Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reflections of a deep 2012.

As we say at work, I thought a little "touchbase" was in order for today. It's been about a week since I've written anything, and today can be kind of rough for a lot of us.

It's December 26, the official day of Christmas hangovers, the morning when we walk into the living room and discover just how dried up the tree really is. Tiny shards of "wrapnel" that were missed after the initial cleanup still litter the floor, mingling with those little T-shaped plastic strands that we've chewed through to remove the tags from our cozy new Peruvian ski caps.

How did things work out for you? Did you get both items on your list, the digital garden hose and the limited edition Justin Bieber toilet targets?

I hope so. We all want the fat guy to grace our homes with an abundance of first world treasures and not use our abodes as merely a convenient rest stop for Stingle, the elderly elf with a spastic colon.

Traditionally, I've found today, or Christmas Anti-Eve, to be a good time to reflect. It's important right now to embrace a year that has about as much time left as a freshly shorn Ted Bundy did upon nestling into his two thousand volt LA-Z-Boy.

And so, I'm going to attempt to steady my hands enough from the giddiness I've been feeling since the clock struck midnight on December 22 and rendered the Mayan's forecast as meaningless as Rush Limbaugh's elliptical trainer, and type out a little synopsis of the year's highlights.

I'll try to keep things buoyant, since hurricanes, mass shootings and convicted child molesters who establish charities to advance their perverted ends, horrific and significant as they are, are hardly cause for lampooning.

So here's some of the other stuff:

Mitt Romney rises to the top of the scrap heap to secure his party's nomination for the presidency. Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, each enjoying a half-can of Coke Zero as front runners, can't prevent themselves from yakking up chunks of stupid all over their American flag lapel pins, leaving Mitt standing alone on stage in those stonewashed mom jeans he constantly wore.

General David Petraeus, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, admits to repeatedly launching his predator drone into enemy territory. As a consequence, he loses his job and is deemed the odds-on favorite for the presidency in 2016.

Jamie Dimon, President and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase, reveals that his company lost at least three billion dollars to bad investments. Testifying in front of Congress, Dimon claims the "Groupon Defense," insisting that he's entitled to another three billion at no additional cost.

Social networking pioneer Mark Zuckerberg takes Facebook, Incorporated, public. The stock loses over a quarter of its value in less than a month and half its initial public offering value in three months. Check it out. It's in their timeline.

The New York Giants, Miami Heat and San Francisco Giants win the world championships of their respective sports, making the phrase, "I couldn't care less," second only to "I know, right?" as the most overused phrase of the year.

Clint Eastwood talks to a chair at the Republican National Convention. While some claim this futile attempt at improvisation sealed Mitt Romney's fate, I disagree. In one fell swoop, Romney secured an untapped section of the voting populace— those who actually saw Obama sitting in the chair.

And speaking of Barack Obama, how about that one? After Karl Rove pumps tens of millions of Super Pac money into attack ads, then performs a nationally televised, election night tantrum that would rival the one my daughter threw in the children's shoe department at Nordstrom on October 17, 2000, the President emerges victorious in a landslide.

I used to think that Karl Rove was the Devil, but I'm pretty sure Satan wouldn't allow his diaper to soak all the way through his Dockers.

So much more amazing stuff happened this year, from legalizing weed to almost losing our friend, the Twinkie, from citizens finally approving same-sex marriage to the Supreme Court nixing Arizona's ridiculous immigration law.

I guess all that's really left for 2013 is bringing our troops home and getting Led Zeppelin back together... that order.

Monday, December 17, 2012

When He Read Their Names.

We sat and watched as he read their names.

The kitchen was a sugary mess, the house thick with the aroma of the fudge and bon bons my wife and daughters had been baking, when the president came on TV.

And he read their names. All twenty of them.

There was Dylan and Emilie, there was Olivia and Noah, kids whose first and last names were probably scrawled by their teacher in neat black printing on cards that sat taped down to their desks, each waiting to unite with a real person on that electric first day of school.

Some had probably been drawn on a little by now, doodled with pencils or crayons or maybe speckled with a little Elmer's School Glue.

And as awful as I felt, it wasn't until President Obama uttered their names that I felt such an untapped, overwhelming sorrow.

I looked over at my seventeen-year-old daughter, perched on one of her favorite vantage points, a large exercise ball. At that moment I didn't see a full grown young woman about to step into adulthood.

Instead, I was looking at a seven-year-old tomboy wearing a blue denim jumper and white tights that betrayed the outline of a band-aid taped to her knee. Rather than a head of neatly brushed hair pulled back in a ponytail, it was the tangled rat's nest of a kid who'd spent an entire day playing in the mud puddles and wood chips of her school playground. No mirrors out there, Dad. Geez.

As we huddled together in our small family room, my twelve-year-old took on the appearance not of the beautiful girl a hundred days from becoming a teenager, but a six-year-old cutie pie with rosy cheeks and no front teeth, determined to persuade us that her favorite dress wasn't too dirty to wear again this week.

I looked at my wife, herself an elementary school teacher. Seen from my perspective, her raw grief convinced me not only of a capacity, but a willingness to place herself between one of her students and a bullet.

I couldn't help but summon the words an ignorant person once coined: "Those who can't...teach." Really? Tell that to the parents of the kids who lived.

In the past when I've felt this vulnerable, I've typically followed the same pattern of rooting out the easy answers. I convince myself that if we get rid of the handguns and assault rifles, if we require mental health assessments for gun ownership, if we make firearm possession a privilege rather than a right, maybe the insanity will stop.

Maybe that's true. Maybe it isn't.

Hug your family.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Morning After

"And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."
- Revelation 12:9

Is it truly the beginning of the end or just another dry run?

Right now, we seem to be sitting squarely in the eye of two catastrophic prophesies; or in delicious terms, we're in the fluffy white middle of the dark Oreo wafers that signal the end of time.

Some, including Columbia Pictures, have sided with the ancient Mayans, predicting December 21 as the end-date of a five-thousand, one-hundred and twenty-five-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. 

Or who knows, maybe the guy jotting down the calendar put down his Bic after hearing that a couple of dudes down at the temple had just invented basketball using the enemy chieftain's head for a ball.

Calendar shmalendar, game on.

Others may feel that the events which ensued last Thursday in my home state signaled the death knell for a hopelessly sinful human race. At the stroke of midnight on December 6, two groundbreaking Washington statutes linked elbows and dos a dos'd onto the shiny parquet of the square dance floor.

We, the citizens of the Evergreen State, may now marry whomever floats our tug. How about that?

Oh, yeah, we can also possess an ounce of weed. I wonder how many Seattle's two-hundred fifty couples that received their licenses at midnight opted to take advantage of both new laws shortly thereafter.

King County's courthouse overflowed with giddiness; these people have been waiting...and waiting...some as long as thirty-five years, to tie the knot all legal like. For all intents and purposes. most of these pairs are already married anyway. With or without this new edict, people are still greeting each other after a long day at work, figuring out dinner and discussing whether or not they trust their daughter's new boyfriend or how that woman at work who never washes her hands after leaving the stall did it again today. 

And then there's the weed. A fairly sizable throng gathered for this one, too, but these folks thought it might be cool to swarm around the Emerald's City's largest hookah—the Space Needle—to usher in Seattle's new status as the sticky icky capital of green America. If you'd like, feel free to pick the moniker which most accurately portrays our little city of smoke on the water:

- Clamsterdam
- Eutokia
- The Big Apple...pie with ice cream.

Since the Needle's home, Seattle Center, sits a mere roach clip flick from most of the city's newspaper offices and TV stations, photo ops abounded for those willing to smoke openly early last Thursday morning. I say, well played, red-eyed renegades. After all, when are you ever going to get another chance for your mom to see you on ActionNews8, your bloated purple face choking and heaving trying to contain massive huff from a tar-speckled Bart Simpson bong?

Lately, public apprehension has reminded me a lot of the mood around that whole "Y2K" thing back at the turn of the millennium. We agonized and prepared tirelessly for the likelihood that our digital toasters would think it was 1900 again and wouldn't work since toasters hadn't been invented yet.

And nothing changed.

Or remember when Bewitched got a new Darren? I didn't think there was any chance that Dick Sargent could have the same carnal magnetism with Samantha nor the raw emotional connection to Larry Tate that Dick York had.

How dreadfully wrong I was.

So here we are, four days out, and everyone still seems to be okay. Perhaps a few states will follow suit in the coming years and gradually wear away the stigma of both issues, much as the civil rights movement and repeal of prohibition assimilated paradigm shifts which we now take for granted.

A few states will surely hold out, believing that allowing same sex marriage will only burst open the floodgates of permissiveness toward legalized plural and bestial wedlock.

Ironically, those are the states where that behavior is most prevalent.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brokepass Mountain

I've got one of those bus passes that's electronically loaded each month. Last week I sat on it and cracked it with my powerful right glute, rendering it inoperable.

I called and ordered a new card and was told it would arrive in five to seven business days. No big deal, I thought. I've had the same driver for a couple of months. I'll just tell him what the story is and he'll remember, possibly with a little prompting, from that moment forward.

Well dip me in Tang and call me John Boehner, if a new driver didn't show up on my inaugural morning with a useless bus pass. And the next day another new driver. And the next day a different one, yet. By gum, I've had a different driver each of the past four days.

It's been interesting.

Day One

Me: Morning.

Driver: Good morning, sir.

Me (brandishing my scotch-taped card): My card's broken.

Driver: Can you try to tap it?

Me (fruitlessly tapping): Yeah, see.

Driver: All right, bro. Go ahead.

Day Two

Driver (after seeing that my pass doesn't work): Do you have any cash?

Me: No. Plus, this thing costs ninety bucks a month.

Driver: Next time, just bring some cash.

Me (walking away): Yeah, maybe.

As I retreated down the aisle, the driver's voice continued. Was he still talking to me? Who else would he be talking to? Do I stop in the aisle and try to hear what he's saying? Should I return to the front?

Nah. I sat down and eventually he stopped talking.

This morning

Driver (again after seeing that my card doesn't scan): So it's loaded monthly, huh?

Me: Yeah.

Driver: Do you have a pass or a purse?

Me: Do I have a pass or a purse?

Driver: Right.

Me: I'm pretty sure it's always been a bus pass.

Driver: Go ahead, I believe you.

Me: Thanks.

A purse? Since then, I've found out that "ePurse" is a service for manually loading your bus card. I'm thinking if the driver had said "ePurse," rather than "Do you have a pass or a purse?" it may have held a bit more context.

So anyway, you're welcome, Metro. No charge for being your customer service mole ever since my card broke. In the final analysis, the drivers I encountered were courteous and accommodating, albeit a little quirky.

Four stars.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Top Ten Holiday Treats.

This Christmas season couldn't have happened at a better time.

I hadn't realized how profoundly burned out on politics I am right now. Plus, you know, Romney has gone away. He's probably lounging on a tropical beach staining his teeth with so much Strawberry Crush, he could play the lead in the new ABC sitcom, CEO Vampire.

And not only has Mitt git, but so have his Republican nemeses; no more Perry or Bachmann or Cain. The airwaves are no longer dripping in Santorum. 

If you'd like to know exactly how much I'd like to discuss politics, please read the following paragraph. Some readers may consider the subject matter disturbing and may choose to skip it. Bear in mind, it is intended solely for immature audiences. While it may sicken you, if you aren't disgusted, then wow, are you messed up.

I would rather discuss politics today than nibble savory opiated droplets of perspiration from the murky confines of Rush Limbaugh's inner thigh meat.

I knew you'd read it. Anyway, this time of year is meant for basking in the warm bubble bath of the holidays. Doggone it, I love this time of year, don't you?

It's a season of smells. I think that's what conjures such strong emotion—there's a six-week window of aromas that doesn't exist the rest of the year. Only then do vapors of peppermint hot chocolate meld with cinnamon and Douglas Fir to instantly remind you of your great aunt's house in Tacoma.

And, holy sweet mother, Yuletide is a season of tastes. Like I say when I walk into my daughters' rooms, "There's shit everywhere." Please reply with  your top ten or five or one or whatever. I know I'm just scratching the sweet, buttery surface.

Here are my top ten holiday treats:

10) Little oranges—Today, I've got three Satsumas at my eleven o'clock and a container of homemade truffles at my five o'clock. It's going to be a battle.

9) Pumpkin pie—Don't so quickly forget our friend from two weeks ago who gave his life for breakfast.

8) Almond Roca—I love it so much, the stuff in my cat's litter box looks tempting.

7) Russian tea cookies—Funny story, I've never had them with Russian tea.

6) Hickory Farms—A nice little stack of cheese and summer sausage on a cracker, combined with your favorite hoppy beverage can turn The Today Sponge Bowl into the championship game.

5) Chocolate mint Frangos—One time back in college, I ate nearly an entire box. That's all you need to know.

4) Divinity—My mom made it. I never liked it very much, but remembering her makes me love it.

3) Frosted sugar cookies—Preferably shaped like a tree and covered with red or green frosting (or both) and sprinkles. Oh, Christmas tree.

2) Irish Whiskey—A holiday tradition begun decades ago by none other than my papa, Lionel Haywood. Deliciousness.

1) Fudge.