I finished I wanted to read it again. I prefer to read books of fiction, those in the thriller/fantasy/horror category. Is it any wonder that King is my favorite author? I also like political thrillers, a la Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy.
Inna... Does your family know about your blog? I know you work from home, what does your work entail? Do you like your job? If you could, what is something you would do over?
My family knows that I have a blog, yes. I've made it a point to not tell them specifically where I blog, just because I wouldn't want the knowledge that they may be reading to restrict what I feel I can write about. My parents accidentally found out the URL of my blog earlier this spring, but said they had no interest in reading my blog (I'm still not sure if I should be relieved, or hurt).

I do work from home, for a call center company that answers the phone for doctors offices, hospitals, and insurance companies. I do many different things in my job, from general messaging to physician referrals, to nurse triaging. I enjoy certain aspects of my job, but the job itself, after three years, is getting a little stale.

If I could get a do-over, I'd go back to the third grade and beat the shit out of the kid that beat the shit out of me on the playground. I've always been a bit of a pushover, but that kid certainly didn't help the case. Prick.
BeautifulWreck... What do you most want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for making people laugh. I get great pleasure from knowing that something I did, whether it was intentional or not, made people laugh.
JennyMac said... Who reads your blog more, people who know you or people who don't? And seriously, does your Boss read it?
More people that I do not know in real life read my blog as opposed to people that I do know that read it. In fact, short of The Boss, I don't know anyone in real life (as in people that I have met in person) that reads my blog. I'm fine with that, but I have been tempted to tell people I know about it. And yes, The Boss does read my blog. Quite religiously, I might add.
The Boss... Best day of your life thus far? Favorite season? Most memorable moment? Who wears short shorts?
You know what day was the best day of my life thus far: The day we got married, of course. My favorite season? Fall, because its not too hot and not too cold. Most memorable moment? Last night (wink, wink). Lastly, I WEAR SHORT SHORTS.
Aunt Becky... What annoys you most about blogs?
I've got a handful of gripes, mostly centered around spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and missuse of apostrophes (never underestimate the power of a good proof-read). Those really don't bother me too much. My main complaint, though? Truncated posts. There is just no need to even partially truncate your posts for feed readers. Sure, it may drive more traffic to one's blog, but your writing should be what draws people to click through, not because your posts are truncated. Odds are, if your posts are shortened in my reader, I won't click through to your blog to comment.
Nej... Water skiing vs snow skiing? Camping vs hotel? Car vs truck? Cowboy boots vs tennis shoes? Morning vs night?
Snow skiing. Camping. Truck. Sneakers. Morning.
Dsmcaron... Do you have problems with your feet?
All coordination problems aside, I do have a little trouble with my left foot, yes. I have a rather large plantars wart on the pad of my foot, just below the toes. It is very painful, and I haven't been able to get into to see my doctor about it just yet.
Jenn(ifer)... Ever meet other bloggers? Ever dance with the idea of meeting other bloggers?
I haven't met any bloggers yet, no, but I would love to if given the chance.
Yodz... Do you believe in hell?
I don't necessarily believe in Heaven or Hell as told by the Bible, but I do believe there is an afterlife based upon how we lived. If you were a good person and did well by your fellow man, your afterlife will be pleasant. If you did bad things and mistreated your fellow man, your afterlife will be unpleasant. Karma and such rot.
Sandy said... Have you ever or would you ever post a photo of yourself? The Boss?
I have posted a couple pictures of myself throughout the archives here. Take a look:
I'm not sure if The Boss is willing to put her picture up online or not. You'll have to ask her.
Moonspun... You've mentioned a time or two that you did not finish college. Why?
I left college after my second year because I wasn't sure what I wanted to pursue. At the time, I was seeking a degree in music composition, which was all fine and good if I didn't want to make any money with my degree after college. Not wanting to live in a box in some alley somewhere, I said I'd take some time off and figure out what I wanted to focus on. That was almost five years ago now, and I haven't made it a point to go back to school. I do want to go back to school, but I'm not sure when that will happen.
Lola... Do you regret asking your readers to ask you questions now that you've got a hundred questions to answer?
If this satisified my readers quest for knowledge, then no. If they still have more that they wonder about me, then maybe. =)
Heather... What's your sign?
I was born on September 20th, so I am a Virgo.
---

So there you have it. I offered, you asked, I answered. If there are any other burning questions that you have about me, e-mail me them and I'll do my best to answer.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go lay down. That was exhausting.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In Which I Open Up

Just about a year ago, I opened myself up to answer questions from you, my readers. I did that because I realized I didn't really share too much about myself on this blog, just stories of things I have done or experienced. In the 234 posts I've written since then, I've shared a lot more stories, but I've made an effort to tell you more about the man who writes them.

I'm not sure what else I can tell you that you don't already know about me, but I also know what it is like to be on the other side of the screen and wonder different things about the author. So, I'm going to open myself up to your questions again. I want to know what you want to know about me, if there is anything you wonder about the guy who works hard to make you laugh.

Don't worry about if it has already been asked before. Just ask. No subject is taboo (within reason, of course). I'll leave the polls open for 24 hours, and I'll have my answers for you in tomorrows post.

P.S. If you feel tempted to ask me anything dirty, refer to this post first.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In Which I Am Awkward

If you could add your own listing in the dictionary under the word "awkward", what would it be?

Dictionary.com offers many different definitions for the word:
1. Lacking skill or dexterity; clumsy.
2. Lacking grace or ease in movement.
3. Lacking social graces or manners.
4. Not well planned or designed for easy or effective use.
5. Requiring caution; somewhat hazardous.
6. Hard to deal with; difficult; requiring skill, tact, or the like.
7. Embarrassing or inconvenient; caused by lack of social grace.
8. Obsolete. untoward; perverse
I have another definition of the word that I'd like to have added to that list:
9. When your boss greets you with the sexually perverse nickname he's picked out for you, and calls it out loudly across the parking lot in front of your co-workers.
As in, "Hey there, Big Shooter!"

This happened to me at a job I had back in 2006, while working for a hotel maintenance team in Wells, Maine. The general manager, a crusty and perverse man in his late fifties, picked out nicknames for everyone that worked there, and for some reason, mine ended up as Big Shooter.

Every time I saw him, he'd greet me the same way. Every single time.

Big Shooter.

Talk about awkward.

Monday, August 3, 2009

In Which I Am Light Footed

*NOTE* This post is not for the squeamish or the light-stomached.

A couple of months ago (about two weeks before we moved), The Boss was on antibiotics for an ear infection. As anyone who has ever been on antibiotics will tell you, the medication fucks with your stomach and can make you feel quite sick. Having been on the medication for a couple of days, The Boss was coping with some pretty strong nausea but was managing okay otherwise. In fact, she almost made it through the entire course of the medication without incident.

Almost.

On day three or four of the antibiotic regimen, The Boss and I shared a dinner together out on the porch of the apartment we lived at at the time (you know, the one with the noisy landlords and haunted bedroom). She had made tacos, and we ate while overlooking the lake. She seemed to have her normal appetite about her, but once everything had been brought inside after dinner, The Boss started feeling a little queasy.

"Are you alright?" I asked. Her face was pale and she was holding her stomach.

"Yeah, I'm fine," she said, breathing slowly and evenly through her nose.

"If you're gonna puke, you need to let me know."

"I'm fine, Mike. Just feeling a little sick to my stomach," she assured me.

I paused for a moment.

"Because if you puke, I puke."

(As an aside, I am a sympathetic vomiter. Not sympathetic as in, "Aw, I'm sorry you're sick. Let me hold your hair." Sympathetic as in if you blow chunks in front of me, I'll puke immediately afterwards, possibly even while you are still in mid-puke, if there is a lot coming up. It is an automatic reaction that I have little to no control over, and it has made for some pretty messy incidents.)

"I'm fine, Mike," she repeats, "just a little bit nauseated."

She doesn't look like she believes a word that she is saying, so I keep a watchful eye on her. She turns her attention to the news on the television, but I can tell she is in distress. After a few minutes, she suddenly leans forward, her eyes wide.

"Are you gonna puke?"

"Nope. I'm good," she says in clipped words, and leans back. "False alarm."

"Should I leave? If you're gonna puke, I need to know so I can leave."

A pause. She leans forward again, and an expression of panic flashes on her face, and then fades.

"... I'm good."

Right now, she is the worst liar ever. I can practically see her seething, her stomach churning. It is my turn to lean forward now, hands poised on the arms of my chair and ready to spring up and run out of the room at the first sound of a retch.

She groans lightly and raises a hand over her mouth.

"Should I go?" I ask.

She shakes her head no. Her hand drops.

"Should I go?" I ask again.

Her hand rises again, hovering in the air just below her mouth. She swallows hard.

"I'm good," she says, wiping the corners of her mouth. "I'm good, I prom-"

Her stomach heaves and interrupts her mid-sentence. Before I know what is happening, The Boss lurches forward and clamps her hand firmly over her mouth. She turns to look at me, the panic on her face very clear and very real.

"Should I go?"

She nods.

In a flash, I am up out of my chair. With unheard-of agility and coordination by a man of my stature, I step lightly around the obstacle course of various boxes and storage bins that lay strewn around the living room. Amazingly, I don't hit or knock over a single thing, and in three seconds time I am out of the room and out the front door. I turn around to close the door behind me, and I see The Boss scrambling to pick up a bowl that had for some reason been left on the coffee table. The door slams closed and I plug my ears with my hands.

It wasn't enough. Even on the other side of the door and my hands cupped over my ears, I hear her retch and heave, and vomit. My stomach starts churning, and the bile rises in my throat.

No. NO. I will not throw up. I will NOT throw up. I start humming to block out the noise coming from inside and focus on calming my stomach. The urge to revisit my dinner is strong, but with sheer determination I force it away. I continue humming for a few moments just to be safe.

A minute or two passes. I stop humming, lower my hands, and crack open the door. The Boss is leaning with her head over the bowl.

"Are you okay?"

She nods her head.

"Is it safe to come in?"

"Yeah," she says weakly. "Just don't look over here."

You don't have to worry about that. I have no interest in seeing a bowl of freshly made taco salad soup. I step gingerly back inside and close the door. The Boss wipes her mouth with the back side of her hand and sighs heavily. Barely three steps inside, she groans again, and I freeze.

"Mike?" she asks nervously.

"Yeah?"

"I'm going to need a bigger bowl."