Bring your own fork

December 30, 2004 - Thursday

 Sicker Than A Dog

Okay, I lied, Santa didn’t give me coal, he gave me a cold. Blame the confusion on my stuffy nose. I’ve been down for the count and sicker than a dog for the last couple of days, but tonight I think there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Tonight, I feel almost human. Zombie-like, but human zombie, so it’s an improvement.

So in honor of how sick I’ve been — and so I can fill this entry out with some semblance of actual content — here’s a look at what our two dogs spend entirely too much time doing:



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December 26, 2004 - Sunday

 The Christmas Haul

I got coal. Screw Santa.

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December 25, 2004 - Saturday

 Santa’s Last Letter

We went over to Beth’s dad’s house tonight for dinner and gift exchange. Beth’s dad was very generous and gave Zoe the Ipod she’s been dying for ever since her best friend showed up at school with one. She was thrilled to get it, but it also presented a problem: she’s pretty sure Santa Claus knows she wanted one. So when we got home, she sat down to write a letter to him.

This is Santa’s last hurrah in this household, I think. Zoe is eight now and we think she halfway knows already that he’s not real but is holding onto the illusion so as to hold onto her childhood. I know she’s conflicted about it still, because she’s told me very matter of factly a few times that “Santa’s not real,” but on the other hand she’s been very concerned in recent weeks about being on Santa’s Good list. She knows, but she doesn’t know.

So tonight we went through what will probably be the last observance of our Christmas Eve Santa ritual: putting out carrots for the reindeer and milk and cookies for Santa. And as I said, Zoe wrote him this note too.

I’m going to miss the Santa illusion. Reading this note and knowing it’s his last Christmas makes me a little sad.

Bye, Santa. Thanks for everything.

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December 24, 2004 - Friday

 A Conservative Holiday Greeting

Conservacrits are all a-twitter this year over merchants saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” (Because, you know, Christmas is the only holiday that occurs this time of year.) They think it means people want to kill Christmas. (Because Christianity is “under attack” here in the nation they say is a Christian nation with a Christian majority that was founded on Christianity. But it’s in jeopardy! It’s under attack! It’s fun to play the victim, innit?)

So for these concerned souls on Christmas Eve I offer a holiday greeting containing two of their favorite words. It’s a Christmas song immortalized by Bing Crosby, among others. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.

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December 22, 2004 - Wednesday

 Gift Wrap… And Wrap And Wrap And Wrap

I just finished wrapping one of Beth’s Christmas presents. It measures about 4″ x 4″ x 1″, it took me three tries to get it right, and I used about six square yards of wrapping paper and four linear feet of tape doing it.

The Christmas Spaz is in town.


I just wrapped a second gift. Two tries this time. I’m improving, but need to remember the old construction adage “Measure twice, cut once.” I keep reversing it.

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December 21, 2004 - Tuesday

 Is This The Party To Whom I Am Speaking?

This is an actual telephone conversation I just had:

My phone rings:


Me: Hello?
Him: Hello?





I can do this all day, you know. Hellooooo.


Uh… I think I have the wrong number.
No shit.


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December 19, 2004 - Sunday

 My Host is Toast

I’m looking for help from you, my superfantastic readers. After spending much of Sunday with my website/domain/email down, and after putting up with multiple small but annoying glitches in my administration of same over the past few months, I think I’m ready to pack up and move deadpan to a new hosting service. So I’m looking for recommendations. Gimme some names, people!

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December 17, 2004 - Friday

 Fender (not) Bender

I had me a little car accident today, little in the sense that I hit a little car with my big truck.

Zoe and I were tooling down the street on our way home and this stupid little white Honda CRX kept getting in my way. You know how traffic sort of has a flow to it, with everyone going pretty much the same speed and holding that speed until there’s a reason to either speed up or slow down? You can turn to look at your passenger, say, and your Driving Brain sort of keeps track of where the cars around you are moving even as you’re not looking at them, and when you turn back to the road, voila, they’re all right where they’re supposed to be? Well, this stupid nipplehead in the CRX kept being in the wrong place.

Motherfucker was driving slow, and for no apparent reason, and with no apparent pattern. Once she was three car lengths ahead of me in the lane to my left and I went to change lanes and slide in behind her. I hit my turn signal, checked my side mirror, looked over my left shoulder, and started my drift over in behind her — and the dumb bitch was suddenly right where I was trying to be! She slowed down for no apparent reason — the car in front of her kept moving along just as it should have — and as a result I damn near changed lanes into her. I have no idea what she was doing but in the span of time it took to take my eyes off her to check my blind spot — BAM, she was right fucking there! I remember I even said something to Zoe about it, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t use Kids Are Around language.

So I finally managed to slide safely in behind her and we’re tooling along and Zoe and I are talking about whatever and I looked over to the left at a store across the street–

And when I looked back front again this stupid cow was stopped dead right in front of me. The car in front of her had his brakes on but hadn’t stopped, and there were probably four car lengths between her and him — car lengths I really wish she had filled with, oh, maybe her own fucking car.

I slammed on the brakes and braced the wheel and just held on. I wasn’t going very fast, maybe only 35 or 40, but it was plenty fast when the car I was barreling down on wasn’t moving at all. I remember thinking I should be pumping my brakes and then thinking I didn’t freakin’ have time to pump my brakes because I needed every little bit of braking I could get before I hit her. And then I started thinking I was going to make it, it was going to be reallyreally close but I was going to make it. And then the wheels locked up and I started skidding and I knew I wasn’t going to make it.

And WHAM! I hit her.

I looked over at Zoe. She looked over at me, wide-eyed but okay. Okay, I thought, we’re okay. But that little toy car I just hit, that can’t be okay.

I got out expecting to see an accordion, with the rear end of the car folded up around its hood. Surprisingly, it looked okay. No visible damage at all, really, just a small 2-inch crease on the bumper on either side of the license plate. I was shocked.

The woman driving it was shocked too. She was frozen behind the wheel, shaking, hyperventilating. I bit back the urge to rip her a new one for stopping for no fucking apparent fucking reason and instead tried to be Solicitous Mr. Nice Guy. I mean, hey, I hit her, even if it was her fault it’s really my fault, and besides, being a dick would pretty much guarantee an insurance claim. Plus, she needed a shave — she had the beginnings of a beard under her chin like a billy-goat and it freaked me out.

So I played nice guy. I pointed out where she could pull her car to the curb and blocked traffic so she could get over there. I helped her out of her car, urged her to “just breathe, take it easy, it’s going to be okay” and suggested maybe she should sit on the curb until she calmed down a little, I wrote down my info for her, I reassured her, I tried to make her feel better. I treated her like I’d want someone to treat Beth if she were in an accident.

Bottom line: she seemed to be okay, she said nothing hurt and she said she felt fine. Of course, you don’t feel whiplash or find expensive body damage or whatever until the next day when you’ve verified the other person’s insurance, but her car looked okay and she seemed okay and maybe this will go away without insurance getting involved. We’ll see. The car is 14 years old, so it was probably totalled just by her turning the ignition, so if anything it’ll be a medical claim. I just hope she’s cool about it and keeps feeling healthy.

On our end Zoe’s fine, I’m fine, the truck’s fine, everything’s fine. The only hint that we had an accident is a scuff of white paint on my front bumper from her car. But why would I expect anything more? I drive a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60 and I hit a Honda CRX Matchbox toy. I’m surprised the CRX survived at all.

As I told Zoe when we got back in the truck to leave, “That’s why we drive a Land Cruiser: so if we have an accident, we’re the ones who walk away.”

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December 16, 2004 - Thursday

 The Hurling

Zoe is sick with a stomach flu today, puking her little guts out. I set up a little couch cushion camp for her on the family room floor in front of the TV and she’s spent the day there watching Nickelodeon, sipping Sprite, and puking into a bowl.

(What is it with me and people puking around me this month?)

At one point Zoe was retching into the bowl I was holding and her hair dipped into the bowl and the watery goodness within. I tracked down a hair tie for her (and had a depressing flashback as it occurred to me that I didn’t need to look in my bathroom drawers for one because it’s been a good ten years since I wore my hair in a ponytail), and then I tied her wet, puke-dripping hair back and rubbed her back while she heaved.

And I reflected on how parenthood completely obliterates your barriers to other people’s bodily… excretions. Poopy diapers, drool, wet beds, vomit; it’s all part of having a kid. You can’t be a real, involved parent if you aren’t getting upclose and personal with the excretions. You learn to live with it, you learn to not let it gross you out. Hell, Zoe’s even pooped in my hand when she was an infant, and I just sat there holding a handful of warm shit for another minute or so until the rectal thermometer I had crammed up her butt had registered its reading.

Dating, romance, love, sex, whatever you want to call it, that’ll knock down your barriers too, but at least then you get something out of it. Sex is all about the exchange of bodily fluids (and some people mix the piss and blood and shit in with that, but that’s just fucking weird). As a general rule, sex is the one time in life when you actually want to go dabbling around in another person’s excretions.

Or at least the promise of sex. Because as I was holding Zoe and rubbing her back while she dry-heaved into the bowl, I had a flashback to a drunken evening I enjoyed somewhere around age 19 or 20, circa 1980-something. I was out with Rhonda from across the street, and Rhonda had had a bit too much to drink. I had a huge crush on Rhonda and wanted to get into her pants in a MAJOR way and so I held her hair away from her face and rubbed her back as she puked into the gutter and all over my brand new Kangaroo high tops. I have the age and experience now to know that all holding a girl’s hair while she’s puking will get you is puke on your shoes, but I had the best of bad intentions then and it seemed like the thing to do.

So I remembered that while I was holding Zoe and I noticed the similarities between parenthood and dating. But there’s one critical difference, at least for me: I love Beth and I married her and I’ve been with her for more than 10 years now — but Zoe’s the only girl I will ever let shit in my hand.

And no guy had better ever let me catch him holding Zoe’s head while she’s puking in a gutter.

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December 14, 2004 - Tuesday

 In Hot & Cold Water

I couldn’t let last week’s disastrous scuba outing keep me out of the water for too long, so I was back on the ferry again Sunday morning for another trip to Catalina Island. This time the seas were smoother and the diving conditions friendlier and we managed to stay dry on the boat and get wet at the dive park — as it should be. I set a personal depth record on my two dives — 93 and 92 feet, and more importantly: I got wet and had fun.

One of my dive buddies took his camera down with him and got some great footage of us swimming through a school of fish so thick you could hardly see through them, but I don’t know how to post it here and don’t think I’d want to give up the 26 mb of storage space if I did. So instead I’ll post a still shot of me on the same dive. Sharper-eyed viewers among you might notice that I’m tilted to the right even after you account for the tilted angle from which the picture was taken. I’ll be blaming the new hooded vest Beth gave me, which I’m modeling in the picture. The vest adds some buoyancy so I had to carry another 3lbs, and you try to divide 3lbs to distribute the weight evenly. Go ahead, I dare you. In the meantime, I’ll just list slightly to one side — about 3 lbs worth.

There was an added complication to last week’s dive that I never got around to mentioning, so I guess I’ll mention it now that it’s been cleared up. Last Sunday morning, as I was making coffee at 5:45 am in preparation to try to go diving, I heard a scary noise coming from the water heater on the kitchen side of the house. It sounded just like water gushing from under the water heater that supplies the washing machine and dishwater and guest bathroom. I investigated and determined that it was water gushing from under the water heater, and I did the only responsible thing I could do: I turned the water to the water heater off, woke Beth up with the words “Honey, we have a problem”, and then I left to go diving.

One of the guys in my dive club is a fireman, and if you know anything about firemen you know that they are all about doing construction-type jobs on the side — building decks, laying brick, doing plumbing repairs, building fences… Did I mention plumbing work? So I called Mark and asked him to come take a look at it for me. His diagnosis: you need a new water heater.

So all of last week, we’ve been living without that water heater while we waited for Mark to have time to come put the new one in. Fortunately we have a second water heater that supplies the master bathroom where everyone showers, but the washing machine and dishwater on the other end of the house were out of commission. So for the last week we’ve been doing dishes old-school: boiling water on the stove and filling the sink with it. It’ll do in a pinch, but I’m happy to have hot water come out of the faucet again. You can keep your pioneer days scrubbery to yourself, thankyewverymuch.

Mark left a few hours ago and we are up to our elbows in hot water and suds now and couldn’t be happier. And best of all, Beth can stop being the Dish Nazi and insisting Zoe and I eat off paper plates and use plastic knives and forks.

And as an added bonus, I think this proves that scuba diving isn’t the expensive hobby Beth claims it is, but rather that it makes good financial sense to do it: it’s how I met Mark, who saved us a ton of money we would have spent on a plumber. I think it’s clear that the more I go diving, the more money we’ll save. I’m not doing it for me, it’s for the family.

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One Year Ago Today (ish)



December 2004
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