Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#059 In which our hero has a perfectly nice lunch spoiled.

Okay, here it is.

I'm fairly exhausted from all the crap that's happened in the past two weeks, and the prospect of even writing it down makes me tired, but I'm going to anyway, because I love you all that much.


We're all moved in. That is to say, all of our crap is in the house, sitting in poorly-labeled boxes waiting to be unpacked. However, for a bit, it didn't seem likely that it would happen.

First, you need to know that we closed on the house on Dec. 17, a Friday. We also took possession of the house on the same day. Now, we wanted to close earlier in the week, but the sellers agent, who it will be made perfectly clear, sucks, told us that the relocation company we were dealing with (the pervious owners were relocating, not us) didn't allow anyone but the buyers to live in the house after closing. Now, in our old house, we closed, then still lived in the house for several weeks. This was all stipulated in the contract, and it was fine. It was kinda strange though, living in the same house that we have lived in for years, but knowing that it was no longer our house, not really. But, the sellers agent (who, you will remember, sucks) told us this wasn't allowed - we must close and take possession on the same day. Now, this isn't a big deal, unless something goes wrong. Are you jumping ahead of the narrative and guessing something went wrong? Sure you are.

So we actually signed the papers on Thursday night and handed over a big whopping check for the down payment of our new house (for three days we had a gigantic and very comforting amount in our checking account - but no longer). So far so good.

Here's what's supposed to happen: the money and paperwork go to the mortgage company, which forwards it to the title company, which transfers the title from the old owners to us, then we own a new house. But, since we were dealing with a relocation company, there was another intermediary step in which the paperwork had to be faxed to them as well for their rubber stamp.

After Thursday night, we were feeling pretty good. A lot is going to happen in the next few days, and we've carefully planned it out. The sequence of events should go thusly:
Friday morning
All the needed paperwork is faxed and digital money is shifted around, resulting in the title being transferred to our name.
Friday afternoon
I go to my company's holiday lunch, then come home early.
Friday evening (early)
Our Realtor drops off the keys to the new house.
Friday evening (later)
I drive The Scientist and the little girl to the airport so they can fly out to California.
Friday evening (later yet)
I complete the packing of the old house and start to move some stuff over to the new house.
Saturday morning (really early)
I pick up the moving truck that I reserved a week ago.
Saturday morning (early)
The friends I've suckered into helping me move arrive.
Saturday day
We move all our junk, including the crap in the storage area
Saturday night
My friends (if they are still my friends after realizing the sheer amount of stuff we own) and I sit around, drink beer, eat pizza and play board games (my friends, much like I, are geeks).
I start unpacking.
I go back to work, while unpacking in the evening.
Monday evening
I take the dog to the kennel in preparation for Tuesday, below.
Tuesday evening
I drive myself to the airport, fly out to California to join my wife, child and in-laws for Christmas
So, as you can see, it's an elaborate plan. Little did I expect it all to go wrong starting with the first step.

Friday morning, as I'm pretending to do a little work before the party, our Realtor calls. He tells me that the title agent is still waiting for some information from the mortgage company, and without this information he can't process the title. So I call the mortgage company to have them tell me that they had some computer problems, but everything is resolved now and the title company has all the info they need. Fine, good.

Later in the morning, our Realtor calls again, this time to tell me that the title agent is telling him that our money is held up at the Federal Reserve, and there's the possibility that the title may not transfer today. And if the title doesn't transfer, the sellers agent (who still sucks) will not release the keys to our new house. Which, needless to say, serious screws up every other step in the plan.

Also, the excuse that the money is held up is total bullshit. We handed over a bank check, which is iron-clad, it's as good as cash. They have our money and it's guaranteed. I call the title agent and he gives me some excuses, but it' still early in the day and I'm reasonably calm. I stress to him the importance of the title transferring today.

The morning passes and I'm starting to become a little more stressed. One way or the other I have to leave for the airport around 5:30, and I'd really like to have keys in hand before I do so.

Our Realtor calls again, and now he is being told that the relocation company is the cause of the hold-up. They have to process their paperwork and the title can't be transferred until they do. And, of course, they are some giant faceless company in another state.

I'm updating The Scientist on the course of events, and as the day draws on, she gets involved. Or, I should say, she Gets Involved. Here's the thing: my wife isn't a ball-buster by nature, but when she needs to get something done and there's some stupid bureaucracy in the way, she will move heaven and earth to achieve her goal and God help you if you're in the way. So when she says to me, "All right, I'm on the case. Don't worry." I knew some people where about to become very unhappy.

By this time I'm at our holiday lunch. And, I'm becoming increasingly pissed-off, because now the title agent won't return my calls. The Scientist also is having trouble reaching this guy, so she asks to speak to the president of the company. This has the intended effect of having everyone at the title company shit their pants, and the receptionist assures her that someone will call her back within ten minutes.

Exactly seven minutes later, the title agent calls. He absolves himself of all responsibility, claiming that the paperwork is over at the relocation company and he can do nothing at this point but wait.

Now, The Scientist is updating me on her progress every so often via my cell phone. This means while the president of my agency is thanking us for working so hard this year, and he's looking forward to a better 2005, blah, blah, blah, I'm over in the corner shouting into my phone "Fuck that! Those fucking jerkoffs had our paperwork since last night! You're telling me that stupid asshat at the title company can't make some phone calls and get this thing done?" Except I didn't say "asshat" (which I think is hilarious) because I'm never very clever when I'm pissed off.

About this time the title agent returns my call from this morning (preferring to speak to me, having been thoroughly scared by my wife, I'm sure). I give him some business and ask who I can talk to at the relocation service to expedient things. He assures me that there is no one, which, I tell him, is bullshit. There's always some human touching paperwork like this, and if there is a human, than there's someone that can talk on the phone. I tell him to call me instantly when he has more information.

Incidentally, I was working under the assumption that this deal had to be done by the end of business day, i.e., 5 o'clock. During this call I learn that the last filing time with the state is 3:30pm; if it's not done by then, it won't happen until Monday.

Then The Scientist calls me to say that she's just talked to someone at the relocation company (even though dickless told me there was no-one to talk to). They tell her that they most likely won't even process the paperwork until TUESDAY. When The Scientist tells her that we were told that we must close and take possession on the same day, she is told that that isn't true.

Often, when I'm faced with a situation that pisses me off, I look for someone to blame. There isn't always a single person to point a finger to, but in this case, it is clear as day: the sellers agent.

By forcing us to close on Friday instead of days ahead like we wanted, she has fucked us, and put into action the current chain of events that have stressed out me, my wife, our Realtor and every other poor SOB that got in my wife's way. Now that The Scientist and I both have a name to blame, we are on fire. My wife tells me, "I will get our house keys today, I don't care how it has to happen," and I know it to be true.

I know I've built up to a pretty dramatic finale, but to be honest, the situation resolved fairly anti-climatically. While The Scientist was considering driving over to the sellers agent's office (who now doesn't just suck, she fucking sucks) the title agent calls me to say that he's just received email confirmation from the relocation company for the transfer. His associate is in line right now at city hall to file the appropriate paperwork. He would call as soon as it was official.

I called The Scientist and this elicited a "What the fuck?" moment for both of us, since she was told that the paperwork wouldn't be processed for days yet. Anyway, the weasely title agent called me a short time later (right at the 3:30 deadline) to say that the title had been transferred, it was official, and the house was ours.


But now, as a final kick to the balls, no-one can seem to find the (sucking so bad) sellers agent to get the damn keys to our now-officially-owned house. After some terse back-and-forth, she is located (apparently she was out of town and had turned her cell phone off, the pryke) and the keys are delivered.

I drive The (much-relieved) Scientist and our daughter to the airport, wish them well, and load them into a plane for California.

Next: the move from hell.


#058 In which our hero gets wood.

Last weekend I moved all of our worldly possessions into our new house. It was exhausting. Matter of fact, the past seven days have been physically and mentally exhausting in every way... I'll give you the entire lowdown later, but I just don't have the strength to write it all down now.

Until then, here's something odd I want to share. The new house has a wood-burning fireplace. I love real wood fires and am completed stoked (stoked, get it?!) about it. Sunday night -- after the major moving had been completed, the storage locker cleaned out and all the crap moved from the garage inside the house so that the cars could actually fit -- I found myself at the store. Since the entire kitchen was still packed up, I decided to buy something prepared instead of trying to cook. And while I was perusing the fried chicken counter, I noticed a display of pre-packaged firewood. The lure of a cracklin' fire was too great, and I bought two bags. (Personal to Jeff: I couldn't wait!)

Now, I'm in advertising, so I understand the importance of marketing your products. But this was the most elaborately packaged wood I have ever seen in my life. I didn't really look at it until I got home, but once I did...

The bag had instructions on the side. Instructions! And this wasn't one of those Dura-logs where you have to light the outside wrapping or jump through some other unintuitive hoops... this was a BAG OF WOOD. And it was packaged in clear plastic, so it's not like you needed to figure out what it contained. It contained about 10 pieces of wood. Not only did it have instructions, it had TWO SETS of instructions... one for outdoor/campfire use, one for inside/fireplace use. Maybe it's just me, but if you need instructions on how to use wood, perhaps you shouldn't be trying to start a fire.

But... ridiculousness aside, I did admire their packaging. I think it's entirely wasted, of course... I mean, how often to you develop brand loyalty to wood? And how often do you have more than one choice of bagged wood at your local grocery store? That being said, if I had a choice, I think I would have chosen this particular bag of wood, it's that good.

First of all, it's called "Hotsticks," which is a fantastic name. And it says right on the front that it's "100% premium kiln-dried hardwood!" And that it's "USDA Certified!" I'm not sure what that means, though... certified wood? And finally, it's "Bug-free!" Which is pretty much a good selling point for anything you bring into the house.

It made a nice fire. Of course, those two bags of wood probably were the cost of 1/5 of buying an entire cord. Oh well...

UPDATE! They have a website, can you believe it? My favorite part may be the "Why buy Hotsticks?" section, which includes a top-10 list of reasons to buy their wood in a bag. #10 is "Long lasting romances have begun in front of a crackling fire..."

Buy Hotsticks, get laid! Marketing genius, I tell you!


#057 In which our hero supports a soldier.

My friend Natalia was sent to Iraq. She's a reservist, and didn't expect to be called up. Both she and her husband are former active service, so they seem to be handling it well. Better than I would be, frankly.

Her husband keeps a small circle of friends in the loop, emailing us photos and journal entries she sends to him.
Dec. 10
Yesterday we had to go to a port in Kuwait. We get to the port and split up drivers and co-drivers. Which was surreal in itself, my first convoy in theater. We wore our OTV (outer tactical vests), Kevlar helmet, weapons, and had ammo ready. Every single bit of trash on the road was a possible IED, it brought it right home.
December 10 was my birthday. To celebrate, my mom came up to baby sit and my wife and I went out to get wings, then went to see George Carlin with friends. We had a good time, even if Carlin wasn't as funny as I had hoped.

But while we were stuffing our faces with hot wings and loaded potato skins, Natalia was putting on a bullet-proof vest and getting into a truck to travel through hostile land. While we were crammed into tiny theater seats to listen to George Carlin makes jokes at George Bush's expense, she was carrying her loaded rifle, ready to shoot back if shot at. "IED," by the way, stands for "Improvised Explosive Device."

Our circle of friends have asked how we can help. Apparently, one of the toughest foes a soldier has is boredom. To combat this, Natalia's husband has suggested sending DVDs for her portable player.

So I went out and bought 10 DVDs and mailed them off to the husband. His plan is to mail them out individually, so she's always getting mail. I plan on mailing more.

My wife doesn't understand why I'm spending so much money to buy DVDs. With buying the new house, moving, Christmas, traveling to California for Christmas and buying some things we need for the new house; we don't have a lot of money to burn. And frankly, Natalia isn't that good a friend; she lives in Columbus, and we don't really socialize that much. I'm better friends with her husband, truth be told.

Well, here's why. I hate this war in Iraq. I think our president lied to the American people, the UN and the world in order to further his own agenda. I think his bullshit cowboy approach has embroiled our country in a war that we cannot win and that will ultimately do more harm to the Middle East than good. I think Bush has made the world more dangerous for Americans, not safer.

However, up to this point I could look at the Iraqi War in a detached fashion; something I hated in a vague, man-that-really-sucks fashion. No one I knew personally was putting their butt on the line.

But now, I do know someone over there. I've sat down and shared a meal with one of the soldiers in the Iraqi War, I have a face to put to the names of those fighting this unneeded war in a foreign land. Unlike the hundreds of names I've read in the newspaper's daily "Killed in Iraq" column, this name is meaningful to me. If Natalia died, I know those she would leave behind, namely her husband and five-year-old son.

For me, Natalia IS the Iraqi War. I know there's thousands of men and women over there, all of them someone's mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or friend. But as far as I'm concerned, Natalia is the only one that matters. She might not be my best friend, but she is a friend and I care about her well-being. More so now that she's been put into harm's way.

And if I can make her life marginally better by sending her a few DVDs, I'm going to do it.


#056 In which our hero doesn't take responsibility.

The past 24 hours have really driven home the concept of personal responsibility.

Example the first: Our dog likes to get into the trash. And not just the kitchen trash (which I think of as the "good tasting trash" and understand why he would dig around in it) but also the bathroom trash. Now, that trash is comprised almost entirely of snot-filled tissues and used Q-Tips. I can't image that tastes good. But, apparently, to the dog it does.

It's my job - my responsibility - to empty the bathroom trash before I leave for work, since I'm the last one out. The Scientist has reminded me of this responsibility several times, but I generally forget. She even went so far as to turn the bathroom trash can upside-down before she left. My answer to this was to put my used Q-Tip and tissues on top of the upturned can. Not because I'm oblivious, but because I thought it was funny. This went on for three days before The Scientist told that no, actually, it wasn't funny.

So, yesterday I again forget to empty the trash and the dog got into it. I yelled at him and slapped him on the ass and thought that was the end of it.

At 8AM this morning, after wife and baby had already left and I was alone and warm in the bed, the dog puked on the bedroom carpet. And when this dog pukes, it's a whole-body affair that rattles the windows and sounds like this: Haaa-URK!

And what did he puke up? About a pound of snot-filled tissues and used Q-Tips, of course.

Example the second: Monday is trash day. Pulling into my driveway Monday evening after work, I spied the two empty trash cans on the tree lawn. I should pull those in, I thought. Nah, I'll wait until I go take the dog for a walk. I'll get 'em on the way back, since I'll be outside anyway. But, since it was cold and rainy, I decided to skip the dog's walk. Pulling out of my driveway on Tuesday morning, I paused at the end of the driveway, my hand hovering over the stick shift to put it into park, and thought, I should pull those trash can in. Naturally, I put the car into drive and thought, Nah, I'll get 'em when I come home.

That evening there was a citation on my door for $100 from the city for leaving my trash cans outside for longer than 24 hours.

All right! I get it already!

UPDATE! I called the city and they tell me it wasn't really a citation, but just a warning. Huh, I guess personal responsibility isn't that important after all.


#055 In which our hero doesn't drop the baby.

I took my daughter to daycare this morning. This is notable only in that The Scientist usually handles this task, but couldn't today because she had to be all scientific extra early this morning. So I had to do it.

You have to understand that my morning job is usually to sleep in later than my wife, and wave bye-bye to the little girl as her mother hustles her out the door. Sometimes, she is tossed into bed with me with a "Can you watch her a minute while I get ready?" and I groggily try to keep her from crawling head-first off the bed and smashing her nugget. And, there have even been rare occasions when I got up and changed her diaper before handing her off again.

But not today. Oh no.

Today, it was all on me. But, I have to say, the little girl went easy on me and slept in to 7am. Lily, your daddy loves you for not getting up at 5am on his watch. I'm especially proud that I got her up, changed, and not only dressed, but dressed in a cute outfit! An outfit that I put together myself -- thank you very much! -- not one that was laid out the night before. You see, my luck in assembling cute outfits in the past has been extremely limited. I've matched green and purple, which I really thought looked okay at the time, but was pointed out to me later -- not so much.


I got her dressed, and she played quietly while I took my shower. While I toweled off she was making the most adorable faces at me, so for a good five minutes we looked at each other; her face scrunched up and me doing the same, saying things like "Who are you looking at?! Huh?! Yeah, you!"

Then I realized that she was filling her pants.

So I took her upstairs and cleaned up that mess. Speaking of which: Lily, honey, you don't need to evacuate the entire contents of your bowels at every opportunity. Pace yourself. More importantly, save the worst of it for when you're at daycare. That's what we pay the nice lady for.

Fortunately, the little girl eats breakfast at daycare, so I didn't have to fiddle around with finding food and trying to get it down her piehole. Incidentally, we're trying like hell to teach her that word. Piehole. Hopefully before Christmas, so we can unleash it on the in-laws. This results in a lot of "Lily? Lily, where's your piehole? Where's your piehole?" And me and The Scientist frantically pointing to our own mouths. "That's right! That's your piehole!"

I finally bundled her up and strapped her into the car and dropped her off at daycare. And I got there before 8am, which I think is fantastic. Granted, it was 7:58am or so, but that's still before eight.

But, the important thing is that I accomplished all of the above without incident. It still freaks me out sometimes that there's this little human living with us, and we're completely responsible for her upbringing. I mean, I was left completely alone with her and tasked with getting her -- clean, dressed, and in one piece -- to daycare. And it wasn't a big deal. It's nothing I've never done before, and I didn't think twice about getting it done.

Somehow, in-between all the diaper changes, trips up and down the stairs, wiping of the mouth and picking up toys, something strange happened.

I became a dad.