Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If I Claim To Be A Wise Man, It Surely Means That I Don't Know

I enjoy keeping track of all the off-the-wall, stern lectures I get at work from my superiors. Stuff I would never expect to have to be told at work. Previous examples:

Keep the doors closed or the raccoons will eat our profits.

Do not suggest that "Big Jugs" are to blame for a lack of productivity.

Do not come to work with a mohawk.

And the new one I am adding to my list came from yesterdays contractors meeting:

Do not urinate into empty bottles and leave them on the job site. It's just plain lazy and unprofessional!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oh, Boy...SLEEP! That's Where I'm a Viking!

I was dreaming last night and my dreams are even more boring than real life. I dreamed my wife and a couple friends were hanging out in the living room. Some city workers were raking up leaves in front of the house and I decided to take a shower and get dressed for the day. But the bathroom in my dream had a broken door. I tried to fix it but it proved to be very difficult.

Rather suddenly, I woke up and jumped to look at the alarm clock to make sure that I hadn't overslept. It turns out that I still had over an hour before my alarm would go off. "Good," I thought to myself as I laid back down, "That will give me time to fix that bathroom door."

And I did dream that I fixed the door. I am disappointed in myself for having control of my dream and wasting it so. Dreams are lame. I think Mitch Hedberg summed up dreams best when he said, "One minute you're resting comfortably... the next minute, you have to build a go-cart with your landlord.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Night After Night, Who Treats You Right?

The other day while we were standing around in my mother's hospital room...

Me: "I was saying I was going to go out and buy her an Ipod and put a bunch of music on it that she used to listen to. It must get so boring laying around in bed all day."

My Mom's Friend: "What music would you put on it?"

Me: "I don't know. Bread. Styx. Stuff like that."

My Mom: "Breadsticks?"

Me: "Yes. They've finally combined to form the ultimate super-band: BREADSTYX!"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

You're Learning How To Walk. They Pick You Up And You Keep Falling Down.

My mother died this morning. It isn't an unexpected blow anymore. I don't feel ruin inside. I just miss her. This entire month has felt pretty funky and I can't say my mind isn't muddled right now.

I would have stayed in San Francisco with her but everyone, including my mom, decided (before I had a chance to think about it myself) that I needed to come back to Utah and do some schooling for my daytime job because if I didn't do it this week it would probably set me back a year. So I was on a 15 minute break from a 6 hour class at 8:30 this morning when my stepfather told me that she past on.

I haven't talked much in class, because of my funky predisposition, be we talk a lot about safety in class. They even show us a lot of pictures of burn victims and guys who have been run over by trucks, just to drive home the point of how important it is to be safe. They have an in-your-face approach to teaching. Check out this "true or false" question from a sexual harassment quiz I recently took:

11. A foreman who repeatedly refers to the size of a female worker's chest by indicating that the reason she is having difficulty performing a task is because her "big jugs" are getting in the way is subject to a sexual harassment complaint and possible disciplinary action.

Anyway, our instructor was talking to us about that sugar-plant explosion and other recent work disasters and he described a woman who's husband had been burned so badly that, even though he was still alive, he couldn't even communicate with his family and he was likely to die. Comparing my mother's situation to people who have been burned to death or electrocuted made me feel like she had it okay.

I felt strange about leaving my mother in the hospital but, as my sister pointed out, she frequently kicked me out of her hospital room for no apparent reason. She would just say, "You can go now, Em. Alright, Em. See you later, Em." My sister thinks my mother didn't like me to see her in that condition. I think she didn't like being helpless and vulnerable like that.

A week prior, the nurses had been encouraging her to sit up or stand a little everyday if she could. When I was about to leave for the airport she told me she wanted to try standing up before I went. But the nurses had moved her port for dialysis to her thigh and they were pretty strict about saying no. That she couldn't even try. I hope my mother didn't feel bad about that. I hope she knows that one's dignity has nothing to do with one's posture. I'm proud of her. She's always been strong. The hospital didn't change the way I thought about her.

The first time I saw her in the hospital, I told her she looked the best out of everyone in the ICU. But she was also the only one in there who still had dark hair. One day she wanted a mirror really bad and we couldn't get the vanity in her little hospital table to work. I offered to see if they had a mirror down in the gift shop and she sent me down to get one. They had a $500 mirror in the hospital gift shop. I asked the clerk if they had any mirrors in the purses they sold and she helped me find one. But the purse that came with a credit-card-sized mirror was still over $100. Finally the girl went in the back and grabbed her compact out of her own purse. She said, "Here. You can have this one." I offered to pay for it. She said no. She had another one somewhere. I told her she was going to mess up my karma and that I would in turn do something nice for someone else at a later time.

My mom got the mirror and used it to confirm that her hospital appearance was less than appealing. But it's hard to make a feeding tube look good. Not even super-models can do that.

It's strange because sometimes I'll talk on the phone with my stepfather about my mother's condition and as soon as I hang up, I think, "Hey, I should call my mother and see what SHE thinks about all this." Because I forget that she's the one in the bed and I figure she's out there somewhere walking around in the woods wondering why I haven't called lately.

I think all of us really wanted her to pull through this, but the reality is that all the numbers were bad. Really bad. And you can't bend reality. Not with your brain. Not with a crane. My brother told my sister how he had a really bad feeling. He works out in the woods but he only sees owls every once in a while. He told my sister that the last time he saw an owl that our Uncle Leroy died. Right around the time my mom went into the hospital, he hit an owl with his car. He even stopped and got out and asked the owl if he was okay. And the owl flew away. And then a day or two later he saw an owl out in his front yard and he thought it might be the very same owl. Anyway, all of this owl business made him very uneasy. Now that she's died he'll probably be terrified of owls.

I just got the news a few hours ago and I haven't really talked to anyone about my mom dying. I probably should. But I don't want to. I don't like it when people tell me they're sorry.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Know Thyself

We were going through a book of Fun Facts. Can you name the ten body parts that have 3 letters (such as leg)? I needed a hint to get the last one.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Drop The Phone. Take The Plane. Come Back Home Again.

I wasn't going to write about this because of the personal nature and I don't like writing things where the obvious response is to gush out sympathy. Forgive me for any spots where I might be vague.

My mother has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks now. It seems like every time I talk to her, over months and months, she is ALWAYS sick. So much that I probably tend to write it all off as Drama-Queen tactics. My mother, the woman who cried "Sinus Infection." But she traveled by helicopter to the hospital in Reno. Then they flew her to San Francisco at the referral of her doctors.

On Wednesday morning, my stepfather called me while I was in the middle of building a sports stadium and he told me it was time for me to come see her. I suggested that I should finish my work shift and then I would figure out how to get to California. He told me that wasn't fast enough. So I left work then and there. Two hours later, I was on a plane to San Francisco.

My mother's vital organs were shutting down. Pretty much all of them. The doctors were saying it was immenent that they would put her on a respirator, despite her pneumonia. She would be sedated. It was likely that if she went on the respirator, she wouldn't come out of it. The doctors topped that with statements like, "If her heart stops while she's on the respirator, we won't make any attempts to revive her." It might be my last chance to talk to her.

I told the people at work I could probably wait the 15 minutes left until lunch time and they practically pushed me out of the workplace. While I was driving home, it hit me that I was leaving work early, dropping everything, and flying out as soon as possible in an effort to talk to my mother one last time before she died. I started swearing angrily. And crying. The hardest I've ever cried. You know, where it feels like someone's trying to pull your guts out through your mouth? I was trying to get my stuff together but strange things were going through my mind. I couldn't find any socks to bring. All the socks I found had holes in them or paint stains and I kept thinking I didn't want be wearing gross socks while I watched my mother die. I felt relieved when I found some good ones.

My wife and kids had to come home early because of the changes in my schedule. While I was throwing clothes in a backpack, my kids were asking me why my eyes were red. I told them, "Because my mother is sick in the hospital. Sometimes doctors can help sick people and sometimes they can't. And she might die. And I'm scared." And then they quickly changed the subject to kids things and pretended like they didn't hear what I said.

I was worried that I would be a wreck through the plane trip. Luckily, I was tired and I accidentally slept most of the way to Las Vegas. In Vegas I thought I might be able to hang out with Native Minnow while I was on layover but the layover was too short. I decided to call him anyway, even though I knew it would be a grim phone call. I tried to keep it light despite the subject matter. I remember saying, "It's weird because everyone knows their mother will die someday, I just thought it wouldn't be for another 30 years."

When I talked to my family about flying into San Francisco, I said, "My plane arrives at 5:50 pm. Can someone pick me up or will I need to take a cab?" I was mostly joking about the cab, but my family answered that I might have to buy my own ride to the hospital.

Now let's talk about San Francisco. When people ask me where I'm from, I have a hard time answering them. I've decided the best answer is simply: The West. I claim it all. San Francisco feels like home as much as any other place. I have memories of Golden Gate Park. It used to be tradition for my family to take a tour of the bay on those red and white boats at the wharf on my birthdays. I remember Stanford Pow Wows. I went to Escondido Elementary School. Even when we lived by the reservation, Eight Graders saved up money over the years to take one big San Francisco trip before graduating to high school. My family loves to root on the Giants and 49ers, even during their dark years. There was a 3 point earthquake the first day I was there. It's always been like that. Like that, it will continue.

Driving in San Francisco is horrible. I wouldn't own a car if I lived there. Even wearing Heely shoes in San Francisco is to take your life in your own hands. I wonder how the people of that city get by without lawns or normal neighborhoods. Everything is tall townhouses and apartments. It seems like, when you go out in public, you have something to prove and the only thing proven is that it's tough to make it around here. I told my older sister, "I would expect to make $15 an hour or more just to be DIRT POOR in this town." My sister said, "Look at all the pretty dogs people have here. They're all so cute." I said, "Of course. Everyone knows that UGLY DOGS are for homeless people."

Okay, let's jump subjects again: The best part about this past weekend is that it was like a mini-family reunion. Not just that, but we all seemed really close. And not just that, but we all kept a great sense of humor. It was nice to know that in the lowest trenches of a crisis, I was still me; telling stupid stories, making dumb jokes, it's just that my mother was ALSO dying. But we kept a good balance of resiliance and joy along with the tragedy. It made me feel good about my family. And not just my mom's family because my family knows that I don't have any money. My step-mother bought my plane ticket so I could see my mom. My step-father got my hotel room. My sister paid for most of my meals. I was in San Francisco for 5 days with 3 pairs of underwear. The trip cost me $40 even though it costs you $20 every time you park your car. I'll make it up them later.

It was interesting to look around at my relatives as we spent days on end in the hospital waiting room. In ways, we are much like everyone else. Decent people who try our best, yet we find it's nearly impossible to avoid plowing headlong into difficulties. You take life day to day trying to make the best decisions but problems fall on you and floor you. Take my cousin John, he got married a couple years ago and had a beautiful baby girl. He doesn't live with his wife or daughter anymore. It's not by choice and he has no idea why he's not welcome in his own family. My mom's sister adopted John from her brother when John was a baby. Uncle Billy is John's adopted father. Uncle Billy kept the waiting room entertained with endless banter and opinions. When Uncle Billy made known how badly he would like to kick the ass of Lou Dobbs his wife said, "Then WHY do you watch his show? You always get enraged when you watch the news." Billy said, "Because. You have to know your enemy." It seems like everyone in the room could tell you a gut-busting hard-luck story but instead we just joked around with eachother.

It turned out that the drive home from work was the worst of it for me. I didn't cry again. At the hospital, we made a rule that anyone who cried in front of my mom was weak. A couple people admitted to being weak.

My mom's Uncle John was the one who picked me up from the airport. We haven't seen eachother for about 10 years. But we saw eachother in the airport and we didn't have to say a single word. We knew who we were by looking at eachother. We knew why we were there. We knew the situation. We didn't waste time drudging through the obvious. Instead, we told each other stories and made each other laugh. He told me about a guy he knew who showed up at Stanford and bought a car. He never registered the car but he drove it until he got his degree and then left the car in the airport parking lot and never looked back. The first thing Uncle John had said was, "It seems like just yesterday I was picking you up at the airport." It was a reference to when things fell apart for our family in Colorado and we came crawling back to mom's home without a penny on us. It was over 20 years ago and Uncle John had picked us up at the airport and took us to his house and let us swim in his pool.

If you saw my mother when we arrived at the hospital, you might think she was dead if it wasn't for the gasping and moaning. She was tied up with tubes from all directions. Later, my sister said, "What's that story where the guy sails around and all those tiny people tie him down on the beach?" I said, "Gulliver's Travels?" My sister said, "Yeah, that's what mom reminds me of with all of her tubes all over her. I want to tell her but I don't think she'll see the humor in it like I do." I said, "Yeah. It's probably funny to everyone, except for Gulliver."

But at that point, I was so relieved just to find my mother alive that she looked quite wonderful to me. She was surprised to see me but she seemed much more excited to see our Uncle John. It think he must remind her of her father or something.

It took days and days for my mom's condition to stabilize. We spent most of our time at the hospital, either in the ICU or the waiting room. I told my stepdad, "The ICU is pretty professional but out here it's like an episode of Scrubs." He said, "Yeah. Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy, I've seen it all around here. Did I tell you this is a TRAINING hospital?"

One day I sat in the sun on the roof of the parking garage with my brother while he went through a custody hearing for his son via telephone. It was hard to listen to. Like ALL of my brother's previous girlfriends, his baby's-momma is crazy. Yet, everyone in the court treats my brother like scum. He makes good arguments and makes good suggestions as to how to resolve differences and to show the court the "things they haven't seen." They ignore him completely. They're just trying to drag things out so long that he'll give up. You can hear it in their voices that they want him to give up. The custody case started before the baby was born. The baby is 2 years old now. The judge says he's turning the case over to someone else. Assumably because he doesn't want to deal with it anymore.

The weather has been amazing in San Francisco over the past few days and I was sad that my wife and kids couldn't be there with me. There was even a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz from the hospital. We tried to get out around town, now and then. My sister showed me a funny business that specializes in removing headlice. The "Headlice Helpers." Man... all the good business ideas really ARE taken.

We've decide that "Little Italy" is just a myth in San Francisco and that's why it isn't on any of the tourist maps despite the many road signs. At Fisherman's Wharf, I was vastly disappointed in the quality of street performers. The best street performer is some black dude who sits on a milk crate holding two severed tree branches in front of him to hide his presence. Then he yells, "RAHHH!" and unsuspected pedestrians. He drew the biggest crowd but I can't say he was any good because while I was walking past him a pigeon flew up between me and some asian woman and the asian woman screamed. I figure, if a pigeon off the street can be just as entertaining as the bush-man then he really doesn't have much of a talent going. I told my family that I was going to strap two branches to my legs, play the guitar and dance like a robot while scaring people and I would completely put ALL of those other street performers out of business. They've got it coming.

We went to the Boudin Bread Company to see the "Mother Dough." Apparently, these people made some dough in a bowl and they've just been adding more and more dough to that same dough for over one hundred years. The Mother Dough. Awesome sourdough bread. Available in alligator, lobster and many other shapes. We stayed at the Cathedral Hill Hotel, which was a fancy place back in the day, with guests such as Ronald Reagan, Wilt Chamberlain and Mr. T. A nice hotel. Across the street is a bar called Tommy's Joynt which is a historical building of sorts. They fed me some good grilled salmon.

Amid all the joking and goodwill, serious things kept coming up. And strange combinations, like when we bought lottery tickets and decided that any winnings would be applied toward buying my mother new organs off the black market. While we were eating lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe I told my brother he was following my mother down the road to the hospital and that he should change his behavior because I only planned on going through this ONE TIME. He got really mad and defensive and walked out of the restaraunt. I'm worried about him.

My mother made it through her body crashing. Now she has to hold on for one or more organ transplants. She's hanging on but only by a thread. She's seems be getting better everyday but it's still a very fragile situation. The doctors only tell you bad things because then you won't care if they're wrong. I hope they're wrong. I love my mom. I think she's pretty. Even tied up like Gulliver.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Soccer, Drillbits and Dogwalking

When Geppetto came to visit a couple of weeks ago, a girl approached the front door while I was tearing things up on Guitar Hero. It was a neighborhood girl who walks dogs to earn money.

We know we don't spend as much time with our dog as we should so we graciously accepted her dogwalking services. My wife immediately went to get the dog. But our dog is big. A big black lab. My wife is not so big and the girl with the dog walking service is even smaller. She's probably only 10 years old.

My wife tried to hand her the dog's leash but the dog was dragging her across the yard. It almost looked like waterskiing. For half a second, it appeared that my wife had the dog reined in and she passed the dog to the little business lady. The little lady already had a tiny miniature doberman and our dog started dragging them both around like the tazmanian devil. Complete with fart sounds.

The girl proceeded to let the whirlwind ravage it's way toward the corner of the block. I yelled after her, "You can bring her back whenever you want!"

Then I said to my wife, "I think that girl has bitten off more than she can chew. There's an older girl in our neighborhood who walks dogs. We should probably hire her instead. Tell that girl she's too little when she comes back. We need a big dog walker. Or tell her she can keep walking the dog if she gains 30 pounds.

When the girl came back, she admitted she only walked the dog for one hour and let the dogs play in her backyard for the other hour they were gone. We kept her. She walks the dog every week. And seconds before I started writing this, she came to the door to ask if she could walk the dog. FOR FREE. Just cause she wants to. "Knock yourself out," I said.

Today I started my daytime job. I'm a two job kind-of-guy again. The worst part is the alarm clock. But at least I get to work somewhere cool, if not frigid. These things aren't going to build themselves:

I showed up for work and while the boss explained to me where I would go and what I would do, he threw about ten drill bits in my direction. None of the instructions seemed to involve drill bits. Later, I asked one of the guys I was working with, "So why did he give me all these drill bits."

The guy said, "He gave me a bunch of drill bits when I started here in October. I felt like I had a lot of them, so everytime someone needed a drill bit, I would just give them one. Now I don't have any drill bits and the boss won't give me anymore. He gives you drill bits the first day and then you don't get anymore."

I said, "I would give you some of mine, but it sounds like I need them. Sorry."

So I have plenty of drill bits but no time to blog anymore. Sorry if we hit another blog famine in the near future.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Nerd Week Continues...

My wife: "WHAT!!!! are you WATCHING?!?!?!"

Me: "It's a documentary called The King of Kong. It's about two guys competing to be the ultimate World Champion of Donkey Kong."

My wife: "Ahhhhhhhhh! Nerd! This is the nerdiest thing I've ever seen. I can't watch this. I have to go."

Me: "No. It's not that bad. It's funny. You would probably like it. This guy cries a lot."

My wife: "Why does he cry?"

Me: "Billy Mitchell was this uber-nerd video game phenom from the 80's who had the Donkey Kong record forever. Then one day this Steve Weibe guy got laid off from his job at Boeing and just started playing Donkey Kong. He video taped himself breaking the record. On the official tape that he sent in proving his record his son comes in the room yelling at his daddy to wipe his butt. It's hilarious. So then all of these guys tell him that if he really wants respect as a champion that he has to fly across the country to this place called Funspot and break the record on THEIR machine. So he does.

He gets the record for about a day but then that Billy Mitchell guy sends them a video tape where he scores over 1,000,000 points and then they take the record right back from Steve Weibe. He cries because all of the officials are friends with Billy Mitchell. They told Steve his video tape wasn't enough evidence to prove he was the champ and two seconds later, they give Billy the record again because of the new video he sent in."

My wife: "That's still lame. You guys need to learn that video games aren't worth crying over!"

Me: "WHO needs to learn that?"

My wife: "Our son. And my sister says her husband gets REALLY mad when he plays video games. And your friends are always telling that story about how you spiked your Nintendo once (I also threw a piece of pizza at Native Minnow) because you got mad."

Me: "I got mad. But I didn't cry. That happened 15 YEARS AGO. You're going to hold that agianst me?" Because if she did then I shouldn't let it go how she got mad at her brother and pushed him down the stairs once or how one of her brothers wouldn't show her his driver's license picture so she smashed a greasy onion ring in his math workbook which he had to turn in with the pages all see-thru from grease.

Anyway, that movie is cool and has a lot of human interest to it. Steve has a pretty desperate struggle to prove his talent to the big-nerd-conglomerate but succeeds in the end. Billy Mitchell was an awesome video gamer in his day but is also a coward.

Here is Billy Mitchell's response to the film as brought to you by the good people at MTV.

Do You Like Football? Do You Like Nachos?

I know everyone is wondering what I thought about the Superbowl yesterday so here it is.

I like the Patriots but I feel like they have won enough. The Giants were enough of an underdog that I was hoping they would pull it off. I feel slightly bad that the patriots don't get those records for winning and a perfect season but I was very excited at the close game and that the underdogs came out on top.

Speaking of Underdog... did you see that commercial where he fights the Family Guy baby for the bottle of Coke and then Charlie Brown get's it? My kids loved that one.

Anyway, the best play of the game was when Eli Manning ran out of that certain-sack and lobbed it to that dude who caught it against his helmet as he did a backbend over that other player. Very cool.

After the game I came home and hooked up the old NES and played two games of Super Tecmo Bowl. Christian Okoye already has 500 rushing yards and Derrick Thomas has 4 safeties and 18 sacks:

Best. Football. Game. Ever.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Still Things Could Be Much Worse, Natural Disasters...

Look now, you jinxed me Minnow. I'll write about my blogging constraints when I have time but this should give you an idea until then: