This Christmas I’m Getting Happy, Getting Weird

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I had a thought pop into my head the other day: I am fully prepared to be happy this Christmas season. Anyone following this blog for the past year has known the kind of year I’ve had. Except I don’t even know the kind of year I’ve had. It went something like this though:

Mom dies randomly, horribly, arrangements, funeral, wife becomes pregnant, wife has random bleeds every week, doctor visits every week, so many that sometimes I miss Dr. Hall she became my best friend, bedrest, a million chores, a million inches of snow, I hit the outer official limits of my sanity, go to therapy, get on the good drugs.

Ice melts, spring happens, I begin to feel a little better, and then whoa summer outside, a million degrees outside. We have a baby, holy crap we have a living breathing crying infant to take of all the time. All the time. All the time.

Take care of baby. Feed baby. Rock baby in chair. Feed baby. Change diaper. Change diaper again. Feed baby. He’s crying for some reason I have no idea why. Rock baby more. Sleep at some point. I don’t remember anything else about this time period of life.

At some point two months of life pass in which we do not really leave the house ever. The first time we leave the house with the baby is to get frozen yogurt. Getting frozen yogurt was one of the most terrifying, surreal, white-knuckling experiences of my life.

And now the kid is four months old, fully interactive, smiling, laughing, and feels like a real human being instead of a foreign object. And me too. I’m beginning to feel like a real human being again instead of a foreign object as well.

When I started this blog six years ago, it was really just a way for me to consume, enjoy, and review the things I loved while sharing it with others. Lately I’ve been reviewing life a lot more, and I hope people don’t mind. Which gets me to my next thought.

This past weekend, the wife and I were watching a movie together. It’s only the second movie we’ve gotten around to watching in four months. Gloriously, the baby cooperated and went to sleep on his own in the crib. So the wife and I were on the couch, BABY FREE, and actually drinking a beer together, which I don’t think had happened in over a year. It was also past 10 PM, and we were BOTH AWAKE.

We were watching a documentary on Netflix, I Am Divine, about the drag performer from the John Waters films (as well as in her own right.) It’s great, by the way, watch it. So there’s a part where they’re reminiscing about the classic film scene where Divine gets raped by a giant lobster. And I realized right then that this is what my life is missing.

The weirdness, I mean. I’m missing the weirdness in my life. My life has become too suburban, straight, and has too much baby muzak playing in the background on the kid’s Baby Einstein Sea Soother that plays beep bop boop bop versions of Beethoven over and over and over.

I need more giant lobsters.

I need a Christmas butter sculpture.

And I have one.

The wife: Wait, what? Did you say you have a butter sculpture?

Me: Yeah.

The wife: Where did you find a fucking butter sculpture?

Me: In the fucking butter aisle!

(We also CURSE after 10PM when the baby is asleep and we are drinking. IT IS AWESOME.)

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And now in my dedication to weirdness, I am going to eat this butter sculpture whole, right here on the blog.

DRUMROLL.

Just kidding. I haven’t lost my mind. Or my gag reflex.

But let’s just enjoy for a moment the fact that this exists. A Christmas tree butter sculpture exists. For $3.99 at your local Giant. In the fucking butter aisle. I put it in my cart immediately, having no idea what its purpose is or what its purpose will be in my life.

I mean, what do you even do with a butter sculpture? Put it as the triglyceride-packed centerpiece of your holiday dinner table? All I know is I plan on keeping it as a diamond in my refrigerator. Every time I open the refrigerator, I smile and feel oozing, buttery warmth.

Seriously, when I put that butter sculpture in my shopping cart, I felt pure, unbridled excitement. And then I felt panic. Because I didn’t want it to melt. This thing was perfection. What if I was taking too long in the store and by the time I got it home it was all smudgey and sad? It felt like the countdown was ON. The good drugs take the edge off my neuroticism, but they don’t cure it completely.

Fortunately I made it home, glorious Christmas tree butter sculpture fully intact. And now it’s the Hope Diamond of my refrigerator, right behind the cream cheese. I may never, ever take it out.

Christmaspalooza Blowout Extravaganza Holiday Explosion

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I don’t even know what that title means, but I am going to make it happen. I decided it.

I’ve been so blah lately. For instance, we’ve been re-doing our house. I think the adult-ness of it all is suffocating me. We got new floors installed in our home. They’re a faux-hardwood that looks exactly like real hardwood, which we chose for its price, but especially for its durability. “It won’t scratch as easily,” we said beamingly, patting ourselves on the back for being so sensible. Then we promptly proceeded to scratch the hell out it with one unfortunate highchair incident.

This is why we can’t have nice things. We are the poster children for that statement.

Anyway, thanks to my insane obsessive nature, I’ve been on my hands and knees coloring in the little scratches with oil markers, wax crayons, and Old English. It’s doing stuff like this that’s dragging me down. People, I want to live. I don’t want to obsessively color my floor anymore.

Or take for example, the scary world of home exercise equipment that we entered into. We both have a bit of post-baby weight to lose. So I bought an elliptical. But so far I’ve spent more time setting up the TV / music / entertainment area for working out than I have actually working out. But I guarantee you it will be awesome and fun to work out down there … if anyone ever does.

Our schedule has been booked up with baby playdate potluck socials, dinners with the parents, and re-arranging furniture in the living room. The other day the wife and I went on our second date alone without the baby. And where did we go? IKEA.

I think I need to step back from being such an adult. I need to stop researching “accent lighting” online and instead research…well just about ANYTHING else. I think Christmas is just the solution. I need to take some time to waste money, eat crap, and set up inflatable Ninja Turtles in my house.

And I do have one. Oh yes. Oh very yes.

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So let’s have inflatable Michaelangelo be the welcoming ambassador for what I’m calling the Christmaspalooza Blowout Extravaganza Holiday Explosion. I’m going to try to post lots and lots, review new things, and get really fat and greasy on delicious Christmas cookies. I hope you will be joining me.

By the way, that header picture is not mine. I found it on Google Image Search. It belongs to this blog which I have never read in my life and don’t know who writes it, but I just want to thank you for making a simultaneously barfing and crapping reindeer Christmas sweater. I think you are brilliant. And deranged. One time I had food poisoning like this. It wasn’t pretty.

Tension of the Opposites

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On November 7th last year, I found out my wife was pregnant. Joy. Elation. Thrill. Love. Magic. On the way to the hospital to see my mother, I should have felt like everything was going to be okay. Of course this meant that she would make it. Pull through. But I didn’t feel that way, and I didn’t know why. And I did know why.

I parked on the first level of the hospital garage. It was still early in the day, and I felt good about nabbing a close spot. I felt good. I felt good. I walked to the elevator and pushed the button. The ICU is on floor two, after making a right down the hall out the elevator, you turn left down a longer hall. Walk all the way down. You push another button and they let you in. You walk down another hall. Hospitals are series of buttons and halls. I felt good.

But as I walked down the ICU hall, I began to feel terrible. I got to my mom’s room. I see my dad’s face. I’ve had someone tell me once that great writing comes from staring into the white hot center, without flinching. Fuck it, I flinch every time when I look here. When I reach the end of that hallway and look inside, I see my dad’s face. I look away.

On November 7th last year, I found out my mom was dying. She was in already in a coma, not breathing on her own, and not having a single organ function on its own…so to say I just “found out” would be a lie. But hope died for me that day, and my mom followed two days later.

There’s another detail from the day that sticks out. My wife went to work that day, blissfully unaware of all the hospital drama. Oh, you know, just the hourly revivals from the blood pressure bottoming out as twenty nurses storm the room in full riot gear. That was just too much information to text her. I didn’t feel like it.

So my wife had no idea how serious things had gotten. She’s a social worker and was doing home visits with her elderly clients. Her clients are seriously depressed in many cases, and one of them chose that day, of all days, to go on some kind of hunger strike. The wife freaked out and decided this could not happen. So she went to the grocery store to buy them food.

And that’s how this incredibly weird phone conversation happened:

Me: Where are you?

Her: (Describing client drama, then grocery store drama.) At first I was just going to get them a rotisserie chicken, but the grocery store was out of the freaking chicken, HOW DO THEY RUN OUT OF CHICKEN! So I got them a meatloaf — and then I was thinking it was really weird and random to give my clients a meatloaf — but I didn’t want them to starve — so I…”

Me: So you’re in the grocery store buying a meatloaf?

Her: Yeah. How are things going?

Me: She’s dying.

So in my effort to protect my wife from the horrible details, I just ended up giving her this “meatloaf guilt complex” that she was wasting time fretting in a grocery store when she could have been at the hospital. Really though, we were just sitting in the lobby area sobbing and waiting for things to get worse. I find this whole tangent of a story line kind of funny. Or at least a relief from the major story line.

Then there’s the other story line where the wife found out she was pregnant. Oh yeah, that small minor detail that happened just that morning. I’d like to tell you there are no words to describe the two feelings crashing up against each other. That there are no words for holding the beginning of life in one hand and the end of one in another. That there are no words to describe the tension of the opposites. But the truth is, we live with these tensions every single day, and there are words.

It is like being in the water on a raft, with the sensation of the water trying to pull you down, with the sensation of the raft buoying you up.

It is like being a kid on New Years Eve, excited to have permission to stay awake until the stroke of midnight, and then finding out the next morning you’d fallen asleep.

It is like rain at the beach.

It is like knowing logically there is no God. There is nothing else. Come on, you just know this. But then you refuse to believe that, because you feel something else, something opposite inside, some teeny tiny flicker of light. And that’s called faith.

It is like the day after Halloween, knowing that your favorite season, the fall, has faded away. The leaves are fallen. It’s cold. The stores already have all the Christmas stuff aggressively catcalling you, but the holiday is still so far away.

Among the things we talked about in our last conversation, my mother told me she wanted to drive out into the country to see the leaves changing. She didn’t make that drive. They changed and fell without her, and now they have changed and fallen without her again. It is like that. I don’t know how, but it is.

Things At The Bottom of the Ball Pit

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At one point in life, I might have said the ball pit was my happy place. To a kid, a ball pit seems like the funnest thing ever. I mean, there’s Disney World, Space Camp, and then Ball Pits on the hierarchy of FUN THINGS THAT THERE ARE. Not that I ever went to space camp or could even tell you what it’s like. I’m just fairly certain that space camp rules.

However, the ball pit, for all of its colorful plastic glory, has its limits. There is some magical age — a sort of threshold — that we all must cross in life. And once we cross it, we realize the ball pit is a seething, grimy cesspool of germs… and perhaps far worse.

And now I’m here to tell you, based on my own scientific research, just what lies in that “far worse” category. I’ve been to the depths of the ball pit. I’ve been to the edge of the earth. I’ve been where no man, woman, or child have ever ventured before.

These are things at the bottom of the ball pit:

– Dirty diaper
– Hypodermic needles
– Slice of pizza
– Loose coins
– Child on back of milk carton from 1983
– Goldfish, and I don’t mean the crackers
– Magnets
– (Have you ever noticed how menacing magnets seem when they’re not on refrigerators?)
– Stickers laced with drugs
– Holey socks
– Holy socks
– Whole sock
– Wedding ring
– Postcard addressed to someone in 1924
– Cookies and milk
– Amelia Earhart
– The Arc of the Covenant
– One melted Choco Taco
– One frozen Choco Taco, whoa, magic
– Car keys
– Wallet
– Phone
– Meaning of life
– The three minutes of your life spent reading this far down
– Missing glove
– Two useless members of the Jackson 5, not Michael, sorry
– Not Tito, either, damn
– God’s plans for you, He really can be an asshole sometimes
– Plastic pizzas from the Ninja Turtles Pizza Thrower
– Remote control
– Fake dog poo
– Real dog poo
– Something that resembles dog poo but isn’t
– Kombucha
– Five dollar bill
– Hershey bar
– Eric
– The answers to a particularly harrowing episode of Unsolved Mysteries
– Empty beer bottles
– Brie cheese
– One moist Kleenex
– Twenty-seven jelly beans, yes I counted each one
– Tube of lipstick
– Tuba
– Lips
– Stick
– Aged gouda — dude there’s like a whole cheese platter down here
– Fireworks
– Allergy pills
– Laffy Taffy wrappers torn so you can’t read the jokes anymore
– Gold Treasure
– Chex mix
– Fun size candy bars
– Grandma
– The fourteenth president of the US, don’t ask me who, I have no idea
– Spider rings
– Easter grass (it’s been three years and you still find this shit everywhere.)
– Tree tinsel (it’s been three years and you still find this shit everywhere.)
– Soup (clam chowder, I think)
– Lint
– Tiny ornate carving of Buddha
– Knives
– Drugs
– Blooooooooood
– Fingernails
– Toenails
– Nails
– Santa
– Easter Bunny
– Tooth Fairy
– Trix rabbit
– Pluto, the lost planet
– The letter C

And that’s it.

Halloooooweeen Nintendo Hoodie Giveaway

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My last post was kind of heavy, so now I want to lighten things up and give away a grand prize. I’ve teamed up with TV Store Online, who has tons of great Halloween costumes and merch in stock.

The prize: your choice of one of the awesome hoodies above.

Who can win: You. If you entered a contest before, won a contest before, know me in real life, don’t know me, read my blog all the time, have never read it and just showed up for the free stuff, are too old for this but think it might be a good Christmas gift for someone… — I don’t care. Comment, enter, blah blah blah. I pick these things totally randomly using a number generator.

How to win: Leave a comment. And you’re feeling extra generous, share my blog with others. Oh, and answer the question: Who would win in a street brawl? The Golden Girls or The Full House family?

The deadline: A week from today, Thursday. I will email the winner bright and early on Friday morning, Oct the 24th!