Monday, January 24, 2011

Sorry I Got All Bloggy On You - It Probably Won't Happen Again Until Next Time

I don't wanna get all bloggy on you guys, but well, here we go...

Most of the time, [Maris] and I feel like the only sane people in a lunatic asylum filled with 7 billion patients and no doctors. In recent years, we've come to understand that in reality, it's the other way around. It is we who are apparently defective, in so many ways. Either way, we are now fully aware that we do not belong here. You know, like, on Earth, with you nice people.

Exhibit A: We don't like coffee. At all. I know! Somehow, with both made it through college and retail jobs and decades of being complete night-owls and beyond our thirties without developing a taste for - let alone addiction to - coffee. Caffeine - yes! Mountain Dew for [Maris] and Coke/Lime Diet Coke for me. But not coffee. Just to add some weird sprinkles to the weird frosting that is our coffee-free existence, [Maris] absolutely adores the smell of coffee beans. Walks down the coffee aisle at the grocery store, just snorting the aroma. Brew it up and place it before her, and it's hemlock. "It tastes like burnt dirt in water."

Exhibit B: We don't watch "reality" TV in any form, including the "talent" competitions. We used to watch "The Soup," because Joel McHale and his writers are brilliant, but a couple of years ago, it reached the point where sitting through the clips from the actual shows became so unbearable that we couldn't even get to the funny stuff. What's new with The Bachelor? How's that new kid who can more or less carry a tune doing on A.I.? What happened in that cliffhanger on The Kardashians? Don't know. Don't care. If we had known that all it took to get rich and C-list famous was to do a sex tape or whore ourselves out in a scripted show with a bunch of narcissistic 15-minutes-of-fame-seekers, we could have done all of that and more. Well, maybe ten years ago. Not that we're bitter. Hey, if it's what you want and the machinery is in place for you to make it happen, who are we to stop you. Just please, go away. Soon. You're taking up valuable airtime that could be occupied by more interesting things. (watch for a future post about the downfall of western civilization, wherein "reality" TV will play a central role.)

Exhibit 3: We cringe at the sight (or sound) of bad grammar, made-up words and the abundance of other evidence of the death of the English language. Sadly, that somehow makes us the defective ones. Yeah - we're the weird ones. But just being grammar Nazis doesn't make us that odd. It's the fact that one minute, we'll be bitching at a commercial featuring subject-verb disagreement and the word "deliciocity," and the next thing out of our mouths will be some abomination of English, lifted from "Family Guy" or "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia." Wait. That just makes us hypocrites. That's not weird at all. That's the norm, today! Okay, never minds Exhibit's 3.

Exhibit D: We don't fight. I know, I know. Lots of couples think they don't fight. Seriously, we simply don't. It's not because we agree about literally everything, or have an unhealthy aversion to marital conflict; we just have neither the time, nor the energy for fights. We were already in our thirties when we married, so we have to use all our minutes being smug about our happiness together. Fighting is not on the schedule.
It's not like we don't want to fight -- we do! But we can't think of anything to fight about. I'll just stop now. I can hear your skeptical harrumphs. It's true, though. Sorry.

Exhibit E: We love kids, but don't have or want any of our own. This is obviously big enough to be its own post. Hell, it could be its own blog. It's complicated, and don't even start with us because we've heard it all before. Our child-free existence is not a condemnation of almost every other couple on the planet. However, more often than you might expect in 2011, we're thought to be selfish, stupid or utterly insane for not wanting to procreate, and we're perceived as child-hating, anti-family assholes who stand in judgment of all parents - as if we are "right" and everyone else is "wrong." It's not really okay, but we understand. Anyone who deliberately does something differently is automatically seen as disapproving of your way, and by extension, of you. We're the ones going against the grain, here. I just marvel sometimes at the giant toes that surround us, just waiting to be stomped upon. We love kids, and we're not having any, and that's okay. And you're okay, too. We're all okay! Except you English ruiners. We hate you guys.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cardboard and Apathy: A Love Story

Miss Ann Thrope: Are you feeling any better?

P. Paul Hader: (scowl, chew chew, gulp)

Thrope: Now, now. The face? Even after pizza and beer? Really? Ouch.

Hader: Okay, I'm less stressed and suicidal- no, homicidal, but mostly I'm just full of cardboard and apathy, now.

Thrope: Easy there, hater. It's not that bad.

Hader: What's not that bad? My situation, or this Italian culinary abomination? (air quotes on "Italian")

Thrope: Well, both. I guess. What's wrong with you? Do you just hate ALL pizza? Why do you even eat it?

Hader: Listen, Ann - I adore pizza. I love pizza more than I love my kids I don't have yet. Pizza is evidence that God loves me and wants me to be happy. I just happen to find this pizza to be an insult to me, and an affront to all that is good and kind and just in the world.

Thrope: You're an affront!

Hader: That doesn't even make sense. Wait. Urine in front? Oh, that's not urine. That's grease from this so-called pizza!

Thrope: Don't be gross. And it's not that bad, you balcony Muppet everything-hater! I like the sauce. Reminds me of Pizza Oven.

Hader: Okay, I like "balcony Muppet."

Thrope: Nice, right?

Hader: Very nice. But please do NOT compare this corrugated Amazon box with Pizza Oven. I grew up on their pizza. I was eating that stuff before I had teeth.

Thrope: Can you believe there are millions of people growing up on Domino's, Pizza Hut, and Papa John's?

Hader: That's just sad.

Thrope: I miss Godfather's. Remember that place?

Hader: Oh my God you are freaking obsessed with that place. It's been, like, decades. Let it go, Ann. Let it the hell go.

Thrope: You used to love Godfather's!

Hader: Their pizza was 80 percent corn meal for some reason. It was almost as bad as Chuck E. Cheese!

Thrope: You're just saying that because ol' whats-her-face broke up with you there, in front of the whole floor hockey team. The pizza was fine.

Hader: No, you're just saying that because you had your first sexual experience there.

Thrope: WHAT? I did NOT!

Hader: Babe, come on. It was at the goddamn table, in front of the whole team. Did you and old what's-his-name seriously think we wouldn't notice when his entire right arm went missing somewhere in your lap, leaving him fumbling lefty with his pizza for half an hour while you turned all red and pant-y?

Thrope: Excuse me - "panty?"

Hader: I know! It's funny 'cause it means here two things - closely-related though they may be.

Thrope: You're gross.

Hader: Oh, but I believe that it is you who are gross. Is gross? Am? Be. It is you who be gross!

Thrope: You all saw that?

Hader: Yup.

Thrope: And NONE of you ever said anything about it to me! Shit, that's a better vow of silence than the one in "I Know What You Did Last Summer!" I'm impressed. And mortified, of course.

Hader: Don't worry about it. I just know I was so jealous of what's-his-name that I could have killed him with a straw.

Thrope: You're sweet. Oh well. Pizza was good.

Hader: It was okay. It was no Nick's.

Thrope: Oh, here we go...

Hader: We can't talk about pizza without giving a shout-out to Nick's. Voted Delaware's best, you know.

Thrope: I know. It was what made Rehoboth Rehoboth. It was a religious experience. You cried, you moaned, you got a little bit hard. It was the best pizza in the universe, blah blah blah.

Hader: It was all of that and more. I'm tearing up, just thinking about it.

Thrope: But don't you find it at least a little bit ironic that Nick's pizza was made by a GREEK?

Hader: Nope. Just made it that much more impressive. Don't fuck with Nick or I will not hesitate to cut you with this plastic knife.

Thrope: Crust was too thin.

Hader: You watch your mouth! It was New York style. The crust was perfect. And it wasn't the only thing that made Rehoboth Rehoboth. They had arcade games older than we were - probably older then than we are now.

Thrope: Okay... Um, Ocean City had that, too. And the Dough Roller had great pizza. Why are you such a Rehoboth snob?

Hader: I'm not. Come on -- you have to admit, Rehoboth's arcades felt old-timey and fun, and O.C.'s arcades felt like there was always about to be a stabbing. And the Dough Roller? I'd rather eat a sweat-soaked odor-eater that's been in buried with Louie Anderson's foot in it since - well, since whenever the hell he died.

Thrope: I never saw anyone get stabbed! It was happy kids, as far as the eye could see. Except that one time, when my sister and I saw that girl beating the hell out of her boyfriend. Did I tell you she was using a Dr. Scholl's Exercise Sandal? Those things were like little wooden mallets!

Hader: Yeah. You've told me that one. How classy. A kid drowned at Rehoboth the day we got there, one year. His body didn't wash up until a week later, and it washed up late at night, right at the end of our block - right where we--

Thrope: ...had just been throwing glow-sticks and poking at washed-up jellyfish to see the electrical charges pass through them, and it was totally scary and it kept you and your brothers up at night and was the creepiest week at the beach ever. Yeah. And you remember when Funland built the Haunted Mansion, and it was torture that it took them a year-and-a half to finish it, and you loved all the mini-golf places, even though O.C.'s were totally superior, and you still miss the spin-painting, and you and your brother used to totally whale on that black-and-white Rip-off game, and one year there was a construction site across the street from the beach house, and one year your brother's friend had a nightmare and screamed bloody murder and the whole town heard because everybody kept their windows open at night, and one time you and your other brother were allowed to stay at Funland until it closed, and you used your last quarter to buy a Coke and you drank it and jumped up and down and burped as loudly as you could, all the way back to the house, and the doughnuts at that doughnut shop were the best anywhere ever on earth and the line went out the door every morning but no one minded the wait because they were that good, and your Dad told your sister's friend that the lights of Cape May were actually nuclear waste in the Atlantic, and she bought it - and none of you told her it wasn't true, and the only good thing to happen to the town in the past 25 years is Dogfish Head, and 90 percent of your happy childhood memories are from your Rehoboth vacations, and you can't imagine taking our own kids anyplace else.

Hader: You don't have to mock me.

Thrope: I'm not mocking you, but I don't have time to sit through that litany of awesomeness again. Are you still full of cardboard and apathy?

Hader: Um, yes.

Thrope: Well, maybe try to make that cardboard and overwhelming joy, because guess what I'm full of.

Hader: Stop it.

Thrope: I will not stop it. I'm full of pregnant.

Hader: Check, please!

Thrope: What's the rush, Mr. Apathy?

Hader: I'm gonna cry, and I am NOT going to be seen crying in a mall food court.

Thrope: Aww... You're going to cry? Really? That's so sweet.

Hader: Yeah - this cardboard pizza monstrosity is making me sick!

Thrope: Nice.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wrapping Up Double-barrel Unemployment. In 1 Hour. Because I'm Missing My Cartoons.

Hi! Tonight, we're going from Day 432 to Day 700 in the next hour of distracted, half-TV-watching 38 words-per-minute typing. Unless I'm not done after an hour. If I'm not done at the end of an hour, I'll just stop wherever I am and wrap up the rest of the story in one succinct and awe-inspiring sentence. K?

Here we go...

Day 432 - [Maris]'s first full day home from her adventure in Intensive Care, tubes, wires and machines that beep all the time and keep the sick people from sleeping. Also, it snowed approximately seven hundred thousand inches. Ha ha ha! No it didn't, but 2 1/2 FEET of that crap did fall on us that day. More than another foot fell some four days later. We had 54 inches of it within 12 days. In suburban Maryland. Not funny. Moving on...

Day 445 - Headcount reduction. I'm unemployed AGAIN after only 3 months on the promising contract job that was supposed to last at least a year. I wouldn't shed any tears over the loss of the hellish commute, but SWEET ZOMBIE JESUS! [Maris] and I were not going to last long with neither of us earning more than unemployment insurance. And needing to drink more than ever at a time when you can't really afford to? That's just cruel.

Day 470 - [Maris] has a new hobby! It's a big Excel spreadsheet, on which she dissects deliberately and unnecessarily complex, misleading and often duplicate medical bills and attempts to reconcile them with deliberately and unnecessarily complex, misleading and often duplicate explanation-of-benefits forms. It's like a shell game, but with math. The numbers are staggering. Our health insurance provider had covered like, not very much. Managing, minimizing and stretching out this new pile of debt during our time as a couple with dual lacks of income became a major project, and a priority equal to that of finding new jobs. Awesome.

Day 480 - I had an interview! I tried really hard, too. I learned all about the company, I prepared questions, I wore a suit! I didn't say anything Tourettesy or insult anyone or fall down or tell them about my loathing of hard work, of what they do, of the name of their HR guy. I kept my clothes on and didn't even ask if I was getting paid for today. I still didn't get the job. Weird.

Day 500 - I cut the grass!

Day 521 - After two visits to a really cool nearby employer, interviewing (very well, I might add) with five different people, I get the "it came down to you and another candidate and it was really hard, blah blah blah, but we're not hiring you" call.

Day 522 - For the first time in this whole ridiculous story, I moped. Ha ha ha! It looks like I just typed moped, as in the little scooter/motorbike thingies that were all the rage in the late 70s and early 80s. Remember those things? Ha ha ha! They were tiny and weak. If you hit a squirrel with a moped, the squirrel would totally win.

Day 547 - [Maris] is working again! It's terrible and clearly not a long-term solution, but it's a good-paying job in a putrid employment market, so she gladly takes it and quietly keeps searching for a better gig. The stories she brings home are awesome, but sharing them is out of the question. Sorry kids - I ain't gettin' sued. Let's just say she boarded a sinking ship of bigger fools than either of our previous Vortexes (Vortices?) of Doom. Yes, I realize that the only truly "double-barrel" unemployment we experienced was from Day 445 to day 547. So what. Shut up. It's my story and I can call it "monkey calculus and zen garden hoe design sparkle pancake bunnies" if I want to.

Day 588 - [Maris] is working again! At a job/company so good, she took a pay cut to go there from the ship of fools. I knew she could do it. Strangely, as much pressure as her re-employment took off my search, in some ways, I felt even more pressed to find something. From May until October, I could hardly get so much as a phone interview. Some funny stuff probably happened, too, but I only have seven minutes left, so I'll save any of that for later posts.

Day 680 - I had interviews at TWO DIFFERENT companies. I know! It was like an episode of "Three's Company" when Jack has two dates on the same night, like at the same restaurant and everything! I scampered back and forth between the two buildings, making up excuses about emergency phone calls and car alarms and things that they'd have to believe, like loose stools. Ha ha ha! It was fun! I kept talking about the wrong company and calling the interviewers the wrong names and stuff. I was pretty sure they knew what was up, but they played along.


Day 697 - One of them got wise and broke it off, and the other one HIRED ME!

I'm out of time, but we're pretty much done, aren't we? WOOHOO!! After 700 days, Double-barrel unemployment is over. It didn't kill us! It tried, but it failed. Epic failed. We live to work and earn another day. And another and another and another and another and untold thousands of additional others forever, just as it should be.

We know how lucky we are.