Saturday, June 30, 2007

Give me convenience or give me death

I am really sick of working all the time. My feet hurt. My neck hurts. I lay down anytime and anywhere that I can. Even in public.

It was Ethan's 7th birthday the other day. We bought him a Tiger Salamander whom he named Zonk. Don't even try to call it a lizard because Ethan will be quick to tell you that Zonk is an amphibian. Just like he goes around correcting his family on other daily misconceptions: "Mummies are NOT covered in Band Aids; they are covered in gauze."

We also took the kids downtown to the Kids Discovery Museum. That place totally sucks. There is nothing notably educational in the entire place. It's kind of like a big place you can take your kids to play with someone elses toys. The coolest thing in the entire place was a book that told you how to make paper airplanes. I'm sure that's a skill teachers love their students to possess. Not only that, but I sat down and it took me ten minutes to make one of the airplanes, because how would you write down the instructions to folding a paper airplane? I don't think any kid in the place could have done it. The best part of the museum was the first 5 seconds we were there when I actually thought there might be SOMETHING interesting inside. I was wrong. The second best thing about the museum was that there were plenty of places for me to lay down my weary body. The worst the about the museum: Kids. The second worse thing about the museum: Their parents.

We had to go through the entire museum, just to give it a fair chance that there might be something cool inside, and it took a long time. After that, we went to the mall food-court to get some lunch. When we were leaving the food-court I opened the door by pushing it with my back. Then I held it open with my back while I pulled our stroller through and then I held it so the rest of my family could come through. While I was holding the door open with my back, some lady wanted to go in through the door and she put her hand on the door while she waited.

When my family was out, I let the door go and walked away with my family. But the lady who had her hand on the door looked at me and spat, "YOU'RE WELCOME."

Apparently I only need to hold the door open for my family to leave a building for people to think I'm a jerk. When she said it, I thought of how satisfying it would feel to backhand her across the face. But I think that was just my impulse as a very tired person. Instead I walked off without any response and I told my wife, "I don't think I can be around people today."

Noting exciting has happened at work. A few different people told me stories about how money from their dead grandpas has ripped their families apart on account of people's willingness to get stupid and stubborn over money, so my earlier advice for people to get rich by waiting for their wealthy relatives to die may have been given in haste.

Maybe we should think of things like this:

The other night at work, one of the mofos came over to the table and said, "Wow! I put my dollar in that Coke machine and it gave me a Coke and then it gave me my dollar back."

One of the other mofos said, "I put my money in that machine earlier and it kept it and didn't give me a drink."

I said, "Uh oh. That Coke machine must run on KARMA. It gives you drinks and money based on what kind of a person you are."

And the second mofo said, "Damn! So that's why it took my money."

But he wasn't playing along with the joke. He said it as though he REALLY deserved to have his money taken.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sometimes its not so easy to be the Teacher's Pet

The other day we decided to turn the beds in the boy's room back into bunk beds. We couldn't find two of the wooden dowels we needed so we headed to the local Big Box hardware store to buy a long, round stick so I could cut some new ones.

After we bought the wooden rod, we went nextdoor to the Big Box book store because I have a job thingy coming up where I have to take a timed algebra test and I wanted to buy a workbook so I could practice my math speed.

As we were heading out of the store we were walking past the tables in the center aisle where the bookstore puts all of the books they recommend to browsing customers.

I said, "I like this book. I like this book. I like this one. I like this one..." And I was tapping each of the books with the stick as if it was a 40 inch magic wand.

My wife snapped at me, "Would you knock it off? Put that stick away!"

Barely acknowledging her existence, I said, "No. Pointing at things with sticks is fun. I'm starting to think that the main reason that people become teachers is just so they can point at things with sticks."

At that moment, an old man who was looking at books on the table in front of me started busting up with laughter. I looked at him and realized he was laughing at my wife and I. It's one of those moments where you want to bow and say, "Thank you, thank you. I'm weird and annoying ALL OF THE TIME."

But if it wasn't for that old man then I wouldn't have realized I was being funny and I wouldn't have typed this. And it's important. Because a lot of my friends teach classes. And if they haven't felt the joy of pointing at things with sticks then they have been missing out in life and the emptiness might have continued forever, had I not said anything.

Laser pointers are so gay. Stick with the classics.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wakey, Wakey

This is why it isn't fun to wake me up in the morning. It's the price my wife pays for staying home all summer.

This morning my wife tried to wake me up. I told her I wouldn't get out of bed until I knew which house I was painting today. She went and called her dad on the phone and then she came back to get me.

Eleanor: "I know where you're painting today...



Okay, Pop!"

Me: "Okay, Mop!"

Eleanor: "Did you just call me Mop?"

Me: "Did you just call me Pop?"

Eleanor: "I was saying you should POP out of bed."

Me: "I was saying you should go MOP the kitchen..."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Brother from another mother

Doing this painting job in the daytime has given me time to hang out with my wife's little brothers. It's nice to hang out in a crowd that isn't going to accuse me of being immature.

At lunch the other day I was asking her brother, Eric, if he was saving any money this summer. I asked, "...Or are you spending it all on your X-Box?"

Eric said, "I haven't really saved any money. But me and Adam (the younger brother) bought our X-Box TOGETHER. And he actually paid for most of it."

And this line of questioning brought the details of their financial situation to light. I recapped the situation to Eric, "...So Adam paid for MOST of the X-Box, buys ALL of your games, puts MOST of the gas in the car you share AND has MORE money in the bank than you?"

Eric stared at me but didn't respond. I continued, "And he gave you his tomato so you could put it on your sandwich and then you COMPLAINED about it ("There's KETCHUP on this tomato!"). You should be ashamed. Taking advantage of your little brother."

It probably doesn't read funny but Adam had several bursts of laughter over the next couple of minutes over that conversation. A small reward for being generous. Later that night, my wife was talking to her sister. Her sister is debating whether or not she would like to marry her boyfriend. The sister said, "There are just a lot of weird things about my boyfriend. Sometimes he embarrasses me."

To which my adoring wife responded, "LOOK WHO I MARRIED."

My wife told me that Eric jumped into the conversation at that point, saying, "I'm glad you married Emmett." And then he related the "tomato" story to her. Apparently he likes it when people keep him in check.

My wife's cousin also paints with us. He is entertaining. He's one of THOSE kids. For instance, we were leaving the restaurant and we all got refills on our drinks. I guess there is some new health code where they just give you a whole new cup instead of refilling the one you already have. Adam told the cousin, Daniel, "Take the straw out of your old drink and put it in your new drink."

Daniel became defensive, "Duh, Adam! I'm not stupid... oh shoot! I just accidentally threw my straw away." He threw the straw away WHILE he said it. It's funny hanging out with him.

I've been calling Daniel "Pig-Pen," because he wears the same clothes to work everyday and the clothes are completely saturated with drywall dust. Daniel sat on the black leather seats in my car for two seconds and then stood up again the seat was almost completely white. At lunch today, daniel coughed and a giant cloud of white dust billowed up from his shoulder. I just said, "See. You're Pig-Pen."

Yesterday morning, the shop that sells us all of our paint was having a free breakfast for all of the contractors they sell to. For some reason my father-in-law really wanted me to go so I had to wake up an hour earlier than usual to eat with the crew.

While we were eating, Daniel dropped his toast. He said, "Whoa. That's weird. I just dropped my toast facedown on my lap and it didn't even get any jam on my pants."

I said, "That's because your pants are so dusty that it's impossible for them to get any dirtier. You dropped your toast on them and all you did was get the jam dirty."

Maybe it's only funny to me. That's okay.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Where it's too cold to swim and too hot to ski

Here is a glimpse of our lazy Sunday.

It's always funny until someone gets hurt... Here is a good example of my annoying laugh. I don't even notice until I hear myself on camera.

Why use a wagon when you have a perfectly good sled handy?

My wife thought she was taking a picture of me. Nope. It's a movie.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

All I can say is that my life is pretty plain

This blogging thing was a lot easier when I got paid to be bored out of my skull on the internet all day and all week.

It's summer now. Which means the grass is tall and green and my cherry tree is full of bugs and birds. Summer also means that my wife, who works for the local school district, gets laid off for the season. Having a wife who was made redundant means that I get to double my pleasure by working two jobs. I wake up, paint in the morning, move furniture at night, then I fall asleep. Then I do it all again. And again. So I just finished a long week of nonstop work and the first thing my family tells me when I'm finally home for a few minutes is that the computer is broken.

Don't expect much from the blog because it will be like this for months. This also means that I'll have very little time to take trivial things and rant about them like there is some profound meaning to it all. I expect most of my posts will just be a review of my week. But maybe not, because one of the most difficult things for me to do is tell you the difference between yesterday and the day before. It's all a blur.

At work, the basketball hoop is busted so we can't play. There was a guy at work that bragged about being an undefeated chess player and a chess club alumni and tried to force everyone into a game so he could school them. Then he challenged me to a game. I haven't played chess in over ten years and he beat me fast with a move that I accused him of learning from a book. Then I beat him by modifying his move a little. He said I was lucky so we played again and I totally gave his king an atomic wedgie. He got so mad that I beat him again that he got up and stormed out of the room. While he was walking away, I cleaned up the chess board and yelled at him, "I'd better not hear you telling people you're undefeated anymore!" He didn't talk to me for a few days.

Then I played foosball and I've won more games than I've lost but it's not the same without basketball. Without basketball, I realize how pointless the job is and I'm working on switching employment soon. But one endless source of entertainment is that one guy, Zack Morris with a Lobotomy.

Chad (of Jamming With Chad fame) came up to me and said, "Did I tell you about my idea for a reality television show? It could be about this entire warehouse and all the crazy stuff that happens here but mostly it would just be to follow around Zack Morris with a Lobotomy all day."

I said, "The thing is, that show would be really funny for a few episodes but after a while it would just get depressing. It would get to the point where everyone is sitting around thinking CAN'T THIS GUY EVER WIN? Just like in real life."

One story I forgot to tell about him was how he once overheard the bosses talking about pornography. They told him that if you started looking at internet pornography you would end up online for a long period of time. He told them he didn't understand why and that he didn't believe them.

Feeling secure in his mormon righteousness, he came back to work a few days later and admitted to the bosses, "You guys were right. I went on the internet and did a search for pornography and I ended up looking at it for 3 hours!"

The mofos gave him a hard time about it, "3 hours? Geez, Zack! Why didn't you just touch yourself and get it over with?"

Zack said, "I don't do that. That's sick."

The mofos went on, "I can't believe you wasted 3 HOURS looking at porn."

And in a poorly worded attempt to tell the crowd how he finally turned off the computer in disgust, he said, "I looked at it for 3 hours but then some gay stuff came up and I got off on that."

Laugh. Riot.

He also had another of many fender benders in his car. One of the mofos asked him, "Did you SPRAY PAINT the grill of your car, Zack?"

Zack's response, "Yes. But it's not noticable."

And Zack is practically a Jedi so the mofo went off mumbling to himself, "Then why did I ask?" Everytime Zack has a fender bender, he starts the story by saying, "I have the WORST luck."

The funniest thing I saw all week was when that mofo who likes to listen to police scanners (let's call him Escobar) was giving Zack a bunch of crap because Zack lied on a recent job application. Zack wants more out of life and has been applying for a lot of other jobs. Zack applied for a position at a retail store but he has been frustrated by the lack of interviews he's received considering how many places he's applied. So at this particular store, Zack wrote on his application that he holds a 4-year degree in Computer Science. Of course the store called him up and interviewed him right away and he was forced to do a lot of back-paddling and finally admit that he only took a couple of computer courses in high school and that he does not have a 4-year degree. I don't believe a second interview will be forthcoming.

So in the process of razzing Zack about lying about his education, Escobar breaks into a full on imitation of Zack in a job interview. In my opinion, the hieght of the performance was when he said, "Would you like to hear about my accomplishments? Good! Get ready for an ear-full because I never shut the f*** up!"

It's probably funnier if you know the guys and if you are aware of how often people unsuccessfully beg Zack to shut up. I would love to hear someone use that line in an actual interview though. I felt bad laughing so hard right in front of Zack at his expense. But he's a good sport about it. And he doesn't ever shut up. And he lied on his application.

One night, I came home from work and I pulled my car into my driveway. I liked the song that was playing so I listened to the end of the song. It was a good CD so I listened to the next couple of songs as well. I saw my neighbors dogs in the next yard and I saw the owner lurking around in the shadows but I didn't think anything of it.

When I got out of my car to go to the house my neighbor started yelling at me at the top of her lungs. "What kind of a person would listen to their music outside my bedroom window at 1 a.m.! Why would you do that!"

If it was daytime, the conversation would have been MUCH different. This lady has NEVER talked to me but she did come over at yell at my sister the first month we moved into the new house.

Since it was the dead of night, I just said, "I'm sorry. I didn't realize I was bothering you." I don't have a subwoofer in my car or anything and I certainly don't know where her bedroom is located but I wasn't about to start that conversation with her.

But the batty lady just kept yelling, "I have to be awake in 3 hours and now I'm wide awake!"

I said, "Sorry." Again. For good measure. I get the feeling she was wide awake well before I got home and that she was bored. Very. Bored. And I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And it was very difficult for me to resist the temptation of pointing out the irony that she was in the darkness of her backyard screaming at me AS LOUD AS SHE COULD about what a jerk I am for not respecting people who are trying to sleep.

At this point my ears still weren't dripping blood, so she continued, "But why would I expect YOU to notice. YOU don't even notice when your own dog is barking!" For the record, her dogs are twice as loud as my dog. When I hear my dog bark, I go outside to tell her to quiet down but I don't tell her to quiet down when weirdos and mexicans are climbing around on my back fence. That's her job as a dog. I regret nothing.

I could tell that the neighbor was not interested in making peace and I have a strict policy of not arguing with people unless some good can come of it. This lady obviously just wanted an audience and nothing I could say would ever appease her. So I walked away and went to bed with her out in the night, still yelling at me.

I started painting with my in-laws as a daytime job. Painting houses for wealthy people. My father-in-law is easy on me as a boss. It's been good so far. It made me feel better about life. I went to work to find the richies eating bagles and cream cheese for breakfast just like I eat. They have the same chairs in their kitchen as we do. Their boys have the same bunk beds that our boys have. And my kids are better than their kids.

These people try to be super-parents. Almost to a smothering extent. The kids go to private school, they take swimming, piano AND guitar lessons. Even though school is out, their parents make them have two hours of "school" everyday. But every solitary second that the kids can get away, they go and play video games.

One of the boys was supposed to be reading for "school" but his mother told him to go practice the guitar. His father came in and lost his cool. He yelled at his son, "What are you doing! You're supposed to be reading! This is your future! YOUR FUTURE!" But the dad can loosen up. He came out and played tennis on their Nintendo Wii for a little while. Until he ended up punching his 6-yr-old daughter in the face and giving her a gushing nose-bleed.

There is stuff about U.S. presidents everywhere in the house. I was getting the boy's bedroom ready for paint and he had a strange assortment of videos on his dresser, including "Great Generals of the South." I asked the 8-yr-old, "Have you watched this movie? Great Generals of the South?" And he looked at me as if I was the craziest person alive. "No."

The mother is odd. Overall, she's a mormon-stepford-mom but she really is a pretty nice lady. Obviously a trophy wife but she still has a good head on her shoulders. I met her briefly on my first day of work in her house. She saw me on the second day of work. I thought she was going to ignore me but she suddenly turned and said, "Hi. Are you behaving?"

Am I behaving?

A million answers ran through my mind and all of them seemed inappropriate. That's the kind of question I might expect to hear at a parole hearing but it was very strange as an ice breaker with a professional acquaintance. I just said, "Yes."

I told my brother about it at lunch and he laughed. He said, "When we go back you can tell her you ate all your brocolli all by yourself."

My daughter also had a dance recital this week:

I was busy working so I couldn't go, but I went to the rehearsal and that was pretty good. It's kind of fun to watch them do it with the mistakes and then have the instructors say, "Do it again."

This time they had a boy dancer with a solo performance. He's a boy. A dancing boy. So in contrast to ballerina girls in wispy dresses that don't conceal their nipples, the boy was wearing a loose spandex suit of black with red slash marks all over it. Like he had been clawed by a giant animal. He did an aggressive dance to a classic song, "In the hall of the mountain king." But classical music is sissy so they toughened it up by playing it on buzzy guitars.

None of the dancers are perfect. Most of the time you feel like you could dance as good as they, but you're probably wrong. Anyway, I believe the best way to describe the boy's dance would be: COURAGEOUS.

I like these recitals though. I've been watching girls I have never met give their all in these dance recitals for two years now. I feel like I know them but they would probably yell at me "Get away, Creep!" if I ever tried to talk to them if I bumped into them at Target. Oh well.

So I finally got a day off today. I fixed the computer and took things easy. It was nice not to have any obligations for a few hours. We played with the kids for a long time in the backyard. I posted some videos on Youtube but they are slow at "processing" them so I can enter them here.

I'll put them up later. When next we meet.