12.31.2009

The Closing Of The Year

This is going to sound retarded, but I was looking at Twitter a little while ago and was wondering why people were talking about what was going on and where they were ten years ago today.  Like, how am I supposed to remember where I was some random day ten years ago.  Then it hit me that today is New Year's Eve.  I was completely oblivious to it.  Even though I purposely hit the supermarket last night to avoid all of the last minute shoppers. 

I'm sure a big reason I was oblivious was because I ran out this morning and finally bought a Wii.  Ken decided we had to have one because it's the only thing that is going to help him lose weight.  He came to this conclusion after his Weight Watchers meeting last night when everyone there was talking about the Wii, how they work up a sweat with it, how it helps them get active, etc.  That, and the Wii was a big part in the weight loss of a couple of friends of mine and it's been stuck in Ken's mind since.  So I headed out first thing this morning, expecting to have to make a few stops before finding one.  It's the week after Christmas, after all.  Our local Best Buy was sold out (Ken found out last night when he stopped in hopes of finding one after his meeting.)  But my first stop was Target and it was in stock.  I spent most of the afternoon playing both the Wii Sports that comes with it and the Wii Fit.  It really humbled me.  I thought I was in much better shape (and coordination) than I really am.  I may be thin and fierce and chic, but I ain't got no muscles.

I suppose the point of most New Year's Eve blog postings is reflection on the year (or the decade) that has just passed.  I really suck at posts like that because my memory is terrible.  Just awful.  If it didn't happen in the last few days, it's all blurred into a great big giant heap of memory.  This year was a little different, though.  I have quite a few strong memories of what went on in 2009.  In no particular order, here are my highlights of 2009.

  • The Cruise - Probably because that's still fresh in my memory.  I really didn't think that I was going to be able to allow myself to relax on vacation.  A typical vacation for me is all GO-GO-GO.  We do Disney every year and I come home exhausted because I feel the need to be on the go from the second I wake up to the second I collapse.  I'm looking forward to my next cruise vacation.  We want to go next December, but Ken notified me the other night that he can't wait that long.  He wants to go on two in 2010.  
  • Austin - It was my first vacation on my own since Ken and I got together 15 years ago.  Going to Austin was the highpoint of my entire year.  I can't thank (F)reddy enough for taking me into his home for what must have felt like months for him (and minutes for me) and allowing me to be a part of his family.  We'd only spent one brief afternoon together before the Austin trip, so he really had no clear idea of what he was getting into.  Poor guy.  Austin also gave me the opportunity to see old friends again (Holly, Melanie, Gregg) and meet others in person for the first time (Diane, Joe, Kim, Mandie).  I'm sure I've left someone off the list and I'll hear about it.
  • Orlando - The annual pilgrimage.  It's really become a different kind of vacation in the last couple of years now that I know people in the Orlando area.  I had so much fun hanging out with Kevin & Michael, Ryan & Scott, Jaime & Jason, Ricky & Nichole.  Another highlight of this trip was actually having an entire day to myself.  No friends, no Ken.  I wore myself out, but it was worth it.  I did both EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom.
  • The House - As I've talked about on and off this year, we're getting ready to sell our house and (hopefully) upgrade.  While all the house stuff hasn't been the happiest of things for me, it's been a huge part of 2009.  Really, it didn't start to sink in until I got back from Austin in August.  While I was away, Ken had our disaster of a master (if you can call something that small a master) bathroom gutted and redone.  I now understand the reaction of people on all those home improvement shows when they first see their remodeled rooms.  Our bathroom is still beautiful.  BEAUTIFUL.  I still can't believe it's mine.  Same thing with the floors in my house.  They were so nasty before and now they look absolutely amazing to me.  I can't believe they're the same floors.  The house preparations has forced us to purge a lot of the stuff we've been dragging behind us from move to move.  In the new house, we want to start fresh with most stuff.  It's amazing how much clutter you can accumulate over the years.  It's very hard for someone like me to purge stuff, but I know I have to do it.  I can't believe I actually sold off 1/3 of my comic book collection.  And even bigger, I can't believe how good it felt to have the books gone.  We still have a lot to do before we put the house on the market.  I'm dreading every bit of it, but the end result is going to be magical.
  • Music - It's rare that I don't have music playing.  With the exception of meetings, I have headphones on at work every second of every day.  I'm a whore for new music.  Love it.  Some of 2009's highlights for me were Bad Lieutenant - Never Cry Another Tear, Shirley Bassey - The Performance, Gary Go - Gary Go,  both Glee soundtracks, The Gossip - Music For Men, Indigo Girls - Poseidon And The Bitter Bug, Ingrid Michaelson - Everybody, Jill Sobule - The California Years, Kelly Clarkson - All I Ever Wanted, La Roux - La Roux, Lady GaGa - The Fame Monster, Landon Pigg - The Boy Who Never, Madness - The Liberty Of Norton Folgate, Neko Case - The Middle Cyclone, Placebo - Battle For The Sun, R√∂yksopp - Junior, Sondre Lerche - Heartbeat Radio, and so many others.
  • My (Formerly) Fat Ass - I hit my goal weight in August of 2008.  August of 2009 made it a year at that weight.  Tonight makes it a full calendar year at my goal.  And because I'm neurotic, I have records that I can refer back to.  I started 2009 at 188.8 lbs.  This morning I weighed in at 191.8.  I'm so damn proud of myself, I can't even begin to describe it.
  • Medical - I had a slightly more active year than normal when it comes to medical type things.  Nothing too major, but definitely more active.  I needed a crown on one of my back teeth.  While that was fine and dandy, it didn't fix the problem I was (and am still) having with the tooth.  It's livable right now and I'll have it taken care of sometime soon, but not now.  I had a sciatic attack unlike any that I'd ever had before in my life.  It was terrible.  The most painful thing I think I've ever felt.  I also finally had my two remaining wisdom teeth removed.  I don't recommend waiting until your mid-40's to do something like this if at all possible.  I still feel a little discomfort almost a month and a half later, but that's typical, I'm told, of someone my age.  I also managed to get sick while I was at Disney.  It was a bad flu and it took me a little while to get over it, but I did (and then passed it along to Ken.)  Don't know if it was H1N1 related or not, but it was bad enough that I ended up at the doctor's office, something I try to avoid if at all possible. 
I have to say that 2009 was a fantastic year for me.  Honestly, until I sat down to write this, I never really gave it much thought.  Here's hoping 2010 is even better for me and for everyone who reads this.

12.29.2009

Music

While I really have no use for a lot of what's "popular" on the radio currently, I'm utterly fascinated by this video.  It's a mash up of the top 25 songs of 2009.

12.26.2009

Surprises

I like to think that I'm not a control freak. For the most part, I'm really not, though some may disagree. I'm nothing like Ken, who I think is the epitome of control freakishness. If things aren't his way, he likes to "suggest" (or nag, as I like to call it) that things be his way (because that's the only right way after all)... over and over and over. Or he'll just take it upon himself to do things. For instance, he decided that the iced tea I ordered at lunch today wasn't what I really wanted, so as the waiter was walking away, he ordered me a water as well (which sat untouched.) But that's nothing and this isn't a post about his issues.

Anyway, I like to think I don't have control issues, but I know I do. I think my biggest issue is surprises. I don't like surprises. I have no control over those situations until it's too late,.I generally don't know how to hide my reaction, though I'm told I'm not as bad as disguising it as I think I am. Surprises kind of scare me. But not always. Not when they're pleasant surprises. A friend completely surprised me when he sent me something for Christmas out of the blue. And that came at just the right moment, too, because I needed a nice boost like that at the time.

Today another pleasant surprise arrived in the mail. About two weeks ago, I read about an artist on one of my favorite music blogs. The guy's name is John Dissed and it was mentioned that he had a track on a free Spinal Tap tribute album. It also mentioned that if you sign up for his email list, he'll send you a password to download 25 cover songs he's recorded absolutely free. Now if there's anything I love more than cover songs, it's FREE cover songs. So I was all over that nonsense! Now today, two weeks after the fact, the mailman comes and leaves me a package. From John Dissed. Containing one of his EPs. Completely out of the blue. Who does this? Beyonce? I think not. How cool is that? Not only did I get the cd, but he wrote out a personal message inside the booklet. I'm just blown away by it all. It got me thinking about another artist I really, really like who reached out and has commented on my blog. Alexander Schultz. I was hoping he'd have his new album out in 2009, but he's still got me waiting. Argh!! Do you hear me, Alexander? LOL!



Check out John Dissed's website and sign up for his mailing list. It'll get you a bunch of great songs at the very least.

12.25.2009

Merry Christmas


I can't believe that Christmas Day has arrived (and is almost past) already. Being away for half of December certainly didn't help matters, I'll tell you. But the whole year seems to have just up and disappeared without me knowing it.

The last two days have been a great big blur. Screwed up sleep patterns and activities outside of the regular routine are the cause. I took Christmas Eve off from work (just like 99% of my office.) My plan was to sleep in, run some errands, do some chores and then head to my Mom's house for Christmas. It sort of, kind of worked out like that, only I woke up at 4am, wide awake. For no good reason. Sure, I feel asleep early the night before, but not early enough that my body should wake up at 4. I tried going back to sleep, but had minimal success. I ended up getting out of bed sometime after 5 and went online for a little bit. Then I decided that if I'm up and no one else in the world is, I should go to the mall and walk. So I did. I ended up doing 8 laps of the mall, which took me 90 minutes. And I felt really good about it. Got home and Ken was still sound asleep, so I let him sleep until his alarm went off, at which time I got back into bed and fell back asleep. I slept for maybe another hour or hour and a half before Ollie decided he didn't want me sleeping anymore. Got up and got ready to go run some errands. I had a couple of last minute things I wanted to pick up. This is a first for me. All my years in retail taught me to stay as far away from anything retail oriented on Christmas Eve. People tend to be complete touch fucks because no one told them that Christmas was the following day and they have all their shopping to do. They get so pissy when you're all sold out of everything they need or you can't tell them what their mother likes and what you should buy her. But I said "fuck it" and went out anyway. First stop was Target. I wanted to get the cats new cardboard scratch boxes. They need new ones desperately. Their old ones are pretty warn and they've been caught scratching on the furniture again. My thought was that if Target did have them, the pet store was nearby. But Target had them (as well as a toy for me!) Next stop was the mall. Mainly because I wanted to Gowalla the hell out of it, but also because Ken mentioned to me (after I'd finished my shopping) that he needed new socks for work. Found the socks and headed out to my final stop... the grocery store.

What frightened me most about my travels on Christmas Eve was the traffic volume. It wasn't too bad. The mall was busy as hell, but there was ample parking available. Target, the same thing. I was surprised by this because Christmas Eve was ALWAYS the busiest shopping day of the year in all the years I spent in retail. In half the number of hours, the business would be well above what Black Friday's sales would be. Always. But then I understood what was going on with the traffic. The grocery store was beyond mobbed. Crazy mobbed. It was harder finding parking there than it was at either the mall or Target. I'll try to remember that for next year. I needed to go to the market because we didn't have anything for Christmas dinner. I really had no idea what to buy either. I was just going to wander until I found something that seemed good. But as I was walking in to the store, Ken called. After a quick conversation, a meal plan was made. We were going to have a very traditional Christmas dinner. Chicken quesadillas. And for health's sake, a big ol' salad. So I bought the fixings, I bought some ice cream and I headed home to take care of my chores.

Ken got home a short while later and we headed down to my Mom's house. My uncle was there when we arrived, which sent me into a small panic because I'd completely spaced on him for Christmas. I had an idea that when I had to go pick my sister up from her job, I'd stop and get him some scratch off tickets or something, but he had to leave before that. Actually, he had to head out just before my mother put dinner on the table. And as soon as she did, the phone rang and my sister was ready to come home. Naturally.

After she got home and ate, we exchanged presents, I got to hear my parents' political views (which is basically them repeating everything Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly says verbatim), and we had dessert (I way overdid dessert, too). I did pretty well with the gifts. I tell my family every year not to spend the money on me because they don't have it, but they do anyway. A few years back I set up an Amazon wishlist because if they insist on spending the money, I want them to get me something I want, not something I don't or something that's close to what I want. Almost my entire life Christmas was all about getting something kind of close to what I wanted, but not quite. So this year, I got 9 trade paperback and hardcovers off my wishlist, as well as 2 dvds! I did get one thing not on my list and I appreciate it. When I was home for Thanksgiving, I recounted a story from when I was little. I caught a frog in our yard. I decided to make him my pet. I kept him in a bucket so he wouldn't get away. At one point, I took him out of his bucket and let him hop up the driveway. My little brother got right behind the frog and started hopping. Hop. Hop. Hop. Until he caught up to the frog and hopped right on it, squishing it. I, naturally, had a meltdown. My mother didn't remember this story and almost peed herself when I told it. Well, the first present I opened was a little glass frog!



A little later we packed it up and headed home. The thing that makes it hard spending time at my folks' place is the air quality. Between my mother, father and uncle, I'd guess three packs of cigarettes were smoked. Although I grew up in that environment, I just can't handle it anymore. After a typical visit to the old homestead, my head is usually throbbing, my throat is scratchy and sore and my eyes are sandpapery dry. Oh, and I stink of smoke. The clothes I wore there last night still reek of smoke. We never go to my folks' house anymore without Ken bringing his inhaler, because he suffers. It kind of surprises me because Ken was a heavy smoker for years. He kicked the habit just a few months before we met.

When we got home, we decided to exchange gifts instead of wait for the morning. We didn't get either very much, but we both went over the limits we set. For Ken, I got him a bunch of World of Warcraft shirts he wanted, some Starbucks coffee and the socks. He got me a new external hard drive that I wanted, some iTunes gift cards and a birthday card he got me five years ago that he misplaced and forgot about. Until now. He's a funny boy.

All in all, it was a very nice Christmas. Today was mostly a lounging day. We moved a little furniture, cleaned a little, but for the most part, just lounged around. I tried sending Christmas wishes to as many people as I could, but I know I missed a lot of people. The high point of my day came late this morning when I found out that I was better than Santa.

I'm hoping tomorrow is another loungy kind of day. I want to get up early and go walk off some of the Christmas sugar I've ingested. If I time it right, I could hit a store or two as they open for some post-Christmas shit I don't need. Tomorrow night the new Doctor Who Christmas Special makes it's US debut and I'm very excited for that. Because I'm a nerd. Otherwise, that's Christmas 2009 in a nutshell.



Here's hoping everyone who reads these words had a fantastic holiday, too.

12.18.2009

[No Title]

I really wanted to stay on top of things and write a little more this week than I actually have. Time has not been on my side. I jumped right back into the swing of work and put in an extra ten hours this week. We're still trying to get the house back the way it was before the floors were done. I'm trying to get ready for Christmas. Just a lot of little things going on that are amounting to one big thing.

Ken needs to make some friends. Seriously. We've been home for one week and all he's done, literally, is plan the next cruise. Right now, as I write this, he has three cruises booked, all for the same week next year. Three. All I've heard out of his mouth since getting home is "cruise this" and "cruise that." I don't know how many ways I can say "I don't give a flying rat's ass about which ship or which ports of call or which route. Just book a fucking cruise that makes you happy." Tonight at dinner he went over all the pros and cons of each of the three cruises he has booked right now. Again. I really did enjoy the cruise, and I'm sure I'll enjoy the next one, too. But I really don't care where it goes to or what the ship looks like or any of that nonsense. As long as it's got an available deck chair up on a quiet deck for me to lay out and read, I'm happy. That's all I require.

Like I lamented in my previous post, I've lost all of December. It's a week until Christmas, I'm not finished shopping and I'm filled with dread at the thought of running out to pick up those last few items I need. I'm usually done by about the first week of the month at the latest. My Christmas cards are usually in the mail by the same time. I'm hoping to get around to them sometime this weekend if I can find a little time. Tomorrow Ken wants me to go with him to meet with another builder. I'm not sure what else we have going on, but I need to fit some errands in this weekend somewhere. I know it's going to be insanely busy out there and the thought of sitting in traffic for an hour to go three miles isn't bringing a smile to my face.

I'm getting more and more obsessed with the Gowalla app for my iPhone.

I've been thinking a lot since vacation about joining a gym. I've always been gym-phobic. I'm not sure why, I just am. Maybe because I don't know how a gym works or what to do once I'm there? Unknown freaks me out. But I felt so good spending as much time as I did walking the treadmill on the ship. With the weather as cold and nasty as it is now, there's zero chance for me to get outside and walk like I do in the nicer months. I'm sure all the shit I've been eating at work this week has push the gym thought to the front of my brain. There's a gym relatively close to my house that seems pretty big. I don't know how busy it gets, though. I believe my friend Mark goes to that one. I need to ask him for details.

I'm about to head to bed. Today was unexpectedly draining. It shouldn't have been. It's Friday after all. But quitting time really didn't make too much of an effort to arrive today. Bastard!

12.14.2009

Scattered Thoughts From The Last Two Weeks

It's been two weeks since the last time I wrote anything here. Life more than got in the way. Besides going on vacation (again!), we had a lot of work we needed to do around the house before leaving. While on vacation, we were going to have all the floors in our house (minus two bedrooms) refinished. It was the perfect time to do this. We couldn't be in the house while they were doing the floors, so why not vacation, right? So in the days leading up to the trip, everything in every room needed to be removed. We piled furniture up on the (enclosed) front porch, took everything out of the other two bedrooms and stacked them in the two that weren't getting work done, emptied the kitchen. You know, it doesn't look like you own a lot of stuff when everything is in it's proper place, but when you load everything you own into two small bedrooms and a front porch, your life suddenly looks like a very special episode of Hoarders. Naturally, I stressed everything about the work, but it was really worth it. Getting home and seeing the new floors really made me happy. They're beautiful. We had such nasty floors to start with. We wanted to have them refinished before moving in, but we ran out of time and money. It's a shame we're getting them done now in preparation to sell.

My elation over the floors was extremely short lived, however. While walking around checking them out, I noticed that one of my dining room windows was open. Open. In December. With it being 17 degrees out. What's nice about that is the HEAT WAS BLASTING. It was 80 degrees in my house. We never run the thermostat that high because heating ain't cheap. What's even nicer about that is the guy finished the floors on Tuesday. We got home late Saturday night. I was livid. LIVID. And that's when Ken noticed the damage that was done to the brand new kitchen ceiling. The guy had apparently taped up a sheet of some sort to contain the dust, but in the process of removing it managed to rip apart part of the ceiling. Now I'm more livid. Ken noticed how some of the trim work was freshly gouged, too. Not to mention a few other issues. Any joy I felt over the new floors was quickly ripped from me. We are now in the process of getting to the douchebag who did the work to have restitution made. You know, I can live with most of it, but the fact that he left a window wide open (did I mention it was the window closest to the thermostat?) in the middle of December with the heat blasting I can't. Those five days (if not longer) of heating are going to cost more than an average winter month of heating. It's inexcusable.

I really let that get to me bad this weekend. What's terrible is I just got home from one of the best vacations I've ever had and suddenly that was all gone. I've managed to calm down quite a bit now and was just looking over vacation pictures. For those who weren't aware, Ken and I took our first cruise. Cruises were something I was never really interested in. Too many preconceived notions on my part, I'm sure. But Ken's wanted to go on one for years, so he finally booked one. We sailed on the Norwegian Pearl out of Miami. You know, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I mean, I had some ideas about what I thought cruising was about, but I really had nothing to base it on. Most of what I thought, however, is how it really is. Lots of food, lots of annoying, entitled passengers, embarrassing entertainment and even more embarrassing activities. Seriously, I had a very strong aversion to a lot of the passengers on the boat. It seemed like there was a disproportionate number of people who wanted to do nothing but crab. We tried going to some of the entertainment on board only to walk out of some of them before even the half way point. I had no interest in the lowest common denominator games and activities that took place at the pool. Our cruise director (Shona) was annoying as all get out. She was very phony. Sweet, nice, but really, really phony. Over the top phony. I bet they'd love her as an activities director at a nursing home, though. So, to recap, I hated the passengers, I hated the entertainment, I hated the activities, but I had the best time. Honestly. I wanted to try to take a relaxing vacation. All my vacations tend to be ones where I'm constantly on the go. This one was so not like that. I laid out almost every day, either up on deck or out at the beach when we were docked. I got a lot of reading done. A ton. I brought ten trade paperbacks with me as well as a couple dozen comics and I got everything but one book read. I went to the gym almost every single day. And most of those days, I went twice. Me, someone who has never set foot in a gym before. And I ate. And ate. And ate. I ate a lot on board. I tried to watch what I was eating, but when there are so many bad choices out there waiting to be made, it's hard to be good. I did have one dining mishap. One of the nights we went to the Asian restaurant on board. I wanted sushi and Ken wanted Chinese. I looked over the menu and decided that I liked everything I saw, so I wanted one of each of the items I saw. The waitress told me that each order was 8 rolls. I asked if I could get one of each. I meant one roll, but she thought I meant one order. I nearly shit my pants when my dinner came.


I gave it the old college try and attempted to finish it all. But I failed miserably. I think I must have had about 80 or 90 pieces of sushi on my plate(s). They were delicious, but I think I'm done with sushi for a while.


Even with all the sushi I ate, I was surprised what the scale told me when I got home. Even though I spent quite a bit of time on the treadmill, I still ate like it was my last meal every meal. I knew I was going to do some serious damage to myself. The story my friend Holly tells about how her husband gained 17 pounds on their cruise was constantly on my mind. With every bite of hummus or chicken or cereal or cake or sushi. Did I mention that they turned the buffet restaurant into a chocolate buffet one night? (It was sushi night, in fact! And there's always room for chocolate buffet, trust me.) Anyway, I gained weight on the cruise, but it certainly wasn't what I was expecting. I "allowed" myself five pounds. I feared it was going to be ten. The reality was 1.2. And I'm already down 1.0 since coming home.

I really can't wait to go on my next cruise. It was just the restful oasis I needed.

The one thing the cruise did to me was to screw me up about what time of year it is. It's the middle of December, less than two weeks from Christmas, and I'm lost. Laying out on the beach with temps in the high 80s will fuck up a Northern boy like myself. I feel like I don't have any time for Christmas this year. I've barely started my shopping. I haven't filled out a single Christmas card. There are no decorations of any sort in my house. It might as well be the middle of March. Something that didn't help matters at all was the day we got off the boat. We had a couple of hours to kill between disembarkation and the flight home. We rented a car to get us from Miami to Fort Lauderdale (where we flew out of) and decided to go poke around the mall and maybe get something to eat. Keep in mind that Christmas is the furthest thing from our minds. We get to the mall right around lunchtime on a Saturday afternoon, park and then start poking around. About fifteen minutes in I saw a Christmas tree. I turned to Ken and said "It's two weeks before Christmas and we're at the mall! What were we thinking?" The sick thing was, it could have been a random Tuesday afternoon in July. The mall was NOT busy. I don't know if this is typical for Florida or what, but it's not for New York. I would wager that there would be more people in my local mall two hours before opening on a Saturday than there were in the Galleria in Fort Lauderdale at lunchtime two Saturdays before Christmas. Insane.

Tomorrow is my first day back at work. I'm kind of looking forward to getting back into the swing of my usual routine. I've enjoyed all this time off and I'm sad it's coming to an end, but I'm craving stability right now in a big way.

12.01.2009

Store

I'm trying something a little odd here. I just added an Amazon.com store to my page. The items in the store are all items I've mentioned here in my blog. Check it out if you're interested. Ignore it if you're not.