Wednesday, December 30, 2009

But now I've found you and I know that we would be so very happy if you could only see that I was meant for you and you were made for me

I suppose that since I only have approximately a day and a half left of 2009 that now is as good a time as any to list my favorite albums of the year.

In reverse order:

10. The Boxer Rebellion - Union
Competition for the last spot was pretty tight*, but if memory serves me correctly (a shady prospect at best), this was the first album I purchased this year, and I listened to it more, thus giving it the edge over the other "competitors."

9. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I was slow to jump on the Phoenix bandwagon, but I can take solace in the fact that I got this album and liked it before they started playing some of these songs in Cadillac commercials. As my friend recently put it, these songs can be repetitive, but they're all fun, even if they're not all great.

8. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
This guy can whistle. You wouldn't think that would be a quality that someone would look for in music these days, but he's seriously good. This is a perfect album to take along on a long drive through a heavily wooded area. Assuming that's something you'd like to do (which it probably isn't).

7. Franz Ferdinand - Tonight
I admit it, I was quite angry when I first purchased this album and realized they had put an alternate version of Lucid Dreams. Mostly because the album version is worse than the one I'd listened to originally. Fortunately, I was able to get the "original" version from itunes, and all was right with the world. At least for a few days.

6. Sea Wolf - White Water, White Bloom
SilentKid pointed out that, according to Pitchfork, this album is for young people (mostly girls) with a weakness for moody romance and natural imagery. So there you have it. I am a young girl, with a weakness for moody romance and natural imagery. The Pitchfork critics can suck it.

5. White Rabbits - It's Frightening
This album gets the award for containing one of the creepiest songs of the year: Right Where They Left. Any song that sings about a guy burning down a house with his lover inside it gets high rankings in my book, mostly because I am a wannabe sociopath.

4. Killers - Day And Age
I'm not entirely sure that this album should be ranked quite this highly on my list, but I did give it a lot of listening time early in the year. Then it almost got ruined for me because mainstream media took just about every step to ensure that the song Are We Human? was played out. They failed though because I, for one, still like it.

3. Cracker - In The Land Of Milk And Honey
I purchased this album right when I briefly considered dropping out of school, so I immediately adopted the song Turn On Tune In Drop Out With Me as my new anthem, and it remains my favorite song of the entire year. I saw them play in Vegas, and wish I could've gone to Joshua Tree too, but instead figured I should probably focus on my dissertation defense the following week. I think I made the right call.

2. Wilco (The Album)
This was the year I FINALLY got to see Wilco play a live show. Jeff Tweedy looked haggard, but he also looked like he was having fun up there on stage too. From the stories I've heard, that wasn't the case last time he played a show here. This album is good from start to finish, and while it's not my favorite Wilco album, it's better than 99% of the music that's out there these days in my opinion.

1. Eels - Hombre Lobo
This album came at the perfect time for me. It was one of those rare albums that felt to me like every song pertained to some aspect of my life. The last time I can think of that happening was when The Wallflowers released Red Letter Days.

* The honorable mentions: Fanfarlo - Reservoir, Pearl Jam - Backspacer, Built To Spill - There Is No Enemy, Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels. With apologies to The Cave Singers, Vetiver, and Them Crooked Vultures, which were highly recommended, but I never got around to listening to them.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm falling in love with your creature soul

Sunday evening I watched Avatar. Before leaving the house, I posted the following on my Twitter feed (in case you missed it): As if I haven't been watching enough movies lately, I'm going to finish tonight off by going to see Avatar in IMAX 3D. Should be cool.

Someone direct messaged me, initiating the following exchange:

Her: SHOULD be cool? Should be?!!!!

Me: Hahaha. Fine. Definitely will be cool. In fact, I'm betting that all five of my senses achieve orgasm*. Is that better?

Her: Ok, now I'm worried about your level of expectation. Let's just say you'll likely want to fuck a blue alien after and call it even

Me: But how is that going to be different from any other day?

Her: Cause you'll want to do it in IMAX 3D. Duh.

She was right. I came out of there totally wanting to do a ten foot tall, blue alien girl with cat-like features.

*I totally stole that from Ryan Davies

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fabulously Lazy

SilentKid: Did you watch the It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia Christmas Special yet?

Me: No. I still haven't gotten around to it.

SilentKid: Why not?

Me: Well, I thought about downloading it from itunes and watching it on Christmas Day, but then I realized that I have a new debit card since the last time I downloaded anything from the itunes store, and it seemed like too much effort to have to type in a new card number.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'm in love with the size of a desert

A few days ago I went with a friend to survey abandoned mines. A day spent doing that beats a day working on manuscripts any day of the week. My friend put me in charge of taking pictures of things. Here are a few of the pictures I took.

A mine entrance

Scary structure - we could hear dirt falling here, so didn't proceed any further

The area where five of the openings were

I made a comment about the harsh conditions these miners were working in, and my friend said, "I know. You look out at that, and it all makes sense why Nevada has legalized prostitution." He's got a point. We almost had to go get some prostitutes ourselves, and we were only out there for a day, and we weren't even blasting holes with dynamite or moving ore carts or anything.

The mines were fenced off in order to let people know to be safe and stay out

Some were fenced off better than others

This mine was one of my favorites

Even if it had experienced instability at some point as evidenced by this giant rock that had fallen from the ceiling

The mine was old enough, and damp enough, that some miniature stalactites had formed


This was the mine with the coolest entrance. Fine. I admit it. I'm a sucker for a good 'Keep Out' sign.

This looked a little more stable than the wooden structure pictured above, but we still didn't go down. Safety first!

This mine was really cool too, in part because of the rails for the ore carts. Turns out that's not just something you see in old Scooby Doo cartoons and Donkey Kong video games after all.

The same tracks from the inside of the mine looking toward the entrance.

Guess what else we saw. Bats!!!

So there you have it. A slightly more exciting day in the life of Native Minnow.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ain't nothing in this world for free

It goes without saying, but the job market it incredibly frustrating right now. I had one position all lined up for after I graduated, but that university has instituted a hiring freeze on any full time employees until the economy is in better shape so that's no longer an option. I really thought that hiring freeze would be lifted by now, but it's not.

To add to the frustration, I just found out that the hiring for another job has been "postponed for a year due to another round of state budget cuts." I'll keep looking because I have no other choice, but I've already been turned down for a bunch of jobs, and it's hard to be motivated to keep applying knowing that the result is likely to be the same with each new application I send in. When there are only a couple of jobs advertised each month, each one of them receives 100-200 applicants, so simple probabilities suggest that I'll need to apply for a hundred jobs before I get one, right?

I shouldn't complain though. At least I have something worked out that will keep me with a paycheck through the upcoming semester. I'm sure that's better than what some graduates are facing right now, so I'll take it and I'll be happy about it. The only reason I'm going into all of this in the first place is so you can see the timeliness of an email a friend of mine just got from his mother:

I found you & [Minnow] a job out there in Vegas. They are getting ready to hire male prostitutes at a brothel about 150 miles from Vegas; you can make about $300.00 per person-from 5 to 20 women each night!! Does that sound like a winner or what??? LOL!!

I may have to look into this further if something else doesn't pan out soon.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

There's a fat man standing by the soda machine and he knows, he knows, he knows that life can be funny

Friend: Look at that line to go see Santa Claus.

Me: I should go wait to sit on his lap, and when he asks what I want for Christmas, say, "a naughty girl."

Friend: That'd be pretty funny.

Me: Yeah, and you know Santa would laugh. Then, when he's all, "Ho, ho ho." I'd say, "Exactly!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

He's the one they call Dr. Feelgood

A while ago I posted about what I thought was the best prescription ever given by a doctor. It was for a friend who had positional vertigo, and the doctor told him to do less yoga and drink more beer.

Recently, another friend has been dealing with some prostate issues. He called me to ask about it because I've had similar problems in the past. During our conversation, he reminded me that I'd been the recipient of an even better prescription.

My doctor: I'm going to give you this antibiotic. I want you to take that and come see me again in a week. Between now and then you should also try to increase your number of orgasms. That should help.

I wonder if I still have any refills left on that one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Graduation Day

How to have a successful graduation day in 78 easy steps (if you're Native Minnow):

1. Email your parents the night before with directions to your house
2. Call them to make sure they got the email and printed it up
3. Make sure you don't proofread your directions before sending them though so that there are at least two mistakes that cause them some confusion when they eventually arrive
4. Wake up the day of your graduation ceremony and run a few errands
5. Realize about lunch time that you don't have anything to fix your kids to eat
6. Debate whether you should call your parents who should be arriving any time to find out where they are
7. Opt not to call them, figuring you can run to the store quickly
8. Leave your kids upstairs in your room playing X-box
9. Tell your kids to listen closely for the door, just in case your parents arrive
10. Go to the store
11. Get a phone call from your dad as soon as you start filling your basket
12. When your dad tells you he's at your house, explain to him why you're not and apologize
13. Pay for your groceries and hurry home
14. See your parents sitting in their car in front of your house because your kids did not, in fact, listen closely for the door
15. Apologize to your parents again, this time for having retarded children
16. Call your kids downstairs to say hi to Grandma and Grandpa, but not without making a comment about how they left them out front for several minutes
17. Do NOT accept any responsibility yourself, even though it really is your fault for going to the store in the first place without calling your parents first
18. Fix lunch for your kids
19. Change into nice clothes
20. Wait for your ex-wife to show up
21. Head to campus for the ceremony
22. Meet your adviser and walk to the sports arena where the ceremony will be held
23. Go all the way around the arena to the door you were told to go in
24. Be told that door is not the right door, and that you need to go in through the tunnel, which is on the other end of the building
25. Go back around the building and in through the tunnel
26. Enter the tunnel
27. Immediately smell horse piss and manure
28. Curse the rodeo that was just in town
29. Line up according to degree
30. Wait around for an hour
31. Get a little excited when they say it's time to go
32. Walk out of the tunnel to the applause of the thousands who are in attendance
33. Glance around and take it all in with a big smile on your face
34. Spot your family in the crowd and wave to them
35. Follow the directions of the ushers to your seat
36. Realize how bad it's going to suck being sandwiched between two guys with seats that close together
37. Look at the seat in front of you and see the professor someone tried to set you up with once upon a time
38. Avoid making eye contact with that woman for the remaining three hours
39. Take your seat
40. Curse the rodeo again for making the entire arena smell like piss and manure
41. Listen to several speeches prior to being called up to the stage
42. Walk to the stage and feel relief when they pronounce your name correctly
43. Walk across the stage
44. Get hooded
45. Shake the Vice President's hand
46. Shake your adviser's hand
47. Walk across the stage and shake the university president's hand
48. Walk down the stairs and go back to your seat
49. Be glad you were the fifth person to go
50. Painfully endure the remaining 2000 or so names that are called
51. Sometime during that time, get a text from Girl Who Won't Be Your Girlfriend about how handsome you looked in full regalia on the jumbotron
52. Thank her, and then profusely apologize for making her come an hour or so later when you're still enduring the remaining names
53. Wonder why they couldn't have broken it up into a few different ceremonies
54. Also wonder again why they couldn't have cleaned out the smell of piss and manure
55. Listen to the guy behind you complain loudly and often about how long this is taking
56. Wish he'd shut up because it's not funny, it's only making you focus on how effing long you've been sitting there, and how much longer you have to sit there
57. Rejoice when you realize that they're almost done (after a mere three hours)
58. Exit the building
59. Miss two calls from your dad about where to meet up
60. Call him back only to find that he's not answering his phone now
61. Call Girl Who Won't Be Your Girlfriend to find out where she's at
62. Talk your way to her in the crowd
63. Get a kiss and flowers from her
64. Spot your parents, kids, and ex-wife over her shoulder
65. Remember that you didn't give Girl Who Won't Be Your Girlfriend fair warning that your ex-wife was going to be there
66. Take her over to meet your parents and ex-wife anyway
67. Pretend the whole situation isn't awkward at all
68. Decide then on where to go for dinner, because you never made a reservation anywhere
69. Call the restaurant on the way there to see if they can accommodate a party of eight on graduation night
70. Feel relief when they say they can
71. Enjoy a great meal
72. Order two desserts for everyone to share because you're sure they'll all partake
73. Eat most of the desserts yourself because everyone else, including your kids, are "too full" to even take one bite
74. Say goodbye to Girl Who Won't Be Your Girlfriend
75. Ride with your parents to get them checked into their hotel room
76. Convince your ex-wife that it's not a good idea to make the five hour drive home beginning at 10:30 p.m.
77. Go to bed with your kids and ex-wife on the couch
78. Fall asleep content with the way the day went down

Sunday, December 13, 2009

At every occasion I'll be ready for a funeral

One more funeral related post, then I'll quit. I swear.

There's obviously been a lot of funeral talk this past week. Here's what my kids have said they want to have happen when they die.

Tortellini: I want to be cremated and then have my ashes put into somebody's mailbox.

Togers: I want to be cremated and then have my ashes thrown at someone I hate*.

Mr M: I want you to take my body and throw it off a cliff, because that would be an easier way to bury me. And I don't want my funeral to be fun like Grandma Great's was with food and everything. I just want there to be a whole bunch of dead chickens, and everyone has to eat them raw.

So there you have it. With any luck, I won't still be around when they go and someone else will have to carry out their wishes.

*I asked Togers who he was going to find that would be willing to throw his ashes at someone, and Mr M immediately raised his hand and said, "I'll do it."

Friday, December 11, 2009

My grandma's funeral was yesterday. I drove to Arizona Tuesday night so that I could take my kids, then we spent pretty much all day Wednesday in the car. It was a long drive, but it was a pretty drive.

I got stuck in a gas station parking lot in Flagstaff, AZ. They got at least a foot of snow, probably more, and I'm not used to driving in it anymore. I had to do that thing where you spin out for a second in reverse, then in first gear, then in reverse, then in first gear to try and get out. Just as Togers offered to get out and push, the tires finally grabbed. Luckily that was the only "problem" we had on the road though.

We were on some icy roads near the Arizona-Utah border, and my kids all laughed when they saw a Forest Service sign saying that fire danger was "moderate" that day. Remember, there was at least a foot of snow blanketing the forest. The sign turned out to be spot on though because we drove by a tree that was smoldering. We have no idea how it would have ignited, but we decided we wouldn't doubt Smokey the Bear ever again. We stopped and played in the snow for a few minutes, but it was so cold we didn't want to be out of the car for very long.

My dashboard display has a thermometer that tells what the outside temperature was, and when it dropped down to four degrees, we decided to have one of those contests to see who could hold their hand out the window the longest. It came down to a stand-off between me and Tortellini. It was painful. I yelled, "I AM NOT GOING TO LOSE TO YOU!!!" but in the time it took me to yell that, I couldn't handle it anymore, so two seconds later pulled my hand in and said, "Alright, you win." She wouldn't play again when the temperature dropped to zero though. The low temperature that night? Twenty-one degrees below zero. It was the first time in a long time I felt my nostrils freeze when I inhaled through my nose.

Mr M was full of questions about the funeral the night before. Where was it going to be, how long was it going to be, etc.

Mr M: Are you going to cry like a little baby tomorrow?
Me: Probably.
Mr M: Can we have a snowball fight at the graveyard?
Me: Absolutely not!
Mr M: I'm going to let people have snowball fights at my funeral.

It was nice to see a lot of my extended family again. Some of them I hadn't seen in over five years. I drove away with the realization that it could very well have been the last time I'd ever see them since my grandmother was basically the glue that held the family together. I don't know what's worse, that realization, or being okay with it if it turns out to be the case.

After the funeral, my uncle asked all the grandchildren to stop by my grandmother's house to see if there was anything they'd like to take to remember her by. I took a crystal candy dish, and a Christmas ornament. Tortellini took some porcelain dolls that my grandma had made. Togers found an old polaroid camera (something which he'd already been asking me to get him) and a fountain pen that he kept. Mr M had the most eclectic "inheritance" though. He came up to me with a piece of cardboard and a wooden hammer and asked if he could keep those. I told him he could. Then he found a jar of paperclips that he wanted because he could use them to make a cool necklace. He also made off with an old wooden cane, and a long robot arm type of thing my grandma used to grab things off of high shelves with. He's been playing with it ever since.

The silver lining in all of this is that now I have a few more memories with my kids, and they have a few more with their grandparents (whose house I'm at now). Grandma said she wanted her funeral to be a joyous occasion, and there was enough laughing and joking among the tears that I think she'd have been happy with that.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The story I heard

Pearls of wisdom from Mr M:

You know, dentists don't care if you brush your teeth every single day.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Hold on to those you hold dear

The second I saw the name on the caller ID I knew what the call was about. I answered it anyway.

"[Minnow], it's Mom. [Uncle] just called to let us know that Grandma died a few minutes ago."

Even though it's been expected for a while, it's still hard to hear those words. My mother and I talked for a few more minutes, but then I decided I needed to get off the phone so I could call my kids and let them know. My ex-wife went and rounded them up, then called me back when they were all together so I could tell them over speaker-phone. It seems like such an impersonal way to spread this kind of news, but sometimes that's how things have to be when you're hundreds of miles apart. By the time my ex-wife had them all sitting there together, and I finally told them what was going on, I honestly think my kids were relieved to find out that it was my grandma (who we all knew was going to pass away) instead of theirs.

My grandmother was a very religious woman, and didn't want anybody to be sad when she was gone. She wanted her funeral to be a celebration of sorts. She was ninety-two years old, and lived a full life. Few, if any, of us will make it that far. I just wanted to take some time to reflect on some of the memories I have of her and share them here.

I visited my grandma a few times this year. Never for more than an hour or two at a time, but it was enough. I think. During one of those visits she told me, "I have nineteen grandchildren. Each one of them thinks that they're my favorite. And you know what? They're all right!"

She had several traditions that helped make us all feel special. Every year I looked forward to getting my birthday card from her. She must have paid a lot of postage, because she'd tape coins to the inside of the card, one of each kind for every year I'd been alive. For example, when I turned ten years old, she sent a card with a ten dollar bill, ten one dollar bills, ten quarters, ten dimes, ten nickels, and ten pennies. That was quite the haul for a ten year old back then. At least it was to this ten year old.

We always looked forward to spending New Year's Eve at her house, because we were the only kids in the world who were lucky enough to have a second overnight visitor from the North Pole. It wasn't Santa Claus though. He only came on Christmas Eve. But wouldn't you know it? There were always a few left-over toys and treats that needed to be taken care of, so Santa sent one of his elves, Johnny Green, to deliver them to her grandchildren on New Year's Eve. My parents would always discourage us from discussing what Johnny Green had brought us when we went back to school. They didn't want the other kids to have to feel bad that Johnny Green never came to their Grandmas' houses.

She had a large back yard, which was perfect for Easter Egg hunts every spring. There were dozens and dozens of colored eggs set out for all the grandchildren to go out and find. Some of them were just colored eggs. But some of them came with a cash reward. It was probably just her way of keeping the tradition alive as we all got older, but there were some competitive searches for the grand prize egg, which, if I remember correctly, was worth ten dollars. Several other "cash" eggs were set out that were worth anywhere from five cents to five dollars. It was easy for a kid to go home slightly richer than they'd arrived that day.

My grandma grew up in the Bear Lake area (in southern Idaho/northern Utah). We had a few family reunions there, but one summer she took just me and one of my cousins to visit Bear Lake for a week, where she took us around to show us all the places that were important to her. We spent time swimming in Bear Lake, water skiing behind her brother-in-law's boat, exploring the depths of Minnetonka Cave, diving off of rope swings into mountain lakes, shooting pool, and perhaps most importantly eating raspberry shakes. It was only a week, but it left a lasting impression on me.

I could go on, but I won't. I already feel like I'm rambling. I just have one more. I visited her last year, and she asked me when I was going to have another paper published so that she could read it. I told her I was working on it, and she said that I needed to work faster because she wasn't getting any younger. I'm happy that I got the chance to visit her a couple of days after defending my dissertation. Not only did I get to tell her that I'd passed my defense, but also that I'd had a paper accepted for publication. She didn't get to read it (or the second one that was accepted the following week), but she didn't want to anyway. It was just her trying to make me feel like the favorite grandchild.

I'm going to miss her.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Hustle and Flow

My ex-wife made a comment to Mr M about a girl he plays with all the time at school. She teased him about her being his "girlfriend."

Mr M denied that was the case.

His reasoning?

"I dont even hustle with her."

Yeah, I don't know what that means either.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Over the river and through the woods

As some of you know, I spent Thanksgiving in Arizona with my kids, my ex-wife, and her boyfriend. You might think that would be a recipe for a plethora of awkward moments (I know I thought that's how it would all go down), but it was rather nice. Aside from the fact that I didn't get to see my parents or siblings, and knowing that some of them probably got to eat MY banana cream pie, it was a rather enjoyable weekend.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at an old high school friend's house. I hadn't seen her in over ten years, so I thought that might be a little strange too, but it was fine. Her husband was super nice, and her kids had a good time with mine. At least I think they did.

Friday we decided to venture out of the house to get some lunch and do some shopping. Since he apparently didn't get enough to eat the day before, Togers decided to take on a one pound hamburger in an attempt to gain fame and notoriety by having his picture on the wall along with the other fatties. I documented the event.

A daunting task ahead:

But he didn't shy away:

Almost there, but looking a little like he wants to vomit:

Finished (and he didn't even puke):

Posing for his picture to go on the wall:

Couple that with the fact that I was able to get a little bit of Christmas shopping done, I'd say Black Friday was a success.

All except for when we let the kids talk us into going into a pet store. There were certainly some cute little puppies. Like this one:

We ran into trouble when we had to explain to Mr M that he couldn't get one. Especially not for the $3000 price tag. Here's the tail end of his reaction to that news:

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I'm pretty sure that boy is staying in tonight

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Togers decided he wanted to try jumping into the pool. You know, because he just couldn't wait to see what forty degree water felt like. He didn't stay in the water long, and when he was done he placed his wet shorts on the fence in the back yard to dry. A few hours later my ex looked out and saw them there.

Ex: [Togers], go get those wet shorts off the fence before someone comes along and steals them.

Togers: Why would someone steal boys' shorts?

Ex: They might. People steal women's underwear all the time.

Togers: Yeah, but that's women's underwear. That's a little different.

Me: Not necessarily. You don't think there are any pedophiles around? They might be interested in stealing your shorts.

Ex: Yeah, [Togers]. You've always been a pedophile's favorite.