Sunday, January 31, 2010

Me? Not So Bright

I am not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. But let me tell you what was bright. The interior light of my car, as it shone when I walked into the garage on Thursday morning. It was still shining from the night before, when I had pulled the car up to the mailbox when I got home from work. I had switched on the interior light so I could see what I was doing as I pulled the mail from the box.

The light continued to shine as I closed the mailbox and drove down the driveway and into the garage. It continued to shine as I pushed the button and closed the garage door. It continued to shine as I gathered my things and went into the house.

It was still on as I waited for the repair man who was due to arrive at 5:30. It was still on when the repair man actually showed up at 6.

It remained on as I debated whether or not to take the car down to the truck stop to fill it with gas. I would have done it on the way home, but was rushing to meet the repair man who was a half hour late anyway. It remained on as laziness won out, and the “Ah, screw it, I’ll do it tomorrow on the way to work,” and the comfy, fleecy sweatpants slid over my hips and tied at my waist.

It was still illuminated when I read before falling asleep. It was still illuminated as I slept. It was still illuminated as I ran 4 miles on the newly repaired treadmill on Thursday morning. It was still illuminated as I showered, dressed, fed the dogs, ate, and got freaked out over the mysterious foot prints on the deck.

Then it was shining as I walked into the garage so that I could get into the car, start it, and leave for work.

Only it didn’t start. At all. The ignition verfed, snurged, spat and clicked. I gave up and took the truck (a.k.a. the meat wagon, because it’s bright red and huge) into work.

On Friday morning we jump started the car and let it run for about 15 minutes as I ate breakfast and packed lunch. It takes me 20 minutes to get to work; 35 minutes would be enough to get the battery up to snuff. I got behind the wheel, shifted into reverse, and the engine silenced. I started the car again, shifted into reverse, and the engine cut out again.

Then I turned the key just so the ignition would verf, snurg, spit and click again. Without enough energy to move, my poor little jeep barricades the driveway. With the interior light off.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

It’s Not That I Am a Fraidy-Cat

Well, maybe I am. A little bit.

For the next few weeks, Todd will be on what I call the Great American Nerd Tour 2010. He will visit something like 10 cities in the next 3 weeks or so, and then he’ll go to Vegas for a conference sometime in February. (I can’t remember when, and I really should pay better attention.) While he's traveling he has lots and lots of meetings schedules where he'll talk about technological things that contain lots of initals and lots of acronyms. 

On Sunday night we came home from Kalahari. I unpacked the suitcase, and on Monday morning he re-packed it and headed back to the airport. He hopped a plane to San Diego. When he was done evading IT groupies as they threw undergarments at him (held together by duct tape), he flew to San Francisco. Then on Wednesday hopped a red-eye back to Providence and stumbled into work on Thursday morning.

I’d been alone in the house since Monday. I enjoy being alone, and used to live alone before I moved in with Todd at the ripe old age of 24. I look forward to having the place to myself for a few days, so long as the lights stay on. But now that I am so used to living with my big strong man, the bliss of being alone for a few days is slightly tainted with trepidation.

I mean, any psycho could be hiding out in the woods that surround my house at any given moment. And surely that psycho will have a freshly sharpened axe. And that psycho will know enough to bring steak bones for the dogs. Hell, my dogs would settle for a tennis ball as payment and grant anyone access to the house. The psycho isn’t psycho enough to kill my dogs, just me.

On Wednesday morning before I left for work (on time, thank you very much) I put the dogs out the front door. I walked out with them. Of course, they caught the scent of something and walked around the back. I followed them through the gigantic puddles that formed back there from the snow melt and recent rain. They finished their business and led me up the deck stairs, where I saw wet foot prints leading up the stairs to the back door. I hadn’t walked on the deck at all that morning.

Let me say this again. There were wet foot prints leading to my door. And they weren’t mine. My heart pounded in my chest. Was it the psycho with the tennis balls and the freshly sharpened axe? I frantically scanned the tree line around the house for evidence of the psycho. Then looked back at the foot prints. The tread didn’t match my “dog chasin’ shoes.” (Yes, I have a pair of shoes devoted to this purpose. I can slip them on quickly when they bolt, and always leave them by the back door. Next to them are my Crocs, that I wear when we walk to the hot tub from the door.)

I opened the back door, which I hadn’t locked the night before when I went to bed. I thought my hands were shaking, but it was actually the dogs nosing at them demanding treats for coming straight home after pooing. I stepped onto the deck again and looked at the foot prints. I bent down and traced them with my fingers.

They weren’t wet. They were frozen. Wet shoes had made these tracks at one point and the surface of the deck was so cold that the pattern froze. I examined the tread pattern and compared it to my dog chasing shoes and confirmed they didn’t match. I went back to the boot tray, just inside the door, to look for a more logical explanation. My paint splattered Crocs sat in the tray.

The night before I’d worn my Crocs instead of the dog chasin’ shoes. I had unlocked the back door and let the dogs out. They took off down the trail behind the house, and in the dark I splashed through an ice-cold puddle near the chicken coop as I chased them. I cursed my choice of footwear as the water penetrated the holes and drenched my socks. Once I lured the dogs back to the deck, the Crocs sloshed and squeaked as I walked.

I picked up one of the Crocs and held it near the frozen foot print. A perfect match.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I softly knocked on the half open door. The blinds were closed on his office window, so I couldn’t tell if he was concentrating on something and whether I would be interrupting him.

“Yeah,” he called out. He said it with a flat tone of voice, and I couldn’t tell what kind of day he was having. You never could tell with Greg, and no matter how hard I tried I could never seem to get him to smile. I practiced jokes in the bathroom mirror every morning, trying to perfect my delivery. My jokes were met with an awkward silence, and after a few months I gave up and resigned myself to serious workdays in a confining, gray workplace.

“Um,” I cleared my throat. I threw pleasantries out the window after a few months of working there too. Greg wasn’t much for pleasantries. “I have my ideas for the ads for the online campaign. Want to hear them?” I shifted my weight as I stood in the door, conscious of his gaze. He swiveled in his chair, after pressing the “save” command on his keyboard. His face always held an expression I could never decipher. It contained irritation, mixed with curiosity and a twist of sarcasm. It wasn’t exactly a sneer, but it wasn’t entirely indifferent either. This time he raised his eyebrows as if to say “Oh, this ought to be good.” Only he didn’t think it would be good at all. In fact, his expectations of me had become quite low.

He had two chairs facing the front his desk. I discovered on the day of my job interview that one of them squeaked loudly. Occasionally I forgot and sat in the squeaky one. On those days the squeak completely threw off my game. It distracted me every time I fidgeted uncomfortably while being scorched by Greg’s stare. With every squeak his stare grew harder. I couldn’t remember which one squeaked, and after debating for a few seconds I sat in the left one.  It squeaked as I sat in it, and it would look weird if I got up and moved into the other one.  So I stayed with Ol Squeaky.

He pulled a special wet wipe from his second drawer, and proceeded to wipe the lenses of his glasses with it. The smell of the cleaning solution wafted and stung my nostrils. It smelled like cheap citrus vodka. I gagged a bit, and tried to cover it up by clearing my throat again. Not for the first time I wondered how he could wear his glasses after he’d used those noxious cleaning wipes. The smell alone would make anyone’s eyebrows fall out; Greg’s were intact, however.  They were probably strengthened by all the sneering.

Greg replaced his glasses, and then wordlessly folded his hands on his desk. I’d learned in the few months I’d worked for him that this was my cue to begin. I set my notes on the edge of his desk, careful not to let my things mix with anything on his desk. Greg’s desk was sacred ground where my papers were strictly forbidden from fraternizing with his. I imaged one of his pure-bred printouts having to sheepishly inform him that she’d gotten knocked up by flea-bitten mongrel notepad. Greg would passive-aggressively inform the printout that she was a tramp and no longer welcome in his office. The print out would then fold itself inward, slink out of the office and swan dive into the shredder next to the photocopier.

Speaking rapidly and wildly tapping my pen against my thigh, I presented my ideas. I held up my rudimentary sketches, explained the concepts and the sites where the ads would run.   He raised his eyebrows at the stick figures I'd drawn.  I wish I'd hired some sort of artist to help me prepare for this presentation.  Maybe next time I'd hire a sculptor.

When I was done, he leaned back in his chair. He folded his hands, as if in prayer, and rested his mouth on his finger tips. He stared, blankly, at his desk. I couldn’t tell what he was looking at. Was it the brass clock in the shape of a ship’s steering wheel? Was it the decorative pen set that he’d glared at me for using once?  Was it the picture that I'd mistakenly thought was of his mother, but learned it was really of his wife? Then he fixed his gaze back on me. I knew this expression, because I’ve seen it on his face before. It was the “You are by far the stupidest person I’d ever met” expression. The stomach acid rose through my esophagus and I could taste its metallic flavor on the back of my tongue. It was the same flavor I’d experienced that very morning when I had grasped the guardrail and vomited on the side of the highway on the way to work in preparation for this very meeting. My palms began to sweat; I braced my hands against my thighs to stop the spasm in my quadriceps.

I felt myself fold inward and slink toward the door, like so many sullied pure-bred printouts. I cautiously avoided the shredder as I made my way back to my office. I paused at the water cooler to wash the taste of puke out of my mouth.

I flopped in my chair and scanned my emails, thankful that my office mate was not at her desk. I didn’t want to talk about it. She and I had spent weeks brainstorming ideas for the campaign. She, the employee that he interacted favorably with, was convinced he’d love our ideas. She appeared at the door not two seconds after I sat down.

“How’d it go?” she asked when she took her seat.

“I have to start all over again.”

“What did he say?”

“Nothing. And that’s the problem. I wish he’d just fire me and get it over with already.”

I thought these nightmares would have stopped by now.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You Know What I Love About Water Parks?

I love the rides, but water parks aren’t ALL about the rides for me. I love the easy access to junk food, because who doesn’t love instant access to dippin’ dots, or waffle cones oozing with frozen deliciousness. But it’s not just the ice cream either, and I can’t believe I just wrote that. I love ice cream. A lot.

It’s the people watching. I love people watching. And what’s great about going to a water park on a sunny day is that I can check out people all day long and nobody knows it because I am wearing sunglasses. Checking people out at an indoor water park is a lot harder. Nobody wears sunglasses at an indoor water park; I have to take care to keep my ogling subtle.

All day long at a water park I am surrounded by half naked people, and I am constantly fascinated at how each person I see has a unique shape. You could put two women in an identical bikini in the exact same size, and it will look different on each one. So, yes, I do stare at people at the water park. And it probably makes me look weird and pervy. But really, I am admiring the art of the human body and not only the sexual aspects of it.

Speaking of art, another thing I get to see at water parks on most of the half naked bodies are tattoos. Lots and lots of tattoos. Every time I go to a water park I am constantly amazed at what people were willing to permanently etch onto their skin.

At Schlitterbahn in San Antonio I saw a man with the Ford logo tattooed onto his back. This dude liked his truck so much he got the swirly Ford cursive name on the blue oval tattooed across is back. There was no registration or trade mark on it, so I wonder if the company can sue him now? I didn’t see anyone with a Toyota or Honda logo on their person, and really wish I had so I could see Toyota tatt man and Ford tatt man duke it out.

At Six Flags in New England I saw a man with the entire cast of the Simpsons tattooed on the small of his back. Dude liked the cartoon, so he got it inked in. Every single character too.

At Wet N Wild I saw a man with a Care Bear on his shoulder. Ooooh, manly!

At Kalahari I saw a man whose arms were covered in various tattoos. On his forearm he had a bottle of booze next to a naked woman. Beneath them a ribbon swirled, on which it said “Stewed and Screwed.” Classy! Dude will never regret that one, I’m sure.

Todd and I struck up a conversation with a man in a hot tub at a ski resort once. He had some Asian characters tattooed on his forearm. Todd asked the guy what the characters meant, and the guy rattled off a bunch of things like “Strength, wisdom, integrity… blah blah blah…”

“So, how do you know it doesn’t say ‘American asshole’ on it, or something?” I asked, not being able to contain my inner smartass. Who am I kidding? There is nothing inner about my smart ass. It’s out there in front, snickering at just about everything I see. But I am always suspicious of things written in languages I don’t know how to read. (When we bought Sabine, her name was Tara Vana. Supposedly that means “Crazy Man” in Tahitian. But I know it actually meant “Loser American Dickweed.” That is the only thing that “Tara Vana” could possibly mean.)

The man chuckled and said “Well, I looked it up on the Internet before I got them done.”

Todd and I looked at each other, and I could tell we were both thinking the exact same thing, my inner smartass shut her trap before saying,“Yeah, because everything on the Internet is true, right?”

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Monday, January 25, 2010


In the last few years we’ve come to consider ourselves water park aficionados. We tacked on a week to our honeymoon so that we could go to San Antonio, TX to visit Schlitterbahn—the nation’s largest outdoor water park. (Then we visited Schlitterbahn’s sister park on South Padre Island, TX too.) We’ve been to Wet n Wild, Six Flags New England’s water park, Six Flags Atlanta’s water park, Aquatica, Discovery Cove, Blizzard Beach, Six Flags Great Escape Lodge in Lake George, NY, and a few more I can’t recall at the moment. Before I knew Todd, I’d been to Action Park in New Jersey as well.

At Christmas Todd surprised me with a trip to Kalahari, located in the booming metropolis of Sandusky, Ohio.  Kalahari is the largest indoor water park in the nation.  It has a dozen or so rides, one of which is a water roller coaster that was clearly designed to mimic Schlitterbahn’s Master Blaster. There were two funnel rides, one was a tube ride, the other was a slide that ended in a funnel. There were rides on which we had to ride a mat, and there were others that we just rode on our butt. The park also included a giant wave pool beach under a specially designed ceiling that allows UV rays to penetrate so that park visitors can get a suntan while playing in the waves.

The only thing I didn’t like about this park was that the rides were all in complete darkness. The tubes were constructed of opaque fiberglass that didn’t allow light to penetrate. As a result we did not have a sense of where we were going as we slid down the tube. I’ve come to appreciate this variety at other parks, when only a few of the slides are in complete darkness. The innate thrill of not knowing which way the tube will bend, and whether I will be dropped down a steep incline at any given second, is an exciting change from sliding down the tube in the sunlight.

However, every single ride in complete darkness creates an unsettled queasy feeling, especially when riding backward. Toward the end of the first day I started feeling motion sick because my eyes could not detect motion in the dark, and conflicted with my body which clearly detected motion. I do not get motion sick. I am the kind of girl who can ride 7 different roller coasters in under 3 hours and still eat a funnel cake at the half way point. I am the kind of girl who remains at the helm, beer in hand, in 8-10 feet waves hollering at the heavens “Is this all you’ve got??” while my husband “feeds the fish” off the back of the boat. He gets motion sick. I do not. Yet, over the weekend I got my quease on while riding in complete darkness at Kalahari.

But there were other things going on a Kalahari that took the edge off the queasiness.  We headed over to the spa and took in a deep tissue couples massage.  We took advantage of the opportunity to play with a 9 week old Bengal tiger cub.  Twice.  We rubbed her belly while she tried out her baby tiger roar on us; the only response she received was 'Awwwwwww!'  We went to the hot tub bar, bellied up and received our fancy tropical drinks while soaking in a hot tub.  Then we carried the drinks outside--and that was the only time we'd been outdoors for the entire weekend.
But other than the complete darkness, I would totally do Kalahari again—maybe next winter to beat the February cabin fever.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

I am currently attending a 2 day training session for work.  I've been looking forward to it since I enrolled a month ago, as I am an academia junkie.   The other reason why I've been looking forward to this particular training session is because of the location.  It's in Burlington, Massachusetts in the same building where I worked in my first post-college job.

It was August 1996 when I first walked into the building and rode the elevator to the 5th floor.  It was just as the wave was cresting.  I wore a suit and heels on my first day, because at age 22 I thought that's what I was supposed to do.  I quickly learned that the mid-90's office attire did not include suits.  I had a window cube, and my cube mate, Tamara, became a fast friend.  On my first day she wore jeans and a Miller Lite T-shirt.  The suit went to the back of my closet, and never surfaced again until it went to it's final resting place at the local Salvation Army.

I worked for a software company that offered training sessions to the customers on how to use the software.  It was my job to set up the training sessions--make sure the training room on the first floor was set up, order catering, make sure the students knew where to go, etc.  On the days that we ran classes I started work at 8, and had my pick of leftover pastries and sandwiches.  Even better than the free lunches was the paid over time.  I got time and a half for the extra hour that I came in early, and for the hours I stayed late.  I skipped lunch breaks to bulk up the OT.  I logged about $4,000 in over time my first year, which was awesome because as a 22 year old I was paid nearly nothing. 

I ended up leaving the company in February 1998.  I was almost 24 and ambitious.  I wanted to move out of the administrative role I was in at the software company.  (Not only did I coordinate all the training, I also did crap like process expense reports, and whatever else needed doing.  One of my big tasks was faxing things because the engineers didn't understand how to use the fax machine, despite the gigantic sign I posted with step by step instructions.)  The company didn't have anywhere for me to move up to, so I decided that "Quit your way to the top" would be my motto, and I left. It was the kind of company that hired a 32 year old man to be the VP of sales, and made a very big deal about how young he was.  But couldn't seem to find a way to promote me, despite my wanting to move up and grow.

I haven't set foot in this building since I left in 1998.  But the sense of "I haven't left" took over as I drove into the parking lot this morning.  I saw a green Jeep Grand Cherokee parked where a former co-worker parked back then and even thought to myself "Oh, Bill's already here."  Then I blinked and thought "No, Bill's not here.  It's been 12 years.  Bill's long gone.  He probably doesn't even have that car anymore, either."

When I walked in, I saw that the atrium inside hadn't changed a bit.  The office fronts had changed only slightly.  I entered on the second floor, and looked down to where the training room was on the first floor.  I was hoping that my class today would have been held in "my" training room, but it's wasn't.  I fought the urge to go up to the fifth floor and demand to see if my cube was still there.  The company is no longer there.  It was acquired and moved out of the building in 2002.

I walked into the office on the second floor where the training was being held.  There was a cafe area where the company put out a spread of cereal, pastries, bagels, and coffees.  There were two bottles of syrup for flavoring the coffee.  There was a fridge filled with sodas, juices and water.  It was the kind of spread that dot.coms used to put out for their employees.  Sandwiches were served for lunch, and at 2 they served us ice cream as well.  I looked around me one more time and thought "Is it 1996? Where am I? When am I?"

After the training got out, I went to the mall near the office.  I shopped a bit, then hit the food court--where Tamara and I went on my first day.  The food court had an Indian restaurant, and it was on that day that I had tried Indian food for the first time.  Tonight I walked into the food court and quite literally jumped up and down at the sight of the Indian restaurant still in it's spot in the food court.  I ordered channa masala for dinner, the same thing I'd had that day with Tamara. 

All these fond memories of my time there came flooding back to me today.  I was working at this job when Todd and I started going out in 1997.  We had eaten a picnic lunch under a tree beyond the parking lot one day.  It was leftovers from the fantastic Italian meal we'd gotten in Boston's North End the night before.  He used to visit and bring goodies for my co-workers--bagels, or cookies.  It was impossibly sweet of him, especially since he was broke and couldn't afford to do that.  He did it anyway.

But it's not just the fond memories of being in that building.  It's the fond memories of that time in my life.  I had my first apartment, in which I lived alone.  I moved to a new city and made new friends.  I played my guitar all the time and played shows.  I was 10 pounds lighter.  I was 14 years younger.  I was more ambitious about my career.  It was my first job out of the 14 jobs I've worked since. 

Everything looks the same around here, just a little more developed since 1998.  And somehow it looks smaller.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

I’ve Always Wanted to Catch Pneumonia

“I’ve never seen a dog more on his own schedule than Griffen,” Emily commented. It was the night after Thanksgiving, and we stayed up until roughly a million o’clock talking. Griffen was dozing on the dog bed, and I had to wake him up to get him to go upstairs to go to bed. I called to him and he lifted his head and stared. He wasn’t looking at me, more like he was looking through me. I knew he wasn’t awake. I tossed a throw pillow at him before I attempted to jostle him awake with my hands. He’s been known to snap at me when in that state—not intentionally, he’s just not fully awake.

But Emily’s right. Griffen lives on his own schedule, for the most part. When I put him out he will come back when he’s good and ready and not a second sooner. Never mind the fact that we call him over and over, and we wander through the woods to the neighbor’s compost pile to try to lure him home. When he’s done checking out the compost, he’ll come home. Obedience schmobedience.

Tonight I jogged on our treadmill for more than 4 miles. I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts and was slick with sweat. I put the dogs out and stood on the icy front steps while they did their business on the front lawn. Griffen got it in his head that he absolutely needed to go to the neighbor’s house at exactly that moment.

I stood on the steps as he crossed in front of me, and ran for the woods. “Griffen NO! NO NO NO!! COME!” I called after him. But he ran into the darkness down the trail through the woods to the neighbor’s house. I chased him, the sweat on my body turning icy cold as I followed. The snow penetrated my sneakers, I flailed at the branches that hung over the trail that, of course, I couldn’t see until they grazed and scratched at my face.

He finished his visit, and dopily returned to the trail between our house and the neighbor’s house. He stopped in his tracks and stared at me, frightened. He knew he was in trouble; he could hear the anger in my voice as I called out to him. He stopped just out of my reach, and we engaged in the age old dog/owner stand off. He doesn’t want to get punished, so he evades capture. I just want to catch him so I can drag his punk ass home. I lunge, he moves just a few inches out of reach, which only serves to make me even more infuriated and him more likely to avoid me. He finally relented, and I managed to grab his collar and drag him home, the whole way informing him that he’s a bad dog.

We arrived home, and Todd scolded Griff as well. Griffen skulked, dejected, into the living room. He passed the coffee table and flung his tongue onto the plate resting on the table. And then I had noticed that the butter dish, licked clean, was lying on the dog bed. The last time I’d seen it, it was on the counter in the kitchen near the toaster. With butter in it.

These aren’t puppy antics. Griffen will turn 8 on Thursday. Do Labradors go through a midlife crisis?

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

One of the Stupider Things I've Had To Do in Awhile

On September 25th I was running errands on the way home from work and was stopped at a traffic light.  when I heard a loud crash in my car.  The car jerked forward and bumped the car that was stopped in front of mine.

"What the hell?!" I hollered at my rear view mirror.  I got out of the car, and some punk kid driving the car that rear-ended mine was freaking out in the middle of oncoming traffic.

"OhmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodareyouOK?" he blurted out.  I convinced him to get out of traffic and told him I was fine.  We swapped information.  Two weeks later my car was fixed.  Then the insurance settled the claim.  On Friday I was on a desk cleaning binge and I happened to have tossed out the address and insurance information from the guy who had hit me.

Then in Saturday's mail I got a letter from the state of RI.  Inside was a long form, on that ridiculoulsy long paper that you'd find in the bottom drawer of the printer at work.  It was printed double-sided.  There was a cover letter inside the envelope that says "You need to fill out this accident report.  If you don't we'll suspend your license and make you pay $76.50 to get it back." 

Here it is three months later, and I am under threat to have my driver's license revoked because some jackass wasn't paying attention and slammed into the back of my car.  And the only reason why I am filling out this stupid form (no, I don't know the guy's VIN number.  Really?  You think I know that?) is because I really like my license picture.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

State Not-So-Secrets

Recently Todd and I changed our cable-phone-Internet service to Verizon.  We'd become disenchanted with the local cable provider.  The picture would randomly crap out while we were watching, and we'd never get to hear the vital piece of dialogue that would tell us whodunnit. 

The problem with changing TV providers is that, while it's cool that we have a bunch of new channels (that we would have had to pay extra for when we had the local cable provider), we have to learn all new numbers for all the channels. 

I was skimming through the program guide on night, "Hey, look!  We have the Pentagon channel.  And look, they have an exercise program on it." I switched it on to see three pasty looking, presumably, Pentagon employees repeatedly stomping on a step unenthusiastically. 

"Really?? Todd asked.  "A Pentagon channel?  On TV?  But isn't all the stuff that goes on in the Pentagon classified?"


Monday, January 04, 2010

What Was the Deal with 2009?

We watched the ball drop at our friends Mike and Sarah’s house on New Years Eve. We’d just had a lovely dinner—Todd whipped up a prime rib and I nibbled on a chicken pot pie, as I don’t care for beef—and we were discussing the last year and the last decade in the last few minutes of 2009.

“What was your favorite part of 2009?” Todd asked me.  I don’t think I could answer that question with just one particular moment, even at gunpoint.

I can just imagine how that would go down, being asked that question at gunpoint. The bad guys would lock me in some sort of dingy room with a bright light shining on me. All I would be able to see is their silhouettes against the blinding light. At this point they probably would have deprived me of sleep and, God forbid, pie. They would pace in exasperation in and out of the light, wringing their hands and threatening to hit me with them. I’d flinch every time and they’d sneer at me.

“Tell me,” one of them would say in an unidentifiable accent, while brandishing a lit and glowing cigarette precariously close to my cheek, “Vat vas ze best part of 2009?” And I’d start crying because I wouldn’t be able to name just one thing. I’d rattle off a bunch of things, and then they’d throw a folding metal chair at the filthy cinderblock walls and scream at me to tell them just one.

And here’s what I’d say.

1. In 2009 I fed an elephant. And a giraffe.

Todd feeding an elephant.  Did you know that they have 80,000 muscles in their trunk?  I didn't.  Now I do, and so do you.

Me feeding the giraffe.  And then I was drooled on by that same giraffe.  I'd forgotten an umbrella that day.

2. We went to Discovery Cove in Florida, which was the first stop on our 3 week honeymoon blitz back in 2003.

3. We dove the New England Aquarium in Boston, and played with all the animals in the tank.

4. We got Sabine repainted. And she looked great. She even sailed better, and I think it was out of pride.

5. We sailed for only a week this year. But still, it was a wonderful week where we still sailed to places we hadn’t been. We played, as a family, on a sandbar at low tide.

Todd, Griffen and Nemo on the sandbar in Westport, Massachusetts.

Me and Griffen on the sandbar in Westport.

Griffen dozing on my lap.  I just want to rub the short fuzzy hair on his snout, don't you?

Nemo navigating. 

6. We saw Willy Porter in concert.  Twice.  In the same night.  Then I got inspired by how much fun Willy looked like he was having, and then I played my guitar for about five minutes afterward.  I mean, look at him!  Don't you just want to pick up a guitar, play some amazing riff and sing flawlessly too?

Photo from

7. We went to the Berkshires in December, and stayed in a spa resort where we got a couple’s massage. But we cracked jokes to each other the entire time. There’s nothing more relaxing than receiving a blissful deep tissue massage and laughing at the same time.

8. We bought a dive boat, and dove off it a few times in the summer. Or we just took it out and cruised around the bay, or at the lake in our town, Podunk. This spring we’ll have to fix the electrical system so we won’t get electrocuted while touching the throttle handle if it’s wet. But other than that, good times.

Now, let’s get on to making 2010 even more awesome.

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