The Reach Out Project

[Originally posted on May 5, 2013]

Death does strange things to a person.

My father passed away right before the 4th of July in 2009. We were never close, but we didn’t have a strained relationship either. Years prior, I realized what our relationship was, and I was fine with that. Yet his death changed me. It came at a time when I was growing apathetic to my faith. It also came at a time when all of the walls I put up around me over the years left me with few people in my life. I had no problem moving on and not keeping in touch; it was easy.

After he died, I went through what Chris and I jokingly called “The Existential Crisis.” It was the first time in my life I really confronted the idea that when we die, That’s It. Prior to my father’s death, the thought would briefly enter my mind in the darkest part of night and I’d quickly push it out. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit. After he died, the idea consumed every “quiet” moment of my life. I’d lie in bed at night and look outside the window, nearly panicking at the prospect of ceasing to exist. I’d think about the science of it all; how my previous view of the afterlife made no sense, but I believed it like a kid believes in Santa Claus. If there was an afterlife, what would it be like, really? Would we just be this floating soul in the breeze, unable to touch velvet, hear Schumann, or watch the sun set ever again? Unable to interact with the world we’re trapped in? It all seemed so dismal to me, and yet it consumed me for months.

I wanted to fill my mind with other things, so I began doing little 30 day experimentations to challenge myself. One of them was as simple as watching no more than five hours of TV a week (basically, watching the Daily Show and Colbert, plus an hour for Sunday news shows). Another was using no electronics (TV, laptop, phone, etc) from 7:30pm until bedtime.

As I did these experiments, my previous decisions began to look different. I began to see the walls I put up around me as a faulty time capsule. Those imaginary walls were a way for me to act like I could preserve My World, protecting myself and everyone in it. Yeah, that doesn’t work. The walls now looked like a crutch and I began to desire to step out of that time capsule and enjoy the gifts of the Present. From this desire came the most important change in my life: The Reach Out Project.

Despite my social anxiety and natural tendency towards introversion, I decided that every day for 30 days, I was going to reach out to someone in my life. Whether it was emailing or calling an old friend, sending a meaningful message on Facebook to someone I didn’t normally chat with, asking a co-worker out to lunch, or inviting people over to the house, each day I had to do one thing to reach out to someone. See, part of what made those walls was my taking a passive approach to friendship. I assumed people didn’t ask me out to lunch, or didn’t email me because they didn’t like me or just didn’t have room in their life for me. Rather than my typical wallowing in self-pity/self-loathing, believing I was completely unlikeable, I instead gave a good, hearty, “oh what the fuck?”, threw caution to the wind and started reaching out to people.

I emailed, called and invited people to things and I accepted invitations to things – even things I didn’t want to do – with my heart open. Sure, I missed a couple days here and there, and sure, initially I still felt that nervousness and discomfort that accompanies my shyness and insecurity. But I persisted, and gradually I made new close friends and reconnected. I began to see that I had an incredible group of people around me. Inspiring, funny, quirky, caring…the people I allowed into my life lifted me out of my Existential Crisis (which is now in the current and likely permanent state of Existential Conundrum). Through them I realized that a lot of adults take a passive approach to friendship – we feel uncomfortable taking that initial step or we don’t allow ourselves to take the lead in setting things up with people. But someone’s got to do it – why not me? And why not you?

Fast forward a couple of years. This past March, a few of my friends put together a “Girls’ Night Sleepover” as a sendoff to me before I left for California. Girls’ Night was one of my later Reach Out ideas: once a month, invite the ladies in my life to a restaurant for a night of drinks, food and conversation. No boyfriends or husbands allowed (with the one-time exception of my friend Steven, who is the kind of friend you can count on when you need a chaperone and let’s face it – sometimes you do). For Girls’ Night Sleepover, my friend Jennie made a killer butternut squash risotto and we all brought wine and an insane amount of booze and snacks. Before we devoured the risotto, my friends toasted me. In summary, they thanked me for organizing things that brought people together – Girls’ night, Le Nom…and said Chris and I created quite the network of friends in our time in Arizona. I looked around the table and smiled at these wonderful people I was so grateful to have in my life. We proceeded to eat, drink and laugh so hard at each other’s stories our faces hurt. That’s what I live for.

I can point to the moment my Existential Crisis lifted. It was in a dream: I looked outside my bedroom window at night, watching helicopters flying overhead, shining spotlights on the ground in search of a Dangerous Man. I looked over to my pool and my heart stopped – the Dangerous Man was lying on one of my lounge chairs. Rather than retreat, I knew I had to talk to him. I walked through the wall and approached him. As I got closer, I saw that the Dangerous Man was an old man. He looked at me as if he knew what I was going to ask.  I asked anyway.

“What happens when we die?”

“I know the answer, but I can’t tell you.”

“They’re looking for you…” I pointed to the helicopters.

“I know.”

We talked about death and the importance of living for the moment. I wasn’t afraid of the Dangerous Man. He got up and looked at the back wall of my property. “It’s time for me to go now.”  As he walked towards the wall, I remembered the most important thing I wanted to know.

“Wait! I don’t know if there is a god or not. If I live my life the way I know in my heart I should live it, and it turns out there really is a god, does it matter if I have doubt?”

The man turned around and he was a beautiful young Spanish woman with long dark hair. She laughed as if my question had an obvious answer. “He won’t care.”

She hopped the wall, and I woke up. No, I don’t think it was God speaking to me. That doesn’t matter – what matters is the common sense presented in the dream: be the person you know you should be, surround yourself with goodness, and experience love wherever you can. Nothing else matters beyond that, does it?

Image courtesy of twobee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Learning How to Sleep With Someone

[Originally posted on Mar 11, 2012]

There is something we all must learn as we gingerly step into adulthood, and that is how to sleep with someone.  I’m not talking about anything sexual, I am simply talking about learning how to share a bed with another human being.  It’s a tricky thing, this sleeping together, because it begins when you are feeling happy and cuddly and the world is your snuggly little oyster.  Over time, your Snugglebunny morphs into a snoring, cover-hogging, throat-clicking, night-terrorized, farting in the spoon position, squirmy, sweaty beast who robs you of your precious minutes of sleep every night.  For the record? You are that beast, too.

Let’s take this back to the beginning:


The College Dorm Room Snugglebunny
College is that cool time where you experiment with grown up things, and one of those things is sleeping with someone.  It’s really exciting when you have your first partner-sleepover; spooning in that little twin bed is cozy, and just knowing you can do whatever you want without your parents finding out makes it even better.

My husband first told me he loved me in one of those snugglebunny moments.  We were cuddled up on my dorm room bed watching television, and I was mostly asleep.  He told me, “I think I’m falling in love with you.” I responded, “snurgggltoo” and drooled on his wrist.  Our romance was a page out of The Notebook.  He later revealed he wanted to tell me at that moment because if I freaked out, he’d just say I dreamt it.


The “Our First Apartment” Crackhouse Mattress
When I was 21, Chris and I made the decision to move in together.  I called my mom to tell her, thinking this would be old hat since one of my sisters lived with a boyfriend when she was around my age.  I don’t remember my sales pitch to her on the idea, but I remember the response:

Awkward, scary pause.  “Use a condom.”

Mom!!!

Once the family awkwardness passed, Chris and I commenced Living in Sin stage.  Oh, we had grand plans for our apartment – our vision:  We could have dinner parties with little hors-d’oeuvres trays! We could cook! Like, rice and chicken, not ramen and Maria’s burritos! We’d have art on the walls!

Our Reality: We were slobs and our apartment looked like a tweaked-out meth lab.

Like many young couples, we relied on the kindness of family members to furnish our home.  Your “First Apartment” mattress is usually a mattress your family wants to unload, and is often a lumpy, stained heirloom.  “Oh that?  Your Uncle Rob was quite the nose-bleeder as a teen…”  “That? Remember that mean cat Gramma Edith had?  That cat would pee on everything.”  It’s the kind of mattress CSI people define as “contaminated” when they try to lift DNA off it.  At this point in your adulthood, none of that matters – you get to share a full-sized bed with your snugglebunny.  You both can lie on your backs at the same time now – yeah!

We were somewhat lucky – we were offered Chris’ full-sized waterbed from high school.  Waterbeds are the type of bed you always wanted as a kid before you realize how horrible they are for two people.  Prelude to sexytime in a waterbed essentially goes like this:

SWOOSHSWOOSHSWOOSH “Let me just try and…”

“Ow! My hair!” SWOOSHSWOOSH

“Sorry… I just… let me…” SWOOSHSWOOSHSWOOSHSWOOSH

“My foot keeps slipping…” SWOOSHSWOOSHSWOOSH

“Damn it! The sides are caving, I…” SWOOOOSH

“If I try to…” SWOOSHSWOOSH

“My back! Oh, that’s not good…” SWOOSHSWOOSH

“Hold on I think…” SWOOSHSWOOSHSWOOSH

“ARRAGHHHHH!!!! GET OFF ME!!!!”

Then he angrily rolls over to his side of the bed, and you are catapulted across the room.


The Young Urban Professionals’ Queen-Sized Mattress
When we got to a point where we could do better than a waterbed in a meth lab, we purchased a Queen-sized mattress.  We couldn’t agree on a headboard for years, so the bed and box mattress lay in a simple frame – after lying on the floor for two years.

By this point in time, our sleeping relationship deteriorated greatly.  I for one, snore so loud I wake myself up.   My loving little Stranglebunny would asphyxiate me on a nightly basis in the hopes of shutting me up.  I would wake abruptly, wonder what caused me to jerk awake, yet see nothing but a sleeping hump next to me.

I’d lie awake listening to him.  Chris does not snore.  He makes weird noises, the most common of which can only be described as “SSNNNARRRGLE…poooh.” After studying this sound closely many times in the darkest part of the night, I believe it is achieved by Chris inhaling his own nose then gently spitting it out.  I allow a few SNNARRGLEpoohs before I nudge him.  It doesn’t work.

Gentle nudge.

“sssnnnarrgle…pooh.”

Nudge nudge.

“ssnnnnarrgle…pooh.”

Grab his torso, shake violently.

“SSSSNNNAARRRGLE…pooh.”

Put hands on his side, shove as hard as possible.

Silence.

Quickly flip over and pretend I’m sleeping.

I get a groggy “huhhh?” but say nothing in return.

I fall asleep.

Chris falls back asleep.

Peace….

…tranquility

…rest

Five minutes later…

“AAAHHHH!!! AHHHH!!!! GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME!”

…I get night terrors.  I rarely have them at this point, but years ago, they were a weekly if not nightly occurrence.    I’d wake up screaming and flailing because I was convinced there was something evil at the foot of the bed or on my pillow.  After scaring the shit out of Chris the first ten or so times, he became accustomed to them.  He’d hold me down to keep me from flailing.  “What did you see this time?”

This is a smart question, because making me talk forces me to think, which causes me to wake up and calm down.  Sometimes I’d answer, “a bunch of spiders,” “a creepy man,” or “a lobster.”  One time I answered, “a kitten.”

“…a…kitten.”

“Yes.”

“A kitten.”  The disbelief in his voice was palpable. “Not a lion or a panther, but…a kitten.”

“Yes.”

“Why were you screaming in terror over…a kitten?”

I sighed.  “…it was menacing.”

I flipped over and fell back asleep.

After my night terrorizing, I’d wake up a few hours later, shivering.  I’d look over to find Chris as a human flauta, blankets and comforter completely rolled around his body several times.  I’d try and pull the blankets from him, but had little success.  Ultimately, I’d manage to tug a tiny little corner out from under him, and curl up in a little ball to get as much of myself under the corner as I could.

Our cuddly little spoon days on the twin bed were long gone.  In fact, any time we had to share a full-sized bed, it was torture.  “Bahh! Your feet are freezing!”

“Your arm is digging into my back!”

If this marriage were to last in one bed, changes needed to be made.

The “Save the Marriage” King Size Tempurpedic
As the rest of our house looked like a dwelling for responsible adults, our bedroom upgraded from meth lab to halfway house.  We had a nice headboard and our bedroom furniture was a lovely old art deco set that didn’t match the bed at all.  We decided to have two separate blankets.  My night terrors receded.

Despite these improvements, our bedroom was missing something.  It wasn’t romantic or luxurious.  This was the room where we shared our most intimate space – it needed to be beautiful and reflect our love and respect for one another!

We upgraded our furniture to a Japanese-inspired bed set, and determined we deserved a good mattress. Realizing how much we annoy each other with our constant tossing and turning, we settled on a king-sized Tempurpedic mattress.  This glorious invention allowed us to move around without the other one feeling it.  The pillows we bought at the same time reduced some of our snoring (he bought a Tempurpedic, I bought one made of latex – no lie, it kicks ass).

Each night we’d lie on our respective sides of the bed, with our own blankets, calling out good night to the other, who seemed so very far away.

At last, we had our perfect bed.

Our perfect, squirm-resistant bed.

Our lonely mile-wide bed.

The snoring, squirming and snargling wasn’t so bad, really.  It was even kind of endearing.  We’ve got two blankets, so we can both be warm…and who would talk me out of my torture by menacing kittens?

Learning how to share a bed is an analogy for learning how to be married – it is not perfect all the time, sometimes your loved one can be frustrating, stubborn and do gross things, but your palette would be filled with nothing but grays without them in your life.

I rolled over to his side of the bed and nestled under his arm.  It felt comforting and reassuring.  I smiled.  “I love you.”

“SNNARGLEpooh.”

Indeed.

Five Lands, One Dumbo Drop

[Originally posted May 27, 2012. Sorry, it still makes me laugh at how gross and ridiculous it is.]

This is a travelogue concerning poop.  Consider yourself warned.

Back in 2006, I was on an uber-fitness kick.  I not only ran 30 miles a week, I was on a strict diet – every gram of fat, protein and fiber was calculated and accounted for.  A result of this – and forgive me for the TMI – is you could synchronize a shuttle launch to my bowel movements. Enter my first trip overseas.

Chris and I went to Italy for the first time, and knew we would have to postpone the diet while we were out there.  When in the land of pasta, pizza and gelato, it seemed we’d be missing out on a key experience if we didn’t enjoy the food.  Enjoy it, we did – every hotel where we stayed included a free continental breakfast.  We expected this to be a couple of muffins, coffee and juice.  Oh, no; every hotel had a feast awaiting its guests in the morning: fresh pulled mozzarella, thin slices of prosciutto and pancetta, eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh tomatoes and basil, many kinds of bread, jams, butter, Nutella, juice and of course, cappuccino.  Lunches were made of delicious paninis, small pasta dishes and pizza, with an occasional snack of gelato.  Dinners? We generally went for places that had a prix-fixe menu, so we could try as many different types of food as possible.  One of our favorite spots in Florence was a coffee and pastry shop along the Arno – we’d get a little pastry treat, I’d get cappuccino served in a china cup, and Chris enjoyed drinking chocolate. One thing missing in all of this? Fiber.

This food was all delicious and delightful, but after a few days in Italy I felt a disturbance in the force; this radical change in diet left my digestive system in disarray.  After months of knowing exactly when I’d be in a bathroom each day, my lack of bathroom time began to scare me.  Oh, I didn’t think I’d need hospitalization or anything; I was fearful of what exactly would come out of me and when it would happen.  See, bad things always happen when you’re far from a bathroom.  This is the Poop Provision of Murphy’s Law.  Every day on our trip was well-planned and I wasn’t about to make an adjustment to our tight schedule to ensure I was within 50 feet of a public restroom.  I simply crossed my fingers and hoped.

While we were in Florence, there was one day trip I designated as a must-do – hiking the famed Cinque Terre.  Cinque Terre, literally translated, means five lands.  The region consists of five oceanside towns along the Italian Riviera – the outer two towns, Monterosso el Mare and Riomaggiore  are reasonably accessible, however the inner three towns, Vernazza, Corniglia and Manarola, can only be accessed by train, foot, or by boat*.  Because of the remote nature of these five towns,  they are old, beautiful, and almost undisturbed (I say “almost” because this is a hot spot for tourism).  While you can take a train ride from town to town, you have the option of hiking the entire thing, which is 11 km long, and a total elevation change of 3200 feet.  Needless to say, you need to have an intimate relationship with an incline treadmill or a Stairmaster to be able to do this hike.

We took the train to La Spezia, and grabbed the connecting train to drop us off at Monterosso el Mare.  I read that the stretch between Monterosso and Vernazza was the longest and most intense, so we decided it would be best to start on that end and get the hardest part out of the way first.  We bought our passes to hike, ate lunch, grabbed a couple of water bottles and went on our way.

Before long, we were climbing, climbing, climbing up stone stairs on the trail, ascending the mountainside and leaving Monterosso behind.  When we looked ahead at vista points, we saw vineyards meticulously carved into the mountainside.  When we looked to our right, we had the constant companionship of the Mediterranean alongside us, its waves crashing peacefully far below.

And then it started.

I felt something in my lower abdomen that told me this long leg was going to be even longer.  Oh no.  Curse you, delicious, fiberless pasta!  Because Chris and I have been together forever and were long past that point of reserve in our relationship, I looked at him and said simply, “it’s time.”

His eyes widened with concern, and he shook his head.  The Poop Provision of Murphy’s Law – we were too far along and too high up to turn around, and still had a ways to go before Vernazza.  “Can you make it?”

I looked around.  Definitely no bathrooms nearby, and I’m a strict believer in the “pack it in, pack it out” rule of hiking.  I had nothing on me to pack it out other than the plastic bag we needed to carry our waters, so clearly that wasn’t an option.  I sighed.  “I hope so.”

Chris took in a deep breath of air and looked out to the ocean with a sarcastic smile on his face, as if he were cursing the piece of the universe that controls Murphy’s Law. “Yup; this isn’t going to end well.”

Thanks.

We continued on, and I became briefly distracted from my discomfort.  A flute? I heard a beautiful melody carrying over the breeze to us.  As we hiked, the melody got louder and louder until we turned a corner and came to its source.

An old man with a long, salt-and-pepper beard sat atop a boulder on the edge of the trail, playing a carved wooden flute.  He seemed in his own world, if not for the table of unlabeled bottled wines beside him. The golden nectar of the wine shimmered against the sunlight as we approached him.  The romantic and the realist argued in my mind:

The Romantic: What a story it would be if I bought a bottle of wine from this man!
The Realist: It’s insanely expensive and a tourist trap.
The Romantic: But how often do you get to purchase wine in the middle of a hike – on the side of a mountain?
The Realist: Never, because it’s probably illegal.
The Romantic:  It may be, but it has a story! I need to put aside your reservations and purchase this mysterious bottle of wine!
The Realist: …And carry it how, exactly? You only have a plastic bag.  You’re going to carry a bottle of wine along with your bottles of water in a plastic bag for 9 km?  Seriously?
The Romantic: Come on.  Have a little sense of adventure! There’s no label on the bottle – how mysterious! How unique and pure!
The Realist: How do you even know it’s wine, let alone a good wine? He could have peed in the bottle for all you know.
The Romantic: It does look a little like pee…I…oh…{{shakes fist}} It’s you, Asshole Brain! I should have known! You ruin everything.
Asshole Brain: Ha, ha! Oh, and… snotty mustache!
The Romantic:  I hate you.
Asshole Brain: I love me.  And you need to take a shit right now.  Badly. Hahhahahahhahaa {{skips off to a hidden part of my imagination to contemplate destroying other pieces of whimsy and joy}}

“Well? Are you going to buy it?”

I looked at Chris, whose slightly exasperated at yet another example of my inability to make a simple decision.  My stomache ached.  I sighed.  “No.  Let’s keep going.”

Damn you, Asshole Brain.

We finally saw a view of our next town – the town with a public restroom! Vernazza.  It was a stunning little town filled with wonder, old things and fat, stray cats, but ohmigodIneedtofindabathroom.  I was smart enough to read about where the bathrooms were located ahead of time, and we rushed towards the train tracks.  There was a sign for the bathroom.  Yes! There was one stall door, a white, wooden door with a single latch.  Wow, no privacy.  IdontcareIneedtogo.  I opened the door and Chris and I looked inside.  My heart fell a little.  Chris nodded his head.  Murphy’s Law.  “It’s a squatter.”

The little bathroom stall contained a white fiberglass square on the ground, like the base to a shower.  There was a chain pull for the flushing mechanism.  No sink, no toilet paper.  Was this even meant for people to take a poop?  “Do you want to find something else?”

I shook my head, slightly dejected.  “This is it.  This is all they’ve got.” I looked at him like we may never see each other again.  “I’m going in.”

He nodded sympathetically.  “I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

I closed the door behind me and latched it shut.  Logistics.  How am I going to do this?  I thanked my co-workers who told me I had to have a Charmin-To-Go roll on me at all times along with a bottle of Purel.  I opened my Charmin-To-Go and laid out squares where my hands needed to be.  Due to the size of the base, I realized I’d have to remove my pants off of one leg to properly straddle the base.  As I was preparing, I heard a few people begin to approach outside.

“Is this the bathroom?” A British female voice asked.

As I carefully hopped on one foot trying to remove a pant leg over my hiking boot, I heard the newly self-appointed Cinque Terre Tourism Bureau chief and Stall Guard – my husband, respond.  “Yup…my wife is in there.  It’s a squatter.”

Dude.

They carried on a conversation as I carefully placed my palms on my Charmin squares.  They were sliding and crumpling under my hands, and my feet began to slip.  Shit! I tried squirming to steady myself.  More people came up to the stall, different languages chatting and asking questions.  I heard someone shake the door.  Oh please, Jesus, let that latch hold.  I don’t want to experience the international embarrassment of people seeing me reinact the pose from the Exorcist where Linda Blair became a reversed spider and crawled the stairs.  Behind my fear and panic, I heard one reassuring voice inform people over and over.

“It’s a squatter.”

Really, Chris?!? If only one could facepalm in the spider position…

The pressure of hearing all these people gather outside the stall made me nervous and further complicated my expulsion process.  Focus. Focus.  Come on!

My thoughts were broken by an angry German man who stormed up to the door and started knocking furiously on it.  “BEEIL DICH! Ich muss scheissen!”

Chris calmly told the man that I was in there, and I’d be out as soon as possible.  I’m pretty sure he ended the conversation by informing the man that it’s a squatter.

GAHHHHH!!! Stop telling everyone I’m taking a shit!

Finally, relief came to me, and I swear to God it was like the heavens parted and I experienced perfection, mercy and all that was beautiful in the universe for one brief moment.

Now for the dismount.

I slid my hands towards my feet to get up.  I slipped for a brief moment, almost sending my back into the base. Luckily, I caught myself in time, grateful for the little things.  I took care of business, put my pants back on and grabbed the chain.  Please, please flush.  I pulled it, and heard a satisfactory disposal mechanism.  It didn’t sound like a traditional toilet flush, but it got the job done.  I Pureled like there was no tomorrow and unlatched the door.  The entire freaking G8 summit was waiting outside, legs crossed, doubled over and angry.  I didn’t make eye contact with anyone, and simply found Chris in the crowd.  The look on his face was about 20% sympathy and 80% amusement.  “Feel better?”

I furrowed my brow.  “Let’s go.”

He bid adieu to his new friends, giving up his post to the next husband willing to accept the job of Stall Guard.  As we walked away, I could have sworn I heard a pleasant male British voice inform a newcomer, “It’s a squattah…”

We leave our mark everywhere, he and I…

 

Thanks to Sandra for the translation skills!

*This is what I read at the time, however when reading for this story, I discovered that there was a small road that went into Vernazza at the time we hiked it.  There were pretty nasty mudslides in the region in 2011, which closed off this road.

Menacing Kitten Headquarters Melts Down, Cries Glowing Chernobyl Tears

No one is this happy.

As you know, I am moving. What you may not know is my shit is moving out six weeks before I do, nothing is working the way it’s supposed to, nothing is happening on time, everything sucks and hatehatehatemeltdowncry.

Allow me to back this up a little.

So, we put a bid on a beautiful home. Here’s a picture of it:

The walls, ceiling and crown molding are all plaster and I love it. Here is a picture of the crown molding:

We were supposed to close on said house last Friday. Our mortgage is going through a large banking outfit we will simply call Bells Cargo. We’ve used Bells in the past and had zero problems with them; since our last dealing with them, they instituted a corporate policy of spiking the water cooler with Ambien.  Our initial documents were way, way off: misspellings, incorrect zip codes, years of employment that only make sense if you have been a companion on the TARDIS, and financial numbers that didn’t add up. After a few iterations of documents, a checklist of things to correct and finally a “fuck it, I’ll just scratch it out” resignation, we signed off on a bunch of things. We did inspections and appraisals with three weeks to spare. Periodically, we’d get an email stating something like, “Bells Cargo needs this really important thing in half an hour that we knew about since God touched Adam’s finger, but we thought it would be really fun to wait until now to tell you this.” We panicked, cursed and delivered emergency documents. Things continued to move forward.

We set up movers to come out on Thursday for packing, Friday for loading. The move takes a few days, so we figured that would be a decent amount of time between the Friday closing and getting our stuff at the new house. I’m still not entirely clear why we chose to move the stuff out so early, leaving me with an air mattress and my keyboard to keep me company until the end of March, but I’m fine with it. I don’t need much, and my husband has suffered through rental furniture in his apartment for the past few months. At any rate, the movers seem to be good people who are on top of their shit. Chris booked his flight for the week with the intention to help with the move and get a few estimates to fix up our Arizona house. The movers called me a week out to confirm everything was set up, and called 24 hours before to confirm again. All was good.

Not long after the 24 hour confirmation from the movers, we get another notice from Bells: “That appraisal you reported to us three weeks ago? Yeah, we have this cool algorithm built into our mortgage program that says something like this:
IF AppraisalValue = BidValue, THEN wait >=3 weeks AND RETURN ‘HAHA Fuckers, Closing is delayed.’
And yes, consistent with our reps, our syntax is jacked up.”

So we call the movers and do a change order to delay moving by a week, because storing everything is crazy expensive. We panic, because there is a lot at stake when you get that type of message less than 72 hours before closing. We wait.

The next day, Bells lets us know, 80s style, “PSYYYYEEEK! Appraisal is good.” So…now what? “We want to look at three other random things that didn’t matter previously and can’t give you a timeline yet.”

Awesome.

On Thursday, someone who was supposed to come out and give us an estimate on fixing up the house told us he was double-booked and couldn’t make it out. I’m just adding this because it officially meant Chris came out here for almost no reason.

On Friday, we finally get the final sign-offs from Bells. Friday evening? The Escrow person tells us, regretfully, Bells didn’t send them the loan documents. Color us shocked.

On Saturday, we have an early birthday party for me with our friends. Everyone was amazing as always and I’m reminded how much I love my friends and am going to miss them. Late into Saturday evening partying, I had a drink that included cinnamon whiskey, Crispin hard apple cider, and some kind of schnapps in it. I think. It was very tasty. Someone placed a second one of these drinks in front of me. When a third came out, I vaguely recall telling someone I absolutely could not drink another one and recall a friend double fisting (or rather, double-strawing) the beverage along with his own. My awesome friend Steven was DD for the night and drove Chris and I home. I fell asleep within 30 seconds.

Early Sunday morning. 4:30 a.m. My stomach is killing me. I have cotton mouth, and decide to get a glass of water and powder my nose. This action was clearly too much for my body to handle, and I break out into a cold sweat. After urination is complete, I lie on the floor, lifting the bathmat so I can put my face against the tile. Ahhhh, cool tile. I feel like it is a small miracle I didn’t throw up, but kind of wish I did to get the cinnamon whiskey alien out of my stomach. I crawl back into bed. For two hours I have nightmares where I see drinks being placed down in front of me, and I’m crying out, “No, no! No more!” while still tasting cinnamon whiskey residue in my esophagus. Shot glass with something and lime. No! Tall glass with a straw. Nooo! Limes! Straws! Glasses! Booze! Noooooooooo!

I think I need to curb my drinking a skooch.

Later in the morning on Sunday, I’m feeling a little better despite a lingering taste of cinnamon whiskey I can’t lose. A carpet guy comes over to give us an estimate on replacing the carpet. We schedule them for next Saturday. So, Thursday – packing, Friday – loading, Saturday – Carpets. Okay. I feel like I should put my dog somewhere during all this and still don’t know what to do about that. She’s sensitive. Sunday afternoon, Chris removes a zillion wires and cables that are hooked up to the TV and drops them on the floor. He leaves for California. I organize the cables so they aren’t all over the place.

Monday. I was supposed to get my windshield on my car replaced. They have the wrong windshield and don’t call me back to reschedule. I go home and realize Chris didn’t prep any of his stuff for the movers – we’re not taking all of it, so I need to make sure the right stuff is put aside. I get on a ladder to lift another ladder off the garage wall. It’s heavy, awkward and I’m cursing up a storm. I organize his tool box. There is all sorts of shit around his tool box – screws, wood glue, multi-tools in multi-tools like some Voltron-style nightmare, and I get frustrated. I at least get his tool box to the point where it can close. Chris’ desk isn’t going to California. I have to get it out of his office so the carpet guy can replace the carpet in there, so I first have to remove all of the shit he left behind in the desk. There’s a lot of junk and it annoys me. I have to move one of his towers to get behind his desk and the tower is far heavier than you’d expect it to be. I also have to remove the top part of the desk, because it won’t fit through the door with the top on. I unscrew everything, but the top part alone is 150 pounds of particle board and awkward lifting and I realize I’ll break it and myself if I try to move it. There is a ton to do, and I crumple into a ball and weep.  My dog looks at me like, “bitch, please,” and goes to sleep in the living room. She’s so done with this.

I don’t know when our house is going to close or even when I’m going to get the paperwork to sign (which will need to be FedEx-ed to California when I’m done for Chris to sign). I don’t know if the sellers are even okay with the delay and I hope to god they are. I don’t know when my windshield will be replaced. I don’t know what to do with my dog or my husband’s desk. No matter how much you try and prepare, crazy things happen to throw you for a loop.

I hate moving. Cinnamon whiskey can suck it, too.

Top Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Does He Like You? A Junior High Guide

[Note: While I'm pulling my hair out house-hunting, long-distance romancing and dealing with the other wonderful blessings befallen on me at this joyous time, enjoy this older favorite, originally published on August 28, 2011]

Let’s face it; dating is never easy.  The first lesson we Virgins to Life all learn, thanks to Head & Shoulders commercials, is you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  When we’re in junior high, we begin to not only become aware of the opposite sex, but we learn there is a delicate protocol one must follow so that first impression isn’t ruined by tomfoolery.  Armed with considerable peer research and an unfortunately high level of personal expertise in the gangly/flat-chested/awkward teen phase, I compiled this standardized guide to finding out and acting on the most important question you will face in your life: Does he like you?

Now, you may think this has a simple course of action.  Your instinct may be asking him for his phone number.  DO NOT DO THIS.  While there is the possibility you may actually get his phone number, this breach in protocol is far more likely to shift the universe out of your favor.  Seas will rise, volcanos will erupt, he will laugh at you and his friends will start a rumor that you are a slut.  If your name starts with an “S” or can even loosely rhyme with a body part, your chance of failure is exponentially worse.  And that will be the end of it.  Do you want that?  Look, I’m going to tell it to you straight: if you fail, you will never kiss that boy you like, let alone marry him.  And you know what?  Junior high school rumors are just like your “permanent record” – they will follow you through college.  You can’t escape them.   So, on to:

Step One: Identification of your crush

The Guy probably said a funny joke to you.  You realize he is kind of cute and seems sweet.  His eyes are kind of dreamy.  Good.  That’s a crush.  On to the next step.

Step Two: Is he looking at you?

So when you’re sitting there in class, look at him.  Is he looking at you?  No?  Well, keep looking.  Is he looking at you yet?  Not yet?  Well keep at it, sister!  Ooo!  Ooo!   He looked!  Now look away quickly.  QUICKLY! For God’s sake, don’t hold his gaze!   Look bored.  Ok.  Now look casually back at him…is he looking at you?  Repeat this process as needed until you are satisfied that yes, he looks at you on occasion.

Step Three:  Determining Astrological Compatibility

The next step is to find out his sign.  This can be pretty tricky, but through proper reconnaissance it isn’t too daunting.  The most common way to get it is to talk about birthdays or astrological signs with a group of people near him, and a trusted confidant can ask him on your behalf.

Once you have secured his birth date, consult the Bible for Teen Girls: “Love Signs” by Linda Goodman.  Yes, your hippie, ceramic-making aunt probably owned this book at some point, but despite the groovy 70s prose, it is quite useful for determining compatibility.  Proof?  It told me I was not compatible with River Phoenix, Brett Michaels, or the drummer from Stryper.  I was heartbroken at the time, but look at me now – was it not correct?  “Love Signs” saved me from a yellow and black attack.

Step 4:  Tarot Cards

So you’ve already dipped a toe into the dark side by messing with Astrology.  Why not dip the whole foot in and try out Tarot Cards?  Yeah, people say you’re summoning the devil, but like, you’re doing it for love.  That can’t be bad.  Plus, you listen to Stryper, so that has to off-set some of that evil, right?  Buy the deck, hide it from mom and dad and get to work!   Go on, shuffle them, cut them, lay them out…

The Death card.  Well… death doesn’t mean death.  It means…rebirth?  The end to something?  It could mean that he’s in a bad relationship and it’s coming to an end.  And you could help pick up the pieces.  Aww.  See?  Ok, keep on flipping.  Okay, yeah.  The Tower looks pretty scary.  But see, this is all about interpretation: maybe those people falling out of the tower represent falling…in love?  Next card.  Oh.  The Devil.  Well… that’s…it could mean… okay, let’s move on to the next thing, shall we?

Step 5: Ouija Boards

Yes, I know you heard that this is also a tool of the devil, but if it were, why would Parker Brothers make one?  Are the makers of Monopoly and Aggravation devil-worshippers?  If they are, why are they so successful?  Huh?  Go ahead, ask the Ouija Board if the Guy likes you.  NO, DON’T DO IT ALONE! HAVE YOU NOT SEEN “WITCHBOARD?!”  Oh, you haven’t?  Okay, go watch “Witchboard.”  If nothing else, it will teach you how to properly say Ouija.  I’ll wait here until you are done.

Okay, okay, calm down.  That didn’t end well, did it?  Yes, I know Patch died and the lady from the Whitesnake videos got all crazy, but she’s all right now, isn’t she?

 

Oh, um.  Yeah.  Okay, we are damaging your chances here with all the dabbling in the Dark Arts; let’s do an emergency next step to undo the bad luck we created from having you ask lesser demons if a boy likes you:

Step 6: Listen to Stryper Music and Throw Away Your Motley Crue Tapes

This is true: reading Stryper lyrics is just like reading a prayer.  It makes the Devil go back to Hell.  No, you don’t have to dress in yellow and black until God forgives you.  To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not sure where that whole thing came from.  Yes, I read the bible verse they put on their logo.  No, the yellow and black thing doesn’t make any more sense.  Just go with it.  Read their lyrics.  Feel better?  Ready to get see if he likes you?  Okay.  Let’s continue:

Step 7: Is he still looking at you?

Does he still occasionally look at you?  Do you casually avert his gaze?  Good.  You’re learning!  On to step 8.

Step 8:  The Amway Approach

This step is really tricky, because you need to have a few confidantes you can trust, and in the world of junior high girls, the odds are against you.  So here’s what you do: have a friend tell another friend that they heard he likes you.  That friend tells a friend, and that friend tells a friend, and it keeps on going until it gets to him, and you can find out if he laughs at the rumor, or is cool with it.  This works best when there is a long line of friends telling friends before it gets to him.  If you have too few, then it’s obvious you started this yourself.  If you have too many, then you risk becoming the class joke.

What?  He actually seems interested in you?  Congratulations!  On to step 9.

Step 9: OMG He likes you.

He likes you.  Oh my God.  His friend told you so.  His friend just walked right up to you and sweetly told you that the guy likes you.  Yes, the friend was really cute about it…he did look kind of shy.  But, hey, your guy likes you!  You’ve achieved success!

Step 10:  His friend is kind of cute.

Yes, he made a really funny joke about how the guy likes you.  Yes, he is good-looking and has chocolaty-brown hair.  But let’s talk about the next step here; the guy likes you, we still have work to do, we…

Step 11:  His friend seems really sweet.  The Guy is kind of a dork, actually.

You think so?  But why did you like him in the first place?  Oh, you feel a special connection to the friend because he talked to you.  You’ve gotten to know him, and now you really like him?  But you spoke to him once… ok… fine…

Step 12:  Is he looking at you?

A Coffee Love Story

by postmormongirl

I was raised to believe that drinking coffee was a sin.  No one in my family touched the black liquid; to bring coffee into my home would have been sufficient to spark a small war.  Having never been exposed to coffee, the very smell was enough to make me feel queasy.  Even after leaving the church, I stayed away from drinking coffee.  Sometimes, when I was cramming for exams and needed the caffeine, I would drink large cups of badly brewed coffee, which was sufficient to convince me that coffee wasn’t anything to get excited about.  If I needed the caffeine, I stuck with my standard Diet Coke.

And then I met a boy.  I was at a party when I struck up a conversation with a grad student in engineering.  He was funny and smart and we talked for hours as the party slowly died down around us.  He gave me his number and I resolved to call him again.  Which I did.  I called him, we talked, and we decided to meet for a coffee.  He picked me up after work and took me to his favorite coffee-shop.

This was not just any coffee shop.  This was a special coffee shop, with some of the highest standards in the industry.  The beans are ethically sourced and roasted locally by a master with years of experience.  The coffee is then prepared by baristas that have gone through months of rigorous training in order to pull a single shot.  The result is an espresso that is rich and earthy, with a beautiful caramel crema.

We talked for hours as I savored my coffee.  My horizons opened up, both by this new realization of the art of coffee as well as my conversation with a man who was raised by a single mother in India.  He told me about the trials of growing up in a highly orthodox Brahmin family while I told him about the trials of growing up in a highly conservative Mormon family.  We discovered a commonality in our experience that transcended cultural barriers.  Here was another person who had challenged his up-bringing and in so doing, had become more open-minded, more tolerant, more aware of humanity in all its glorious diversity.  I sensed I was on the verge of something spectacular.

Six years later and I find myself married to the same man that introduced me to good coffee.  There have been challenges of the sort that are inherent when two stubborn, strong-willed people from two very different cultures choose to get married.  But in-between these struggles have been a lot of good times.  We have shared a lot of laughter and had a lot of conversations that have challenged my view of the world around me.  I have a partner that makes me laugh, that reminds me to stop taking life so seriously, whose smile lights up the room.  More than that, I have a partner who understands the trials of walking a different path in life.

This article was originally published on the excellent blog,  A Post-Mormon Life. Do you wish to appear on The Menacing Kitten? Email us at submissions@themenacingkitten.com

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Todd and Margo, Round 22

[Note: because I believe in fair and balanced reporting, you will note that I allowed the husband to respond to my accusations in brackets].

In the 16 years we’ve been together, Chris and I have seldom had an all-out argument.  In fact, I can only think of two times in our relationship where we really argued over something to where we were truly angry at each other for more than 15 minutes.  Instead of fighting, we occasionally bicker. We are very, very good at bickering. I’d go as far as saying if bickering were an Olympic event, we’d be the Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the sport. If part of the event involved Chris telling me what to do while I’m driving, it would be a record-setting moment.

This past Friday, I came home to a very sick dog.  Her stomach was upset and she had a couple of different kinds of accidents on the carpet.  I began the cleaning process as I called my vet.  Chris came home when I was in the middle of this.  He stood at the edge of the family room and stared at me as I cleaned. [Chris: This is a very skewed perspective on reality.  I was attempting (multiple times) to ask her who she was talking to, but she repeatedly gave me a dour look, turned around, and walked away.  A-M: Note that his description does not include picking up a towel…]  Because cleaning poop and vomit off a carpet is not my favorite thing in the world, I was feeling a grumpy and admittedly passive-aggressive.    When one of us gets this way, we instantly turn into Todd and Margo from Christmas Vacation.  I’m not proud.  After I got off the phone, I looked at him standing there and grumbled, “Can you help, please?”

“What can I do?”

“Start cleaning up the poop and the vomit over there, while I take care of this part of it.  Can you look and see if we have carpet cleaner?”

He came back a few minutes later with a spray bottle of something and started spraying all of the stains.  He then went into the kitchen.  Looking at the sprayed stains, I asked, “So, what are we supposed to do?”

“I don’t know.”

I said something particularly sarcastic, like “Can you not read a bottle?”

He growled back at me, “I don’t have it!”

“You just had it, where did you put it?”

“I don’t know!!”

Keep in mind, this is my recollection of the events.  I’m sure I was much bitchier and less clear on what I needed.  Maybe. [Chris: Definitely]

We looked at the instructions.  Wait a few minutes, scrub, blot clean.  Repeat as needed.  After approximately one minute of scrub-blotting, we had a divergence in problem-solving methods.  I mentioned prior to scrubbing if we couldn’t remove the stains, we’d have to replace the carpet sooner than we anticipated.  Chris latched onto this concept as he scrubbed his little silver dollar-sized poop stain, and I was trying to remove a map of the Polynesian islands off of our carpet.  [Chris: The area she was looking on did in fact look like the Polynesian islands, but I wasn’t working on something the size of a silver dollar.  It was closer in size to a saucer plate (A-M: for a doll), though interesting it did remind me of the shape of Hawaii]  He abandoned Easter Island and came back a few minutes later.  As I’m on my knees scrubbing,  I see a yellow tape measure jut out in front of me. “Let’s see…” he said, in that controlled, super volcano beneath a calm forest kind of way I find particularly unsettling. I continued to scrub, silently watching him as he measured out dimensions.  He noticed me looking at him and stated simply, “if it’s under x dollars, we’re getting a new floor.” [Chris: Fixed the newel post]

I looked at what was left to clean and sighed.  “I’ll finish cleaning.  I don’t think it’s going to stain.” He continued to research flooring as I scrubbed.  My thoughts stewed a bit during this time.  Why do I always wind up cleaning up?  We clearly had two different approaches to solving a problem; mine was totally right.

He came back to give me a cost on the new floor.  I shook my head.  “I’ve almost got it out. Don’t worry about it.”

I finished cleaning and went on my computer.  He came back and looked in the kitchen.  Because he can’t read my mind to know I’ve been stewing for several minutes, he asked innocently “What are we doing for dinner?”

I growled at him again, a lightning rod for passive-aggressiveness.  “I would like to sit down for a few minutes before I make you your dinner!”

He put his hands up, exasperated. “I wasn’t telling you to make me dinner, I was asking what you wanted to do for dinner!”

“Rar!” (I don’t remember what I actually said, but it really was just the equivalent of “rar!”).

We ate our dinner, and went about our separate ways for the night.  As I worked on my laptop, Chris walked up to me and asked casually, “Don’t ask why, but how would you go about cutting a circular hole in carpet?”

I looked up suspiciously.  “Why?

“It doesn’t matter; how would you do it?”

I told him I had no idea how one would go about cutting a hole in carpet.  A few minutes later, he came back.  “I’ll be back in a few; I need to get a drill that can drill into cement so I can bolt my safe down.”

My eyes narrowed.  He quietly left the house, returning a while later armed with an impact drill.  Upon hearing the first headache-inducing WHIIIRRRRRRRATATATATATATATATATATAT, I decided to retreat to my office/reading room (aka the Woman Cave) with a glass of Malbec, headphones, and my laptop.  As I sat down on my ottoman, I spilled some of the Malbec on my floor, thankfully avoiding my ottoman.  “Shit,” I grumbled as I got back up to grab paper towels and wipe the wine off the Pergo flooring.  As I started wiping and inspecting the ottoman to make sure I didn’t spill anything on it, I heard him call for me.  “Hon? Get me a sznaaaawh.”  Chris has a tendency to call out to me and or talk to me at the worst possible time, and/or when I’m at the opposite end of the house and can’t hear him clearly.  I called back.  “I’m busy!”   Since I didn’t hear him move from his office, after cleaning up the wine, I walked over to him.  His head was in the safe, fully engaged in his new project.  “Do you still need something?”

“Yes.”

“A saw, you said?”

“No, a straw.”

“A straw?  Like, a drinking straw?”

“Yes.”

Why a straw? [Chris: OK, it didn’t have to be a straw.  It could have a been a small stick, or a very long toothpick.  It just had to be something small enough to easily make sure the holes in the safe were lined up with the holes in the foundation so I could thread the lag bolts correctly] Why must he drill holes into our foundation?  Why can’t he use this energy to clean poop off the carpet?  I had no more questions I felt like asking.  I handed him a drinking straw, chugged my glass of wine, and found my happy place watching Beastie Boys videos on You Tube in the Woman Cave.  As the WHIIRRRRRATATATATATAT started up again, I turned up the volume to “Body Movin’” and found joy in Ad-Rock/MCA sword-fighting over fondue.

In this long, long relationship we’ve had, there are a few things we’ve learned about handling these Todd-and-Margo moments.  Our first effort is usually to attempt to diffuse the situation with humor, specifically by quoting “And why is the floor all wet, Todd?” If the other responds “I don’t KNOW, Margo!” We know we are in a good place.  If humor isn’t employed, the next step is to attempt to communicate what specifically is bothering us.  Barring that? Just let the bickering happen, give yourselves a 15-20 minute separation that involves something enjoyable (like watching Beastie videos, or installing a freaking safe [Chris: Not necessarily enjoyable, but absolutely necessary to protect our data and valuables from thieving alien mutant zombies][<—geek. -A-M]), do your best to avoid further aggravation (for example, using an impact drill after a bickerfest is generally ill-advised), and let time sort out the little things. Because despite poop-cleaning and impact drilling? This is still a pretty good thing. Plus? If you were alone, you’d have no one to argue over stupid little things with.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Golden Rule of Geek Culture

For those of you who are newly engaged in a geek relationship, you need to know what I call the Golden Rule as it is the single most important thing to understand in your relationship: a true geek stands at the intersection of nerd and artsy.  They love whimsy and creation like an artist, but that creation must strictly follow specific rules and algorithms (nerd).  Knowing this will not only help you understand their frustration when a movie misrepresents mythology or technology, it will help you avoid being placed in a magical coma within five minutes of a D&D game with his/her friends.

Here are a few common applications of The Golden Rule:

1.  Strict adherence to fantasy folklore.

Geeks love Dungeons & Dragons, because it is the epitome of the Golden Rule.  Their love of this game has given them a passion and sense of duty to fiercely protect the folklore associated with the game.

Here are a few examples of folklore fails that have upset my geek husband over the years:

-       Mispronouncing chimera.  It’s Kih-MARE-uh, not CHIM-uruh.  I deliberately mispronounce it, but we’ve been together for over 16 years.  Mocking is allowed, and actually encouraged in geek culture – just be sure the other person knows you’re mocking them and not being an idiot.

-       Willy-nilly unicorn rides.  We watched “The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe” in the theaters.  When they began the big battle scene, the older boy hopped up on a unicorn.  Beside me, I hear a low but pronounced, “grrrrrrr…”  I lean over to Chris and whisper, “what??” He grumbled back, “only female virgins can ride unicorns.”

Amusing side note: I read somewhere that Tolkein and Lewis were friends.  Despite their friendship, Tolkein would get royally pissed at Lewis for not following folklore rules.  Paraphrased, Tolkein would grumble at him, “Gah! You can’t do that! Fauns don’t do those things!” to which Lewis would respond, “Dude.  It’s fiction.  They do whatever I write.” Tolkein? Geek.  Lewis? Free-flowing hippie artist.

Also along the unicorn line of thinking…
-       Pegacorns.  As best I can tell, there is no folklore violation more egregious than the presence of a Pegacorn.  What is a Pegacorn, you ask? It is a unicorn with wings.  Because you see, unicorns didn’t have wings.  Yeah, yeah, I know – unicorns didn’t exist, why get picky over adding wings? Just go with it.  For fun, draw a Pegacorn and hand it to your geek while stating cheerfully, “look! I drew you a unicorn!” Watch his face.  That look? That look right there? That’s the tennis match in his mind – on one side, his newfound concern over your incompatibility with him; the other side? The fact that you could/have/will continue to get naked in front of him.  Don’t be alarmed, because naked always wins (a different rule in Geek Relationship, but I’m getting ahead of myself here).

2.  Strict adherence to technology rules

When with your geek, avoid shows like CSI, where a tech can take a grainy, low-resolution image and turn it into a high-definition image.  They hate that.  An old show that has a Mac laptop and a Windows OS?  Oh, hell no.  A DOS prompt on top of Mac OS, running on an Amiga?!?  Their head will explode.  Soooo egregious.  They also really hate shows and movies that don’t truly “get” Geek Culture.  Conversely, if a show or movie gets the technology wrong, but gets the culture right, geeks tend to be very forgiving.  As an example, see “Sneakers” or “Real Genius.”

3.  Adherence to time travel rules

Quick lesson on everything you need to know about time travel: paradox.  Per dictionary.com, the third definition of paradox is actually definition #1 for geeks: “any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.” See, paradox, when in the context of time travel, is the contradiction that is caused when one goes back in time, fucks up some shit, and it makes their present impossible.  Think of Terminator 2.  They changed the future, and by changing the future, it made history different for MacGuyvery Mullet-Man, therefore making his present false.  By making his present false, the knowledge he gave to Sara Connor was false.  If his present was false, how could he know the things he knows and go back in time to make a baby with Sarah Connor? Without that baby there’d be no John Connor, and with no John Connor, there’s no resistance and no picture of Sarah Connor for MacGuyvery Guy to perv on while he’s fighting terminators.  Paradox.  So why do geeks love T2? Two things – one? Special effects.  Two?  There’s a way around this paradox thing.  See, time is not linear.  The theory is when one goes back in time, they are jumping to a different “line” if you will, so from that moment where they jumped back to and going forward there are two separate realities existing at the same time.  So there could in theory be two of you, and this is just one reality.  Mind blown?  Bored?  Ok, if you want an entertaining read that explains this well, read Michael Crichton’s “Timeline.” Crichton? Total Geek.  Except for that racist book about how the Japanese were going to take down America in a Sony-built spaceship.  Or something like that.  Moving on…

4.  Dislike of Fibonacci numbers.

Now, on the surface, you would think a geek would appreciate the Fibonacci sequence – it is a number sequence that follows a specific rule and it makes beautiful things in nature as well as art.  Early in our relationship, I casually asked Chris, “name something that really bothers you.”

He paused for a moment to think.  In this pause, I thought of his possible answers to this question – ignorance, hypocrisy, manipulation, Pegacorns…  he finally responded.  “Fibonacci numbers.”

I laughed a little. “Why?”

“Each number depends upon the previous two numbers in the sequence – there is no reason for their existence beyond that.”

Okay, I think Chris can lean a bit strong on the “nerd” side.

So there you have it; The Golden Rule of Geek Culture.  If you’re thinking, “TL;DR,” well, you’re kind of a geek yourself, aren’t you?  And stop with that shit.  Spell things out once in a while – you’re not a 14 year-old girl texting her BFF.  If you’re thinking, “this is a lot of information to absorb,” well, just remember that no matter the gaffe, no matter the misunderstanding: naked always wins.

Up In Liquid Smoke

[Note: This is a revamp of a post on my old blog, and contains the lamest graphic on my site.  

Warning: I curse! Surprise, I know.]

Do you think there is anyone out there who really enjoys Valentine’s Day?  Just about everyone I know laments the day.  As an adult, if you are alone, you lament not sharing it with someone special; if you are with someone, you lament how romantic your significant other used to be; If you are with a bunch of people, you lament that you can’t keep the secret going for much longer.

As a person who is married, it all just seems so overrated.  Chris and I are far bigger on our anniversary, so V-Day is basically pointless. On occasion however, one of us will make the effort to do something.  For Valentine’s Day 2006, Chris’ effort was to make dinner for the two of us.  I’m the primary cook in the relationship, so this was a nice thing for him to do.  I wasn’t sure what he would make, but I suggested something noodles, because he’s rather good with the noodles.  The story of V-Day Dinner 2006 is one that neatly summarizes our relationship and my neuroses.

Before I left for work, Chris called me and asked me to get a couple of items at the store.  There were a couple of staples, like milk and cereal, but he also asked me to get an item called Liquid Smoke.  “Liquid Smoke?”

“Yup.”

“What does it look like?”

“I don’t know.”

“Okaaay…where do I find it?”

“Probably where spices and oils are.”

“…Liquid Smoke.”

“Yup.”

How would I find this thing?  Was it in an aerosol can? Was it like dry ice?  What the hell was it?  On my way home, I stopped at the supermarket to pick up the items.  I walked up and down the spice and oils aisle – twice – and as I expected, no product jumped out at me screaming “Liquid Smoke.”  I stood there for a minute, realizing that I’m going to have to ask the customer service desk for help with this one.  If you know me well, you know that I have an aversion to asking for help.  It’s a combination of my social anxiety and not wanting their inability to be helpful frustrate me.  It’s a strange aversion.  In this case, I figured Chris needed this Liquid Smoke, so I was the Good Wife, went up to the counter, and sheepishly asked them if they had Liquid Smoke.  The lady smiled and looked at me.  “Liquid Smoke?”

“Yeah.”

“What does it look like?”

“I don’t know, my husband asked me to get it.”

“Where did he tell you to look for it?”

“Spices or Oils.”

“…Liquid Smoke.”

“Yeah.”

She looked at a computer and frowned.  “I don’t think we have anything like that here; what’s he using it for?”

“He isn’t telling me anything about it, just to pick it up for him.”

Her face lit up and she smiled.  “Ahhh! Maybe he has a surprise waiting for you, and he made it up to keep you at the store longer.”

A light turned on in my head.  “Could be…” and I walked away from the counter.  I decided to try the spices/oils area one more time.  As I searched the shelves, the wheels in my head began to turn.  This is a dramatization of my thought process from this point until I got home:

Liquid Smoke.  Could Chris really do something like that?  He is kind of tricky, but if this really exists, I’ll feel bad if I don’t find it.  What would it look like?  Wait a minute.  What was that joke the pizza place played on his brother?  Didn’t they tell him to go find Liquid Smoke as a joke?  Oh my God, that’s it!  If I fall for the same joke his brother fell for, I’m going to be really pissed.  Aww, Chris.  What a great husband.  I wonder what he’s planning for me?  How long is he expecting me to spend here?  He probably figured I didn’t ask for help, so he’s going to expect me to get home a little later.  He’s likely assuming I’m just wandering the aisles, crying and frustrated.  Oh crap, I don’t have anything for him! What am I going to do?  There was V-Day stuff at the front of the store…. this is all picked-over garbage!  Reese’s peanut butter cups in a heart? Are you kidding me? He can get those anywhere.  A balloon? That’s cheesy.  Maybe a stuffed animal…are there polar bears?  No polar bears?!? How can you have Valentine’s Day without some cute little polar bear holding an f-ing heart?  This is crap!  I suck at being a wife.  Maybe the candy aisle has something… he’s dieting, I can’t get him a mongo box of chocolates…maybe something small.  Cherries!  He loves chocolate-covered cherries!  There we go.  What?? No cherries?  Are you kidding me?!?  That is a standard confection!  There are the truffles…but he doesn’t like truffles.  I like truffles.  I don’t want to get him something that I’m just going to wind up eating, how selfish is that?  Here we go! Andes candies!  He loves these!  When we used to go to Olive Garden, he always said how much he liked the Andes candies.  Yeah!  That’s sensitive!  Good thinking!  This box is small and stupid.  He’s planning this great thing for me and I’m just giving him Andes candies??  Maybe I’ll look around a little more.  There’s a giant card with a puppy on it.  That’s cute – he loves dogs.  What the hell is is going to do with a three-foot card?  Let’s revisit the balloon idea.  These balloons suck! What time is it, anyway?  It’s getting late, damn it, I’ve been here long enough.  I better get in line…Tic-Tacs! He loves orange Tic-Tacs.  I’ll grab a couple.  He’s planning this grand thing, and I’m giving him Andes Candies and a fucking Tic-Tac.  I suck as a wife.  Should I have grabbed the giant puppy card?  Too late, she’s scanning my stuff.  Yeah, thanks, whatever… what’s that guy doing in a tuxedo at the door?  Yeah, sure I’ll have a free Hershey’s Kiss, thank you…chocolate…yummmmm… wait a minute.  Did that guy even work at the store?  What if he’s some psycho freak who poisons women by posing as an employee handing out free samples?  Asshole.   Oh well, it was good, so it probably wasn’t poisonous.  Well, maybe if I do get poisoned, Chris will forget my insensitivity.  Almost home…if I drive real slow by the front window, maybe I can get a peek of the big plan…nothing.  I can’t see anything except for the dog’s head.  Walking up to the front door…slowly grabbing my keys and making noise so he will know I’m here…there he is! “Hi, Honey!”

He looks at my bag.  “Hi.  Did you find it?”

“It was real?”

“Yup.”

“Really?”

“Yeah…I saw it on Bobby Flay.”

Damn it!  I tossed the bag on the counter. “Happy Valentine’s Day.  Here’s a fucking Tic-Tac.”

[Note: we have since purchased and used Liquid Smoke a couple of times, and I see it everywhere I go]