Dancing with the hippies, ok no dancing or hippies

People sometimes treat other cultures as if they are contagious. If one participates in a ceremony that is different from how they grew up, obviously you will become contaminated and catch the other culture, like a disease.

Over my life, I have participated in many ceremonies from various religions and cultures. I participated in a Hindu guided meditation ceremony. I mentioned this in a previous post.

While I was in the Navy, I participated in a Shinto ancestor memorial in Tokyo.  They gathered around a set of lanterns and focused on the memories of their dead relatives. I focused on my great-grandfather during the ceremony. One key question kept coming into my mind during that ceremony: Do Japanese grandpas do the “Pull my finger” trick, or is that solely an American thing. I wanted to ask the Japanese tour guide if her grandpa ever asked her to pull his finger. She was very seriously and diligently praying to her ancestors, and I felt that asking a fart question may not be appropriate. I know what you are thinking, but I don’t think I was drunk OR possessed by some otherworldly creature. I just decided (possibly for one of the first times) to not disrespect someone else’s religious beliefs. I will take my “not getting stabbed by ninjas” as indication that I chose correctly.

I have participated in a Hari Krishna parade and dance. To be fair, I did catch a mind altering experience on that one. I believe it was the realization that apparently there are religions where bathing is frowned upon. The Hari Krishnas around me (apparently) fervently believed in this tenet. I was thoroughly enlightened, or possibly just suffered from oxygen deprivation.

I said all that to say: I went to a pagan festival in Denver. I mainly went to experience a new thing before I judge it. I also went because the woman I am dating wanted to experience a new thing. I really expected it to look like a Burning Man festival full of loud, drug addled dirty hippies. I fully expected to hate every minute of it.  I was pleasantly surprised, by a bunch of people who were dressed in various Harry Potter costumes.

As we walked up to the festival, we saw a group of tented kiosks. The first tent we came to had a sign that read “Gemstones for healing energies”. This is not an uncommon belief. I have seen “the healing effects of crystals” in many countries. The new experience for this particular tent was the phrase “and healing gemstones and crystals for your pets”. In one second, my whole day turned from “oh why am I at this crappy place full of smelly hippies” to “AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA this is FANTASTIC!” Healing.Rocks.For.Your.Pets. I bet cats just love that rock…after a few of them have been crushed and put in a box that they can poop in. For the rest of the day, if the crush of people became too much, I just thought “Healing rocks for pets” and life became better. If we were walking too near people who actually believe that patchouli oil makes them smell better, “Healing.Rocks.For.Pets”.[ A side note to those who use patchouli oil to try to smell better, you have uncovered the hideous,corpse like stench of the zombie apocalypse without all that messy dying.Congratulations.]

We wandered through the festival looking at various tents filled with crappy jewelry and some art. How can I describe the jewelry? Imagine you had $12 at a craft store, but you wanted to make three hundred crappy little trinkets. Now imagine, that right outside the craft store, a hot dog vendor was selling a dog and a drink for $6 and you were hungry. Now imagine you wanted to make four hundred trinkets with the remaining money, but you also liked stickers. So you spend two dollars on crafts and four dollars on stickers. Then, on the way home, you supplemented your craft budget with stuff you found on the side of the road. That would still describe more craft supplies than were usually purchased, but it is a close match.

One of my favorite moments was when my girlfriend wanted to look at some jewelry, but there was a man in the way. He was talking to the poor kiosk owner who was trapped in the horrible twilight zone between trying to be a salesperson and accidentally making human contact with someone who is very lonely and wants to talk. He was sharing about his adorable dog that he adopted from the pound. He said, “I knew he was just for me because he looked exactly like Anubis (the egyptian god) if Anubis was a Scottish Terrier.” Then he started talking about how in his past life, he was an Irish Warlord. Apparently, it only takes a couple hundred years of genetics to completely remove a family line of “Warlord” features like a chin or a reasonable musculature. Despite being taller than me, my girlfriend is more polite than me [Shut up, I heard you say, “Well that isn’t hard”]. She was getting frustrated because the man kept blocking her. He was not doing it deliberately. The poor trapped woman trying to sell obviously hand-made jewelry was shifting to the right and left, trying to pay attention to a customer who may not be crazy. Mr. Past Lives was worried that if she broke his spell, she might actually enjoy her day. So I used Darwin’s theory, survival of the fattest (I may have been day-dreaming during that class) and “nudged” him by shoulder checking him and saying, “Whoops, sorry, excuse me”.  He politely and rather quickly moved out of the way. Well, less “politely” and more “no choice because a comparative giant just shoulder checked him”.  The diversion only temporarily worked, he was still blocking my girlfriend. I had a great view of handmade jewelry, something I did not actually care to see. The man continued to talk to the shopkeep and continued to stand in the way. I used an old Navy trick/ancient Chinese secret/Native American spirit trick to move him. I leaned over his shoulder and  breathed hot air into his ear, with a “Paaaaaaaw”. Strangely, the Irish Warlord scooted quickly away after the relative giant breathed hot air into his ear. He didn’t even ask me why I did that. To be honest, that is for the best, because I would not have had a good answer.

All in all it was a pretty entertaining time. I did think it was a bit weird when the new-age/costumed people invited the guy in a button down shirt and pants to the “Group Photo”. “Um, I am not really one of you guy, I just came here for the experience” seemed a bit overly rude, so I just said “Sorry, I am frightened that a photo of me will retain some of my soul”. Apparently that was more rude. Who can understand all these stupid rules.

 

 

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Elf ears are the new lingerie

Last month, I went to the comic convention in Denver. I know that you are shocked that I would attend something so nerdy, given my propensity for all things “manly” like…cooking outdoors, growing beards, working on whatever those wheeled artificial propulsion things in the driveways are called, and-of course-sports.I love sports. I just can’t get enough. I really like the sport where you shoot the blue gun at one wall and the orange gun at the other wall and make a wormhole between the two. Hmm, that one may be a video game. I get the two mixed up.

Comic-Con is a place where every person who got a wedgie in high school deliberately goes out in the costume that could justify every jock delivered wedgie a thousand times over. There are every imaginable alien, comic character, sci-fi movie character and custom creatures from every possible imagination. Unfortunately, “every possible imagination” also includes incredibly overweight, bearded men in a slave Leia costume (do an internet search for the original, or, if you hate yourself, the scene I just described).

Not all people in costumes are trying to embrace some inner character or life style. Some people are trying to do some good in the world, or at least good as they can. Some people make robots that they take to children’s hospitals. Others develop game controllers for the use by the disabled. There is a group of Star Wars fans who make (mostly) stormtrooper outfits and perform at many charity events. You can find them here . They have a lot of fun, but they also are required to perform at a couple charity events (at a minimum) every six months. Most perform at children’s hospitals, “Make A Wish” events, and other similar events. It is a very impressive organization… that makes you want to scream “Nerd!” at all of them.

I love going to the “Artists Alley” and seeing art of every imaginable type. I usually try to buy a couple prints. This is incredibly interesting, but only to me. On to the next thing.

This year I decided to go through a traumatic process called “sci-fi speed dating”. Speed dating is where a group of women sit down, and then a group of men cycle through and talk to the women, one after another. The hope is that you will make a connection after talking for three minutes (surely enough time to delve into most people’s souls) and trade information. In order to keep it a bit safe, each person wears a number. At the end, the people who liked your number put their contact information on a blank sheet of paper that contains your number (usually at a separate table).

Speed dating is fun for all ages (over 18, anyway). If you want to feel a bit of rejection, try to hit on someone in a bar, bookstore, or event. If you want to feel like a disposable person who can be replaced by the next person in line without hesitation and be rejected by 75 members of the opposite sex at a time, then try speed dating. It is like taking your self esteem and kicking it over and over in the crotch while mocking it’s mother. The first time I tried it, 3 years ago, I received no phone numbers/email. Apparently, my costume of a hideous creature was a little too enthusiasticly put together.  I paid $30 to be informed that I was not worthy enough to buy food for another person. Strangely, that did not improve my mood about dating.

This year I decided to try it again. See, self esteems need to be nurtured and cared for. If you let your self esteem grow and blossom like a healthy creature, it will leave you and go have adventures without you. In order to keep my self esteem from leaving, I like to crush it every once in a while, and keep it chained to me. Okay, I keep it chained in a basement below me, but it is pretty close.

I decided that I would like to practice talking to people if I want to try some stand up comedy in the future. I thought, “I know, I will tell funny stories and jokes and try to build another five minutes of material.” I started telling a funny story to the first woman. I realized, mid story, that it would be incredibly inappropriate to just go in there and tell jokes. Some people really wanted to meet someone in the event and start a dating life. I could not be the jackass that was mocking the event. I decided to just have conversations.

I am bad at “flirtatious talk”. I always mix up what I am saying when I try pickup lines. I have a sense of humor that completely interlocks my mouth and will not allow me to say something polite when something funny is right there, waiting to be said. This is why my pickup lines get a bit twisted. The line “Did it hurt? [wait for response] When you fell from heaven?” turns into, “Did you fall from heaven? Is that how you messed up your face?”. The line “Is your dad a thief, because he stole the stars and put them in your eyes” turns into “Is your dad a thief, because someone stole my radio and he kind of looked like you”.  Strangely, these lines generally do not elicit great romantic feelings from the person I am talking to. Some people just can’t hold a romantic conversation, I guess.

I ended up doing multiple trips through the speed dating lines. I had paid for a friend to go through the soul crusher as well, but he didn’t show up. I talked to about 60 women during the events. That would be about 70 more than I would have talked to at the con by myself (some women preemptively strike by shouting “Don’t talk to me” ).

One small issue with the sci-fi speed dating is that there is no age group. Approximately 80% of the women were between the ages of 18 and 23. I cannot begin to describe how awkward it is to sit across from a woman who is literally young enough to be my child, and remember that I am at a “dating” event. Apparently, “Do your parents know that you are here?” is not considered “romantic”. Also, phrases like “I have a windowless white van full of candy and puppies out back, would you like to see” were also not deemed “appropriate”.

I don’t remember most of the women that I talked to. If I felt there was some unfortunate level of connection happening with one of the younger women, I would say something like, “When I was growing up in the 80’s…”. I would watch them do the math in their heads and realize that I was as old as one of their parents. Usually, any sort of connection would fade into what I call “the standard nothingness”.

I did meet a few oldies, er women approximately my age. One woman worked out quite a bit. That sentence does not do her justice. At about 5 foot 5 inches, her arms were almost as big as mine, only much better defined. She looked like someone had taken a pro wrestler action figure and pull the arms off  and put them on a barbie. I asked her, “So what do you do besides work out?” Next to her, a college age woman jump up and starts into “How dare you speak in such a  misogynistic manner? Don’t you know brawk ba kawk bawk bawk (I don’t know, i lost interest)”. I said, “well, I don’t know if you have figured out how this works, but we only talk to the one right across from us”. I then asked Muscle Beach Barbie, “So besides picking heavy things up and setting them down again, what do you like to do?” The social justice warrior jumped in again. Rather than listen to the interminable squawking of an idiot, I interrupted her. “Do you really think that a woman with guns the size of those things attached to her shoulders needs any help defending herself? I have respect for her, but  would like to speak with her right now, and not you.” The Caucasian she-hulk laughed and then told me that she works out at the same gym I go to. She also mentioned that she starts her workouts every day at 4:15 am and works out till 7:30 am every day. I said, “Ok, now listen to me very closely…if you ever see me at the gym at 4:15 am, please call an ambulance because I am obviously having some sort of psychotic episode.” We laughed, and the timer was called and I had to move on…to the squawking idiot. Rather than listen to anything she said, I decided to take a gamble. I had a feeling that the “queen of defense against all males” would not have what we like to call “a scientific mind”. I started the conversation with, ‘I was watching a documentary on astronomy and I learned that there is a star that spews water into space. It was fascinating. I wondered how, on a quantum level, fusion could generate that much water and not split into the basic elements. Now, I have to say, yes..I was deliberately being mean and pretentious while trying to pretend to have a normal conversation. It was a gamble. If she had known a lot about quantum physics, I would have been out of my depth. She didn’t. I talked for three minutes about science, and then moved on.

I forgot to mention something about comic con. Some of the costumes show a bit of skin. I think the politest term for the costumes would be “incredibly slutty”. One woman was literally wearing lingerie and a lab coat (slutty Doc Brown from Back to the Future). Another woman was dressed as a Batman villain. She had a corset that pressed he breasts up to just about touch her chin and a skirt short enough to be a belt. I am not sure where one is supposed to look when talking to women in those outfits. Apparently, you are not supposed to applaud and yodel like the Ricola man.After the event, I used the restroom . The Batman villain was in there, fixing her makeup. She saw me and said, “Oh am I in the wrong bathroom”. “I hope so, because I just used that urinal… but it is 2016.” I am always funny.

During the sci-fi speed dating, each person wears a number, for example “40”. As you talk to the people, if you like them, you write their number on an index card that was given when we started. However, it is a little awkward to suddenly write (or not write) a number on an index card in front of someone. After the event is done, there are two tables with numbered sheets of paper, one per person.. One for men, one for women. The men go to the women’s table and the women go to the men’s table. You write your contact info on the sheet that corresponds with the numbers of the people you are interested in talking to. Not rocket science, or so you would think. Many (far more than I am comfortable with knowing) got confused and wrote their number on the sheet that matched their own number. Some of them got confused and went to the wrong table, and then wrote their number on their own paper. So, that is sad, they made a connection with themselves.

After the sci-fi speed dating, I kept talking to all sorts of people. I was talking to complete strangers. I guess that after I break the seal on the whole “talking to people ” thing, I can’t stop. I talked to people while riding the “light-rail” train, like some kind of lunatic. The proper behavior for public transit is to ride silently, contemplating your terminal loneliness and wondering why society exists. You aren’t supposed to just randomly make conversation with strangers. That is wrong. I met a nice couple who make their own costumes. They were a lot of fun. I am pretty sure it is a fluke, most people are horrible horrible people, right?

In the end, it was actually quite a bit of fun. I got a scratchy voice. I actually met a woman and have been on a few dates. Our second date was to see “The Fifth Element”. We both won free tickets because we knew separate answers to trivia questions. I am pretty sure Satan bought a snowmobile and is setting up a ski resort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catching up by quitting the race

I decided to change jobs. This was an incredibly difficult decision. I have only had one kind of job since 1999. I was decent at my old job, but I was traveling quite a bit.Well, that is putting it lightly. I was traveling so much that I owned my house for three years before I realized I did not have air conditioning.

I liked most of my old job. I enjoyed the work (usually), I enjoyed the fact that I was doing something different most days. Then something important happened. I watched people get promoted and I stayed stagnant. I requested to be part of the utilities group and the company hired two new employees. I asked to be part of a commissioning group, and the company hired two new commissioning guys. It took a while, but eventually, I realized that I was stuck. There was no where for me to advance, and I had burned a couple bridges.

In the middle of all that, I was running a project in North Dakota. I don’t know what you know about North Dakota. I could describe it in many different ways. From May to about September,  parts of it can be gorgeous. For the rest of the year, it is a miserable  snow, ice, and mud ridden wasteland that makes most places seem like paradise. The project was difficult primarily because it was in North Dakota. I should have guessed that there was would be a bit of difficulty when I heard the project slogan: “Garrison Dam, 2014 to forever. James, Why are you crying?” It is sort of interesting that the project slogan was made before I had even been there.

I learned a lot of things during the North Dakota project. Things I never would have learned without that project. Did you know that if you pay some kids to mow and weed your lawn, but don’t watch them every time, they probably won’t do it? Did you know that if you go on vacation and turn over the project to another “project manager”, he will completely ignore everything you said, almost cause the project to explode, and cause members of the crew to shout morale boosting things like “I am going to stab him in the face”? Did you know that you can get written up for not wearing your safety equipment by a man in flip flops and no hard hat? Did you know that if you try to send a 3800 page document to the shared printer, people with band together and come to your desk with pitchforks and torches?

When I put in my 3 1/2 weeks notice (yes, like 2 weeks, but more), I fully expected to turn over the project to another project manager. My company felt that it was unnecessary because I had already written everything down. So another project manager took over the project and then proceeded to trip off the substation. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

I know this post wasn’t as funny. I haven’t written for a while. I said I wanted to write one blog post a week this year. I am only 25 behind schedule now, so yay me.

Santa works for the NSA

Around Christmas season, there are always a few things that make me laugh and/or weep for humanity. Ok, you got me, I mostly laugh because I think humanity deserves whatever it gets.

Thanks to a Smothers Brothers song, I cannot hear the words:”You better watch out,You better not cry,You better not pout,I’m telling you why” without adding the words “Santa Claus is dead…”. I have only accidentally sung those words near children twice. I have only “accidentally” sung the song near a parent with no children around three times. It is always hilarious. People get remarkably offended at the thought, kids around, or not.

Since I moved to the Denver area a few years ago, one of my favorite Christmas pass-times has had do go away. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Mall parking lots were always full. I had two modes of operation in those malls. Both were fun.

Mode #1 was: Arrive at the mall at about 6 am and park as close to the front as possible, then take a nap. At about 9 am, I would go eat some breakfast and then wander slowly around the mall. I would walk outside with one package, walk to my car in the full parking lot and get cars to follow me. I would then place my one package in the car and lock it back up and walk back into the mall, waving at people.

Mode 2 was more fun. I would park waaay in the back of the mall and go buy a couple things. I would come out with a couple packages and wander up a row of the parking lot. I would have a confused look on my face (I know what you are thinking, ‘As opposed to…?’). I would pretend to walk towards a couple random cars, then quickly zip between the aisles to walk down another. I would keep doing this, walking out of the way (people could pass me if they wanted) up and down aisles and walking to wrong cars until I could get three or four cars following. Then I would walk to the end of the last aisle and get in my car. I got flipped off soooo much for taking a walk around a parking lot. Let me be clear, I never indicated for people to follow me, never told anyone what I was doing, and was never asked if I was leaving. During the “season of giving” I was flipped off by people for taking a walk around a parking lot. Merry Christmas!

Unfortunately, Denver malls have ample parking, so the games are not as fun.

I listen to different Christmas Carols than the average. I have a pretty large collection of heavy metal, goth/industrial, jazz, and punk Christmas Carols. No one wants to listen to these songs but me. That is ok, everyone else doesn’t know what they are missing. They can go back to listening to the date rape-y “Baby, it’s cold outside”. Because I listen to so many “covers” of Christmas songs, I make up my own lyrics to the Christmas standards. “I’m dreaming or a multicultural and multi-ethnic Christmas…just like the ones I used to know” or my “Middle Eastern” version of “Deck the Halls”, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Fa-lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala”. That always makes me laugh, no mater how unfunny you think it is. (You are wrong, it is hilarious)

My favorite part of Christmas is changing my Facebook profile picture to the image of the Christmas card that I got while I was in the Navy. Our supply ship broke down or was diverted, so we didn’t receive any packages. All we could receive were letters. To try and ease the burden, the fleet received Christmas cards addressed “To any soldier or sailor”

The card that I got was this:

100_1095

This was the card I received from an elementary school student in Arkansas. Since it was an elementary school student, I assume they were trying to say “dorky”. This card slipped by the “ever vigilant” elementary school teacher and ended up in my hands. It makes me laugh every single time. It has been almost 20 years and I laugh every time. I wish… oh how I wish… that I could talk to this kid today. I mean, assuming they would be willing to stop selling meth for a few minutes. Actually, I really do wish I could talk to the kid that made this. I would love to know how this desperate anger at a stranger arrived. Were they mad because of something at home?  Were they mad because they had to do this instead of something fun? Were they just mad because they had to take 2nd grade for 8 years? I am certain the kid has no memory of doing this (quick, try to remember a 2nd grade art project). Thank you, hateful little kid, for making me laugh once a year and reminding me of the true spirit of Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Pour some sugar on me…no,really

I recently discovered  a fun new life adventure. I started having to go to the bathroom frequently. Now, I know, you thought, “Wow, that DOES sound like fun. Where can I sign up?” I would be perfectly fine a few minutes away then suddenly have to pee like I had been holding it for hours. One day, I had to sprint in my house and leave the keys hanging in the doorknob. This became very embarrassing. Nothing says, “professional” like trying not to do the “pee pee dance” in front of a client. I started looking for adult diapers in size “king Hippo”.

With this new found superpower, I decided to put my symptoms into WebMD. Never, ever, ever, for the love of all the is holy, never do that. The first thing that pops up when you type ‘’frequent urination” into Google or WebMD was “kidney failure”. Then “bladder cancer” pops up. Last, “diabetes” shows up. All of these made a fine anxiety stew to just about cause a panic attack. I read a little more and decided to go to the pharmacy and get so strips to find out if there was glucose in my urine, and there was. Then I Googled/WebMD’d “frequent urination” and “glucose in urine”. Again, never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever do that.Again, the first thing that popped up was “kidney failure”.

I decided to schedule an appointment with a doctor. There was just one issue…I did not have a doctor.I had to call my insurance to find a doctor. One nice thing about our health care today, you can call an insurance company and after a mere 65 minutes on the phone you have the phone number of a doctor. Actually that should be “doctor” because I got the number of a massage therapist who accepts my health insurance. Now, I am a fan of a nice liniment rub as the next horse-sized individual, but I didn’t think that Rubby McRubberson was going to give me the diagnosis I wanted. So I got to call my insurance company again. If you think more than one phone call to an insurance company is fun, well, you probably enjoy the DMV on “free chili and hard boiled egg” day. Eventually, I found a doctor and scheduled an appointment for the next day. I took the day off work and went to the doctor’s office. As I walked into the doctor’s office, the receptionist/appointment taker said “Oh, our office is closing”. I told her that I had an appointment, but I didn’t mind coming back after lunch. She said, “No, not closing for lunch. Closing. We are no longer practicing medicine.” Total time since I made the appointment, 11 hours. If you think three phone calls to an insurance company are fun, then we can’t be friends. I finally got 7 numbers for doctors. On the sixth number I called, I found an individual who matched all the criteria of: 1) being a doctor 2) being a doctor of medicine 3) being alive/still in business 4)Accepting my insurance. As luck had it, they were also accepting new patients. It took six phone calls to numbers received from my insurance company to find a person who matched all the criteria. I can’t wait to file bankruptcy for medical bills, sure to happen with such a fine and “on the ball” insurance company. That, or II go in for a sinus infection and come out with a different gender.

I finally got a hold of a doctor, and got an appointment two weeks from the day I called. “ Two weeks? But I am sick now”. I Googled/WebMD’d again. (I don’t know if you heard, but that is a bad idea. ) It suggested that one of the causes could be drinking too much coffee. I decided to quit caffeine right away.  If you want to stop caffeine, I do not recommend this particular method. I thought I was dying. Not “man cold” dying, but “if I call 911, maybe they will cut my head off for me” dying. I was nauseous, had a migraine that was not only a mother but a father and a whole series of subsequent generations, was worried about my impending kidney failure/bladder/cancer/ovarian tumors (turns out I don’t even have ovarians), and every single joint in my body hurt. Every knuckle, toe, wrist, knee, elbow, shoulder, neck, and most of my back hurt. Somehow I survived. “Somehow” being mostly sobbing and asking to be waterboarded instead. Eventually, after a mere 72 hours, I only had a migraine.

I finally made it to the doctor and had to get blood drawn. I had an initial interview with the doctor. I asked about the caffeine because I wanted/still want/may always want coffee. He asked how much coffee I drank. I know I told him the wrong answer when he shouted ‘Whoa!”. I told him the truth that I drank 8-10 cups a day. That is only the truth because in order to drink 12-14 cups of coffee a day, one must first drink 8-10.  He told me “No caffeine and no alcohol” and I had to come back in 48 hours.

I went back to the doctor. The medical assistant left me in the room with my lab work. Since my lab work said “For Doctor blank”, it never even occurred to me to read it. Ha, Ha Ha Ha. I had that lab work open before the door was shut. It said, “dear fatty, you have diabetes. P.S. I know you are reading this without the doctor”. Actually, it had a breakdown of all my numbers and the one that tells if you have diabetes is a measurement called A1C combined with a lack of a certain protein showing kidney failure or other markers for cancer. A1C is supposed to be below 7%. Mine was 12%. Personally, I think the doctor left the lab work in the room on purpose, knowing I would read it. He also sent me to an endocrinologist to get some medicines. The doctor was actually a pretty great guy. We talked about my depression and how people diagnosed with diabetes often fall further into depression. ( I am not sure why. I mean, I can’t eat almost anything that is prepackaged, I basically brought this on myself with my diet and weight, If I am not careful I could slip into a coma or destroy some organs, and no matter how much I get it under control, I will eventually need more and more medicine. What about all that would depress anyone?).  He also told me I shouldn’t call diabetes “the sugar hiv” (hiv said as one word, not letters).

I left the doctor’s office and tried to call a bunch of people. Most people didn’t answer the phone, so I sent out a mass text. I was told by many people that my text wasn’t funny. They are wrong, I am always funny. My text said, “Good news, bad news. I gave myself diabetes, but at least I don’t have to worry about my 401k.”  I visited the endocrinologist and got some medicines.

One medicine is called Metformin. A very small portion of people get digestive problems from Metformin. What are the odds that I would fall into that group? Apparently 1 in 1. The first three days should have been called ‘Sorry you thought you had other plans” instead of ‘digestive distress”. On the other hand, in 6 hours I had met my three week weight loss goal.

I have had to deal with the anger of the disease. Unlike almost all the other diseases, I pretty much brought this on myself. I have struggled with self negativity in the past. In fact, a counselor had me count how many times I thought a negative thing about myself and I lost count after 167. That was pre-diabetes. Now, that number is laughably low. Now, in addition to work stress, financial stress, the inability to make and/or keep friends, being terminally single, being one of the few people who actually liked the Green Lantern movie, and having no hobbies, I also have a disease I gave myself. Also, the medicine seems to be making me lose my hair. 

Since my diagnosis, I have also found out that a lot of people in my life already have diabetes. That is making it easier, though I don’t really want to be in that club. Our secret hand shake is pulling  sugar packet out of a pocket.

So now, I have to adjust my life style.  Every pain in my body causes me to be certain that I have messed up too much and now organs have failed. I got an exercise tracker that cost $250 and could track my heart rate. Then, three weeks later, I got to buy another one because I lost it.  I have started dieting, always fun. I still am not allowed to drink alcohol. I am also not allowed to drink coffee. I coffee barely coffee even coffee notice coffee the coffee lack coffee of coffee delicious coffee coffee coffee.  The worst part of the disease so far is the fact that I am continually having songs like “Pour some sugar on me” go through my head. I guess there wasn’t a big market for ‘Pour some artificial sweetener like sweet n low or splenda on me”.

Hit me with a snot fist

I recently worked at a frightening worksite.

Lysite Sign

Proof that I am not very smart can be entirely summed up in one sentence. See the sign that reads “Poison Gas”? I drove towards the poison gas plant.

The poison gas is H2S. It is a byproduct of oil and natural gas refining. It is a gas that smells slightly of sulphur, just before it kills you. This site had so many deaths due to leaks, everyone has to carry around an emergency oxygen tank. Oh, I am sorry, “We performed a safety audit and determined that these escape breathers were necessary”. That is the official sentence from the company. That is more than likely a lie. No company voluntarily purchases $40,000 in emergency breathers because of “a voluntary audit”.

This plant was near a town that I thought was abandoned. I called it ‘American Horror Story: Scary Town”. Now, I have never seen the show ‘American Horror Story”, but the commercials were disturbing.

standard housescary town

scary town gate

This town looked like the end of every Stephen King novel. We drove in and I said, “Wow, it is always strange to drive through these old abandoned towns”. At that moment, an elderly woman in (of course) an antique nightgown walked out of her house with a broom to dust…the other dust, I assume. I was blown away. A person actually lives in this hellhole. Then her (I assume) husband walked out the door and waved to us. he was wearing the standard “Nature says do not touch” outfit of boxers, stained white tank top, one cowboy boot and one slipper, and a bathrobe (tied to his head, as per the norm). There is no store in the town, so I assume they just eat foolish contractors who did not get enough gas in their trucks before driving through.

 

I hated the site. It was hot, it was loud and my gas detector kept going off at random intervals.  Halfway through the project, I developed an illness.  The next part of this blog can be a little gross. Ok, you have been warned.

A couple days into the project, my eyes were irritated. I had a stuffed up nose and a sore throat. Then, on a Sunday, I started having blurry vision in one eye and kept having to wipe “sleep” out of my eye. Then, I blew my nose. Well, I tried to blow my nose. A stream of snot blew out of my tear duct. Yes, I screamed like a little girl and then made disgusting noises. Suddenly my vision got way worse. I went to a mirror to look and I saw that I had inflated my eyelids as well. I looked like this:

snot fist

I told my supervisor that I needed to leave the site. The nearest urgent care/doctor’s office was in Cheyenne.  I had to drive 150 miles with one working eye and one tear duct that may as well have been a loaded shotgun, excuse me, snotgun. It was difficult to drive that way because I felt so crappy, sorry, snotty. I eventually made it to an urgent care at 5 pm. The nearest pharmacy closed at 6. I was finally seen by a doctor. This man was a short, gray haired man with tiny glasses on his nose. I immediately thought of the movie “Doc Hollywood” and expected him to say,” Well, did you rub some Coke on it to fix it?” He asked if I could have any foreign particles in my eye. I wasn’t sure. He prodded with his abnormally large fingers and flipped eyelids this way and that. I told him about my new “snot fountain” ability. He said, “Well, they are all connected inside your head, son”. He told me I had an eye infection and wrote me a prescription for antibiotics. I raced across the street to the pharmacy. it was 6:01 pm on a Sunday as I rushed up to the counter. The people were closing up and I begged them to stay 5 minutes more and fill my prescription. I guess I used my “begging eye” (it was the left one and it looked like this: )

snot fist

They filled my prescription and then I started the 200 mile drive back to the hotel with antibiotics and a still loaded snotgun.

The drive was strangely uneventful. At least I assume it was. There may have been a bunch of things that happened on the left side.  More than likely, there was a Swedish Bikini team who loved to play video games and read comics , but they only needed a few gallons of gas (or my dirty clothes) to get to the next town. Oh well, guess I missed them.

The next day, my eye looked better. The picture I have shown here is the next day. That horrific sight that makes children scream and milk curdle was when it started to look better.

As a crew, we meet in the lobby of the hotel to start our safety meeting. I walked up to my site supervisor with an eye that looked like I had been punched by a fist made of snot and said, “I think I am too sick to come in, but if you need me to, I will come in”. The way the entire crew jumped back and could look me in the eye (well, not that I could tell. They may have been looking in the left one) pretty much sealed the deal. I had a day off. What joy! Nothing says “nice day off” like being able to watch snot drain from various orifices. I don’t know why people don’t pay for the experience. Oh wait, I did. Apparently, my insurance does not cover “snot geyser” so I had to pay $300 to keep an eye. I guess it was a good trade, but I would look dashing in an eyepatch. Ha ha, just kidding. I don’t dash anywhere.

Never finish a bucket list

Yet another speech I wrote for Toastmasters:

 

If you accomplish everything you wanted to do in life, would you stop trying to find exciting things to do?  Would you sit in your house, satisfied with life and knowing you excelled? My hope for you is that the answer to both those questions is “NO, of course not. I would continue to find something new and exciting to do or learn as long as I am able”. 

A few years ago, some friends and I made a “bucket list”. If you don’t know that term, it was originally a list that terminally ill patients made of things they wanted to accomplish before they no longer had the strength.  The list my friends and I made was not so dark. It was more of an adult version of “What I want to do when I grow up”.  Most of my friends had life events on their list such as “get married” or “have children”. The rest of us made lists of places we wanted to go and things to do.

Almost a year went by, and I had forgotten about the list. I was looking for a file on my computer and saw the bucket list again. I realized I had put off my whole list for work.  I decided to cross a couple things off my list.  Near the top of the list was “Visit Stonehenge, the Guinness Brewery, and kiss a woman on the Eiffel Tower”. I had recently been given a settlement from a car wreck and I decided to invest in a Roth IRA and prepare for my future. Ha, who am I kidding? I bought a round trip ticket to London , Dublin, and Paris.

I was so excited. I was going to see Stonehenge, the biggest henge ever. I got on the tour bus and we went to Stonehenge.  I am not sure what I was expecting. I was not immediately imbued with mystical energy.  I did not see some sort of astounding secret image. It turns out it looks exactly like the pictures everyone has seen, except a little smaller because tourists aren ’t allowed to get very close.  I went through the tunnel from the parking lot and there it was, one of the wonders of the world.  Just before the entrance was a tour bus driver and taxi driver lounge.  I walked quickly by in my excitement, but I glanced over at the lounge and saw the most bored looking people I have ever seen.  They had been to Stonehenge hundreds of times and they had lost their excitement.  To add  to the adventure, the tour bus had been stuck in traffic and we only had 45 minutes to see Stonehenge. I did the “Stonehenge Jogging Tour”, bought a magnet, and got back on the bus. We went back to London and the next day I took a day trip tour to Paris.

I get to see the most romantic city in the world, as defined by people who apparently lost their sense of smell.  Oh well, it is still Paris in the spring and it is romantic and…I don’t have a wife or a girlfriend, whoops.  I enjoyed the tour and we go to the Eiffel Tower.  About ten seconds into the Eiffel Tower tour I realized two things. First, there is a giant crowd of stinky people on the Eiffel Tower, making me not want to kiss anyone ever. Second, I was the only single person on the tour and I was more interested in the elevator than the ”romance” of the location. Don’t make too many assumptions, that elevator is awesome.

I went back to London and flew to Dublin the next day. Again, I was excited. “I get to see where that divine ambrosia called Guinness” is made!  I went on the brewery tour and was surprised to find out that it looks like… a brewery. 

I had a great time on that trip, but my anticipation of the trip was greater than my excitement after the trip.  When I got back, I had crossed things off my bucket list. I realized that I had almost completed my list in the few years since I had made it.  I had a choice. I could be content with what I accomplished or start a new list of things I want to do.  I chose to make a new list. I chose that I would not be content with past accomplishments.  This time I modified the rules for the list. Now I make certain that I add a place or task every time I complete one. I also added smaller goals. While I still want to scuba dive off a tropical island something that will cost thousands, I also want to learn to juggle, something that will cost about $20.  This allows me to keep striving to learn even if I don’t have a large amount of cash or time available. (What I like to call “a normal day”)

I will admit, I don’t live every day as if I am rising to a challenge or racing to meet a goal. Some days, the biggest challenge is taking my feet out of my toasty blankets and putting them on the cold floor.  If I let a week go by and I have not thought of some of my life’s goals, then the next week it is even easier to forget about them. Eventually, I am allowing life to slip by without putting up any sort of a fight. I have been a little disappointed in the reality of some of the places I have visited not matching my expectations.  I would rather be a little disappointed and still have that excitement of doing something I wanted to do than sit in my house and wave to life as it passes me by.  In order to do that, I can never allow my bucket list to get completely crossed off. I always want to add that one…new…thing.

A day in the life of Jim (Gym, get it…bah what do you know from funny)

This is a speech I gave tonight at Toastmasters. I may use it in a Humorous Speech Contest this fall. It needs some tweaks, but I am not quite sure where as of tonight. Stage directions to myself have asterisk.

Thank you Mr. Toastmaster

I need to make this quick because I only had one dinner tonight and I am worried that I am going to fade away.

I hate the gym. I know some of you heard that and thought (*sarcastic voice*) “Really? What a shock!” To those people, I say…Hush! This body came from a  steroid overdose. There are steroids in donuts, right?

Whenever you go to the gym, there is always the person at the front desk. This person’s job is to make sure you don’t “steal” the gym. Maybe it is just me, but if I knew that my job could be replaced by facial recognition software that is available today, I would try to be nicer. They are extra rude to fat people. When I walk in, they look at me as if they are thinking “No, the pizza place is around the corner. you must be lost.”  I am sure they have a hard job. The must need to go to a special school to learn to read one name every 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Maybe it is just a “very special” school, with very short buses.

Every gym has certain staples that are required for the building to be called a “gym”. Now, I don’t know if these guys are hired on or if they travel around as a hobby, but every gym has a naked old man that likes to stand like this (*Put one leg up on a chair or step in the ‘Captain Morgan” pose with elbow on the knee and an extra wide stance*) and talk to people. This can be especially disconcerting because they are sometimes sneaky. One minute, you are sitting on the bench and putting on your shoes. Then you look over and scream (*shriek*) “Not in the face, Not in the face!”. this can be bad, because sometimes the old man only hears the scream, so he thinks you are in trouble and moves closer to help you. This only exacerbates the problem, or problems, as they get closer to your face.

Another hated staple of the gym is the set of lockers that face each other with one bench in between. Sometimes, this configuration can cause two stranger’s naked backsides to meet in what can only be described as a horrible romantic comedy.

(*this bit was forgotten and needs tweaks*) After you have survived the psychological terrors of the gym locker room, you walk into the gym and see that everyone is in better shape than you. There are male and female Greek statues with such defined shoulder muscles, you could use them to bend steel. People are doing pull-ups while their body is horizontal, parallel to the ground, because regular pull-ups are just too easy. people have stacked dumb bells on their ends and are doing handstands on them. I always want to yell at them, “Listen freaks, go get a cape and fight crime like God intended. Leave the gym. You are done.” I restrain because I have seen every comic book movie, and the guy that yells at the freaks always gets a free butt-whoopin. (*end of forgotten bit*)

Even though I hate the gym, I don’t mind working out. One day, I received the suggestion that I should try yoga. So I went. I didn’t know. A lot of meaning can be taken from that phrase, I didn’t know. My first yoga experience was Bikram Yoga. If you don’t know what Bikram yoga is, let me explain. Someone found a portal to Hell and then said “is there any way we can make it hotter?” and put some heaters in the room. Then people pay to practice yoga. The problem with having fat people do yoga in a hot room is that you either get a horrendous smell, or in my case you smell and hear sizzling bacon.

The yoga positions had strange names. I couldn’t remember the names, so I made names up for the positions. “Downward Facing Dog” became “Position I fell in while drunk”.  There is another position where you wrap your right leg in front of your left leg and try to hook your right foot behind your left calf. And Squeeze (because why not). I couldn’t get my legs in position, because I have bones and cartilage and such. The yoga teacher came over and yanked on my leg, putting the squeeze on some parts. I thought my world had ended. I limped away from the class, trying not to cry.

I went to another yoga class where the teacher was not so (*sarcastic*) Hands on. They taught me “warrior pose”, an I kept giggling. You get a nice wide stance, exposing all the vulnerable parts and then extend your hands all the way away from your body, just like every fighting stance. You want to make certain that every vulnerability is wide open and your hands can’t defend anything. “Warrior”. In addition to making me laugh because of the name, the position made me laugh for another reason. Men are not usually what you would call ‘connoisseurs’  when it comes to buying underwear. Sometimes we buy underwear in the twenty pack that includes a free lighter. We that level of quality sometimes causes some…bunching…in areas. When that happens and you are unable to adjust, sometimes you take a super long step to clear things out. This is what warrior pose looked like to me.

That’s all I got (*seriously, no conclusion and poor grammar is your close? Fix this*)

Trying to be creative while creatively coming up with a creative title.

A content provider on a website I enjoy died last week. I did not know this person, nor did he have an amazing impact on my life. I enjoyed his content and did not give it an additional thought. His co-workers gave an informal eulogy on a podcast I listen to regularly. At the end of the eulogy, they said ” Instead of flowers or donations to charity, Monty would want you to be creative. Do something creative with your life.”

I have struggled with creativity for a long time.  In high school, I gave up on music as a career (not that it was extremely viable, but it was a possibility). The epiphany came to me when I went to a band camp. I realized I could not play any solos in jazz. The only way I could play a solo was to have someone else write one. This made things a little difficult,  “Hey, could you write a technical yet melodic solo that I can play when I am supposed to? Try to make it sound improvised if you could”  My music teachers always thought I was stubborn, but really I was unable to be successfully creative. When I was “creative” in making a solo, it sounded like someone had dropped a can full of cats down the stairs [you can pick the size of the can in your imagination. smaller cans are squishier, larger cans are louder].

I never got into visual arts or other performing arts because I lacked….that thing. What is it called? Oh yeah, talent or skill. Oh sure, I tried to draw a couple times, but the aforementioned lack of talent made blobs more than shapes appear. Lack of talent also made every single acting performance seem like someone on the wrong medication trying to speak to a public forum.

I tried my hand at writing. I wrote (and subsequently burned) some short stories. I even tried writing this blog. Unfortunately, I am not very skilled at conveying thought images into word things. This makes me not want to write very often. It also makes me not want to read what I have written.

I also tried to foray into public speaking, in the hopes of maybe finding some hidden talent as a comedian or motivational speaker from the van by the river. Turns out that my primary skill in public speaking is not urinating on my self (visibly, any way) while speaking.

I also tried the “art” of interacting with people. I am decidedly unskilled at that particular art. “Unskilled” in the same sense that elephants are unskilled in the art of supersonic flight.

Now this may surprise people, but my job does not allow for a lot of creativity. One is generally not very creative around electricity. At least, not more than once.  Most clients don’t want their circuit breakers to bang open and shut to the beat of “We will rock you”. Granted, that is not very creative since it is stealing someone else’s work, but it would be funny.

I have attempted a series of hobbies, from music to art. I try it at first for a couple weeks, but then can’t think of anything to draw or play, etc.

I spend much of my life admiring the creative efforts of others. My house is filled with art. My music collection is larger and more eclectic than most people could ever imagine. I have hundreds of books and comic books in digital form with me most of the day.  I love artistic movies, plays, books and music. I especially love video games for their art. My favorite video games combine a great story, great  scenery and character design, great music, great voice acting and smooth to operate controls.

With as much creative material as I am surrounded, one would think it would stimulate some form of creativity in my own self.

So a person who was one of the most creative people alive asked that people honor his memory by doing one thing creative. I have tried for 7 hours to come up with something. I am not counting cleaning the dishes as “creative”. Oh well, maybe tomorrow. The smell of the dishes will certainly be more creative then.

The zen of Christmas Past [put the past behind you],Christmas Future [Don’t worry about tomorrow], & Christmas Present…Don’t worry about it, I didn’t get you a present

Christmas season is upon us. For many people, Christmas is a time of joy and time with family. For the rest of us, it is a time of stress and frustration because we are not creating a “perfect” Christmas.

For my part, Christmas was never easy after sixth grade. In forth grade, I started playing saxophone. In sixth grade, I started participating heavily in Christmas concerts and similar. In seventh grade, I started participating in the Christmas parade in the town as well. These concerts and parades took up a large amount of time. They were often songs that were different from our fall concert or our spring concert. It required a lot of practice and some frustration.  Combine that stress with the inevitable winter break homework projects and the stress of two dysfunctional families trying to blend, and you have just a simmering pot of stress.

My biological father remarried some time between 6th and 12th grade. Every December 25, the jetstream would blow my step-mother off course and she would have to discard her broom for a couple weeks. December 25 was also the anniversary of the date of the spell the necromancer used to summon her to this plane of existence. [In case you didn’t get it, I am referencing her birthday].  My father would flit out of my life for six months at a time, return long enough to criticize my scholastic behavior, my social skills, and my lack of athletic abilities. He would also demand that I respect him because “He was my father”. After these tasks were completed, he would vanish for another 4-6 months. During that time, I usually could not contact him via phone or letters. [This method of parenting is, of course, ideal for building self-esteem in your children]. After one of these flits, he came back from the land of Erinyes with a new soon to be wife. She was tolerable when she and my father were dating, but once they got married, she looked at my siblings and I as if we had excreted all over the kitchen table. Granted, my sisters and I weren’t the greatest people to invite over to a house. We were hormonal teenagers, what was her excuse? Because she needed to replenish her cache of stolen souls, she would always ask for a birthday or Christmas present. Once again, teenagers. We bought presents with money given to us by our mother and stepfather. We did not magically come up with presents. Frequently, she would cast some Eldritch runes and ask us what presents we got for our stepfather (You know, the guy that was in our house every day for years). She would then kick up a fuss about us in the house and every unsatisfactory thing was nit picked.  [This method of parenting is, of course, ideal for building self-esteem in your children]. I am sure she was just upset that she didn’t get a Christmas present (or possibly that a house fell on her sister during a tornado). I used to be very bitter about this, and now I just hope someone gives her a nice Christmas present. Perhaps a nice large glass of water in the face or a nice new pointed hat.

My mother and stepfather always wanted a perfect Christmas.  Perfect Christmas often required a lot of things. The first thing that was required was a large Christmas tree. The perfect Christmas tree could only be found in the Sequoia National Redwood forest. We would chop down a 400 foot tree and tie it to the top of our minivan. Ok, I may be exaggerating. I am not exaggerating by much, however. We would get a 15-20 foot tree that required me and three of my friends to move all the furniture and stuff it in the back door. We would go to the “chop your own” Christmas tree farm and walk for hours until the sky split and angels sang as they lit up the tree.  My stepfather would fire up the chainsaw and we would chop the tree. This was usually a family outing. My friends and I would help lower one of the few relatives of Yggradsil to the ground. My sisters would often sit back and make comments in “valley girl” (Like, oh my gosh, I do not talk like thaaat). I kid, they were usually in the gift store or getting hot cider. My step father, my friends, and I would carry one of Treebeard’s relatives to the checkout. It being an evergreen tree, it would always put up a fight using little stabby things on the bark or by secreting some sort of soap impervious “sap” designed to prevent any movement of fingers or hands in the future.  We would get the tree to the house and suffer multiple eye gouges, scrapes and other minor injuries in order to finally get the tree in it’s stand and in the correct location. Invariably, we would have to turn the tree multiple times because of some invisible defect that was showing on the non-wall facing side. Also invariably, the tree would be revolved fully around at least two and usually three times to find the perfect side. Arguments suggesting that the side had already been viewed only fell on deaf and possibly pre-menstrual ears. These arguments could result in complete and utter breakdown of the tenuous peace brought on by plenty of sugared apple cider and seeing their brother (a horrible, stinky boy) work harder than they were. When we finished, we would string the lights up and hang the ornaments. I was left out of the design phase of the ornaments because I felt that the chaos method of hanging ornaments was acceptable. The chaos method of hanging ornaments is where you throw the box of ornaments at the tree and hope that some of them stick.

Of the things that I have done in my adult life to make Christmas better, getting rid of the tree has probably been the best decision. I have no mess, no needles all over the ground, and no continual reminder that I live alone. I actually did not mind the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree when I was a teen. I am just glad to not do it any more.

The second item of the perfect Christmas came from my stepfather. For a man that worked around paper all day, he really loved fire.  Every Christmas eve, he would make a fire in the fireplace. That sentence does not truly describe the fire. Hannaniah, Misha’el, and Azariah (a.k.a Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo) would be afraid of this fire. He loved the “Yule fire”. My stepfather would comb through hundreds of logs to find the perfect “yule log”. He would set it aside as if it were ancient treasure. On Christmas eve, he would start making the fire at about 4 p.m. By about 6 p.m., the first match would be lit for the fire. After a while, my parents would sit in front of the fire, probably immobilized by the heat. The rest of us would bring in our clay pots that needed to be hardened and our home blacksmithing kit into the front room. I would stay in the front room until the heat drove me out, usually about 4 minutes.  Then I would roll up a pair of pants , put them at the bottom of the door and open my window to try and not die of heat stroke.  After the heat from the “yule fire” generated a tornado in Northern California, it could be deemed to be a “good yule fire”.

Since I only had to clear some ashes and split some wood, I don’t really have any negative feelings towards the “Yule conflagration”. It was just a thing we did for a while until we got a different fireplace. My stepfather loved it, and that helped make Christmas perfect.

Christmas morning has some distinct memories. Most of the memories are scent and sound based. Christmas morning is either cinnamon rolls or orange rolls. There was also coffee, Baileys, and whipped cream. We would open presents one at a time. With seven people, this often became a long process.  My biological family is unfortunately good at puzzles. We would shake the present and guess the contents. To counter this, we would wrap boxes within boxes. We would put bricks or trash in the present so it would sound like a different gift. This game was not as fun for my stepfather’s family as it was for my biological family.  This game actually started before my mom and stepdad married. If you only have one or two gifts, unwrapping multiple boxes makes it feel like you received more presents.

The other tradition that carried over was the whole-in-shell nuts in our stockings. This was a tradition probably because the nuts were cheaper than other treats. Certainly, the nutcrackers we had prior to combining families were only strong enough to wrap gum. I have many Christmas memories of trying to smash whole nuts with a hammer or rock. I still think Brazil nuts are evil to this day.

The last piece of the perfect Christmas was the Christmas dinner. The funny thing about the perfect Christmas dinner is that there is one element that is the same, no matter which venue. There was always a meltdown in the kitchen. This happened at my great-grandmother’s house, at my stepfather’s parent’s house, or in our house. To be honest, the most meltdowns occurred when my biological family were the ones involved.  The most frequent problem was that dinner was not out on the table at precisely the time stated prior to cooking started. As an adult, I once tried to cook for 6 people. I almost had a nervous breakdown. This has been called “Disaster Thanksgiving” in my head for years. I understand how cooking for a lot of people can add all sorts of stress.  As an adult, I also realized that this stress was entirely imaginary. Instead of a breakdown due to time, I now change the time with the sentence ‘Sorry, cooking took longer than expected”.  I remember the Christmas dinners without meltdowns more fondly than the ones with meltdowns. It has been a while since I have had one of these Christmas dinners with a lot of people. Do you know, I can’t remember which dinners were later than expected? I can’t even remember what we had for Christmas dinner except for black olives.  If you are cooking for a lot of people this weekend and the stress gets to you, stop and have a break. Stop the meltdown and enjoy the moment. Yes, I know you are all thinking “Shut up kettle”, but it works better than a meltdown.

Christmas dinners were always good. It was always nice to get with friends and family. They are one of the favorite parts of my childhood, even if the salad fork was on the wrong side occasionally.

“Perfect” Christmas? Doesn’t exist. Make a good Christmas. Show the people in your life that you care for them. Don’t show with gifts. Gifts were my biological father’s method of trying to show love. Gifts determined how much we worshiped Kali, the queen of death…er, sorry auto correct…cared for my stepmother, in her eyes.  Gifts are nice, but shouldn’t be used to determine worth.  It is very easy to fall into that trap. It is tough to be calm around Christmas. Kids haven’t been in school for at least a week. It is winter and cold and wet. No outside play.  The urge to lock them in a closet while they are wrapped in duct tape can be overwhelming. Just show your family and friends that you care for them by spending some time with them (or away from them, as the situation requires). Steer away from anger and have another candy cane to create the perfect Christmas.

Have a Merry Christmas.