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



Egads, it’s been more than a week since I’ve put up a real post, adorably tiny horse-girl aside. I can only blame the virus and/or bacterium that has set up shop in my lungs and refuses to leave.

The worst part is that I haven’t gotten sick, not really sick. I’ve just been on the verge of sickness for about two weeks. It didn’t help that The Scientist left for sunny California for five days last week (oh yeah, I have to tell you all about that) so I was Mr. Mom and, of course, the girls also have whatever it is I have, so there was no end to the snot and nose-wiping. But, we got through it with minimal crying. From me.

But, the lack of updating doesn’t bode well for my participation in NaBloPoMo, a link for which has been up on my page for a week now.

Basically, I’ve committed to an unbroken month of posts. Which I didn’t think would be that big of a deal, since I tend to post pretty regularly… except lately. I jumped aboard the bandwagon because, well, prizes, first of all, but also for a deeper, darker reason. A reason I plan on writing about tomorrow, day one.

Mysterious, huh?



It was, of course, only a matter of time.

"Mama bought me special boots just for today!"

"I'm so excited my hand is vibrating at superhuman speed!"

Horse: bored. Lily: ecstatic!

"Guess what I'm asking for this Christmas!"


#169 In which our hero hates a co-worker needlessly.

There’s this girl at work that I hate. And I have no idea why.

Now, “hate” is a pretty strong word, and I guess I don’t really hate her… I don’t even know her. But I do dislike her intensely. And I’ve disliked her since the moment I set eyes upon her.

I’ve only had one experience with her… it was late, probably 6:30 or so, and I was still at work. I had seen her (she’s an account executive) hovering around my area all day; she was working with a designer a couple of doors down. Clearly she was working on something on deadline, and it wasn’t going well. Something must have blown up at the last moment (after the designer had already left) because she was frantically rushing around. At one point she stopped me in the hall and said, “can you help me?” I said I would if I could, and she asked me if I was an art director. “No, I’m a writer, sorry,” I replied. To which she abruptly hurried off.

You might think that was the cause of my dislike of her, but it isn’t. She was busy, and I get that. No reason to spend time with me, because I clearly couldn’t help her.

No, it’s something else, something much more visceral. I’ve given it a fair amount of thought, because I see her often walking past my office; and every time I do, I think, “Man, I don’t like that girl.”

I’ve decided that it’s something to do with her face. And her shape. Not that she’s repulsive, or grossly overweight; she is neither. She’s thin actually, and plain-looking. And that’s the thing: I suspect that she’s too plain, that there’s something about her face that disturbs me on an unconscious level.

I’m fascinated by facial morphology and how someone’s looks affect what you think/feel about them. And that’s what is happening here, I think. There’s something unformed about her features, something that puts me on edge. It would be exceptionally cruel to call her appearance “simian,” but I do feel a little early ancestor/caveman vibe.

A couple of weeks past she baked cookies for the creative department in thanks for a real pain-in-the-ass project that had just been completed. I didn’t work on it, but I ate a cookie anyway. And as I was doing it, I thought, “Cool that she brought cookies. That’s really nice. I still don’t like her.”

What about you? Is there someone who you just don’t like because of their looks? Is it just me?


#168 In which our hero discusses odds and ends.

Odd thing one: I am paranoid about getting fired.

I would argue it is with good reason. I mean, I love my current job, the work is challenging and the people are great, but I was in this same situation six years ago. Loved the agency, loved the people… then I got laid off out of the blue. Well, it wasn’t really out of the blue, I should have seen the writing on the wall, but I was blinded by having a job I really loved.

At this new agency, I haven’t been shy about revealing my paranoia to just about anyone who asked. Or didn't ask. If someone said “Nice work on that radio spot,” I’d say something like, “Well, I’m just trying to do good work so I don’t get fired.” I realized after a while what I really wanted was people to say “Fired? You’re not going to get fired!” But continually fishing for reassurance like that started to make me look like a jackass, I think. So I’m going to keep my mouth shut from now on… and just silently hope I don’t get fired.

Odd thing two: something is very wrong with our country:

School officials in a town near Boston have banned tag and other “unsupervised chase games” in fear that a kid will “get hurt and sue the school.” The really shitty thing is that the school is probably justified in being fearful of a lawsuit… it doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to se a kid’s parents suing the school if little Johnny fell down and busted his lip.

America is so litigation-crazy that it makes me sick. Now, I’m not down on lawyers, but I am tired of a legal system that aggressively searches of someone to blame for every little thing. Kids fall down when they play… should teachers be running behind them every step of the way to catch them? Or should schools just eliminate recess altogether just to cover their asses? Oh wait, they already have.

Are we developing a country of whiners who think they have every right to drag someone into court just because they slipped on a patch of ice on the sidewalk? We sure are.

Odd thing three: I’ve got wood.

There’s something extremely satisfying about having a cord of wood neatly stacked on the back patio. I remembered to call early (that is to say, before the snow hit the ground) this year, and had my wood delivered on Tuesday. I leaved some lessons last year (when my wood pile was very much a pile, and not a properly organized stack) and the stacking was much more thought-out this year. I have three nice stacks of mixed hardwoods out there, covered by a big tarp, just waiting to be burned. We blew though all the wood last year while it was still cold, and I considered getting a cord and a half. But I’ve heard predictions of a mild winter this year, so I’m hoping for the best. I’d hate to hate to bust up a chair or dresser to burn just to get through the night this year.

Finally, the ends:

Sometimes instead of bath time we have shower time for the girls. It’s easier and faster for everyone. And best of all, it can create awesome moments like this:

"2-for-1 special"

In my house, this is what we call a “pressed ham.” And just for daddy, last night was a double.


#167 In which our hero longs for a nap.

Sleepy. Sleeeeepy. I woke up last night after a particularly disturbing dream (in which I stabbed a good friend through the spleen with a sword that was in odd dream-fashion also a giant pair of scissors -- sorry Warren) only to find that The Scientist was no-where to be found. I wandered blurry-eyed downstairs, expecting to find her playing the MUD that has once again swallowed her soul… but no. She was just surfing around, unable to sleep. This happens quite a lot to The Scientist: she wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. This is completely alien to me, because I rarely have trouble sleeping. But I tossed and turned when I got back into bed, still anxious over how I betrayed and literally back-stabbed my friend.

So I’m paying the price this morning.

Everyone remembers I have a sofa in my office, right? Well, that sofa has never looked more comfortable. I could easily plop down and take a nap. Which reminds me of something that happened recently.

The Friday we went to Columbus, The Scientist drove down and met me in Akron. It seemed to make a lot more sense than me driving back up to Cleveland then back down again. Plus, we could leave a car in my parking lot for the weekend without paying. So The Scientist got off work really early, like 2pm, and drove down. I wasn’t quite ready to go, so she hung out in my office while I ran around and tired up loose strings.

After I was out of my office of 10 minutes, The Scientist grew bored (after sabotaging my computer with a nasty phrase that made me laugh out loud when I got back) then got sleepy. She stretched out on the sofa and fell asleep.

This did two things. First, it added to my office mystique (“Hey, Couch-Guy has some hot girl sleeping in his office!”) and secondly, it reinforced the notion that The Scientist is the perfect wife for me. I mean, how many people have the balls to fall asleep in a strange office, surrounded by people they don’t know? That’s my wife saying, “Y’know what? I’m sleepy and I don’t give a shit if people see me napping.”

I just think that’s cool.

But now I envy her that 15 minute nap. It’s just not kosher for me to fall asleep in my office… I am on the clock after all. While I’d love to do it, I think it would be, um, frowned upon.

So all I can do is look at my sofa longingly and wish for sweet dreams. That don’t involve stabbing friends.


#166 In which our hero marvels at his daughter.

On Sunday the entire family went out to eat. We wanted to go to Red Lobster… and when I say “we” I mean me because they have all you can stuff in your face shrimp AND I had a $4 off coupon! Apparently, everyone else in town did as well; when we found out the wait was 45 minutes, we decided to go elsewhere.

But! Before we hit the restaurant, we stopped at the Halloween Store. This is one of those quickie shops that take over an abandoned retail space for a month, sell a bunch of cut-rate costumes, they just as quickly blow town. I’m amazed by these places… the operating cost must be dirt cheap, and the fixtures inside definitely are: it was all hastily constructed 2x4s and pegboard. But I bet those guys make a ton of cash.

Lily was a little put off by the life-size talking Freddie Krueger at the door and the spooky sounds soundtrack blaring over the speakers, but she quickly got over it. She was drawn to the endless colorful costumes and accessories. Macey, of course, didn’t care one way or the other.

We went specifically to get me a hat. A most spectacular hat for the costume I have planned. It is going to be -- in a word -- awesome. My hope is that there’s a costume contest at work. I know there’s a party, but no word on contests yet.

So I find what I’m looking for, and it just so happens to be next to a display of other hats and whatnot, some of them kid-sized. Lily finds a plastic police riot helmet and it fits her perfectly. It’s really cool and has a visor that flips down to cover the eyes. As I tried on my (awesome) hat, Lily tried on her helmet. She liked it a lot.

I mean, A LOT.

She really wanted that helmet. Never mind that we’ve had her costume (a pink Carebear that she picked out herself) for more than a month, she wanted that helmet. She wasn’t at all happy that Daddy got to buy a hat, but we wouldn’t buy her the hat she wanted. She whined and sniffled a bit in the store, which carried on out to the care and to the restaurant.

“I really wanted to buy that helmet!” she lamented. “It makes me really sad that you wouldn’t let me buy that helmet!”

As an aside, how cool is it that my daughter wanted the riot helmet? Not the princess hat, not the queen's tiara, but the beat-the-hippies-with-a-truncheon helmet.

We tried to comfort her, acknowledging that yes, honey, we understand that you really wanted it and it makes you sad and mad that you didn’t get it; and it’s hard not to get what you want.

But I’ll tell you, for a three year old, she handled it really, really well. It wasn’t a fall-down-screaming-and-kicking fit, it was just general soft crying and complaining. I was impressed. She only mentioned it once after dinner, and she was still unhappy by not nuclear about it. Of course, later on when she was telling the story to her grandfather on the phone, he screwed us by suggesting that maybe if she asked Santa for it he would bring it to her on Christmas. It had occurred to me to take this route, but I figured it would be more trouble than it was worth. Would the helmet still fit in two months? We’d have to buy it now, and by December would she be “what the hell is this?”

The Scientist says that even though it was hard now, every time we don’t cave it will make it easier in the future. Which I suppose is true, but I still hate to see her upset. Even though she handled it like a champ.

I never thought I would be proud of my kid just because she didn’t throw a screaming fit, but I was am. This little girl is growing up, and she’s turning out to be pretty cool.

We’ll see how it goes when I tell her I won’t buy her a car at 16.



From last night:
THE SCIENTIST: So, I’m at the barn and I’m hand-walking my horse. Lauren is there and she --
ME: Wait, is this a long story?
TS: Why, do you have to poop?
ME: Yep.
TS: Go. I’ll tell you after.

That, ladies and gentleman, is the epitome of maritial bliss.


#165 In which our hero takes his lovely wife out on the town Pt. 2

After we made hotel reservations I started to poke around on the Internet and find out what there was to do in Columbus the weekend we’d be there. I thought about going to a show, but there wasn’t anything that we really wanted to see. But I did discover (actually, re-discover) that the Gallery Hop was that weekend. It’s been years -- probably about 10 years, actually -- since I’ve been to a Gallery Hop and I had forgotten all about it.

On the first Saturday of every month, all of the galleries in the Short North stay open late. And many of the shops that aren’t galleries (hair salons, antique stores, furniture stores) put art up on their walls and transform into galleries for the night. Many of them serve wine and cheese, and often they save their big exhibitions for this night. People come and wander in and out, look at art, listen to the street performers and generally enjoy the night. It’s a good time. In college, a group of friends and I used to do this all the time.

Like I said, I hadn’t been there in a decade or more, but I was surprised at how much the Short North had changed. In college it was an artsy part of town, but pretty run down. Lots of students lived in cheap studio apartments, and there were several mini-markets, bars and head shops in the area. And at least one strip joint (RIP, The Garden. The one and only strip joint I’ve ever been to… and it couldn’t have been nastier. Maybe if the strippers hadn’t been so skanky and the environment so perverty, I may have gone back to another one).

But now! The area is really cleaned up. There are these cool iron arches over the street, and lots more galleries than I remember. The shops are a little more up-scale (see below) and the entire area us just nicer. It was a very pleasant surprise.

One of the shops we passed was a Segway dealership. That’s all they sold! You wouldn’t believe the variety of Segways you can get now… big knobby cross-country ones, sleek high-style ones, they even have an optional seat you can buy.

But, what drove me into the store was that they were allowing people to take test drives. Ever since I’ve seen these things, I wanted to try one out. And it was cool. I was a little shaky on it, my balance isn’t the best in the world. The PR for these things made you think they worked like magic… you just think about moving forward, and it goes! To go backwards act like you’re going to take a step back and the machine moves for you! But it wasn’t like that… you leaned slightly and it went. You turned the handle to make it go in circles. It was cool, but I wasn’t blown away. The Scientist got on and of course she was instantly gliding around the store like she’s driven these things all her life. They were cool… but at $5,000, I’m not going to rush out and buy one.

We strolled around a bit, but were really only looking for one gallery. Earlier in the day we were at a coffee shop (actually, THE coffee shop. Stauf’s, where I proposed) reading the local arts papers and I found a story about a performance that night at the Gallery Hop.

A local artist (a sculptor, not a painter -- which is important for reasons you will see) had been painting a landscape a day for the past 30 days. But not just any landscape, a Bob Ross landscape! He painted along with the lesson of the day on The Joy of Painting and was exhibiting the results. But best of all, he was going to do a painting live that evening along with the show!

We got there just in time. The gallery was packed, and it took a lot of jostling to get The Scientist into a position where she could see what was going on. I, being a wee bit taller, didn’t have a problem seeing.

It was great. Bob Ross serenely turned a blank canvas into an amazing scene in seconds, and the painter tired to copy his work. It was really amusing to watch Bob Ross on the big screen TV effortlessly painting, and the in-gallery guy frantically trying to keep up. Clearly, it’s not as easy as Bob Ross makes it seem. After the 30 minutes the results were mixed… the sky and mountains looked great, but the trees needed a lot of work. I guess 30 days isn’t enough to master the technique, even from a professional artist.

Afterwards, we strolled around a bit more (it was a beautiful night) before heading back to the hotel. We stopped at the bar and boozed it up a bit before heading to bed. The next morning we ate breakfast, and headed home to the girls.

All in all, an absolutely wonderful anniversary weekend. Here’s hoping we can make it again next year.


#164 In which our hero takes his lovely wife out on the town Pt. 1

This weekend was, as previously stated, our fifth wedding anniversary (that’s the wood anniversary, in case you were wondering) and we wanted to celebrate in style for once. See, we really haven’t had a proper vacation since our honeymoon.

We made arrangements for The Scientist’s parents to come up and watch the girls so we could be footloose and fancy-free. No alarm clocks! No deadlines! No commitments!

For months we’ve been planning a trip to Columbus. Now, Columbus isn’t the most exotic place in the world, but it is where we first met. Well, that’s not really true; The Scientist and I were first introduced on a chilly morning outside at a park in Toledo… but that’s not really the resort area we had in mind. Besides, we really started dating when I lived in Columbus, and I proposed in a coffee shop down there, so there’s no shortage of sentimental reasons to head south.

We left work a little early on Friday and started driving. We had rented a room in a big hotel downtown and planned a quick change before heading off to our anniversary dinner.

Now, I don’t expect anyone to kiss my ass, and I’m not the kind of person who especially enjoys getting my ass kissed… but honestly, a little bit of it once and again is kinda nice.

As soon as we pulled up to the hotel it started. The valet guys were right there; “Can I get you bag sir?” “Here’s your ticket ma’am, enjoy your stay. Oh, let me get that door for you!” It continued at the desk; “Please enjoy your stay, if there’s anything we can do for you, just call the front desk!” Nice.

We were on the 21st floor, and the elevator required us to swipe our room keycard before it would let us up past the 17th floor. “Just how fancy of a room did we get?” The Scientist wondered aloud.

As it turns out, not too fancy.

It was nice and all: king size bed, shower massage, free movie channels (but no porn, sadly). But nothing that special really. But since we weren’t planning on spending a ton of time in the room, it didn’t matter.*

* Now, if that fucking gout of mine hadn’t resolved itself, we may just have spent the entire weekend in that room. We did a lot of walking, and thankfully I was able to move mostly pain-free by Friday.

We changed into some steppin’-out clothes and headed out to the restaurant.

The Hyde Park Grill is our anniversary restaurant of choice. We usually go to the one in downtown Cleveland, and it’s nice. Not super-nice, but still enjoyable. We had gone to one in Columbus before, and it was the same deal. This time, we were trying yet another location, this one situated in the Short North area of Columbus, which is this little artsy part of town full of fancy shops and galleries.

Hyde Park is one of those places that was the height of coolness about 20 years ago. Now they just seem a little dated. I kinda dig the old-school feel, but it’s clear that you’re not dining on the cutting edge.

But! The Hyde Park in the Short North is very different from what we’ve seen so far! This place was very plush, very cool. And, since we made reservations and indicated that it was our anniversary, the ass-kissing started anew. “Right this way, sir, and happy anniversary!” “We’re so glad you chose to spend your anniversary with us!”

Our waiter gave us just the right amount of ass-kissery… not so much that he was grossly fawning over us, but still enough to make us feel special. And the food… Kick. Ass.

I started with the pan-seared scallops, and The Scientist had the lobster bisque. For an entrée I had the peppercorn-encrusted strip, which was cooked to a perfect medium-rare. The missus had a petit fillet topped with lobster meat. We shared a huge portion of garlic mashed potatoes. Good lord, but was it fantastic food. The Scientist ordered a nice bottle of meritage, which even I enjoyed (I have the wine palette of a 6-year-old). A delightful chocolate mousse torte for her and a wonderful crème brule for me and we were done.

We spent roughly the same amount of money on that meal as our normal food budget for two weeks at home, but it was worth it. We waddled out of there completely satiated and satisfied.

NEXT: Street performers, segways and… Bob Ross?



Wow, big weekend to tell you about. Last Friday was The Scientist and my fifth wedding anniversary. To celebrate we left the girls with Nana and Pop-pop and headed out of town!

But… I’m suddenly busy as hell and don’t have time to blog at your from work like I usually do. But stay tuned! Hotels! Fancy meals! Ass-kissery! And an unexpected cameo from Bob Ross!


#163 In which our hero looks back at a day half a decade ago.

Exactly five years ago at about this time, The Scientist and I were getting up to feed a house full of relatives. Her relatives, I should say, mine had the good sense to stay in a hotel. After a leisurely meal, she and I headed off to the quaint little manor house were we would be wed later that day.

We had already taken care of all the arrangements, this was only a last minute walk through to make sure all the day-of stuff was handled. While there, the manager of the facility asked us if it would be okay if another couple took a look around the grounds. Sure, why not? we said. We met them, a young couple very much like us (although now that I think about it, probably younger), stars in their eyes as they planned for their big day.
OTHER COUPLE: Thanks so much for letting us look around.
US: Sure, not problem.
OC: So, when is your wedding?
US: 5 o’clock.
OC: What, today?!
US: Yep.
OC: Oh, my god! You look so relaxed!

The Scientist and I both found this really funny… why shouldn’t we be relaxed? We had met with the caterers and the florist several times before today to hammer out the details; we knew our pastor would do a great job; my brother-in-law was picking up the cake; we auditioned the harpist a month before and she was really cool … matter of fact, the only big decision we had to make was if it was going to be dry and warm enough to hold the ceremony outside on the lawn like we wanted -- and we had already looked at the weather report and decided the night before to move everything inside (giving us time to cancel the rental chairs and saving a hundred bucks).

The result was that we could relax and really enjoy the day. But I suppose this other couple wasn’t referring to the details… this was our wedding day! You’re suppose to be freaking out!

But we weren’t. There wasn’t any reason to. This was nothing new to The Scientist (the scandalous secret is that I’m not her first husband) and I was confident that we had arranged everything we could to make the day go as smoothly as possible. But more importantly, we were both confident of our decision to get married.

Shortly after we started dating, I knew. I suspect that The Scientist knew, too. We were going to get married. We were so happy together, so comfortable. I’ve always wanted to get married, and I looked at each girl I ever dated seriously as a potential wife. But they all fell flat for some reason (crazy, incompatible, gay) and it was never a real consideration.

But it was a forgone conclusion with this one.

So there was nothing to freak out about. Even if everything had gone to hell (someone dropped the cake, the pastor got sick, the facility caught fire) we wouldn’t have worried… we were in love and we were getting married. Exactly how it was meant to be.

Five years later I love my wife as much as I did that day.

Sheri, thanks for agreeing to be my wife and letting me be your husband. We’ve broken all records over these past five years… want to shoot for 10?


#162 In which our hero discusses his goddamn toe.

Had a massive gout attack Sunday night.

This seems to happen once a year, and as far as I can tell it just happens. There doesn’t seem to be a common trigger event, like say, I ate a huge amount of tripe the day before. I don’t drink as much water on the weekends as I do during the week, so that probably has something to do with it.

Anyway, if you don’t have gout (and count your lucky stars if you don’t) then you can appreciate just how much it hurts. And it’s stupid pain… I mean, if I broke my arm and it hurt this much then yeah, okay, I understand why it hurts so much. But this is just my big toe saying, “Guess what, asshole? You haven’t paid much attention to me in about nine months and I’m starting to feel a little neglected, so here’s a big fuck you from the south!”

I have a bunion on the big toe of my right foot, and Saturday evening it was hurting me a little. This isn’t uncommon, that dumb toe hurts me on and off all the time. But this was a little more than usual, and I even commented to The Scientist. “Is it your gout?” she asked. And I said, “No, I don’t think so. It’s a different kind of pain.” I had spent a fair amount of time on the floor rolling around with the girls, so I figured I just bent it a little too far or something.

But just to be safe, I took my gout meds anyway. Turns out that it was a gout attack, and as far as I can tell, my meds didn’t do dick.

About 11pm, it was clear that this was a full-bore attack. My toe was red and hot to the touch, and throbbed like a son of a bitch. There was no sleeping, so I went downstairs, elevated it, pounded water and watched dumb TV for a couple of hours. I finally crawled back into bed around 2pm and slept as best I could.

I called off work the next day, which just feels like the lamest thing ever. “I can’t come into work because my big toe hurts.” But, I’ve been through this before and I know how it goes down: if I can tough it out through the first 48 hours, then things get a lot better. Drink lots of water, stay up on my meds and stay off of my bad toe.

So now I’m back at work, gimping around like an old man. My toe feels marginally better. The sucky thing is that I know that it will still be a couple days before the pain is completely gone. And since I’m walking funny, it usually stains other muscles in my leg, which gives me a gimp for another week.

And, being that I was planning on a bunch of walking this coming weekend, this is a big fuck you from my toe, indeed. Thank you big wonky toe! Message received!