Curse You, DVR

If there is one thing I would change about my family it is their ownership of DVR. If my weary eyes didn't deceive me, my family had something like 90 different programs DVR'd. Really, this is my mother and brother. My father's primary relationship with DVR seems to be asking others to stop recording things so he can watch a program in the other room.

For my mother, the DVR is the modern equivalent of sending newspaper clippings. Every moment of pop-culture advice over the past six months that in any way suggests to my mother something about me has been saved for my pained perusal. For my brother, it's a means of making sure that every inane thought that passes through his head gets heard in real time. We used to get to wait for commercials, when we at least could prepare by going for a drink. But not anymore: just getting into something when a flash of something red moves in the background? Pause that puppy and launch into a sermon about a that one time at camp some guy I never met said something factual about frogs.

You know how I know the DVR is evil? On December 26th, my mother and brother - denied their Christmas madness by my sadness - could contain it no more, and sat down to watch....Santa Tracker.

As I retreated to my hideaway, I asked "We are all over the age of 25, right?" There was no response. I didn't have the remote.

My Father Designs Christmas cards...

I'll spare you all the poem inside, but I will wish you a happy holiday season!

Hope you're all merry and bright and such.

Less angst, more creepy

creepy Santa photos!

Enjoy. Or something.

Worst bar story ever

My oldest friend's father has been diagnosed with cancer. We were, to be sure, the happiest customers at the bar.

For years, we joked we shared a brain. Tonight we were strange opposites. His girlfriend is starting to want children. After nursing his mother through illness and with his father now ill, he fears the burden of responsibility to children: that one day, they'll be in his position. Trying to cheer him up, I told him first how that level of maturity made me sure he'd be good as a father. And we talked about how I'd like kids but can't seem to get past the fears of the things that might actually get me there.

Seriously, didn't trips for Christmas once involve whole moments sans angst?

In the manner of my people...

...I shall drink a little too much, get a little too emotional, and go to bed too early.


Home: four people, five TVs, four dogs.

For whatever reason - call it irony or what you will - my whole day has been inundated with talk about dogs. Three members of my family have asked if I'm planning to get another dog. One person asked me if I read a story about dog fighting. Tonight, my mother found a stray that she wanted to talk about the right thing to do to help.


From the book I brought home to read:

She said, "What are you going to do out at sea?" and I said, "Don't worry about the future."


My parents have been renovating. Tonght I was forced to ask, "There are two buttons on the new toilet. What do they do?"

I feel like my parents' home has become a weird hybrid of "My Name Is Earl" and "Tetsuo II: Bodyhammer."

Go on. Try to reconcile that. Netflix and Advil will help.


And now, to bed.

The Holidays

I'm due to head home for Christmas today, which is not the easiest decision. I'm on edge, and having conversations is an effort.

I debated staying here. Depressing, I know, but less likely to end in argument, as my family inevitably irritates me by the end of a long trip, and I'm usually in a good mood at the start. Who knows where I'll be by the end of this one? But my family has been fraught with illness of late, and it seemed like there was too much potential for regret if I didn't go.

So for now, I'm packing the bag for a late night flight, and hoping I don't get seated next to anyone too chatty.


In an effort to feel a bit more Christmasy, I spent much of last night trying to duplicate an old holiday tape - actually tapes - that I had from my radio days of holiday music by all sorts of old blues and Motown artists (okay, there were some more modern ones in there - Springsteen's "Merry Christmas, Baby" is well worth hearing).

It's been a challenge, mostly because I haven't seen the tapes in about 12 years and can only remember a few of the songs I was thinking of. I am, at the moment, trying to decide which song is more of a holiday imperative: Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" or Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa."


Thanks to all for the warm thoughts in the midst of this calamity. It's helped. I hope you're all enjoying the holiday, whatever your persuasion. Hope that bit of music is the start of a fair thank you.

Assorted Lines from the Journal

The heater in my apartment makes strange creaking noises in the walls. I was to go to a party, but I couldn't. I felt sick. Groups make me tired, even on good days: all that networking and shaking hands and small talk. There was work to do and nothing to come home to, so why leave?

I don't go down the back stairs. I cannot look at the park.

I don't look under the coat I wore, collapsed over all those things. I thought I'd give it away for its proximity, but now I can't stand to lift it.

I try not to sneeze. For whatever reason, you loved that. Each sneeze, a phantom limb.

There's no snow out. Finally, I had something good to say about it: that it gave you a little pleasure to eat once, to run through. Perhaps I am cold enough without it now.

My friends are blooming with babies. Thinking of it in the shower, I coughed out to the steam and the empty room: it's springtime somewhere.

At night, I wake up - less now, but still too often - and reach to your empty spot. Sighing, I repeat to myself that there is work to be done, even if there is nothing to come home to.

Make Of It What You Will...

Perhaps it's a generational difference or perhaps it's the joy of having tenure. It could even have something to do with where one went to school (it was noted to me that all the faculty in my grad program who went to a particular graduate school shared a certain year-round tendency towards red noses and rosy cheeks).

I don't know.

But today, a colleague saw me in the hallway and noted I appeared to be having a rough day. I nodded, not wanting to go into any particular detail, and made some vague excuse about finals week.

They nodded sagely, and ushered me into their office where they pulled from the bottom drawer of their desk a bottle of their finest libation and poured me a cup. It was all terribly "Don Draper," and I'd lie if I said I wasn't grateful for it, particularly as it turned out to be my old libation of choice as well. And it did hearken back to grad school days of alcoholic blended drinks in the office.

I'll assume it means they've accepted me. But still, an odd moment.

Stuck In My Head

A little music for the broken hearted...


The one time I road a horse, my aunt told me to expect to fall off. No rider, no matter how good should always be prepared to fall she said. So if it happens, practice how to land.

Today I am practicing how to walk in the door to an empty apartment.

Tomorrow, I will practice how to talk to people.


Today my dog fell down the stairs; he'd been diagnosed (tentatively, of course, because no one's sure of anything in medicine) with lymphosarcoma. There had been some small hope dangled and latched onto that it might be something viral.

And so you can imagine my shock and horror, discovering today that my dog - my truest companion for nearly a decade - had lost his sight. Every noise scared him. At the pet ER, more small bits of hope were given - maybe a month, maybe two, maybe remission. And all the while, my dog was more scared than I'd ever seen him, sought the center of the room so he wouldn't smack his head into anything even as he started at every noise. When I finally calmed him down enough to get him to lie down, I heard his breathing change: there was a rattle, and he was obviously uncomfortable. I realized why he'd been so antsy the last few nights - he couldn't breathe right when he was lying down.

I sat there with him on the floor for a couple of hours, petting him and trying to work the angles. And all the while, my sad dog, shaky on his feet, unable to find me if I wasn't whispering to him, was trying to make me feel better.

Letting him go wasn't easy. I thought about seeing him when I came in the door. About the way he'd peek over the bed in the mornings, infinitely patient with my laziness. I thought about how he's been the constant for almost a decade, the one thing I always always always looked forward to, who made every day, any day, better. Then I thought about the hours I wasn't home, and what it would be like to be left home in the dark. I thought about pacing the floor, unable to sleep, and not getting to do the things ones loved.

I had to let him go.

As the Term Winds Down...

As a bit of catching up, it turns out that it may not be lymphosarcoma (but it might). It's the pooch, by the way - my family has confined their illnesses to pulmonary embolisms, high blood pressure, diabetes and fainting episodes.

I am beginning to suspect the pup faked the super swollen lymph nodes as a way to get me to cook him sausage every morning. Still, at least he's eating.

The weekend was spent visiting with friends. I'm convinced my friends have cuter babies than other people's friends. And they - the friends, not the babies - seem to make better desserts. A Saturday night eating chocolate baclava, cupcakes, and flan isn't a bad way to spend an evening.

The term's winding down, and I'm debating how best to spend the break. I'm flying home, I think (assuming the pup recovers enough to be kenneled). But I feel like I should be working on some things beyond that. For tonight, though, I'll bake some brownies for the students of the first class at the new job that's winding up this first weird, wild term.

Just So You Know

Added to the list of words I didn't want to learn the real definition of (right up there with "pulmonary embolism" and "heart failure"): "lymphosarcoma."

Seriously, why doesn't medicine have long words for things like "nice ass" or "very congenial"?