February 29, 2008

The Weeklies #25

The Weekly Worst Moment. Returning to work after two weeks off. It had to be done but it wasn't any fun. The drive to work sucked.

The Weekly Most Inappropriate Thing I Heard Someone Say On A Cellphone In Public. "Yeah, I love how it gets you hot when I spank that big ass of yours...I know that's what you want to do to me...yeah...I'll pick up the kids and see you then."

The Weekly Kid Logic.
Me: We've got a whole lot of ground to cover.
Mia: Let's cover the ground!
Me: No, that's an expression.
Mia: What?
Me: An expression. When I say "we've got ground to cover" I mean that we have a long way we still have to walk.
Mia: But what are we going to cover the ground with?
Me: Uh, our feet!
Mia: No. I don't want to cover the ground with our feet. I want to cover the ground with something real.
Me: Our feet aren't real?
Mia: No. We need something real.

The Weekly Reads. I managed one cheesy, pulp noir novel - Wade Miller'sBranded Woman. I know. Isn't that an awesome title? Not shocking that it was written in 1952. It's fantastic, typical pulp like the kind that start out something like, "I was knocking back a couple of Beams, Jim Beams, and a ham on rye in my office reflecting on the case of the missing runaway-turned-madame I'd just solved when a classy dame with legs that could have stretched from here to Cleveland walked in. Those legs were long, especially since we were in Sacramento and Cleveland wasn't exactly within walking distance."

The Weekly Music. Have you heard of Maritime? They're a damn fine indie band. Check them out. You might like 'em. You should also check out City and Colour's Bring Me Your Love, one of the most beautiful, mellow albums of the year so far. Marah's Angels of Destruction! is also mighty fine. Think of the music Bruce Springsteen would create if he found himself twenty years younger playing in a garage band. You have Marah.

The Weekly Four-Letter Word. Fuck. I have used it mightily this week and it has served me well.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Prince Harry is fighting in the front lines of Afghanistan. One minute you've got the power and influence to, like, roll around naked in the Crown Jewels and snort cocaine off the midriffs of wannabe princesses and the next you're stuck in a desert. That must suck. Royally. And speaking of wars and deserts, Jessica Simpson is headed to Kuwait to entertain the troops. Haven't they gone through enough?

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. One of your all-time favorite bloggers who generally poses insightful, thought-provoking hypothetical questions has come up dry one Friday. Hypothetically. What hypothetical question would his readers pose in the absence of one of these gloriously brilliant hypothetical questions? If one were - hypothetically, of course - to ask that blogger in his comments, he may actually answer too.

Posted by Chris at 6:49 AM | Comments (33)

February 28, 2008

Time Keeps On Slippin' Slippin'

When I was a freshman in high school, I met this guy and we became really good friends. We did crazy shit together - we'd hang out of windows, smoke too many cigarettes, cruise backroads of Virginia with windows rolled down and Iron Maiden blaring from the car stereo. When we weren't in school we played endless games of racquetball and formed a band named The Spookies. It was a terrible band and it wasn't really a band at all. We just recorded ourselves singing over Stairway To Heaven and obscure tracks from the first three Police albums. Eventually Scott moved back to his native land of Canada. You know, the Great White North. Home of Canadian bacon (there simply known as bacon) and Bob and Doug McKenzie. I haven't quite forgiven Canada for taking him back. Nevertheless, we didn't lose touch.

When Beth and I got married, Scott came to the wedding. So did Julie, one of Beth's oldest and closest friends. Julie was a bridesmaid. When they saw each other they instantly fell in love. At least, that's my version of the story; they'd have to be consulted on the accuracy of that statement. What I do know is that they've been together ever since. They got married and, in due course, had two children.

I mention this now because the four of them were in town last night. And we got to hang out, all eight of us.

Nearly twenty years ago, Scott and I were doing stupid shit, amusing ourselves as only two teenage boys can. I'm sure Beth and Julie were doing something similar, whatever it is teenage girls do - talking about boys, doing their hair, whatever. Last night, though, it was four old friends, now adults with adult responsibilities like the four children that surrounded them last night.

I don't know how this happened. I don't know how I went from one half of The Spookies - the most terrible band ever - to a husband and father responsible for more than I could have ever imagined. I mentioned it last night while the four of us were standing in the kitchen while the three mobile kids were all trying to style each other's hair. Everyone felt the same way and no one had a really good answer as to how we went from Point A to Point B so quickly.

I do know this: I'm terrible at friendships. When faced with relationships that take maintenance, my tendency is to withdrawal. But I truly value the friendships I experienced last night and I'm sincerely proud of them. Not only are they wonderful, with wonderful people, but they remind me of who I am, how I've grown, and where I've been.

(But it's scary as fuck that two individuals such as Scott and myself who used to torch the cassingles of terrible artists in vacant construction sites and smoke cigarettes while hanging upside down are now responsible for actual human lives. Cool, but scary.)

Posted by Chris at 7:02 AM | Comments (25)

February 27, 2008

It's Up To You, Watermelon*

I have a question, something I've been thinking a lot about lately. It's partially influenced by my job but since I'm paranoid about mentioning work here I need to caveat this by saying I'm utterly happy doing what I'm doing and wouldn't want to do anything else. Except be a rock star but I honestly don't see that happening.

Here's the hypothetical. Let's assume that what you're good at and what you like doing are two mutually exclusive things. Or, you're good at two very different things but only enjoy one of them. Which to you pursue?

When I was in junior high and high school, I was a runner. The fact that I started smoking at age 12 (I no longer smoke and haven't for some time - no need to bust my balls) didn't stop me. According to my dad - a marathon runner - I was built for distance. But I enjoyed shorter runs. Sprinting. I mean, cross country kinda sucked and involved running for, well, really long periods of time. What's the fun in that? So I sprinted. I was okay. Not great. Although I kicked everyone's ass in the 440. But I had fun. And that was more important to me.

My job has two demands - comprehensive knowledge of my field and marketing. I have to maintain a deep subject matter expertise in my field and put various parts and pieces of information together to make critical projects work. I'm not being an egocentric ass by saying that I'm really good at what I do. I am and I'm proud of it. The other part - the marketing - is full of meeting people, shaking hands, developing and maintaining relationships and figuring out how I can apply what I know to solving other people's problems (and getting them to pay me for it). I'm really good at that too. But it really doesn't feel like my thing. Because - present company excluded - people are pretty much annoying.

So, what do you do? Do you play to your strengths even if they're not what you really enjoy doing? Or do you stick with what you're good at in spite of that?


* uttered by Mia last night, apropos of absolutely nothing and we have no idea where it came from, but it struck me as a good title for this.

Posted by Chris at 6:52 AM | Comments (53)

February 26, 2008

Through The Looking Glass (Or, A Heavy Dose of The Crazy)

Yesterday I returned to work. After two weeks of being away, it was clear that the universe stored up all my individually wrapped doses of crazy and sprung them on me in one concentrated burst. Among all the phone calls, conference calls, emails, meetings and general catching up, here are the day's most notable happenings.

Thing 1. I got stuck in an elevator. Right out of the chute, I knew it was going to be an interesting day. Luckily, it opened up a minute later. It's not the first time that's happened. Stop, drop and roll...wait, that's not for stuck elevators which explains a lot...

Thing 2. I took a break with some coworkers and headed to the cafeteria in the building I work in when I'm spending time in Monkeytown. Whilst doing so I observed one man carrying a tray with two lunches. Not odd in and of itself but it took a strange turn when he began setting the table for two and unpacking both lunches in a very particular manner. It was stranger still when he began conversing with who I can only assume to be his well provided for invisible friend. After twenty minutes, he completed his lunch, repacked his "friend's" lunch and left.

Thing 3. I encountered a tiny midget with a giant afro. Not a slightly large afro. A huge one. It was about half as tall as the midget herself.

Thing 4. I ran - bodily and with great force - into a marginally famous politician. I was happy he was only marginally famous, as he didn't have an entourage to act in his defense.

So I ask you, what could possibly happen today? Wait, I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that.

Posted by Chris at 7:08 AM | Comments (33)

February 25, 2008

Bacon (As In, The Bringing Home Of The)

Last night, Beth, Owen and Mia sat on the couch together. Mia attempted to put the pink foam cowgirl had she had acquired at a local craft store and adorned with stickers on Owen's head all the while urging me to take pictures, mugging for the camera. I tried my best. But no camera could ever capture that full image accurately. No camera could capture the emotion or contentment I felt sitting there on the floor while my family spread out before me, laughing or, in at least one case, managing not to spit up.

I haven't left the house this morning and I already miss the three of them more than I thought possible. It's all I can do to stop myself from climbing into bed with each of them and deciding to spend my day here with them. But after two weeks it's time for me to go back to work. I'm not looking forward to it in the slightest. My focus for the past two weeks has been on my family. On dirty diapers, baths, naptimes, visits to the pediatrician, Beth's recovery. And while that time was eventful, tiring, and just downright hard at some points, I managed to spend some really wonderful quality time with my daughter. We played, went shopping, attended her storytime and music class, wrapped ourselves up in games of "California" (sometimes "Argentina" and sometimes "Toledo") in which we hid under a blue comforter we keep upstairs. We read more Backyardigans books than I care to recall - actually, we read a finite number of Backyardigans books more times than I care to recall - but acting out the stories at her behest was a hell of a lot of fun. I feel, at the end of these two weeks, like I know her better. Like I know her well.

When Beth and I first considered having kids, we made a decision - whoever earned less money would stay home. Pulling a decent salary is a mixed blessing. I was elected to keep working. Its days like today I'd love to be a stay at home dad. But instead, I'm off to reclaim my daily routine - to sit in traffic, call into conference calls and participate in half-day meetings. I know I'll be back here in ten hours or so but I've gotten so used to spending those ten hours here, with my slightly bigger, always wonderful family.

Posted by Chris at 6:23 AM | Comments (34)

Haiku For Monday #206

Hi-ho-hi-ho, its
fucking back to work I go.
Dammit, this sucks guys.

Posted by Chris at 6:20 AM | Comments (7)

February 22, 2008

The Weeklies #24

The Weekly Game. Hiding in California. Mia has this new game. She hides under a blanket and claims she's in California. I'm often asked to join her.

The Weekly Reads. Since we last talked about books, I've burned through a few books - Lawrence Block's The Girl With The Long Green Heart, Harlan Coben's The Final Detail, Rob Sheffield's Love Is A Mix Tape, and Frederick Reiken's The Lost Legends of New Jersey. All were excellent. The Girl With The Long Green Heart was a wonderful pulp mystery. It was cheesy and utterly enjoyable. The Final Detail was Coben at his Myron Boltar best. Sheffield's Love Is A Mix Tape was a brief memoir chronicling the making of mix tapes contrasted with the loss of his wife. The Lost Legends of New Jersey was the best of the lot, following a New Jersey family through the ups and downs of life. It was beautifully written and incredibly full.

The Weekly Music. I've been going old-school lately, listening to the music I started listening to years ago - early and mid-seventies progressive rock. Yeah, I'm a dork. But there's some good stuff I've got that I haven't given a thorough listen in years.

The Weekly Meal. Peanut butter sandwiches. I'm no lover of peanut butter but I've been digging peanut butter sandwiches lately.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. So, the television writers' strike is over which is great for us because our long crappy season of bad reality TV may finally be over. Lindsay Lohan stripped for New York magazine and showed her boobies to the three people alive who hadn't yet seen them. And Amy Winewhore won a shit-load of Grammys. Is it me or have we all woken up on a bizarro Earth?

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. You have your choice between two superpowers. You must choose one. You can either stop time or walk through matter. Which do you choose and why?

Posted by Chris at 8:08 AM | Comments (46)

February 21, 2008

That's The Ticket

When Beth was in labor, early on Sunday morning, we pulled up to the light closest to the hospital. It was red.

Me: Do you need me to run the light?
Beth: No, I'm fine. And the hospital is right there.
Me: Really? Are you sure?
Beth: You want me to say yes, don't you?
Me: Yeah, kinda.
Beth: Okay. I really need you to run the red light.
Me: Cool.

So I did. And - much to my chagrin because I totally wanted to get pulled over and show the cop my very pregnant, in-labor wife - there wasn't a cop in sight.

Yesterday morning, I had to run into work very briefly (like, five minutes). I had a serious computer issue that had to be solved onsite, in the office. Apparently I was in a bit too much of a rush. I ended up having the following conversation:

Cop: Sir, were you aware that you were going 39 miles per hour in a 25 zone?
Me: Uh, honestly, no.
Cop: Well, you were.
Me: And I'm really sorry about that.
Cop: Did you have any good reason to be going that fast?
Me: No. I really didn't.
Cop: Your honesty is refreshing.
Me: Does that mean you're not going to write me a ticket?
Cop: Nope. Not at all.
Me: Damn.
Cop: Yeah.

So, I got a ticket. My first ticket in about 12 years and I didn't even have a good excuse for it. Now, why wasn't yesterday's cop there when I ran that red whilst having a perfectly good excuse? What kind of fucked up Murphy's Law thing is that?

Are you a good driver or heavily ticketed? And what's the biggest fine you've ever paid? How have you gotten out of tickets in the past?

Posted by Chris at 8:28 AM | Comments (58)

February 20, 2008

Hoppity

Once upon a time there was a little bunny named Hoppity. She lived in the forest with her mommy and her daddy...

In some parenting realms, I may go a bit too far. Like, when I told Mia that a bug I'd killed was going to be with Jesus. Perhaps I didn't need to say that. What I have noticed, however, is that her imagination is massive. I take that as a good sign that we're doing something right.

A couple of months ago, I started to tell her stories I made up off the top of my head at bedtime. They all revolve around Hoppity, a little girl bunny who lives in the woods with her mommy and her daddy...and now her baby brother. Hoppity has all kinds of adventures. She goes to woodland circuses, travels with her mommy and daddy to her grandparents' farm, and even goes sailing. She's accompanied by her friends Owl, Molly the butterfly, Steve the fish and a moose named Francisco.

Last night before bed, Mia wanted desperately to hold Owen for about the 86th time that day. I set them up and, almost immediately, Mia began to tell Owen a story. Once upon a time there was a little bunny named Hoppity. She lived in the forest with her mommy and her daddy... I almost collapsed with pride.

So, perhaps I go a little far sometimes. I've stopped telling Mia that dead bugs go to live with Jesus. But I love the fact that my kid has an imagination. It's incredible to see.

Posted by Chris at 9:00 AM | Comments (33)

February 19, 2008

Randomness in Five Acts

Look, Mia is doing great being a big sister and all and Owen a pretty fantastic sleeper. But that doesn't mean we're getting a full night's sleep or anything. So, this week while I'm still at home, not working at work but, rather, working at home trying to keep two kids and a recovering wife alive and kicking, don't expect a great deal of coherent thought. Expect randomness. Like this.

Randomness Part I
Yesterday as I was browsing some sight or another, a banner ad threatened me with a weekly email from Ann Coulter. Of course, they phrased it in such a way that it was supposed to sound like something that I'd enjoy. It was then that I asked out loud, "what the fuck did I ever do to you, Internet?" I haven't received an answer.

Randomness Part II: The Randomness Strikes Back
Speaking of the Internet, I really hope you guys are going to give me a collective pass on stopping by your blogs this week. I'm pretty much the worst commenter ever this week but, you know, I've got my hands full.

Randomness Part III: Randomness Takes Manhattan
Over the past couple of weeks the iPod Touch Beth gave me has truly paid its dues. It's been showing my daughter YouTube clips of the Backyardigans, playing some great old music for me as I try to rock a newborn to sleep and run episodes of television shows when I can't sleep myself. For some reason, I latched onto October Road the other day and downloaded both seasons of the show. The show itself is terribly acted, not always entirely well-written, and a little silly. But I love it. I've got six episodes left and I'm kind of upset about that.

Randomness Part IV: The Final Chapter
Over the weekend, my 8 month old niece came over. Mia was in heaven. Not only did she have a baby brother but a marginally mobile cousin under her control. It was then, looking at the three of them crammed into one of our living room chairs, that I realized how big Mia has gotten. I don't know where the time has gone.

Randomness Part V: Son of Randomness
I've been living in a pair of jeans I bought a month or so ago. They're great. Except for one tiny thing. They're button-fly. I feel so very 1991 in them. They're a pain in the ass to, well, unbutton when I have to, well, unbutton them so I can, uh, drain the lizard, so to speak. Is it wrong that I've just started leaving them open? And that I haven't shaved in a week and a half? And that I think I've been going out of the house looking like a perved-up Grizzly Adams? Dadhood is sexy.

Posted by Chris at 8:23 AM | Comments (34)

February 18, 2008

Owen's First Week

It's impossible for me to believe it, but Owen's been in our lives for a little over a week. While the time spent in the hospital crept along at the pace of a legless dog chasing cars, the days following the hospital stay have flown.


...check out the whole set at flickr...

As I mentioned before, I was pretty nervous about Owen's arrival for a few different reasons.

Concern #1: How would Mia feel when she discovers she's no longer the center of the known universe?
Mia is thrilled to be a big sister. She wants to hold Owen constantly and, when doing so, showers him with kisses. She runs to him when he cries, holds his pacifier in and eagerly helps change every dirty diaper. I'm still waiting for the other baby booty to drop. I know it will. But all-in-all, it really is following the best case scenario. And also proving my daughter to be the sweetest little girl in the world. Which I knew. It's just nice to see.

Concern #2: I'll never sleep again.
Not true...so far, at least. Owen sleeps like a champ. Of course, he's a week old. Week old kids are only slightly more animated than a head of cabbage. Both Beth and I have been able to catch some sleep. Mia's helped by actually sticking to our evening routine and not protesting too much when bedtime rolls around.

Concern #3: Beth's recovery time.
Mia was delivered by c-section making it almost a lock that Owen would be too. But we decided to chance in largely because the recovery time with a traditional birth is so significantly shorter. But that was not to be. So, Beth can't drive for another week. She can't pick up Mia and rolling around on the floor to play is something of a challenge. I've been trying to fill the void as best I can, doing double the floor-rolling, the shopping, all the driving and pitching in with the chores like laundry. Seriously, how can four people - two of whom are Oompa-Loompa sized or smaller - generate this much laundry? Beth is well on her way to recovery. After these two weeks, though, I may need a hospital bed and some painkillers.

Concern #4: Clowns.
Sure, it has nothing to do with Owen but I don't like clowns. Happy to report that this past week has continued the streak of being 100% clown-attack free.

As you can tell, I don't have a hell of a lot of time on my hands but one thing I'm going to try to do this week is pulling together some of the CDs that I owe you guys. And of course that count is one higher since Erin's (currently blogless) guess about Owen's arrival date was the closest. Congrats Erin.

Enough. I've got to find a bucket of coffee. And a donut. Damn. I wish I hadn't thought of donuts. Now I really, really want a donut. Please someone, anyone help me justify a few donuts...

Posted by Chris at 7:55 AM | Comments (49)

Haiku For Monday #205

One more Monday out
of the office. But two kids?
Not like there's no work.

Posted by Chris at 7:50 AM | Comments (1)

February 15, 2008

The Weeklies #23: The Birth Edition

The Weekly Only Thing On My Mind: You've met Owen. Here's how he came to be.

One night, Beth and I were fooling around and...oh...you've probably already guessed that part. Skipping ahead...

Around 5:20 on Sunday morning Beth woke me up. "I'm in labor. My water just broke," she said. I only half-believed her. The previous night, while I was standing in the local Target trying to find a watch with a second-hand before picking up Indian take-out, she called to tell me she thought her water had broken. We went ahead and got Indian because who doesn't love Indian even with an infant trying to make his way into the world? At 5:20 the next morning, Beth, The Girl Who Cried Labor, rolled out the whole water-breaking story again and I wasn't convinced. Of course, ten seconds later I realized that I was surrounded by wet sheets and bundles of towels keeping water at bay, I rethought the situation and realized that she was probably right. So we instituted our patented OSWHTKASN Plan (Oh Shit, We're Having This Kid Any Second Now).

Step 1. Call my parents and get them to come over ASAP.
Step 2. Freak the fuck out.

My parents arrived at our place and, since she was stirring in her room, we visited Mia and said our goodbyes. Then we headed to the hospital. We checked in around 7:00 and were immediately escorted to the labor and delivery room. It was our home for the next eight hours. Aside from the contractions - the pain from which was eventually eliminated with an epidural - and my natural curiosity that caused me to play with all the medial stuff I found in all the drawers, we were bored in five minutes. Luckily, we had iPods and books. Around 3:00 in the afternoon, Beth's doctor pointed out that the contractions were irregular and the pressure inside her uterus was high. Apparently high uterine pressure is bad. She also insightfully guessed that Owen would be nice and big and recommended surgery right away. Thinking about it now, though, she really didn't really recommend anything. She just told us the OR would be ready for us in a half-hour. We got the feeling she was a little more concerned than she was letting on.

My biggest fear about the delivery itself - aside from the whole risk to Beth and the baby which was paramount - was passing out in the OR. I had nothing to worry about then. This time, though, I really had a rough time early on. It had already been a long stressful day and I was worried. But I made it and so did Beth. And when Owen arrived, everything fell into place and all those worries disappeared. Owen was (and is) beautiful. The first thing I noticed when I saw him was how much like Mia he looked. Warming up, getting measured on the table next to me while I sat next to Beth, he looked perfect. I held him while they put Beth back together. I wheeled him out to the waiting room to meet the grandparents while Beth made her way to the recovery room.

Even if you've never spent any time in a hospital, I don't think you'd have a hard time believing that it isn't fun. It was made worse by the fact that both Beth and I had to be there and Mia could not be. I've never been away from her like that. Beth and I both hated it. I miss that kid with every fiber of my being when she's not around.

Monday was the wost. I'll let Beth fill you in on the details should she be so inclined but suffice it to say she was in a massive amount of pain. I have never been in the physical presence of someone in that kind of pain and I never want to be again, especially someone I love. But the day evened out and by Monday night Beth seemed like her normal self. Owen was fantastic, very laid back, making the entire recovery thing that much easier. On Wednesday around 2:00 we were sprung. We came home, got settled, woke Mia up from her nap and started our lives as a four person family. So far, so good. Mia hasn't set fire to the house or stolen our cars for attention. Owen is sleeping and eating like a champ. Beth's still recovering wonderfully and I, well, I'm just doing lots of laundry.

Before we had Mia, my biggest concern was that I wouldn't love her instantly like you hear all other parents saying they did. When she arrived, I knew that wasn't going to be a concern. I loved her instantly and unconditionally at first sight. With Owen, I was even more confused. I mean, I already had all this love for Mia. How would I share that? How would I not have a favorite? Of course, this also turned out to be a silly concern. I loved him immediately, right there, standing in the OR. It hit me like the bullet from a gun and forced tears to my eyes. I can't really put into words the difference between being a father of one and of two. But it's not what I thought - the dad stuff inside me wasn't split into two. Instead, it doubled. And frankly I never knew I had quite this much space inside.

Posted by Chris at 7:46 AM | Comments (94)

February 13, 2008

Home

We are, at long last, home. So far, so good. More to come - given the proper amount of time, of course - tomorrow.

Posted by Chris at 8:53 PM | Comments (28)

February 12, 2008

Trust In The Good Times

Apologies to all for the infrequent updates. If you've had a kid, well, you completely understand. If not, just you wait.


Owen and Beth are resting comfortably in the hospital. I think they're getting sprung tomorrow. It won't be a moment soon. The grandparents have been amazing keeping track of Mia as best they can. But I know Mia's patience is wearing out and she wants her mom, dad and baby brother home. I've been sleeping on the bizarre couch-bed hybrid they've got in the hospital room and trying to let Beth get as much rest as she can.

Right now, I'm home for a shower and a little food. When Mia wakes up from her nap, we're heading to the hospital to visit the baby. She visited yesterday and couldn't stop kissing Owen.

This has been an overwhelming experience. When I have the time later this week, I'll share the story. It's a good one. In the mean time, thank you all. I can't believe how much email Beth and I have gotten. There's no way we're getting through all the comments any time soon but we'll try. Suffice it to say, thank you all so very, very much. You guys sincerely rock and I can't tell you how much I appreciate you.

Posted by Chris at 3:20 PM | Comments (81)

February 10, 2008

You Can't Hurry Love

Owen Gregory Cactus-Fish arrived at 3:55 the afternoon of February 10th. He was ushered into the world to the strains of You Can't Hurry Love performed by Phil Collins. Ironic since there isn't an artist Beth hates more.

Owen weighed in at 9 pounds 3 ounces and is perfectly, wonderfully healthy. Beth is doing well. I am only slightly traumatized.

Thanks to all for the wonderful wishes. More details will follow.

Posted by Chris at 7:07 PM | Comments (217)

February 8, 2008

The Weeklies #22: The Big-Ass Playlist Edition

The Weekly Best One-Liner. Mia, running through the house shouting, "I love haggis! I love haggis!" So, yeah, I told her to say it but it doesn't make it any less funny.

The Weekly Reads. I read Alan Glynn's The Dark Fields. It had been on my "to read" shelf (along with thousands of its brothers) for a number of years so it was about time. Darn good read too. It's part thriller, part mystery, all very well-written and slightly terrifying. If you like today's question, you'll probably like the book.

The Weekly Exclamation. Oh shit, we're having a kid, like, any day!

The Weekly Music. I tried an experiment with my iPod for a few hours this week. A test. Could I make it through random shuffles without skipping songs? And what would that playlist look like? The results are down there, you know, after the jump.

The Weekly Soup. Minestrone

The Weekly Schadenfreude. First off, it seems like everyone's in rehab, right? Eva Mendes, Amy Winehouse (who's probably already bolted by now) and Kirsten Dunst to name a few. Designing Woman Delta Burke checked into a hospital for psychiatric care and Heidi Fleiss got busted in Nevada. Oh, and there's such thing as a Paris Hilton doll. Seriously. How scared are you now?

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. If you could take a pill and suddenly become one of the brightest, most important thinkers in the world and make a lasting contribution to humanity, would you? Not so fast. When you're done being brilliant and stop taking the pills, you won't be right back where you started - you'll be mildly unintelligent. So, do you take it?

Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
Radiohead - My Iron Lung
John Mayer - Stop This Train
Hurt - Et Al
Foo Fighters - Aurora
Keane - Untitled 1
Catherine Wheel - Little Muscle
A.C. Newman - Secretarial
Yes - Heart of the Sunrise
Doves - Melody Calls
Peter Gabriel - Solisbury Hill
The Engineers - Let's Just See
Robert Plant - Skip's Song
U2 - Bullet the Blue Sky
Abigail's Ghost - Seeping
Sea Wolf - Song for the Dead
Spock's Beard - Healing Colors of Sound
Led Zeppelin - Kashmir
Snow Patrol - How to be Dead
Marillion - An Accidental Man
Coldplay - Proof
Velvet Revolver - Gravedancer
Great Lakes Myth Society - Eastern Birds
Genesis - Mad Man Moon
Alter Bridge - Rise Today
The Hold Steady - Stevie Nix
The Raconteurs - Intimate Secrecy
Sting - The Hounds of Winter
Crowded House - Don't Stop Now
Barrett Martin - Favela Song
The Format - On Your Porch (acoustic version)
Alanis Morrisette - You Learn
The Most Serene Republic - Population
Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet
Pearl Jam - Elderly Women
Bruce Springsteen - Gypsy Biker
The Black Crowes - Seeing Things
Temple Of The Dog - Hunger Strike
Duncan Sheik - Little Hands
Minus The Bear - Ice Monster
Marillion - Marbles III
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Killing The Blues
Pearl Jam - Not For You (live at Lollapalooza)
Foo Fighters - No Way Back
Eddie Vedder - Photographs
Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun
Genesis - Get 'Em Out by Friday
Yes - And You And I
The Hold Steady - Chicago Seemed Tired That Night
Doves - Shadows of Salford
Muse - Glorious
Marillion - Memory of Water
David Gilmour - Take a Breath
Secret Machines - The Road Leads Where It's Led
The Whigs - I Got Ideas
Catherine Wheel - Satellite
Black Mountain - Stormy High
Genesis - Carpet Crawlers
Tom Petty - The Dark Side of the Sun
Peter Gabriel - Shock the Monkey
U2 - Miracle Drug
Coldplay - Spies
Sting - The Lazarus Heart
Maritime - A Night Like This
Seu Jorge - Lady Stardust
Alice in Chains - Over Now
Guns N Roses - Out Ta Get Me
Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun
Tears For Fears - Who Killed Tangerine?
Jets Overhead - No More Nothing
Mark Knopfler - Donegan's Gone
Aimee Man - Wise Up (live at St. Ann's Warehouse)
Athlete - I Love

Posted by Chris at 6:55 AM | Comments (36)

February 7, 2008

Political Inspiration

I live in Washington. You know, where that white house is. The one in which a particularly ill-mannered idiot has resided for nearly eight years. I live and work amongst lobbyists, politicians, reporters, bureaucrats, generals, and spin doctors. It's mind-bendingly strange at times. Like, getting stuck in traffic, looking to the right and seeing the ever-phallic Washington monument jutting out of the ground and suddenly realizing, "hi, I live in the most powerful town on the face of the earth." It's kinda cool, to be honest. But sometimes I think those of us inside the Beltway are a little too close to the action to see it objectively. And too jaded to be inspired.

Despite this proximity, the Virginia, Maryland and DC primaries have rarely had any impact coming so late in the primary season. Until now. As it turns out Super Tuesday was pretty super but slightly less than decisive. And after a lot of thought and consideration, I'm pretty sure I know who I'll be voting for.

Obviously, I'm not going to suddenly freak out and go Republican. I am a bleeding-heart liberal. That's probably not going to change any time soon. But weighing one Democratic candidate against another is pretty frustrating. There are subtle differences in how they'll handle issues but honestly the differences aren't that big. I've read about the issues. I've reviewed Hillary's issues and downloaded Obama's Blueprint For Change. Both have plans for transparency in government, universal healthcare, middle-class tax relief, education, global warming and equal rights. They're all good ideas. But eventually - after you look at the issues and decide it's a virtual wash - it comes down to personality. And who you'd trust to lead the country.

For a long time I feel like I've been talked at by candidates. They want me to believe in their vision of what they can do for this country. And that's it. Ideas, a platform. But sometimes, every generation or so, someone comes along who honestly seems as though they want to make a difference. Someone who creates a force larger than a platform. Someone who is inspirational. Someone who your gut just tells you is all about doing the right thing for the right reasons. That's why I'll be voting for Obama on Tuesday.

The political landscape has changed a little since I asked the first time so indulge me - who do you want to win? And what issues are the most important to you?

Posted by Chris at 6:59 AM | Comments (61)

February 6, 2008

Brought To You By The Letter P

Primping and pimping. Do you remember my infamous mullet post? It's hard to forget, I'll admit. I don't have full details on this yet but some marketing company wants to use it in the design of a new site. A site for an apartment builder. Now, I don't know how my terrible high school hair style can motivate people to buy apartments or build apartments or whatever is they intend on doing to apartments but I'm tempted. What do you think?

Product placement. Like everyone, I get tons of spam. They're usually about my penis. Sometimes just regular old porn. But I read the subject lines because they're hilarious. It's like they recruit some mentally deranged sex fiends who have a very limited understanding of the English language to write these things. Your love has opened - seriously? Increase your stamins - what does a flower have to do with this? But I'll admit I was pretty intrigued by the subject line that stated, simply Des Moines. So of course I opened it. And it was about hardcore lesbian sex.

Phantom poop. It's all about poop around here. Or not pooping. Or mythical poops. Mia continues to have pooping issues, in that she doesn't want to. She turned that on its ear on Monday by repeatedly claiming she had pooped when, indeed, she had not. When she was so informed, she lost her shit, figuratively, not literally. It is a bizarre time in your life when you find yourself having the following discussion:

Mia: I pooped.
Me: You did not.
Mia: Yes I did.
Me: Here is your diaper. There's nothing in it.
Mia: Yes there is. Poop!
Me: What, is it invisible or something?
Mia: Yes, my poop is invisible.

Maybe that's been the issue. Maybe she's been pooping all along. Maybe it's just been, well, stealthy.

Pregnancy. Beth? Very pregnant and kinda miserable. Send labor vibes her way, okay?

Penis. My penis really is the subject of a great deal of conversation in my house. Most of it initiated by Mia. On Sunday, I had to explain how the touching of a penis should really be by invitation only and, at her age, she should flee screaming from any such invitation. Then she tried to convince me that we needed to give her big stuffed duck a penis. Apparently they're detachable. Who knew? Last night we were treated to another page from Mia's Anatomy after which we found a dead ladybug. I didn't want to explain the whole dead part so I just told her we'd carry it downstairs and set it free outside. We did. I threw it up in the air and pretended to watch the dead ladybug take flight. With neighbors returning home from work, it was then that she shouted, "Ladybugs have big penises!"

Posted by Chris at 6:20 AM | Comments (41)

February 5, 2008

Birds of my Neighborhood

Bill lived down the street. He was two days older than I and we were inseparable after we were six months old. Except for elementary school. He lived on the other side of the street. This line of demarcation meant he went to a different school. Thirty-five years after we met, he's in Atlanta, his mom is dead and his father is still trying to get used to life without his wife. I kinda miss Bill.

Jimmy marshaled the troops on cold Saturdays and Sundays and staged elaborate wars. He and his family moved when we were ten. We visited his family once in their gigantic new house in a gigantic new suburb without trees. I distinctly recall hitting on his sister. I don't think we ever saw them again. No relationship, I'm sure.

Brian lived on the other side of the neighborhood. He was my best friend aside from Bill who was more like a brother. Brian's gay now. Despite the fact that he claimed he was smitten with Elyse, we were pretty sure he was gay then too. He was justifiably confused. One night saturated with underage drinking, he tried to kill himself about five times. These weren't real attempts, just tortured adolescence revealing itself. One of these attempts still causes me to break into spontaneous laughter. I feel only slightly guilty about that.

Alicia lived down the street. She was hot. I'd stroll up and down the street thinking I was cool. I'm sure I looked like an idiot. I think she and I actually spoke once. Bridget and I were a different story. She was my first I'll show you mine, you show me yours person. She was a notorious tattler. As expected she told her parents. I wasn't allowed over there for a while. Later that year, a batch of copperheads hatched in one of their air vents and they were driven from their home in the middle of the night. I didn't know about the concept of karma at the time but the meaning did eventually catch up with me.

There was a guy who was perpetually building his own plane in his garage. And the Zallewskis lived across the street and one house over. We helped them put out the fire when their Gremlin spontaneously exploded in their driveway. The Austins lived next door on the corner. The Franks lived on the other. Both couples were my grandparents' ages; all four mentored my young parents.

I can't forget Russell. Russell almost killed me. I rode past his house on the sidewalk that he claimed was his. He was holding an arrow directly in my path. It was like a terribly anachronistic game of chicken in the Old West. The arrow ended up lodged in the pad surrounding my handlebars. I think you'll understand why I've always been skeptical about people named Russell. He was an asshole.

I don't know why I'm thinking of any of this. Maybe I'm just nostalgic. What is amazing to me is how inextricably linked I am to these people because of the neighborhood in which we grew up. Russell will always remember almost killing me. Bill will always remember, well, growing up - we were always together. The Zallewskis will forever remember the bucket brigade and the burning Gremlin. And Brian will always remember throwing himself out of his second story window through a patio cover. And me. Picking him up and telling him it would all be alright.

Where did you grow up? And who do you remember?

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (34)

February 4, 2008

Hurry Up, Wait

I realize I don't need to remind you of this but it's Monday. Which means that the weekend has just recently, tragically ended which signals my need top tell you all the crap that I did this weekend. Instead of rambling paragraphs of prose, I have organized key activities (or inactivities as the case may be) into two lists.

Things We Did This Weekend
- installed a ceiling fan;
- patched wall touched up paint around a replaced thermostat;
- hung a Roman shade;
- delivered a long lecture on the rudeness of touching penises (to Mia, not Beth);
- took advantage of nice weather and went to the playground;
- hung curtains over sliding door;
- patched walls in the basement (left over from moving mishaps);
- framed pictures for the nursery; and
- watched a couple quarters of the Superbowl.

Things We Did Not Do This Weekend
- have a kid

It's still the 3.9 of us. Although at this stage, maybe it's 3.97. Wally seems very content where he is. I'm pretty sure he gets that from me. I only left the house once this weekend and that was to hit the local playground with Mia. So at this stage, no news. But we're getting anxious. I mean, I'm not looking forward to the nights in the hospital but it would be nice if Beth could move. Without pain. But still, we wait...

Amidst all of this, I have some heavy work stuff going on. Nothing bad, just stressful. And I have to deliver a major two hour briefing today as well. This week? It's going to be tricky. Wish me luck.

And what did you do this weekend?

Posted by Chris at 6:19 AM | Comments (31)

Haiku For Monday #204

Halt! Bad words ahead!
It's Monday. Fuck fuck fuck fuck
and shit hell damn too.

Posted by Chris at 6:17 AM | Comments (17)

February 1, 2008

The Weeklies #21

The Weekly Best Moment. Any moment I wasn't working. There were about three of them.

The Weekly Celebrity Death. Margaret Truman. Turns out she led a pretty darn interesting life.

The Weekly Reads. This week I read Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy. Kennedy is a funny guy. He writes for McSweeney's so he is, by definition, talented and hilarious. Rock On chronicles his career in the record industry. For a year and a half, Kennedy worked for Atlantic Records. And what he found was that the record industry was far from the cool industry of his dreams. Instead it was pretty much like any other business with Office Space-like annoyances. And asshats and massive layoffs. I liked Rock On. The only issue I had was that it was barely focused. It was more of a 200 page comic riff. Which is fine but not quite what I expected.

The Weekly Music. I mentioned Grace Potter & the Nocturnals a few weeks ago. I just wanted to check and see if you'd bought the album yet. If you haven't, you're missing out. You're also missing out if you haven't checked out Band of Horses' second album, Cease To Begin. It's all kinds of emo and multiple shades of brilliant. Finally, I'm willing to bet that Marah is the best band most of you have never heard of. Their latest - Angels of Destruction is fantastic. It's pretty much what would happen if Elvis Costello became obsessed with early Springsteen. Yeah, it rocks.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Schadenfreude is slowly becoming synonymous with Britney. I might just have to permanently rename this category in her honor since she's such a driving force. This week, she's back in the hospital to treat her big ol' case of crazy. She's truly the celebrity who keeps on giving. Oh, and you'll all be stunned to know that Sly Stallone admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. Color me shocked.

The Weekly Celebrity I Assumed Was Dead. Maximilian Adalbert Baer, Jr., also known as Jethro Bodine. He made the news this week.

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. A stranger walks up to you on the street and tells you she knows the day and way you die. Do you get the answer or do you walk away? Why?

Posted by Chris at 6:44 AM | Comments (48)


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