Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Monday, December 22, 2008


Light the Corners of My Mind

The memory's an odd thing. For some reason, tonight I'm flashing back to three years ago. Almost exactly three years, in fact. We were driving to Ohio to spend a couple of days with my family before flying to Seattle to spend time with my wife's family.

My wife had told me, about two weeks earlier, that she was pregnant. We'd been trying for awhile, so the news was pretty much the most exciting thing I'd ever experienced. We were planning on telling my parents and my sister--had, in fact devised the perfect ways to tell each of them.

And I remember we were in the middle of Pennsylvania. We'd just stopped at some Subway somewhere before Milesburg, PA and I was driving while eating a crappy sub. And I looked over at my wife and I listened to the Christmas music we were playing and I thought, "I am perfectly happy right now."

Now, I'd had moments approaching this in the past. Moments where I'd thought about my circumstances and I'd realized that I was utterly content. But there's a difference between contentment and happiness. That moment, with the knowledge of the child on the way and the anticipation of sharing that news with our families, was the happiest I'd ever known up to that point in my life. (Well, neck and neck with looking down the aisle and seeing my wife's father escorting her toward me on our wedding day. That was pretty amazingly happy, too.)

I didn't know, at that point, what lay in store. How truly, truly shitty the next couple of years were going to be. About nineteen months later, I would look around at my life and come to basically the exact opposite conclusion: that I was pretty much as unhappy as I'd ever been.

Which brings us to today. Another Christmas season. I survey things right now and I'm happier than I was on that road in Pennsylvania. Forty-eight hours from now, I'll be seeing my son. It'll be Christmas Eve and I'll be reunited with my wife and our baby and I'll be filled with happiness and contentment that make everything that came before look ill in comparison.

And that's my wish for everyone this holiday season. (I won't get a chance to write again before the big day.) I hope that everybody has a moment to look around. And when you do, I hope what you see makes you truly happy. And if it doesn't, wait awhile. Because it's out there. And it will come to you.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 20, 2008



The worst thing about the holiday season: fucking perfume/cologne commercials from which the rest of the year is largely, blissfully free.

My big question this year is, why the fuck are they once again showing the Liz Taylor White Diamonds commercial from circa 1988? Seriously, Liz most likely smells like gin puke these days, and who wants that in a bottle?

At least I haven't yet been subjected to the "I want your Bod" travesty.


More Than Meets the I Can't Watch This Shit

Lonely men are sometimes driven to desperate measures.

There's bupkis going on in the Wack/Joplin (minus Joplin) household. Truly nothing doing. We've got cable, I've got time on my hands. And sometimes a lack of activity plus HBO equals me doing something I'll regret real soon. Like watching Transformers.

Look, I knew going in that it was a Michael Bay movie. I know what that means. But Jesus! What a pile of racoon shit. I'm only ten minutes in and it already makes Armageddon look like goddamn Citizen Kane.

Soldiers armed with big guns and the hoariest cliches from every WWII movie ever made. Jokes that suck the life from your very ears. And then John Voight shows up, so you just know it's going quickly down hill.

I'm scared, people. Truly scared. If I don't post anything after this, you'll know that the shittiest movie of the last decade took my life.

UDPATE: Made it through the first car chase, then couldn't take it anymore. Watched Notting Hill instead. That's right: an old, shitty Julia Roberts movie was more appealing than Transformers. Thanks, Michael Bay!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Alone Again, Naturally

I have no real excuse.

I simply haven't felt like writing over the past week-plus, I guess. Oh, sure, there was the usual baby stuff to deal with. I mean, when my wife is relatively stuck to the house on her own all day, she generally wants to leave the premises--if only to run errands--when I get home. But there was still plenty of time to write when we got home, I suppose, if I could have forced myself to watch less Jeopardy!

And, yes, my sister-in-law was visiting this past weekend, which meant I had slightly less time to vomit my thoughts through the keyboard. But I managed to find time in there to watch a Young Comedians special circa 1991 (holy shit! Jon Stewart's gotten old!) and I could have used that time to jerk out one fucking Hairshirt Horoscope. But nope!

No excuses. I'm just a lazy fuck.

So what's changed? Good question. Answer: I'm the loneliest man on the planet.

My wife has flown the coop with my kid. They've gone to Seattle so that her parents can, I don't know, actually spend time with their grandson or some such shit. No, I'm glad she did. It's nice for her to get to be with family and it's really important for the Kid to be around his grandparents (witness the previously written-about Thanksgiving journey for more on my commitment to this idea.)

It's just that I've never been good when my wife's away. And now you add in the fact that I haven't seen my kid for around 26 hours and I'm just pathetic. So I'm trying to keep myself busy. I've got a list of twenty things I need to accomplish before I fly out to join them next Wednesday.

I've gotten six of those things done already (none of the really big ones, honey, 'cause, as I said above, I'm a lazy fuck) and time has not dragged on quite so much as it might. It helps, as well, that my wife knows what a whiny douche I am at times like these and she's done here best to send me pictures of the kid every so often instead of, y'know, visiting with her family.

Now, blogging is not on my list. But I figured I'd try to get some of it done, anyway, like, in-between cleaning the bathroom and making sugared cranberries. I'll also probably wash my hands in-between those tasks.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Over the River, Part 2

The drive from Milesburg to my parents' house was a little easier. Not as easy as it used to be, thanks to someone's repeated need to have me pull over for breastfeeding (*cough*cough*the kid*cough*cough*). But we made it.

And then things were nice. We had a lovely meal, complete with Quorn's fake turkey roast (better than Tofurkey, but not perfect--at least, not how I cooked it). We got to spend time with my family, which is both rare and nice. We got to see my nephew some more. He's such a good little guy. Also, we got to run.

My wife hadn't run since...I don't know, mid-January? So it'd been awhile. We didn't complete a marathon or anything, but it was nice. Worked up a sweat. Ran off at least, let's say, ten calories from the meal. So that was good.

The next day was very pleasant as well. Running a few pleasant errands, more time with the nephew, watching my mom slave like a dog in the kitchen, making too goddamn much food, which is her modus operandus. Our friends Keith and Marcia came over in the afternoon and we got to hang some. They stuck around Friday night, when the house was flooded with family and friends coming over to meet the Kid. People were impressed, because my son's so fucking cool.

The next day started well enough. We lazed about the house. We ran. Then we lazed some more. My wife was keen to get out and see slightly more of the Mahoning County scene than just my parents' house, so we figured we'd drive to the nearest Barnes & Nobel and look at books. My dad had a gift certificate that we'd sent him in, I think, 1998, so he rode along, too.

On the way to B & N, I was feeling overly stuffed. Too many left-overs or something. By the time we reached Boardman--home to the aforementioned book superstore--my stuffedness had progessed to actual discomfort. It then progressed to massive nausea. In fact, I was feeling so sick that I couldn't even drink the delicious Cafe Mocha that they'd custom-made in the wonderful Barnes & Nobel Cafe! No, I just sat there with my son, thinking of the old Robin Wiliams joke, "Hey, here's a little switch: Daddy's gonna throw up on you."

I made it out of the store and about three miles down the road before having to pull over and yak in the bushes of a bank. I'm not huge on banks, so I didn't feel all that bad about leaving their hedge full of fake turkey and real stuffing. I did ruin a perfectly good scarf, wiping the slime off my lips. My dad was kind enough to drive the rest of the way home, where I slunk off to bed and lay in a gross-smelling daze while life carried on without me.

I slept on the couch that night, puke-bucket by my side, in an effort to spare my wife and kid from getting whatever I'd gotten, if it was contagious. (That didn't work. My wife came down with the same goddamn thing not long after we got back.) Then I woke up the next morning and my wife and I split the fucking thirteen hour drive back. Thirteen hours! Darn that breast-feeding!

Anyway, despite the driving and the puking and the driving, I'm thankful my family got to spend more time with my son. And I'm thankful for that son. And for my wife. And for a career that's marginally secure in the current economy. Hope yours went well, too.

Editor's note: Why is this stupid fucking post going up nearly a goddamn month after the holiday it describes? I'm fucking lazy! Tee-hee!

Saturday, December 06, 2008


A Slice of Sorrow

I'm unhappy.

For months, I've been drooling with anticipation--at times, literally--for the opening of a new pizza place a few blocks from here. Harlem, you see, while full of all kinds of really great buildings and culturally significant places and cool little shops, has a dearth of decent pizza places.

Most pizza joints around here are the kind that also have chicken and burgers and whatever else they can scrape together and their pizza is generally lacking. There's Papa John's, which is the same crappy mediocrity it is everywhere in the country. Other than that, you kind of have to go to another neighborhood to find anything decent, and none of those places deliver outside of their small area.

Tonight, then, I was utterly heart-broken when I finally got to order from this newly-opened pie-slinging establishment, only to find that it sucks thirteen flavors of ass. I knew I was about to be disappointed when I picked the box up to leave and discovered that the pizza was not significantly heavier than the box itself. Never a good sign. Another ominous moment came when a kid who saw me exiting the place called after me, "Mister! That pizza's nasty!"

That little jackass was right. Crispy cracker-ish crust. Sickeningly sweet sauce. Mostly, what I tasted were my own tears.

Please, baby Jesus, bring my neighborhood some decent 'za.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Over the River, Part 1

Boy, those gals on The Facts of Life sure knew what they were talking about, didn't they? You take the good, you take the bad.

We took Das Spencinator to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. The trip has, in the years my wife and I have been doing it, invariably taken about eight hours. No matter what alterations we've tried, no matter when we've left, no matter whether or not we listened to our dogs' plaintive cries to for the love of all that's holy pull over and let them pee, we ended up taking about eight hours to get from here to there.

When we've had to leave after work, we've generally stopped about halfway across Pennsylvania--beautiful, beautiful Pennsylvania--and taken a hotel for the night to spare us the hassle of crashing through a guardrail and flying off a cliff in the Poconos. This time, I had to pick up a rental car Wednesday afternoon--baby + dogs + pies=no fucking way we were fitting in our '92 Civic--so a hotel was definitely in the offing. I made a reservation at our usual stop, the Ramada (nee Holiday Inn) in gorgeous Milesburg, PA.

Getting the car was pretty easy, other than the half-hour holiday eve trip down six blocks of 125th Street. Leaving, however, was a bear. They all tell you you'll have to take a whole lot of shit everywhere when you have kids, but my tiny imagination apparently always low-balled it. 'Cause it took me forever to cram all this shit in the car. Then, when wife, child, dogs and I were just about to pull out, the kid suddenly needed to eat. And so we sat. 'Cause society tends to frown on people who breastfeed babies while tooling down the highway. Cowards.

So, while we only did the first five hours of the drive and not the whole eight, leaving at 8 PM meant that we were utterly goddamn exhausted by the time we limped into Milesburg. On the way, I resorted to drinking my old, beloved friend Diet Mountain Dew, which helped. At my wife's suggestion, I also listened to something to keep my brain active, specifically the Sunday Puzzler from NPR's Weekend Edition. Since we didn't veer into oncoming traffic, I deemed the caffeine-Will Shortz combo a winner.

I got us checked in to the glamorous Milesburg Ramada and promptly passed out.

Tomorrow: Food! Family! Fomit!