Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tragic, The Blathering: Bizarrely Suspicious Girl

I worked with this girl at my desk job. I didn't know her very well because she worked during the day and I worked at night. Our work shifts overlapped by half an hour. I heard things about her (mostly work related) and I finally met her during some crap meeting designed to help us interact better with our coworkers and make better use of them as work resources.

She seemed okay. When we introduced ourselves to the group she acted quite proud that she was studying biology at the university. As if only one in a billion people do that. But when you are proud of yourself for doing something sometimes you can't help it, so I didn't hold it against her. Later in the meeting, I wondered, who in this room is going to act like they are awesome by bringing up the special tools and information databases they use for their specific job like they are so much cooler than the average corporate zombie. Sure enough, it was that girl.

When we were sitting at our table, I asked the girl, "So what made you decide to study Biology?" And she said, "Because I love plants." And I said, "Do you know what would be cool? To have a little greenhouse and breed your own roses and come up with your own special kind of rose someday. Are you into anything like that?" She said, "No. I'm not into roses."

I said, "Are you into trees or vegetables or something?" And she said, "No." And I jokingly said, "Are you way into spider-plants or something?" Because you have to try to kill a spider-plant. It's not really as simple as forgetting to water them. Millions of years from now, when man has killed himself off and plants and cockroaches rule the world, the spider-plant will be king.

To my surprise, she told me YES! She is indeed WAY into spider-plants. She doesn't do anything special with them. She just has a bunch around her apartment and, I guess, when she looks at them she sees the future or something. I don't know. And then I quieted down because I had mocked her love in life.

Back in the regular work-world, Wednesday nights were horrible for me because my friend Gordon was off that night. There was nobody to talk to. Every minute of work seemed to strangle the life out of me. And after that meeting, I noticed that my schedule overlapped for a few minutes with that girl, so I started "Instant Message-ing" that girl for a few minutes every Wednesday. The first time I did, I told her my situation and I asked if it was okay if I chatted with her. She said it was.

I just asked her basic, simple things. I asked her about school but I think I unintentionally stole her academic thunder when I mentioned that I had already taken most of the classes she was enrolled in. I like books so I asked her what her favorite book was. After some coaxing, she told me but I'm not going to tell you what it was because, for some reason, she was embarrassed about it.

We talked about stuff like that, for about 15 minutes every Wednesday night. Right at the moment her shift ended, she would say, "I'm going now" even if I was in the middle of talking. But I hated that job so I can't really blame her.

She told me she had grown up in Utah and felt like a bit of a prude but that she was "working at being more of a party-girl." She told me she had recently watched the movie "American Pie" for the first time and she was sorely disappointed when she later got in a group of people and used the line "This one time at band camp..." and NOBODY laughed. I told her that joke had finished that run. She also told me people were making fun of her because she didn't know who Prince was. I admitted it was strange to make it into your 20's without ever hearing of Prince but that if she had made it this far then it obviously didn't matter. When she asked me about my personal life I emailed her a generic profile I had typed up to put on one of those high school friend-finder websites.

The next time I chatted with her, I tried to strike up a simple conversation and she suddenly lashed out at me: "I HAVE A BOYFRIEND!"

It came out of nowhere. I would have expected something like that the first week or two that I had been talking to her but this was months later. I understood what she was getting at and I answered, "Yes. And I have a wife and kids."

She said, "Well... I can't tell if you are hitting on me or not."

I asked, "What exactly have I said that would make you think I was hitting on you?"

Her answered baffled me: "It was when you sent me that profile about yourself."

The profile where I talk all about my wife and kids to a generic world audience?

Then she added: "And it made you sound arrogant, too."

The profile where I talk strongly about how I hated my job and never had time to do anything I wanted to do?

I brought those points to her attention. She didn't say anything more about me hitting on her but in regard to my arrogance, she said something like, "You sound arrogant in BEING, not necessarily in SETTING." I think she was basically saying that I think I'm too good for the world around me. I DO think I'm too good for jobs that treat me like crap. I don't think of it as arrogance. I think of it as self-respect. I think to be truly arrogant a person would NEVER admit to anything that didn't make it sound like their life was amazing.

Once that was settled, we moved on with the conversation. But I ruined things again. She was talking about Halloween and I think I ripped her apart by asking, quite innocently, "So let me get this straight... you're boyfriend, who has been in the police academy for a couple of years now, is going to a Halloween party as A POLICE OFFICER?"

I didn't have to say anything else. I didn't have to ask, isn't that like a chef going to a costume party dressed as a chef or a lawyer going to a party dressed as a lawyer?

So she proved that I couldn't go more than two seconds without being a jerk and I guess this is my attempt to prove that I was set up as a jerk. Because how could I possibly respond to all of this stuff as if it was not only normal but also cool?

Some people just ruin everything.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I'd give you the stars from the bruised evening sky

When people ask me how I knew my wife was the right one for me, I tell them, "There wasn't a doubt in my mind. I knew I couldn't do any better than her."

People have told me, "You always find the right person when you aren't looking for them." I think that is crap. Especially for guys, because girls very rarely seek guys out or make the first move. Boys play a game where most of them just want to sleep with girls as quickly as they can. It's a simple game with nothing very surprising.

But girls can get manipulative. I went out to ice cream with some co-workers on break one night and a girl was telling us how she was interested in a guy but that she couldn't tell if he was interest back. The guy she liked invited her to watch him play in a softball game and she wanted another guy from our group of coworkers to go to the game with her (like a date) to get a rise out of the softball player and see if that would light a fire under him to reveal his feelings to her.

I told her, "What you just described is exactly why guys think girls are evil. There has to be a better way to find out if the guy likes you without messing with his head." She didn't really respond. She just changed the subject and asked, "What do you think I should wear? Something dressy or something casual?"

To which I answered, "If you are trying to get a guys attention, just go with some cleavage." One coworker acted appalled that I would say such a thing but the girl turned on him, "You don't like my cleavage?" and then the guy stammered over his words and just wished he hadn't opened his mouth at all.

Don't underestimate people's ability to take everything in the worst possible way.

My wife was a little disappointed in my last post. That I made it sound like she doesn't listen. That I liked some little girl when I had a perfectly wonderful girl at home, and so on. But that isn't what I was getting at.

The main point was that I want my wife and I to hold on to what we had before we felt an obligation to stay together. I want us to remember how we enjoyed being together when either of us had time in a day or energy for our own purposes.

It's funny because it was not love at first sight for us. We saw eachother quite a bit before we ever sat down and had a conversation. We both dropped out of college about the same time and started working at the same place. In job training, she was "the pretty girl" in the class. All of the guys flocked around. I didn't recognize her and I actually made a vow to myself that I would have absolutely NOTHING to do with her, because I didn't want to be one of the lame, stupid guys fighting for her attention.

Funny enough, she came and started talking to me when I was sitting alone in the break room. She reminded me that we already knew eachother and things took off from there. I started hanging out with her and her friends during work and at lunch. I hung out with them for New Years Eve.

Anytime I liked something about her, it scared me. Probably because I was a scrounge who lived to wear cut-off Dockers from secondhand stores and plain white t-shirts (all year long) and her last job had been as head-cashier at Nordstrom's and she looked like a Nordstrom's girl.

It worried me that she owned more Talking Heads CD's than I did and it worried me that I couldn't stop smiling when this cute little girl would sing along to songs like "Bombtrack" by Rage Against the Machine or "Whatcha Want" by The Beastie Boys. And she goofed around with me a lot. She let me get away with being the ass that I am and somewhat encouraged it. People like to think she is some kind of pris but she didn't hesitate to act silly or play the fool. I had assumed she was probably snobby and stuck on herself but she was actually really cool.

People usually seem happy, especially when you first meet them. But after a while the exterior cracks and their more serious side comes out and makes them seem like a different person. The REAL them. But with my wife, what you see is what you get. She has a cute personality. It's not an act. It doesn't go away. She doesn't have to ACT cute. She just does it naturally.

And she's nice. Even though I get to feeling like I'm always last on her list, the truth is that she ALWAYS puts herself last. She goes out of her way to take care of people. Everyone. Even strangers. Even when people bug her. She's just nice. It doesn't change, even when she's frazzled from dealing with the kids, even when we fight. It makes me mad because sometimes we'll be arguing and I will be angry and then she'll unintentionally say something that makes me crack up laughing. It makes me mad when I WANT to stay angry but she starts to make me laugh instead. She has that power over me.

When we first started hanging out, the only time we could spend together was from midnight until whenever we had to get up in the morning. In Logan, Utah... where there is nothing to do after midnight. So we used to drive down to Hyrum and walk up and down the snowy main street and hang out by the big army tank in the dark dead of winter. She would begrudgingly wear my big green army coat. Or we would just stare out at the dark frozen Hyrum reservoir. But it was fun.

One night, I told her I wanted to go on an adventure. So she started driving us out of the valley in her little Jetta. It was the middle of the night and it was snowing. We started heading up into the treacherous Sardine Canyon and the snow came down, thicker and thicker. But she just kept driving. I just stared at her wondering how far she would venture into the snow storm. When it was clear she planned to go all the way, I finally said, "This snow is pretty bad. We should probably just turn back." But it meant a lot to me that she was going to do it. I wasn't her boyfriend or anything.

The day I realized I was truly smitten with her, I told my friend Sam about it. He said, "You need to go to her house tonight and start making out with her like crazy." I said, "I don't think I can just do that." Sam said, "Of course you can't. I couldn't either. You and me are nice guys and we never get the girls. But all the assholes out there do whatever they want and they always get the girls. So just do what the assholes would do and make out with her." I told him I couldn't and he got mad and said, "What are you going to do then? You have to do something." I thought about it for a minute and the best I could come up with was, "I guess I'll call her and tell her how I feel." Sam didn't like that, "NO! Don't do that!" I said, "I don't know what else to do."

So I called her at work and I pretty much told her straight out. She said, "Yeah. All of my friends have been telling me that you have a huge crush on me." I said, "Well they don't know what they're talking about because I just found out today and, as soon as I found out, I called you to tell you."

It made her uncomfortable. Oh well. It's to be expected around me, I guess. I figured if she didn't like me back she would just try to keep her distance and I would let her have it. But she kept coming around to say hello so I went with it.

We called out sick from work and she brought me down to Salt Lake to meet her family. I took her to California to meet my family. A couple months later we quit our jobs together. We went down to Zion's National Park for her birthday and hiked the narrows.

Even after we got married, had a baby and had been together for a few years, it still felt like we had just met. I kept worrying that she would suddenly remember that I was the scroungeball from the crappy call center and realize she was too good for me and that would be the end of it.

But here we are. And I don't want her to forget that it's fun to walk up and down a deserted snowy main street with me in the dead of night. If prom was the best thing I could come up with, then I would ask her to go. But I didn't even go to my own prom in high school.

Sorry for the long story. I didn't want you to get the wrong idea from that last post.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I guess no more kissing the girl who loved my car

I finally got the stereo in our Mazda 3 taken care of last week. First, I replaced all of the speakers in the car. It should have been easy because I bought about $3000 worth of furniture last summer when we bought our new house and the furniture store (my current employer) recently sent me a gift card of close to $100 as recompense for the price gouging.

When I bought the speakers the salesman went to ring me up and a dark cloud came over his face when the computer told him that I was a company employee. He looked at me with a scowl and said, "You should have told me you were an employee. Why didn't you tell me?"

I wanted to say, "Sorry, I didn't mean to make you waste your good manners on me." But instead I said, "We only talked for about two minutes and I'm paying full price anyway. I didn't think it mattered." And then they told me that employees weren't allowed to use gift cards. So I asked, "Then why did you send it to me?" And finally I got the guy to go talk to his boss about it and after 15 minutes they told me I COULD use the card.

I thought new speakers would be all that was necessary for a basic but respectable listening experience and it was all that I planned to do to enhance the sound system. But after the speakers were installed, the stereo sounded just as crappy. I asked the guys if they were sure they were finished with the install and they said yes. I asked, "Why is it so crackly?" They just said, "Because your stereo sucks." And that was all they felt like talking to me.

The music came out very crackly and nothing near what I would call "loud" and I thought I could fix the problem by using a four channel amplifier to power all of the speakers. I went to a different store to have this done, because I can pay full price anywhere without the extra heaping of crap for being a company employee.

It ended up costing a lot more than I thought it would and though it did sound better I would still hesitate to call it "good." And the guy said there was a problem with the front speakers and he couldn't get them to sound good no matter what he did. Then I realized I would actually get money back if I just returned the amp and had a whole new deck installed, so that is what I did.

The guy said the factory wires in the front door were frayed which caused a short in front speakers. He fixed that. The new stereo sounds as good as I could possibly imagine it (without subwoofers) but now there is an issue I didn't expect: I miss the LOOK of the factory stereo.

Now I have no steering wheel controls, no six disc changer, the cool displays are gone, and the factory dash was filled with evil-looking red lights that really grew on me. Now the dash looks very, very plain. But the stereo sounds awesome so I don't know what I could have done differently. It still feels like a shame though.

So Ford/Mazda did a good job on the looks of the dash, just next time they should give the stereo more than 5 watts of power and keep their wires neat and clean, dough-heads. Honda stereos totally kick butt.

When I was driving home from the stereo store, I pulled up to make a right turn at the corner of a middle school. There was a middle school girl standing on the corner. She wasn't pretty or ugly. Just an innocent girl, taking a new interest in boys, waiting to cross the street with her thumbs in her pockets.

When I stopped at the red light, made sure the coast was clear, and then pulled away again, she stared and did something that I really loved. She looked at me (through tinted windows) and waved at me. She didn't lift her hand high and try to wave me over or anything. She just lifted four fingers at me without taking her thumb our of her pocket.

I didn't love it because I thought my life would be better if I ditched my family and ran off with some little 13 year old (I think I've discussed my feeling on such a prospect in a previous post), but those few seconds did remind me that there is a world out there where everything you do doesn't come chained to heavy-as-lead, universe-unravelling consequences.

For half a second I thought I could stop and ask that girl to the prom and when I went home the next day my room would be filled with balloons containing scraps of paper that said things like, "Keep looking!" until I finally found that scrap of paper that said something like, "Yes! I'm bursting to go to prom with you!"

I'm happy with my wife but you can ask any married couple and they probably couldn't deny that, for all of their efforts, sometimes you can't get your spouse to be as excited to be with you as they are excited to watch the season premier of some crappy television show. It's just one of those mysteries of life, I guess.

And instead of asking that girl to prom I just went to work. And if my wife doesn't notice that the stereo sounds crappy then she probably doesn't notice the words being sung:

Won't you let me walk you home from school
Won't you let me meet you at the pool
Maybe Friday I can
Get tickets for the Dance
And I will take you

Won't you tell your dad
Get off my back
And tell him what we said 'bout
Paint It Black
Rock n' Roll is here to stay
So come inside where it's okay
And I will shake you

Won't you tell me what your thinking of
And could you be an outlaw for my love
if it's so then let me know
and if it's no, well I can go
I won't make you

Monday, March 26, 2007

Rehashed and comin' down the pipe

When I listen to music, I can't help but pick it apart. Especially stuff like DJ Shadow. He's cool but half the fun is figuring out what musicians he took his samples from.

It bothers me when new music is just regurgitated melodies from older hit songs. Like song number 2 on Greenday's "American Idiot" sounds just like a stolen melody from Motley Crue's first album except they threw in the chorus from "Summer of '69" just to mix things up. Doesn't U2's "Vertigo" just sound like another remake of that old "You keep me hanging on" song, except stupider? Catorce!

Lately, they've been playing a song on the radio by "The Silversun Pickups" which I originally thought was a Sonic Youth song but also sounds a lot like The Smashing Pumpkins. It's a pretty good song. If you steal then you should steal from the best.

One song I hear a lot that I think totally blows is called "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John. It's boooooooooring. The first time I had to sit bored through this song I realized the whistling and singing is just a rip off of Weezer's "Hashpipe" song. Except Peter and John's song lacks loud guitars, pop-rock hooks, badittude, zazz, the ability to play an instrument aside from a drum machine, and whatever else it is that makes Weezer cool.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Changing my name to Jinxy McDeath

Today we wanted to plant some flowers and my wife wanted to paint the nightstand I made when I was a teenager. We also bought another rabbit.

So that was the plan and here is what happened:

Ever the busy-body, I went into the front yard to try and remove the stump from the tree I had to chop out to satisfy our home owner's insurers in the last half hour before I went to work tonight. The stump wasn't ready to go yet but I decided that I could at least plant a rhododendron I bought really quickly.

I started digging a hole about a foot away from the stump to put the plant in but found there was a thick root right through the center of the hole. No problem, I thought, because my axe was still at my side so I picked it up and gave it a forceful swing.

Then a funny thing happened. Pressurized water started spraying out of the tree root. Water filled the hole and threatened to flood the basement and the yard. It bubbled up and up and up.

I yelled out a swear word and picked up the one-year-old and ran for the front door. The front door was locked and I pounded it with a furious fist. Then I ran to the backyard and yelled to my wife, "I just chopped the water line with the axe!"

She ran and got some tupperware and started bailing the water onto the lawn to get it away from the house. I was dumbstruck because there wasn't a logical reason for a water pipe to be in that area of the yard only 3 inches beneath the dirt. It turns out it's a big fat sprinkler line lying RIGHT ON TOP of a tree root. I feel like I was set up because I have never imagined myself to be the type of person to chop a water pipe with an axe.

Anyway, I was scrambling all over trying to figure out how to turn the water off. I called the plumber we know to ask for his help and his wife told me that her husband doesn't work on sprinkler systems but that I should either turn off the water at the water meter or find the stop-and-waste valve for the sprinklers. I went to the water meter to turn off the water but I didn't have a turnkey for it. I tried to turn the valve with some pliers but there was no way it was going to work. I ran desperately to the old shed to find ANYTHING I might be able to use to turn the valve. Luckily, I found the previous owners turnkey tucked away in the corner of the shed and was finally able to turn the water off, about 15 minutes after the water started flowing.

Did I mention that during all of this, our one-year-old dove into the gallon of white paint that my wife was using to paint the nightstand? Because that is what he did. It's a lot of fun to deal with that when the water to your house is shut off.

I called my bosses and told them I would be late for work tonight. The plumber sent over his son-in-law to help us out. He helped us find the stop-and-waste valve so we could shut off water to the sprinklers and still have water in the house. He told me he is a supervisor at a warehouse and asked me if I would like to interview to work at his company. It was a strange time for a job offer but it's always a flattering thing, I guess. Maybe I'll do it.

Anyway, I was beginning to worry because our lives have gotten easier and quieter lately and it feels really strange when we go even a single day without some kind of insane drama. Even in the middle of the chaos, I started to laugh to myself as I remembered, "Oh yeah. THIS is how our life is."

I'm just waiting for the mofos to finish their lunch break so I can go to work.


Every night now will be Steven's last night in town

That guy that said to "Live each day as if it were your last" gives bad advice because exactly how many days in a row can you be expected to call out sick from work and run up your credit cards?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Taking a bath at Tax Time

This isn't a complaint about the government taking all of my money. Actually, I think there are a great many things that we, as a society, should be paying for right now that we seem to be saving for my kids or grandkids. When we are all old and in nursing homes and the kids won't even splurge to get us the "Kraft" brand mac and cheese we won't have any room to argue.

"Just eat your Western Family food-like substance, gramps!"

"Did you at least put half a stick of butter in it?"

"Half a stick of butter? Where do you think you are? The Ritz?"

It still sounds better than Spaghettios.

Anyway, like I mentioned in an earlier post: We are a dimwitted family of losers working entry-level jobs and we don't have health insurance. We didn't have to limbo under the poverty pole this year on our taxes. We could have worn high heels if we wanted to without worrying about hitting our heads. This means that our tax return was better than expected. It's the time of year when it pays to be poor. We had a family surplus and we searched our minds and our souls for the best possible use of this extra money.

After careful deliberation, it was actually a quick and clear decision that, for the first time in our lives, we should buy... towels. When you get married, everyone buys you towels. You have towels coming out of your ears. You can be a super hero in a whole assortment of colors of terry cloth. A different super hero every day, practically.

But then the years fly past. I met my wife almost 10 years ago and we have never bought towels together. If there is a gaping hole in our marraige then truly this is it. And you should see the towels we've been using. This is a topic that my wife has forbade me to blog about, but now that we have bought NEW towels together I think it is safe to mention it.

Most of are old towels are in pretty poor shape with a lot of thin spots where the threads have come out but some of them are pretty outragous. Not even a four sided object anymore. Torn up. Stained. I took a shower one night and the only towel in the cabinet was the shape of some crazy undiscovered continent. There was no logical way to dry yourself with it aside from wadding it up and dabbing it around. And big tough guys like me don't like to dab. The entire time I used it, I sat there wondering, "How did this towel get past my wife's domestic sensors because if she knew the towel existed it would surely be vaporized 1984-style, instantly." And then something even crazier happened. I ended up using that towel again. TWICE! Under the same circumstances.

When I mentioned it to my wife she told me she had only saved it because it was during the dead of winter and our pet rabbit was sleeping in our kitchen and she kept meaning to make it a rabbit-only towel but somehow it kept making it into the regular towel rotation. That was also the point when she told me I must never tell anyone about the towel.

When we were at the store buying new towels, I was at the counter ready to settle up when my wife held up a bathroom rug. She said, "This matches our walls!"

I said, "We can get it if it's 10 bucks."

She said, "It's $18. But it will tie the bathroom together. I think we should get it."

At which point I held up my fists in front of me shook them like maracas, feigning excitement. In a womanly voice I bellowed, "Ooh! A bathroom all tied together!"

Yes. I'm an ass. You don't need to tell me.

But the girl at the cash register chimed in to defend my wife, "It WOULD be nice to have a bathroom all tied together. It's not for you. It's for your company."

I looked at the girl and said, "You don't know my friends. All they care about is candy. They don't care about bathrooms tied together."

But we got the bath mat anyway. Enjoy, patrons of my potty.

Yeah. So that's a lot of talking just to tell you we bought some new towels and it's a boring thing to do when you get some extra money, but I discussed with my wife the possibility of reaching a point when we DIDN'T have extra money but couldn't go another moment without new towels. The prospect of increasing our debt someday for towels was too depressing. It almost seems worse than buying new tires for your car.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

When you're 18 you're out the door

I am a little resentful towards school because I feel like I barely have any time to see my oldest son. He's off on his own and doing good anyway, he gets 100%'s on all of his spelling tests so I guess it is alright.

My consolation is that my daughter is constantly making me laugh. Here are some things that she's done and said lately that got to me:

1. I walked into the kitchen and heard a voice, "Hey! I'm the talking table!" I looked down to see her eyes peering out from under the table cloth but above the bench of a chair. She said, "I have invisible arms, invisible legs, an invisible brain and an invisible heart! I just have eyeballs."

I said, "Someone spilled food and drinks in your hair, talking table."

2. After seeing a commercial for the new Ninja Turtles movie, she said, "I like the Ninja Turtles. But Leonardo is grumpy."

I said, "Leonardo is their leader. He has to yell at them so they know what to do."

She said, "Leonardo is their leader? Then what is that rat-thing?"

I said, "Leonardo is their leader and Splinter is their teacher."

I swear that my conversations with my kids are better than 90% of those I have with adults.

3. Eleanor told her, "You are a good drawer."

She corrected her mother, "I am an artist."

4. Today she was walking around with a giant lump of pink, red and purple Playdoh stuffed in the front of her shirt. I was worried that she was trying to make boobs for herself, so I asked, "What is that?"

She pulled out the lump of Playdoh and held it up for me to see, she said, "It's my heart." She said it like her father doesn't know his butt-butt from a hole in the ground.

5. Last week she told her grandfather, "I don't like it when you pick me up with short sleeves on."

He asked, "Why not?"

She said, "Because you've got furry arms. You need to shave, mister!"

6. Last week I bought a side-table from Target. My daughter was very excited to play with the empty boxes. She took them all in her room and put them together like a master architect. When she finished, she came and got me and showed me her work. You will never guess what she made.

Go ahead. Guess.


She made a PUBLIC RESTROOM. She said, "It's big enough for 4 people." She was very excited to get 4 people into the cardboard restroom at once.

Eggy wegs? I want to smash'em up!

Our older son has been asking to watch old Godzilla movies for years. They are kind of boring so I thought the best solution would be to find some episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where they watch and mock the old horror flicks.

In addition to these DVDs being expensive and hard-to-find, my wife also HATES the show MST3K. Adding that to the fact that she also HATES Robotech has led me to believe that MY WIFE HAS A DEEPLY ENGRAINED HATRED TOWARDS ROBOTS.

I try to tell myself, "No, she likes the classics like Star Wars and stuff. She couldn't hate robots." But it doesn't take a Jedi to figure out that a young Han Solo can draw in the ladies with a force greater than the repulsion of a gay C3PO or wise-chirping R2D2.

Being sweet and innocent, she also HATES the movie A Clockwork Orange, which actually focuses on man's inability to function as a machine even after severe brainwashing, but doesn't the title make it sound like it's about robots?

I suppose there never has been a "lovable" robot. Data from Star Trek? What a dork! And those Robosapien toys haven't seemed to dance their way into the hearts of man.

She tells me that it isn't true. She tells me she is not a robot hater. But just mentioning the name of that show enrages her. Am I the out-of-touch one for thinking this stuff is funny?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Fiddly Dee

My friend Minnow stopped by over the weekend and I figured I should post SOMETHING about his visit. He claims to be the funniest person he knows, so just to keep his ego in check I figured I would tout myself as funny. Here is what happened when I was telling Minnow about something that happened to me at work and my wife's reaction:

Eleanor: "Emmett, you just smacked Jonah in the head!"

...about five seconds later...

Eleanor: "Emmett, you just kicked me!"

Me: "Well, give me some room when I'm telling a story!"

In her defense, she was standing about three feet behind me when I accidentally donkey-kicked her.

I thought little girls always believed what they were told. I thought little girls were innocent and trusting...

I realize that my last post was on the disturbing side and I would like the world to see it as a general reference as to why I don't sit around writing about sunshine and rainbows all day long.

But I love those sweet and innocent girls, whoever they may be, who read my site. So here is a special tribute just for them:

Try to imagine me singing it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

...But YOU Don't Have Dandruff!

Even when I think I'm the worst at something someone always has to outshine me. In this instance, I'm talking about FIRST IMPRESSIONS.

The other night I worked with this guy, let's call him Jackie Boy. I said, "So what's your name?" He said, "Jackie Boy." I said, "My name is Emmett." He said, "Jeremy?" I said, "No. Emmett."

And about twenty seconds later, he sees that Sucky-Shaq guy that used to play basketball with us during breaks. Jackie Boy yelled, "Hey! Sucky Shaq! Are you ready for tomorrow night?" And Sucky Shaq yelled back, "Yeah man! It's gonna be awesome!"

So I asked Jackie Boy, "You guys have big plans for tomorrow night?" He said, "Yeah. I know these girls that are into cris-tall..."

At first I thought he was talking about alcohol and for a second I thought it could possibly be a band, but then he continued, "The girls said if we got them some cris-tall they would do anything we wanted. ANYTHING."

I asked, "Are you talking about crystal meth?" Jackie Boy said, "Yeah. I gave one of the girls some coke last week and took her to bed. She went nuts! Sucky Shaq is gonna break those girls in half."

I just don't think I can compete at Jackie's level for the kick-in-the-groin first impression that he achieved. I guess I won't joke about my horrible first impressions anymore. And while I'm at it, I may as well throw in more events from that evening:

Jackie told me he was from Mexico City but mostly raised in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles. He doesn't even have an accent. He told me that he likes Utah and hopes to get married here, likely to a mexican girl but definitely not to an american girl because american girls are crazy. For instance, his last american girlfriend broke up with him and told him she never wanted to see him again... and then four months later she calls him out of the blue and tells him she wants to have sex with him. He did it. But that doesn't mean she isn't crazy. I asked him how long ago that happened and he said, "Yesterday. I took some pictures of us in action but my girlfriend took my cellphone and erased them."

And then it was funny in it's own disturbing way because he kept acting sincerely hurt about how I said Indian Reservations are pretty much ghettos and (he told me) how people are so desperate for money in Mexico that they steal from their own friends. He buys sex with hard drugs but he also groans and shakes his head at the idea of these crazy people mistreating each other out there. Ay-yi-yi.

We stopped our bumper car at a truck to unload a piece of furniture and the guy (Devin) in charge of loading that bay was checking stuff on the computer. Jackie ran over to Devin and started giving him a back rub. Devin started yelling, "What the hell are you doing?" Then Devin looked at me and said, "He's squeezing my back like tits! Here let me show you." I said, "That's okay." He said, "No, let me show you." I said, "Stay away from me." And I grabbed his wrist and threw his hand away from me but he came back and grabbed my shoulder blade anyway. He said, "See? He squeezed it just like this. Like a tit. D'you see?"

I said, "Yeah, I see. Lastnight you called me princess and pumpkin when I came by and tonight you're feeling me up. I see exactly what's going on."

At another stop, Jackie Boy bent over to pick up a box and was close to another guys nether regions. The guy grabbed Jackie's head and started bouncing it like a basketball. He had his chin up and was saying "Oh yeah, oh yeah." And Jackie freaked out and wrestled himself free. The guy told him, "Be careful. It's not a lollipop. It's a gagger."

Geez. I'd probably better stop there. It would be a full time job in itself to recount all the nasty stuff guys do and say at work. I don't call them the mofos because I like how it sounds, ya know.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

At Every Occassion I'll Be Ready For The Funeral

My last post was missing one Bigfoot picture.

My brother said, "The funny thing about the Bigfoot Crossing is that there really is a guy in town that looks like the thing in the picture. We all want to change the sign to say 'Boozer Crossing.'" Because how could the guy that resembles Bigfoot NOT have a name like Boozer?

After I finished taking Bigfoot pictures I went back to the house to take a shower and dress for my aunt's funeral. My brother and I made it to the church exactly in time for the service, where a preacher pretty much just read her obituary. Then he invited everyone to stand up and tell memories of the deceased. It sounds like she was a very strong woman who loved to garden and widdle figures out of wood. I told the one story I had about her: After years and years of not seeing me, she looked me over as a man and said, "So you are Emmett Junior. You were the only one who could ever get away with stealing my french fries."

After the funeral we all went to a luncheon at the local fire station. The parents of a girl I knew in high school talked to me for a long time about whatever. Just because I knew their daughter in high school, I guess. Then I told my parents that it would be shame if I came all this way and stopped short of seeing the ocean by 30 miles. They were already thinking of heading out to the coast so we tried to peel off from the luncheon and go.

While we were outside in the parking lot I got this cool picture of my sister Erika half a second after she got nailed in the chest with a snowball by my sister Sarah. When we got in the van, Erika pointed out that Sarah's skin is getting lighter and lighter, "You're turning white," she said.

There is a tradition of mourning in our tribe. When a bad thing happens you go to a creek or river and "wash up" and then you cut off some hair and burn it in the fire. Then you sit out of dances and ceremonies for a year. After that, the mourning has past and you move on with life.

Before we headed for the ocean my family wanted to stop at the river to wash up. Those snow storms that came through last week really hit the area hard and knocked down trees and created landslides that took out roads. Phones and electricity were out for days. When I was there, large trees laid in the ditches along the highways. We were supposed to spread my aunt's ashes in a field on top of a mountian but the roads were too bad to do it that day. When we tried to go to a campground to wash the road was blocked by fallen trees. I said, "You see, if I lived here I would definitely have a chainsaw and take it with me everywhere I went. When I came across a fallen tree like this, I'd just pull it out and WRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Then I'd yell at the kids. GET OUT THERE AND LOAD UP THAT WOOD!"

I even mentioned it to my step-mother, "It's strange that in Utah you have to fight hard to keep every blade of grass alive but here, if you don't constantly fight it off, the forest will swallow you up."

We went to a creek where it feeds into the river just below the house where my dad was raised and we washed up. It was funny, it really did feel good to splash the cold water over my face and rub it up and down my arms; Even in comparison to wading in the river that morning.

We were in the car driving and Erika asked Sarah, "Will you speak to me in Hupa? I try to speak in Hupa every day."

Sarah said, "I can't. I can't remember anything."

Erika said, "Just say anything. Anything that comes to mind."

Sarah said, "Nothing is coming to mind."

I suggested, "The rivers will run red with blood..."

Sarah said, "I can't say that!"

Despite that I barely know a word of the language, I said, "You don't know RIVER? You don't know RED? Gee, Sarah, you really are getting whiter and whiter everyday."

Erika thought for a moment, then asked, "What is the Hupa word for DIARREAH? It translates from IT RUNS THROUGH ME."

We couldn't figure it out just then. But we went to my favorite beach in Trinidad. Here I am:

When we ran out on the beach, I picked up a giant piece of kelp and starting swinging it around like a jump rope. I yelled, "Somebody jump in!"

Erika ran over and started jumping. She jumped over it ONE TIME before it came around again and thwacked her in the shin. I think it kind of bummed us out. She wanted a do-over but, before we could, a bunch of copycat losers started swinging there own kelp around and we didn't want any further part in it.

Then we ate dinner at a restaurant on the dock. We made a quick visit to my cousin and her son (I tuned his guitar and played him some Chili Pepper songs) and then decided to call it a night. When we stopped for gas I saw an old friend from high school (Shane M.). He was excited to see me. He was there with a bunch of high school kids (as a teacher's aid/couselor). He said, "We're having a great time. We went to a basketball game and then we went to a really funny movie (Wildhogs) and you were one of the funniest guys I knew in high school."

He said it just like that. It made me laugh. I said, "I think everyone thought you were funnier than I was." And then, just as quickly, he said, "I heard two days ago that our old classmate, Leon V., just died of a drug overdose on the reservation." (I'm sorry for saying that bluntly for anyone who reads this and may have known Leon; that is how I was told, too.) It put a damper on the conversation. I told him that I would be coming through again pretty soon and that I would probably bump into him. He said he would like that.

Even though I had to wake up at 4 am to get to my plane, when we got back to my parents house, I stayed up past midnight watching Sienfeld reruns with my little sisters. Because how often do I get a chance to do that? I'd do it again. It was a full day.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A day at the farm

Olivia: "Daddy, why do people build bridges?"

Me: "Why did the chicken cross the road? It's the same thing."

Olivia: "That's a funny joke."

Me: "Yup. And full of chicken wisdom."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I'm coming up only to show you wrong

We got to the reservation late Friday night and my brother and I went to the house of my deceased aunt to sleep. It's a nice house but it feels strange because the house is full of odds and ends that I haven't seen for about 25 years, like a suitcase-sized portable television that we took on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe when I was in kindergarten. I think my dad must have dropped off all of his stuff at my aunt's house when my parents got divorced so long ago. I fell asleep on the couch watching Cosby Show reruns with my brother.

I had mentioned to my father that I would like to wake up early and walk down to the river. He said that sounded like a good idea but when I showed up in the morning they said he had already been running on his treadmill and was in the shower. So I made Erika walk me down to the river so I could skip some rocks and wade around in the fast moving water.

My brother said he wanted to drive over to Salyer (which is the area where my mother grew up on her father's hillside) to get a different shirt to wear to the funeral. I told him I would like to go with him, just to take in the scenery. When we got to Willow Creek, where I attended elementary school, we looked around for my Uncle Philip (my mother's uncle) because he's always hanging around town and he's a funny guy. We saw his car but couldn't find him.

Then my brother asked me where I would like to be dropped off. I didn't want to be dropped off anywhere but he insisted. I will try not to betray my brother too much here, but if you knew all of the details of my brother's relationship with girls then you would know that, in comparison, Shakespeare didn't know the meaning of the word Drama. To give you a taste, there was the drug-dealing tweaker who broke his neck and he is currently involved in a custody battle for his son with a mean lesbian. He doesn't want the lesbian messing with him so he doesn't tell anyone the exact locations of where he keeps his stuff or sleeps on any given night. Not even me, his only brother. So I told him to drop me off where the rivers meet at the foot of the mountain where my mother was raised. It's the spot where the Indian city was destroyed and a lumber mill was erected. I walked around and took some pictures and he told me he'd be back to pick me up in a few minutes.

I also figured I would pay some homage to Bigfoot being as Willow Creek thinks of itself as the biggest Bigfoot capitol this side of Seskatchewan. I seriously took all of these pictures within a five minute period and they are just the tip of the iceberg.

(This first one is of the South Fork River pouring into the Trinity River which later pours into the Klamath River. They are all in a great hurry to get to the ocean.)

When you live in a place like this, it just becomes normal: There is a river and there is a river and there is all the bigfoot stuff. It makes sense at the time.

This one is known as the "Bigbird Bigfoot" he looks like he has feathers.

This one was carved by the tweaker-girlz father. When he wasn't cutting his own CD of folk music or farming illegal substances, he liked to fire up a chainsaw and make art. When I buy a chainsaw I will definitely make some sculptures.

Man oh man, is it taking me a long time to tell you about one day's worth of stuff. More later.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I'm coming up only to hold you under

I was going to describe my trip to California as "As fun as a funeral can be" but no sooner had I thought it than I knew that it was far from true. For instance, my friend Gordon constantly talks about how he wants his funeral to be a romping good time with door prizes, a potluck and a giveaway of all of his stuff. But the bottom line is: I had a good time.

The trip started with a snowy and salty drive to Utah's airport. I wanted to bring sandals but refused to put more than one pair of shoes in my bag and I already had dress shoes in there. I didn't want trouble with airport security thinking I was a complete loon by showing up in Tevas while snow came down from the sky. So the sandals stayed home and Security only stole my hair gel.

I probably still looked suspicious because I had worked until 4 am and was at the airport around 8 am. My wife had run outside to our old shed to find a bag as I threw my clothes together at the very last moment. At the airport I tried to organize the loose straps on the bag and, when I did, spiders fell out and crawled away. So there I was, a zombie man with cobwebs and spiders streaming off of my backpack.

I make the best first impressions in the world.

The plane ride to Vegas was fast and pleasant and I read quite a few pages of "Cadillac Desert" which Gordon loaned me well over a year ago. A guy stood next to me in line for my second flight and I had to hide my face to keep from busting out laughing. He was on his cell phone saying stuff like, "I will NOT travel with those people. I like them. But I will not travel with them. They go on vacation. They eat at MCDONALDS! They stay... at the TRAVELODGE! I will not travel with them. Let me tell you about that guy, okay? He's worth $9 million but goes to the DMV to bilk some guy out of $20. Gimme a break. No. You're not driving to Truckee. Because. It's snowing in Truckee. You don't drive in the SNOW..."

He just kept going and going and I had to pretend like I was sneezing so he wouldn't know I was laughing at him. But the middle-aged lady in front of me had a catface tattoo right on the nape of her neck. A catface with hypnotic green eyes, nose, whiskers, mouth... but no face shape outline. When she moved the catface seemed to come alive. It put me in a trance with its stare.

On the ride from Vegas to Sacramento I tried to read but started dozing off. Instead, I just closed the book and kept to myself. The lady sitting next to me had spent the beginning of the trip reading crappy Hollywood rags but she saw the book I was reading and started to ask me about it. I told her it was about the issue water shortage in the western United States. She was impressed and asked if it was a new book. I told her, I think it was written in the mid-80's but is more relevant today than ever. She asked if I was reading it for school and when I told her I was just a nerd she laughed and slapped my arm. Then she talked to me about a great many issues we face in the world today, even in China, and told me it made her happy that people from the younger generation were concerned about them, too. I wondered why a lady like this had been reading Hollywood gossip all morning.

After we had spent sufficient time getting to know each other, she took the plunge and asked me for a favor: "Every year, my husband and I do a WEIRD Christmas card and we were wondering if you could come to baggage claim and take a picture with us when we get to Sacramento?"


Have you ever been to the Sacramento airport? In the baggage claim area they have towers of luggage from the floor to the ceiling, and these people wanted me to take a picture of them pretending to climb the luggage towers for next year's Christmas card. I told them that my brother was driving over to Stanford to pick up my little sister, Erika, and then they were coming to get me. I had my bag with me and we would probably leave as quick as we could exit the building.

But then it turns out my brother was 2 hours late picking me up. So I went to baggage claim and saw them choosing the best angle for a picture. They saw me approach and their faces lit up. "HE'S HERE!" They shouted. The base of the towers are like dumpsters and one of them said, "Samson." That is the tower they wanted to climb because it was the name of the man's grandfather who had been a strongman for the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Since I had time to kill, I took a ton of pictures for them. When they left they offered to take me down to Sanoma with them. I told them, maybe another time.

I wasn't upset about waiting but I was hungry. It was about 5pm and I hadn't really eaten anything all day. I was trying hard to avoid eating airport food. To be on the safe side, I decided to walk to Terminal B to make sure by brother wasn't looking for me on any of the loser airlines. During the walk I took this picture, because wouldn't every garage be significantly awesomer if it just had, like... bird thingies on it?

When I walked back to Terminal A, I finally cracked and tried to buy a crappy pizza. The young girl at the counter was from somewhere near Russia. I asked her, "What do you have to drink?" She just pointed at a cooler at the end of the counter, "Coke, Sprite, Juice." I walked down and grabbed a bottle. Then I asked, "Can I get a pepperoni pizza?" No response. I asked again, "Can I get a pepperoni pizza?" Still nothing. So I walked down to the pizza display and rummaged through the boxes. Most of them were empty decorations, so I grabbed the plastic looking pizza and put on the counter in front of the girl. She didn't like that. She said, "This is example only. I will make you a new one." I said, "Thanks."

I watched her make my pizza, spread the cheese, deal out the pepperoni, put it in the toaster oven. When she pulled it out, it fell facedown off her spatula and everything fell off of the dough. She did it all over again. It was really gross and expensive pizza but I'm glad she didn't charge me for two.

A few minutes after I finished the food, my sister Erika ran in to get me. There are two other girls from the reservation who go to Stanford with her and my brother was giving them a ride home, too.

I asked the first girl what she was studying. She said, "Linguistics." I asked, "What kind of a job do you want to get with that degree?" She said, she didn't know. I said, "So you just love words, do you? Do you use the word 'cacti' or do you just say 'cactuses' because it's easier? We were at Home Depot the other day and I wanted to tell my kids not to hurt themselves on the cacti but I was tempted to say cactuses but I couldn't because it seemed dishonest."

She said something like, "I don't really talk much about cactus so I don't really care." I said, "If it's your major, I think you should care." But later on when she wasn't looking, I looked through her stuff and found her school notebook. It was just notes from her classes, but in the margins along the edge I found something she had written:

Clover wets her paw
a short tongue pink and flicking
stroking over her lop ears
nestled down in a field
hidden she lists
Kak Kak calls the Jackdaw
A seed inside a billowy green forest
tangled and sprawling
all beneath a twirling sun
with skirts blazing
her finest yellow fur

Bunny poetry! No wonder she was so secretive!

Okay, okay. I made up the whole bit about stealing her notebook and her love of bunny poetry but that's what she gets for not fessing up. On the other hand, I don't have any evidence to suggest she DOESN'T love poems about rabbits. I guess it's just as likely that her interest in linguistics is tied to a desire to preserve the language of her ancestors but, again, it's all speculation.

I asked the second friend in the car what her major was and she said, "Feminine Studies."

And because I love making a first impression that is sure to charm the pants off of 18 year old college girls, I said, "Oh. So you want to grow up to be a man-hater." And suddenly, a bunch of eyes popped out and jaws dropped. Erika told me later that people had called the girl a "man-hater" in high school and she had not enjoyed it. I told Erika that I didn't know enough about the girl to make a personal attack on her and that I hoped she realized that I was just goofing around to kill time on a long car ride. But just to put a toxic cherry atop the cake, when we dropped the girl off at her house I reminded her to "hate the game, not the playa'."

I'll tell you more about the trip later.