Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hindsight Has X-Ray Vision

Let’s be honest here folks, I’m no fashionista.

No, no…I’m more of a comfort man myself. I’ll pass on wearing my expensive pleather pants most days for the comfort of my Levis. All too often I’ve been known to cast aside my designer Manolo Blahniks for the sweet respite provided for me by my Airwalks.

Well this morning—after I popped out of bed at 5am—I thought to myself, “Well by golly, I think I want a big ole dose of comfy today.”

As such, I slipped into the aforementioned Airwalks and Levis combo and sauntered out the door to find it was sleeting. I didn’t think much of it at first, but as my voyage to work continued it became increasingly more evident that my initial designs of comfort were going to haunt me.

My Levis held up just fine mind you, no doubt better than my pleather would have given the wintery mix, however, my Airwalks were another story altogether. See even though they’re super comfortable—I’d liken them to walking on pillows stuffed with clouds made only from the evaporated particles of soft water and Jebus tears—they are a tad bit worn and weathered.

The traction (or lack thereof) provides me with literally no reassurance when walking on sleety-slick, slanted sidewalks with oncoming traffic. (note: my alliteration skills, still top-notch!) The laces—my third or fourth set—are tattered and often need to be retied somewhere in the range of thirty or forty times a day.

These issues I can deal with. The big problem would be the gapping holes in the heels of both shoes. In dry weather, not a problem. In the midst of New England’s first feeble attempt at winter precipitation, not so much.

On the bright-side, I did learn that my socks are super absorbent; a fact that will come in handy should I ever find myself in need of a makeshift flask at a watering hole in some acrid region of the Sahara.

In the end friends, the moral of this story is that sometimes choosing comfort over style and practicality is a fine move, however, other times it will lead to you smelling like a cross between a wet basset hound and a musty sailor for the remainder of the day. My apologies to all of my cubicle mates…

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today’s Moment of Glee

So there I was...wandering off campus toward Quiznos for a quick bite to eat for lunch when I saw a tuft of white hair bouncing before me in the distance. At first, I just assumed it was some old dude meandering through campus and I didn’t think anything of it.

Then, as he got closer, I saw that it wasn’t just any normal head of old dude hair. This guy was rocking a full-on Mugatu haircut!! That’s right folks, this old dude—who had to be in his 70s at the youngest—was limping across campus with the most bad-ass hairdo of this, or any, generation!! Rock on frizzy-haired old dude, rock on indeed!!

And that, my friends, was today’s moment of glee!!

Dear Diary (v.7)


Things That May or May Not Have Happened


Dear Diary (v.6)


Friday, December 12, 2008

Simple Pleasures: Potato Oles

When I get back to Iowa…nay…on my way back to Iowa, somewhere in the dense wilderness that is Minnesota, I will stop at Taco John’s.

When I do it will be a glorious moment for both me and my oft-deprived taste-buds. For those of you not in the proverbial ‘know’ let me explain why stopping at a seemingly innocuous little fast-food ‘Mexican’ restaurant will be such a phenomenal experience for me.

I love Taco John’s. I grew up devouring the stuff. When I was kid my family only really went to three fast food restaurants: Burger King, Dairy Queen and Taco John’s. Sure we’d mix in the occasion stop at McDonalds, Hardees or A&W, but for the most part we were loyal to the King, the Queen and their friend John. Growing up we didn’t go out to eat much partially because we were what the fancy folks would call “working poor” and because only on the rarest of occasions would we find ourselves in one of the two closest cities with populations that warranted fast-food restaurants.

Anyway, the King and the Queen were in Spencer, as was Taco John’s and they all got equal loving from the Graves family. However, when we headed west on Highway 18 and rolled into Sheldon, it was Taco John’s territory and no one else’s.

We loved the stuff growing up and found it was the one ‘restaurant’ where we were willing to experiment with what we ordered. For those of you who don’t know about the Graves family, I should let you know that we aren’t the most adventurous people, in the culinary sense. I didn’t try Chinese food until college. I didn’t try Indian food until a year ago. At fast-food joints everyone in my family would rattle off their Combo Number and we’d be all set, but not at Taco John’s. We’d all mix it up and try everything and anything on the menu. It was quite the coming of age place for the Graves family.

So in addition to being some tasty-fake-Mexican food, it is also full of memories for me. Unfortunately, since moving to Boston I’ve been deprived of the sweet, sweet glorious goodness that is Taco John’s signature item…the Potato Ole!

There is nothing more delectable than a fresh, perfectly-seasoned Potato Ole. If you get a lil cup of the nacho cheese to dip those suckers in….mmmmm mmmmmm mmmmmm. It’s like cheesy-potato-heaven.

So this little bloggity-blog goes out to one of my favorite Simple Pleasures in life…the Potato Ole!!

Dear Diary (v.5:pt.2)


The Librarian Manifesto

Okay, I want to take this opportunity to lay out some ground rules for all-ya’ll who intend to use libraries at any point…ever.

Now I realize that I’m not really a librarian. Real librarians go to school to acquire a degree in Library Sciences; however, in my many moons of experience, I’ve learned that the public doesn’t know the difference. Granted, they generally assume I’m a student worker—as evidenced by the number of times I’m asked what my major is in any given week.

Anyway, long-story-short…if you’re behind a service desk at a library—you’re a librarian. There are a total of eleven people outside of libraries who can tell the difference and I know that none of them are reading my rants…so for the purpose of this blog…I’m a librarian.

Here goes Five Simple Rules…

This is a Library, Please READ the Signs

I don’t know how many times I’ve been working on getting the library prepared for opening when I hear people yanking on the door. Now these are MIT students, some of the smartest folks in the world. Yet it never fails. Despite the fact that the hours are posted smack dab in the middle of the same door they’re tugging on, they’re going to keep on tugging even though the place doesn’t open for another hour. They’re going to knock on the door to get my attention. They’re going to ask why they can’t come in and I’m going to have to tell them—in my nicest “librarian” voice—“Well, sir, it’s because we’re not open for another hour, as evidenced by our hours of operation listed on the door.”

I don’t like to use my librarian voice. I shouldn’t have to use my librarian voice. Heck, I shouldn’t even HAVE a librarian voice. I would like to respond with something along the lines of…“Well, I’m not going to let you in because clearly you can’t read and as such, this building is of no use to you…now be gone nerd…go split some atoms, play World of Warcraft or continue your pursuit of lifelong virginity.”

Yes, There ARE Stupid Questions

I realize that somewhere between kindergarten and the day you throw your graduation cap in the air, someone is going to tell you that you’re special. They are going to tell you that you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do. While they’re feeding you that line of bullshit they’re also going to tell you that it’s okay to ask for help and there is no such thing as a stupid question.

Well, here’s the thing, that’s a lie. That’s a really big f’n lie. There are millions upon millions of stupid, moronic and—dare I say—retarded questions. And, without a doubt, every single one of them will be asked time and time again in a library. Yes, libraries and librarians (both the legit ones and the publicly-perceived kind) possess a wealth of knowledge to help answer questions. What they do not possess is the time or patience that is required to answer the maniacal questions asked by the crazies who frequent libraries for warmth in the winter, air-conditioning in the summer and access to pornography all year-round.

Examples: These all came from one person and within about 15 seconds of each other…

1. Do you have DVDs of bike races? You know, for enthusiasts?
2. Do you have stock quotes from the week before JFK was assassinated?
3. Do you know where I can buy Bloomingdale's women's shoes?
4. Do you know where I can find aluminum foil manufacturers that will sell me a really wide sheet of aluminum?

Closing Time is NOT Optional

I don’t know what it is about bars and libraries, but they seem to be the only two places in the world that never stay open late enough for people. No matter what time I’m trying to “close up shop” as it were, there are at least a handful of people who—despite our three warnings that we’re preparing to close—act as though we’ve just blind-sided them with a kick to the stones. “What?! You’re closing now?! But I’m not done…” What they’re not ‘done’ with is generally browsing the internet, napping or—in one special situation at my last job—getting it on nerdy-style.

What I fail to grasp is how people seem to have no problem comprehending that stores close at a certain time and that’s when they need to leave. Restaurants close at a certain time and that’s when they need to leave. Hell, even strip clubs and adult video stores close at a certain time and some how the people who frequent those fine establishments now that’s when they need to leave.

Yet, for some reason unbeknownst to me the folks who camp out in libraries can’t wrap their minds around the fact that libraries close at a certain time and they need to hit the bricks. That’s right, librarians (again, real or perceived) have no desire to sit here all night while people giggle to themselves at the latest ‘Doonesbury’ or browse through some online photo gallery of your neighbor’s kids. No, believe it or not, librarians have lives of their own that they’d love to get around to partaking in. This is my job. This is not my free time. Once we close, I’m off the clock and you’re cutting into my beer-drinking-time…hit the road, jerk!

You’ve Got the Wrong Guy

Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me with some ‘monumental’ problem and expected me to do something about it on the spot. They don’t like our hours or our selection of engineering DVDs or our fines policy or our new printers or the printers aren’t working or something else along those lines. Now usually I’ll proceed with caution--b/c if it’s something that’s got a nerd riled up enough to come to talk to a human, it’s clearly a big deal to them. As such, I’ll bust out the librarian voice and listen intently like there is actually some part of me that gives a rat’s ass about their unhappiness with our decision to move a certain collection into off-campus storage.

Eventually, after they’ve ranted, raved, bitched and moaned…they’ll give me that look like they expect me to rectify the situation. At this point I give them some sort of librarianized response that if translated back to normal person speak would sound like this…

“Dude, seriously…I’m sitting behind this desk on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon listening to you go on and on about something that means jack-shit to me. Do you honestly think I’m the guy who makes any sort of important decisions around this place? The people who make those decisions are at home right now, enjoying their weekends. Now move along and save your bullshit for someone who gets paid enough to deal with it.”

Do the Crime, Pay the Tiny Fine

If you’re late with your books—for the love of God, Allah, Buddha and Chuck Norris—just suck it up and pay your fines. I mean seriously.

A few weeks back a lady came in on a Saturday and actually used this phrase: “It’s just another scheme by the library to make more money.”

I’m sorry, what?! Listen up lady, the fact that you couldn’t get your books back to avoid a fine isn’t our fault. Believe you me, we weren’t sitting around plotting ways to keep your lazy ass from sauntering into the library. Seems to me like that would be a problem you have. Perhaps you’re not responsible enough to be allowed the right to borrow our books, since you’ve already had them since July and still couldn’t manage to get in here within the three-day grace period. You said that the emails we sent you—because apparently we need to be the ones to loom over you with your due date—went into your junkmail. Wow, clearly that’s another of our diabolical money-make schemes.

Listen up…we’re not lining our pockets on the fifty cents a day we get when you don’t have the common sense to return a book on time. And come on…it’s fifty-freakin-cents. You can afford to go to MIT and purchase that Gucci bag you were digging in to find a couple a quarters…but having to cough up a little silver is too much for you? Come on…

Let’s be real here, Chicky…if I were going to see any of the money that comes in from fines—like a commission of sorts—you know what, every book would be late. In fact, I wouldn’t see books any more…it’d be like the Matrix…I don’t see the books, I just see a new baseball glove, a new TV or perhaps just a stack of cold, hard cash.

So please, kindly move away from the desk to fill out your fine complaint form and I'll be sure to pass it along to the appropriate person's recycling bin immediately!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dear Diary (v.5:pt.1)


Dear Diary (v.4)

Disclaimer: For anyone who is stumbling into my “Dear Diary” series for the first time, let me warn you…what follows may not necessarily be any of the following: interesting, coherent, grammatically correct, in English, funny or even remotely entertaining. Proceed at your own risk…

Wednesday - 10:06am

Well, I’m awake. Today starts my slow death-march toward Saturday. I’m currently signed up for three-consecutive overnight shifts, in addition to my regular daily shifts. As anticipated people have concerns for multiple reasons. Grace is worried I’m going to die a slow, painful exhaustion-related death. My boss, Maria, is worried that I’m going to be a worthless puddle of goo during the day and thus not accomplish anything. My Mama is worried that her baby boy is working too hard. Jackie is worried—or at least she should be worried—that she isn’t going to get to hang out with me during her weekend visit because I’ll be some sort of sleepless zombie.

Whatevs, time to get out of bed and start this thing. I’ve had a solid ten hours of snore-filled sleep thanks to two sleep aids and four delicious pints of Natty Ice. So let’s see where that takes me…

Wednesday – 11:28am

Awkward moment that I only want to share with close friends and whatever strangers stumble upon my blog…I was in the shower right…and I’m gettin’ my suds-on and washing my hair and all of the sudden, I get this weird shooting pain in my left shoulder blade. Now for those of you who are uninitiated into the world of Graves and body pains…let me clear a few things up for you. You will hear me bitch about my knees a lot. My knees are in bad shape and have been ever since I sprouted up about a foot during one warm Iowan summer. I’ll occasionally bitch about my back and neck because they often hurt, generally as a result of my poor posture (also—in my opinion—related to my freakish growth spurt).

What you won’t really hear me bitch about is something like shoulder blades, because if you do…it generally means one thing—lungs. Again for the uninitiated, I have bad lungs—or rather—I have a bad left lung. In 2005 my left lung randomly collapsed, entirely. Apparently it’s pretty bad-ass or so the doctors told me—repeatedly—and I went ahead and took my street credit (or is it hallway credit in a hospital?!). Well I had lung surgery and—in theory—my lung was fixed for ever. That winter I’d suffer another slight relapse and then again another time here in Boston last summer. So needless to say I’m sorta getting this whole collapsed lung thing down pat.

Anywho, this pain is bad—but isn’t collapsed lung pain—or at least not like any of my previous collapsed lungs. I’m still far more mobile and less short of breath than in any of the past instances. According to the folks at WebMD I’m suffering from one of the following: pleurisy, a collapsed lung, a heart-attack, a muscle strain, a broken shoulder, a pulmonary embolism or…of all things…a tick bite?! Well, I’m going to pop a few Ibuprofens and see if I can shake this.

Wednesday – 12:30pm

Well I’m at work now, finishing up a poem/email thingity-thing for the Rewards and Recognition Committee. I got voted to be the group’s official writer…if only they’d known that I tend to procrastinate on things like this. Well whatevs, the meeting isn’t for another half-hour I’ve got time to pound this thing out. I really like this committee. Believe it or not, my more natural shyness generally comes out when I’m on committees because I just don’t feel comfortable speaking up about stuff…but this committee is different. The whole point of the committee is to reward people who do great work. I think I can handle that. It’s a lot of fun. Thus far I’ve been one of the most vocal people in the group and helped determine the theme, food and a bunch of other details…in addition to becoming the official writer, good times!

PS: Pain…still here, still hurts. Bad.

Wednesday – 2:30pm

This place is like a ghost town today. I haven’t really seen anyone. The meeting went really well. They loved my poem/email thingity-thing. Which is weird, b/c I didn’t think it was that good. Although I tend to be pretty critical about the crap I write. That or the bar for writing has been set very, very low here and people will eat up whatever I turn out. Either way, it made my day.

Shoulder/back area is still killing me. This blows. I think I’m going to see if there is any pizza leftover from the “Food for Thought” event that took place while I was in my meeting. I am soooo hungry. I missed breakfast because of all my WebMDing…is that a verb?! Can I really verbitize WebMD. Wait…verbitize?! That’s not a word either. Damn…imagine how unreadable this thing will be by this time tomorrow if I’m using things like “WebMDing” and “verbitize” now…I mean seriously…I’ve been up for less than five hours. This is just sad.

Wednesday – 4:47pm

Awesome, I snagged some pizza and Ryan and I had a lunch date on the floor behind the circ desk. Good times. Today is the Barker Library Rock Band event. It’s got a pretty good turnout, so I’m super happy for Remlee and Amy and Maria and the rest of the crew who are hosting it. Everyone seems to be having a really good time. I ducked out early to get some work done. I figure the best way to prove to Maria—who is probably reading this right now—that I can still be productive despite working a ridiculous number of hours, is to go ahead and get my productivity on. So I’m setting myself up right now to have some good mindless binding to do for tomorrow. I’m pretty sure I can actually do that stuff in my sleep now, so it’ll be perfect!! :-)

Note: Shoulder pain still here, still bad. It definitely doesn’t feel like a lung thing and I can’t help but think that if it were a heart-attack I’d probably have either died by now or at least stopped walking around so jauntily. I’m going to assume it’s just some weird muscle strain or something?!

Wednesday – 8:06pm

Okay, crap. I guess I’m more productive than I give myself credit for. I went ahead and did next week’s binding lot for Barker while I was on the desk tonight. Whoopsie. I guess I’ll have to start on the week after that?! When I’m gone?! Perhaps it’ll be a lot for my first week back from vacation?! Who knows…I’ll discuss my binding lot plans with Maria tomorrow…

Ryan was all sweet and messaged me to see if I was dying. Apparently it’s pretty obvious that I’ve got some serious discomfort with the shoulder thing going on. That kid is such a good egg. Without a doubt he’s my favorite (albeit only) work-boyfriend ever!

Time to head home, get something to eat, kick the shoes off and hang out with Grace for a bit before I have to wander back in.

Wednesday – 11:49pm

Okay, feeling good. Feeling refreshed. I had a lot of fun hanging out with Mlady at the homestead. She’s a pretty cool chick. I made myself a family pack of Salisbury steaks…the protein is very important for overnights…and gobbled that down. Grace couldn’t even look at ‘em, quite amusing.

I wandered to Shaw’s to get some overnight rations for the next couple nights and procured the following: one case Rockstar, one case Full Throttle, one bag sunflower seeds, two bags beef jerky, one just Gatorade, one case SlimFast and one pack Tylenol Cold. The logic is as follows…the energy drinks are a given, the sunflower seeds and beef jerky are to hook me up with some more of that sweet, sweet protein for a late-night boost, the Gatorade is because hydration is very, very key in overnight situations and the SlimFast is to keep me quasi-full whilst hooking me up with vitamins and nutrients. The Tylenol is because my body is going to be sooooooooooooooooooo f’n susceptible to illness by the end of this that I want to stave it off ahead of time. I figure that—in theory—last night’s sleep might be the last time I get to sleep until Saturday night. Throw in a library full of germs and sick folks and I’m a walking hotbed for germs. Thus the prevention! There was an interesting run-in at Shaw’s, however, I’m going to feature that little nugget in a blog of its own.

Unfortunately, I forgot orange juice in my haste. OJ at 4am is the ultimate energy drink. I don’t know why. I don’t know how, but nothing pumps a brother up more than a ton of that sweet, sweet nectar in the wee-hours of the morning.

Okay, loading up my stuff and off to Hayden. I’ll check back in after bit.

HEADCOUNT – 12:30am – 43 students

Thursday – 12:38am

Not much going on thus far. Pretty quiet actually for the first overnight; although I suppose the first weekend is generally when things really pick-up. Tonight my overnight partner is once again Greg “The Enforcer” Padilla. He is sporting a fancy shirt and tie combo that has me playing the part of the Pauper to his very stately Prince.

The shoulder still hurts, but I’ve found that if I slouch—more than normal—it hurts less. I can only assume that it has to be a muscle strain kinda thing. Anything more important than that and I’d be dead by now, right?!

Thursday – 1:09am

Okay, we’ve got our first weirdo!! Some dude in a leather jacket just keeps pacing back and forth. He walks all the way up by the desk…and then turns…and walks all the way to the back of the library. He’s done this about three times now.

…you know it’s going to be a quiet night when the weirdest person in the first hour is someone walking. *sigh*

HEADCOUNT – 1:30am – 35 students

Thursday – 1:34am

Still not much cool stuff to report on. The high point is this lovely young chicky-babe who appears to be giving me some flirtatious eyeballs from one of the study carrels. Doesn’t she know I’m a one nerdy-chick man?!

Thursday – 2:08am

It is still super quiet in here, very boring night for nerd-watching. Greg has done a ton of shelving thus far and I’ve just been chatting with people on messenger; which is good because it passes the time very quickly.

HEADCOUNT – 2:30am – 26 students

Thursday – 2:41am

So the Mets traded for JJ Putz earlier tonight. Yeah, I’m sorry folks…that’s how slow things are tonight. I’m forced to share baseball news that is already like three hours old. Many apologies.

Thursday – 3:16am

How can you tell when nerds are near their breaking point?! When it’s a little after three in the morning and someone sneezes and three of them shoot a death glare at the offending nerd. Poor sneezy-nerd.

Thursday – 3:24am

Unfortunately, the aforementioned Cutie McNerd is packing up and leaving the premises. On an unrelated note, Greg has been in the stacks for quite awhile now. I’m worried that his dapper attire has drawn the ire of some shiv-wielding, sleep-deprived Nuclear Engineering major.

HEADCOUNT – 3:30am – 17 students

Thursday – 3:31am

Greg is not dead. He was not stabbed. All is well; although it would seem that his shirt and tie combo is not the most comfortable outfit to be wearing at this time of night. I think everyone in the library after midnight should be in pajamas: students, staff, security, janitorial staff…everyone!

Thursday – 3:57am

I think the population of this bibliotecha is gonna be pretty sparse in another couple of hours or so. People are flocking outta here like crazy. I think I’m going to go shelve some books, I’ll check back in with all ya’ll at the next headcount.

HEADCOUNT – 4:30am – 10 students

Thursday – 4:32am

So when I was shelving, I had a cart that was chockfull of books about sex and I kept giggling like a school girl at all of the titles. I don’t know if that’s a sign of my lasting immaturity, my youthful exuberance or the early signs of sleep deprivation. I only throw out the latter as a possibility because I kept giggling at the titles of the books about Julius Caesar as well. So who knows?!

Thursday – 4:47am

Now I don’t mean this to sound rude or judgmental, but I really can’t think of anyone who is creepier than the night time janitorial staff. I mean seriously, these folks come in—by choice—in the wee hours of the night to clean up the library?! On any normal night this place would be in lockdown mode and to be perfectly frank there are very few things on this planet that are scarier than empty library late at night. I don’t know what exactly it is that floats these folks proverbial boats…but I know it scares me!

Thursday – 5:09 am

So check this. It’s after five in the AM and I still have yet to have a caffeinated beverage. That’s right folks. I’ve been chugging water and gobbling on sunflower seeds this entire time. No energy drinks and no soda yet. Go me! My legs are still bouncing like a crack-addict in rehab, so I guess that’s a pretty good sign that my energy is still up there!!

I should note that in an attempt to ensure energy drinks would be at their maximum potency during this three-overnight extravaganza, I haven’t actually had an energy drink since Saturday morning. In fact since that energy drink I’ve only had a total of six sodas as well. So my caffeine intake has been super low, thus enhancing its effects when I need it most.

Thursday – 5:22am

My computer is starting to freak out and act all slow and wonky. That’s not a good sign. I guess I’ll take this opportunity to go do some more work in the stacks.

HEADCOUNT – 5:30am – 5 students

Thursday – 5:41am

So every student on this floor is passed out. My favorite is when they do that crazy head bob thing. You know what I’m talking about; the one where they’re trying to fight the sleep…but only with their neck and only when their jaw hits their chest. Then they sorta lift their head back up a little and open their eyes for a second….and then close ‘em and the whole head bob process starts over again.

Always entertaining stuff!!

Thursday – 6:02am

Well, given the complete lack of crazy nerd adventures I’m left with the option of actually doing work. As such, I’m starting to plow through next, next weeks binding lot for Science. At this pace I’m going to have nothing to do with the rest of my week. Luckily Maria has a big project waiting for me after Christmas break, so that’ll be good. I’m quickly running out of stuff I can bind in either library.

HEADCOUNT – 6:30am – 5 students

Thursday – 6:34am

So of the five students we’ve got left in this place three are totally out cold and the other two are on computers. One is watching YouTube videos and giggling wildly on the second floor. The other one is sitting here on first floor and appears to be searching Google Images for a picture of a horse or donkey. There are two laptops just begging me to steal them and give them away to a family member for Christmas. There are at least four different book bags strewn about that appear to belong to no one in particular.

Thursday – 6:49am

Yeah, I’m getting pretty hungry. I guess if I ate my family pack of Salisbury steaks back at 9pm, it’s getting to be a long time. Perhaps the Slim Fast? Or maybe it’s time for the beef jerky? Tough decisions!!

Thursday – 6:52am

Just wanted to make a note…still no caffeine. Just water!! Who knew this was even possible?!

Thursday – 7:03am

Ah, there it be!! The sky is turning a lighter shade of blue. Morning cometh and damn, I’m down to the final hour already. That actually flew by. Gotta love it. I should go finish up shelving a second cart in this next hour, as to not anger the ghosts that haunt Hayden…

Thursday – 7:28am

I went and did a little more shelving and got a wicked case of the yawns. You know the kind; the ones where you just keep yawning and yawning and yawning. I hate those. Especially when I’m this close to the finish line…or is it the new starting line?! Just wandered back to find Greg missing, I’m going to assume that means he’s doing the final headcount and has not been abducted by bleary-eyed nerds.

HEADCOUNT – 7:30am – 4 students

Thursday – 7:46am

The minutes are slowly ticking away and then it’ll be time to load up my stuff, roll back over to Barker and start my next eight hour workday! Awesome…although on a side-note, it’s crazy how much a dude can crave Taco John’s in the wee hours of the morning. On the plus side the pain in my shoulder has largely subsided, it’s still there but only as a dull roar now. Gotta love it!!

When Massholes Attack!!

Is there anything more awkward than an outburst in a public setting, that doesn’t receive the response the outburster had intended?

Think about it. Like when you’re at a movie and some fratboy asshole in the back yells out something he thinks is hilarious and will impress the sorostitute two rows in front of him, however, instead of laughter he’s met with a chorus of “shut the hell up” from all angles.

Or the drunk—and seemingly always—shirtless guy at a baseball game who stands in front of the crowd waving frantically trying to start some asinine chant about coffee tables and Chia pets; only to be rained down upon in a shower of popcorn containers and hotdog wrappers.

Well that same type of thing happened tonight—not to your favorite narrator mind you—but to some unsuspecting Masshole who was trying to mock me. Let me set the scene for you, Faithful Reader.

There I was minding my own business in the checkout line at the supermarket, waiting to purchase some items for my overnight shift. I pulled out my two reusable grocery bags and some dude, who had to be roughly 17, yelled out from the behind me—in a voice loud enough for both of his buddies and everyone else in a ten-foot radius to hear—“Hey that dude’s gotta pink bag!! Hahahahaha. What a pussy.”

Then—as he was standing their pointing and his friends and all of the other people around had stopped to look at my pink bag—he waited, in that way that people do when it’s obvious that they’re expecting laughter.

Only no one laughed.

Instead the cashier replied, “It’s a breast cancer bag. Who the hell laughs at a breast cancer bag?”

The man in front of me said, “A stupid fuckin’ kid that’s who.”

One of the kid’s buddies said, “You’re such a fuckin’ idiot, Man. Everything is pink nowadays.”

The lady behind me in line said, “Do you think breast cancer is funny?”

I didn’t even have to reply. Before I could even say anything everyone around me had rallied to show this douche-bag what an idiot he was. I was gloriously amused as he put his head down and scampered off down the soda aisle feeling like a complete pariah.

Everyone around me apologized and I thanked them for basically just reeking of awesomeness. The best part is that the lady behind me grabbed one of the pink breast cancer bags off the hanger and said, “I hope that little shithead says something to me about this bag on the way out, I’ll rip his nuts off!”

As anyone would do in that horrendously awkward situation I gave her a laugh and disappeared away into the night with my pink bag packed to the brim with energy drinks and beef jerky thinking to myself…man, people are so silly out east!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Softening My Stance: Reality TV

Since the inception of reality TV I’ve held pretty much the same party-line the entire time…“I hate reality TV.”

When “Survivor” was forced upon the world in 2000 it ushered in a whole new era of crappy television. Gone were the days of witty, insightful sitcoms and dramas. Instead television executives realized that they could draw huge ratings and spend a fraction of the cash if they produced reality TV to fill their timeslots. No need to hire talented actors and writers when you can stick a bunch of fame-craving freaks in an enclosed space filled with cameras.

As a result of this bias, I’ve rarely dabbled in the world of reality TV. Sure I’ve stuck my toes in and swished ‘em around a bit, but nothing substantial. I can say I’ve had a total of five legit reality TV experiences.

1) The Real World: Las Vegas

As a freshman in college, I was young and willing to experiment. As such, I stumbled into reality TV and thought maybe I should give it a chance, I mean seriously, I’d never watched reality TV outside of northwest Iowa. Maybe it would be better at college. Maybe it wouldn’t feel so awful. Nope, it still did.

Note: This was the season that unleashed Trishelle upon the world.

2) WWE/WWF: Tough Enough: Season One

Basically it was a show where a bunch of nobodies got the opportunity to get piss-pounded by a bunch of pro wrestlers and in the end two of them would win contracts and become professional curtain-jerkers in Vince McMahon’s legion of broken bodies and ‘roid-addled freaks.

3) Nashville Star: Season Six

I think there is a general rule in the age of reality television that if you know someone competing on the show, by default you need to watch. As such, I watched Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn High School alumnus Shawn Mayer kick some ass and finish in third place this past summer.

4) American Gladiators: January 2008

I loved the original AG and had intended to audition for the revamped 2008 version. A collapsed lung kept me from competing and a rather boring format and duo of lame-hosts kept me from watching regularly. I do, however, have to admit that I am madly in love with Crush (aka: Gina Carano of MMA fame).

5) America’s Next Top Model

I don’t know which “Cycle” I watched. I don’t know the names of any of the chicks who were on the show. I don’t have any good excuse for watching. Essentially it was on Wednesday nights before Veronica Mars on the CW and I was living with two chicks. There is a proven scientific theory that if a man and two chicks are in an apartment one of two scenarios will take place.

Scenario 1: All parties involved will take place in a crazy tequila-induced threesome.
Scenario 2: “America’s Next Top Model” will be watched and the man will be slowly, but surely, emasculated.

In my case it was the latter.


Where am I going with this rambling you ask, dear Faithful Reader. Well let me tell you.

A little over a month ago, while sitting in a hotel room in Bismarck, North Dakota, I stumbled upon a piece of the reality TV pie that didn’t make me want to vomit. In fact, I found it to be quite intriguing, thus completely making me question my overall hatred of all reality TV.

The show was VH1’s “The Pick-Up Artist 2.” Essentially it had the single greatest premise of any reality show to date. A pack of nerdy dudes, outright losers and life-long virgins are packed into a fancy-looking pad and are taught the art of “wooing women” to determine who will become the new “Pick-Up Artist.”


Nothing says awesome television like watching a bunch of socially-awkward dudes being thrown to the lion’s den that is a night club teeming with hot chicks, sorority sisters and good ole fashioned hoochie-mamas.

In the first episode (which--despite the awesome premise--is probably the only one I’ll ever see) all of the dudes strike out and strike out bad. It even looks like a few of them crap their pants in the process of merely trying to talk to the ladies. Now that’s entertainment!!

Afterwards the V-Squad is told to watch and learn as the show’s host/coach/creepy sex-offender, “Mystery,” and his wing-man, “Matador,” show them how real men work it in the club. Granted it’s a little unfair because “Matador” is a pretty sexy dude who could get chicks if he were brain-dead and drooling all over himself. “Mystery” is kind of a freak, but is just outgoing enough and presumably just fast enough with the roofies that he can get away with it.

The two return to the nerds and are worshipped like Gods. The next day the nerds get makeovers that are a HUGE help for some and basically just a new pair of ill-fitting clothes for the others. Then one dude is voted off and the show ends.

I realize it sounds lame—and in all honesty—kind of was. However, there was something very, very entertaining in watching the train-wreck that came from these dudes trying to pick up ladies. I’m pretty sure I’ll never watch another episode—for fear of ruining this experience.

Anywho, long-story short…if you get a chance, it’s TOTALLY worth your time; if for no reason than to feel better about yourself.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Confessions: Country Music

I realize that this isn’t quite the affirmation it may have been a few months back, but what the heck, it’s high time I came out and made it completely clear—I love country music.

Now, before you immediately brand me as some sort of updated John Travolta-less version of “Urban Cowboy” or some sort of wannabe redneck I should probably make a few things very clear to help defend my stance.

First and foremost, it’s not my fault. I grew up on country music. Anyone who lived in the boondocks knows what I’m talking about. We had a total of five stations we could get growing up. Three were various incarnations of country music. One was classic rock. The final option came out of Sioux City and could only really be picked up on clear days. They switched formats from weird fluffy light rock to hard rock to top 40 to rap to R&B and like eighteen other different manifestations in between.

By the time I’d hit high school the options had increased exponentially but everyone had CD players in their cars so the radio had become a non-entity anyway. The only thing is, by that point, it was already ingrained in my subconscious. Every restaurant you went into was playing country music. Damn near every store you went into was playing country music. Everyone’s grandma and grandpa always had the ole “transistor” tuned into some classic country. But for me, the clincher was my Pappy. Every morning I’d wake up to Pappy listening to 107.7 blasting out of Spencer, Iowa, so that he could hear the morning markets and get the most accurate weather before he headed out to work. As a result, many of my pre-waking dreams had a soundtrack filled with Garth Brooks, Alabama and Brooks & Dunn.

You can’t escape that type of infiltration no matter how far you run from home!

Second, I’m not one of these big-city weekend warrior types who decided it’d be fun to be one of those chic ironic-rednecks the first time Ashton Kutcher wore a John Deere hat on the red carpet. No, while those folks were running out to Starbucks to purchase the latest “Rascall Flatts” CD and get their country-on, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’d already been immersed in twang long enough to fend off any Billy-Bob Come-Lately poser.

Me, I’m actually from a farm. I’ve driven a tractor, a skid-loader, a combine and a whole mess of pick-up trucks. I’ve been knee deep in big ole stinky piles of excrement ranging from bovine to swine. My house has always had John Deere hats scattered all about, the kind handed out by seed dealers and at tractor expos. Not the kind printed by Abercrombie and Fitch.

Don’t get me wrong here I’m not claiming to be some cowboy who grew up at the Long Horn Ranch…not by any means. We raised pigs and grew some sweet-corn. I helped my dad and uncles with all-kinds of farm chores when I was a youngster. I’ve bailed some hay. I’ve sprayed some fields. I’ve de-tasseled some corn. I’ve given shots to pigs that were half my size and wrangled run-away cows that were five times my size.

So although I’m not a full-blooded cowboy, I think the redneck count in my hemoglobin is just high enough to allow for some songs about dead dogs and cheatin’ wives.

Thirdly, it’s not like I’m a music snob who just listens to country music. Ask anyone who’s ever ridden in my car and listened to my horrendous mixed CDs. I can’t tell you how many different conversations I’ve had that went like this…

“Hey Jeremiah, your driving is impeccable, and is that the new Nickelback?”
“Why yes…yes it is.”
“Wait, is that R Kelly?”
“…and now some Martina McBride?! What the hell?!”
“What?! It’s a mixed CD…a very mixed CD.”
“But none of this shit goes together.”
“But I like it…”
“Oh my God is this Hanson?! I’m getting out…”
“Don’t jump, we’re still moving!!”

Needless to say, my music tends to fall all over the map.

With all of those points made, I think it’s safe to assume that all ya’ll will withhold any negative judgment against me for loving what is generally a publicly-disparaged musical genre. It is with that thought in mind that I want to go ahead and thank you, my friends and Faithful Readers, for being kind with your disdain for country music.

PS: If none of that was reason enough for you to understand why I love country music let me try to explain it to you this way…Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Nettles, Shania Twain and Taylor Swift. *BAM* Point made!!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Simple Pleasures

Now that I’ve been twenty-five for awhile (read: 32 hours), I’ve had some time to sit-back and reflect. As a result of my ponderings I’ve realized something very, very important. It’s the small things in life that really rock a dude’s face off. As such, I’ve decided to make it a point to expound on some of those small things, life’s simple pleasures if you will. So now I will cease with the rigmarole and welcome you all to the first installment of a new series entitled “Simple Pleasures.”


Peanut butter and jelly. Chips and cheese. Hall and Oates.

Throughout history, we have been witness to some incredible pairings. Pioneers with more moxie and creativity than their peers boldly went where no man, woman, child or weird cyborg-humanoid sent from the future to kill any of the aforementioned men, women or children had gone before.

Those pioneers…nay…those heroes took it upon themselves to take two independent objects and combine them, resulting in a match that—as the old saying goes— “was made in northwest Iowa.” (edit: I’ve just been informed that this saying doesn’t carry much weight outside of 712-area code. Apparently a group of posers have replaced “northwest Iowa” with “heaven.” Pffffft…“match made in heaven,” yeah, like that’s gonna catch on!)

I’ve learned a lot from many of the aforementioned pairings. I know that it does—in fact—take two to make a thing go right. It also takes two to make it outta sight. Based on that cornerstone of the “Pairing Random Shit Together” philosophy I want to make mention of a pairing that has treated me well in my travels. Today I pay homage to…cold beer and hot shower.

Nothing beats an ice-cold brewski while you’re washing off grit and grime from a hard day’s work or the blood from maliciously slaying an annoying red-headed comedian who relies far too heavily on lame props or the previous night’s bar-stink. Think about it folks, you’ve got hot water falling on your back and you’ve got an icy imbiber in your hand. Last time I checked, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Everyone knows that a nice steamy shower is relaxing and everyone knows that a frosty brew is all-kinds of awesome…so why fight it?! Combine the two, my friends. Although, I should mention…I don’t recommend this during your pre-work, morning shower. Most bosses—although wholly appreciative of the hot shower/cold beer phenomenon—tend to prefer that type of activity be reserved for weekends and/or after you’ve punched out for the day.

So today friends, I ask that we all pay a little tribute to one of life’s simple pleasures and best combinations…a cold beer in a hot shower.

Friday, December 05, 2008

People I May Heinously Murder (vol. 1)

Slow Walkers

I don’t have a problem with slow walkers…when they’re slow on their own time. Now if they want to saunter along at a snail’s pace in front of me…that’s a problem.

For some reason unknown to me, these people always seem to seek me out. That’s right, they are vindictive…slow…but vindictive nonetheless. The slow walkers get together a few times a month and scout video—taken illegally from those stoplight video cameras the police use—and choose the people they feel will be the most annoyed by their dawdling.

Apparently I fit the bill perfectly. When they see me, they see a man with long legs and a rather lengthy—yet elegant—stride coming and they think to themselves “well by golly, we must get in front of that blatantly charismatic young chap and inch-along like crippled turtles.”

And then they do. The thing is, they don’t do this when there’s a gigantic open hallway or sidewalk. No, no…this type of heinous action is reserved for those select moments when hallways are packed or a sidewalk has plenty of constant traffic in both directions.

In these situations the only way to get around the perpetrators is to do that awkward ass-swing out and around thing and then slip back in right in front of them. You all know what I’m talking about. That thing where you are slipping in front of them just before someone is coming in another direction and your torso stays pretty much in the same spot but everything below the waist gets whipped way out into oncoming traffic and then brought around in a semi-circular motion until you’re just far enough in front of the slow folks that you can resume a normal walking stance and pace.

So I say to you—the Sluggish Sauntering Society of America—watch your leisurely asses, because some day this speedy walkin’ sumbitch is gonna snap when I’m late for a meeting and stuck behind a pack of you folks in a crowded hallway, and I will not be held accountable for what happens to all ya’ll.

You have been warned.

Welcome to the List...

So I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and it’s time I made an official proclamation. Today I am adding Zooey Deschanel to my list of celebrity crushes. I am hoping that all of you will pass this along to Ms. Deschanel the next time you see her.

I didn’t realize how much I liked Zooey until a few days ago when I finally realized who she was. As it turns out, I’ve been unwittingly admiring her for years. She’s in like a bajillion different movies and every time I’ve seen her, I’ve thought to myself “wow, she’s really cute…and often…quite hilarious as well.” If you’re wondering, yes…my thoughts—much like my writing—contain multiple ellipses.

The best part is, not only is she quite foxy and a funny gal, but she’s also in a bunch of movies that I outright love and some that I’m ashamed to love. For example she was in “The Good Girl,” “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “Elf,” and “The New Guy.” She’s also starring opposite one of my longtime faves, Jim Carrey, in what looks to be a hit-or-miss comedy “Yes Man.”

I also wanted to make sure I gave Zooey a little public recognition because she is all too often overshadowed by her sister, Emily, who plays the title character on FOX’s “Bones.” This is not to say that Emily isn’t also a talented actress, but come on…she’s a one-trick pony. She is ‘Bones’ much the same way that Matt LeBlanc will forever be ‘Joey’ and Kelsey Grammar will always be ‘Fraiser.’ Zooey, on the other hand, is a chameleon, albeit a relatively unknown chameleon.

So it is with great pride that I officially add Zooey Deschanel to my list of celebrity crushes. You’re in good company Zooey. Keep making good movies and don’t pull a Britney and go all bat-shit crazy and you’ll be around for a long time!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Public Service Announcement: “Kath and Kim”

Tonight I made a huge mistake and without a doubt this requires some sort of commentary.

Prior to this fateful evening I’d never actually watched NBC’s relatively-new sitcom “Kath and Kim.” In fact, I remember purposely avoiding it due to my long-standing disdain for Molly Shannon. To be honest, disdain might be a bit mild. I’ve had an overwhelming urge to rig a presidential election, thus earning her the presidency…only so that someone would assassinate her in some sort of grand fashion on national television.

It’s not like my scorn is unwarranted. I mean, I’m not petty or anything. The fact that she was never funny on Saturday Night Live, I can forgive. The fact that (as a confused high schooler) I actually sat through her horrendous movie, “Superstar,” is disappointing. The fact that I’ve never seen more than a dozen different episodes of “Scrubs,” but I’ve somehow managed to stumble across the awful episode she’s in four times in the last month is kind of annoying.

All of that crap was a pain in my ghetto-booty, yet not enough to bump her all the way to hatred. Then they announced “Kath and Kim” would be taking up the weekly timeslot that so rightfully belongs to Pam and Jim. It was then that I moved Molly Shannon into my top five most-hated list.

“Kath and Kim” didn’t just stumble into a timeslot it didn’t deserve. No, no...the show—as I’ve discovered on this horrific evening—also manages to suck some major donkey-balls.

This show isn’t funny. This show isn’t amusing. This show isn’t even worth having on as background noise. I know what you’re thinking, Faithful Reader, “then why the hell are you watching it?”

Well to be perfectly honest, Selma Blair. Nothing more and nothing less. The opening scene had Selma Blair playing Lisa Kudrow playing Michele in “Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.” Selma Blair has intrigued me since I first saw “Cruel Intentions” so I figured what the heck, I’ll watch this. That lasted all of the next thirty-seconds or so, at which point Molly Shannon rolled onto the screen and I realized what I’d stumbled myself into. That’s when I lunged for the remote. However, before I could change the channel I was struck with an epiphany.

At 8:26am Friday morning, I’m going to turn 25 and when I make that fateful leap beyond the quarter-century point, I want some sort of sign that I’ve grown and matured in my time. I want some sort of sign that I have the ability to put my past in the past.

I thought that by making it through the poor acting, the pitiful writing and the unsightly clothes I’d be able to somehow put my contempt for Molly Shannon in the past. Unfortunately, it seems that I have not grown or matured. There will be no putting my loathing in the past.

I don’t know if anyone out here in BlogLand has ever seen the show, but for the love of Jebus…don’t. Whatever you do, don’t watch it. You’ll hate yourself in the morning…

…or if you’re anything like me, you’ll hate yourself (almost as much as Molly Shannon, but not quite) by the first commercial break.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I (heart) My Commute

So apparently I’m one scary sumbitch.

I know what you’re thinking, Faithful Reader. “Well no, Jeremiah, you’re not scary. You’re funny, charming, well-groomed and smell of a sweet spring meadow. “

To be perfectly honest, that’s what I thought too, however, today I found out otherwise. On another seemingly innocuous trek to work this morning I ended up following a guy pretty much all the way from my place to campus. It’s not all that weird for something like this to happen, but this dude thought otherwise.

Perhaps it was because we both took the exact same short-cuts. Perhaps it was because every time he turned around (which was like every thirty-seconds) there I was, roughly ten feet behind him. Perhaps it was because when he tried to lose me in two different parking lots I’d pop out from behind a different car at the exact same time as he did. Perhaps it was because about half-way through the walk, I got really into it and kept a completely straight-face and made like I was hiding a gun. I know, I know…that’s pretty screwed up, but come on…it was HILARIOUS!!

Eventually when we got near campus, he tried to lose me by running in front of an oncoming truck at a crosswalk. So I followed suit. Neither of us got hit, but he continued scampering until he got near a large group of people and then he stopped and stared at me and let me walk past him. As it turns out he was headed to the same place as me and I saw his reflection—now trailing me—in a window, so I stopped and pretended to tie my shoe as he passed me and then immediately stood up and started stalking behind him again.

So there I am, following this dude and more-than-likely causing him to poo in his Fruit of the Looms and then he just quits trying to act all cool and takes off in a full-on sprint, looking over his shoulder at me the entire time.

I giggled and came to work. He had a coronary and probably pulled a hammy.

I love my morning commute.

Public Service Announcement: iPod

I love my iPod. I really do. Grace got it for me two years ago and I’ve used it daily ever since. It was really bad-ass when I first got it, because it was one of the second-generation iPod Shuffles. At the time they had yet to be released to the public, but Grace managed to talk the teenager working the electronics counter at Best Buy into hooking her up with one, and I’ve loved it ever since.

Okay, that having been said, I think it’s time I finally write about something that has happened numerous times but reached the absolute peak this morning—roughly ten pain-filled, Tylenol-inducing minutes ago to be precise.

Let me take you back a little to give you the full context. When we lived in Southie, I’d put on my iPod every morning and saunter down the street making the sojourn to the Broadway T-stop. Imagine me strutting ala “Saturday Night Fever” if you’d like, because I can’t rule out the fact that you may be 100% accurate.

Generally I’d have to turn my iPod up again and again as more cars passed and the street noise started to drown out my blatantly kickin’ tunes. So by the time I’d get to the T, the volume was really cranked, but when I’d get on the train I could still hear other people’s music. That’s right. I had my iPod cranked. I had earbuds in. They had earbuds in. There were a few people standing between us, but I could still hear their music!! This always made me very self-conscious about how loud my music was and I’d turn it back down as to not be a big douchebag.

Then we moved to Cambridge.

Now there is no train ride to curtail my constant volume-uppage. So I put on my iPod as I’m leaving the library at the end of the day. I bob my head as I wait for the elevator. I get out of the elevator and there’s a hip-hop class or a ballroom dancing class going on in the lobby, so I turn up the volume a little. Then I get outside and there’s a lot of noise from the cars and various buildings spewing smoke and steam off into the air, so I turn up the volume a little. I get off of campus and near Main Street and more cars are whizzing by, so I turn up the volume a little. I wait for the walk light at the corner of Main and Windsor and someone else’s car stereo drowns out my Hannah Montana Guns-n-Roses, so I turn up the volume a little. Finally, I make it home and turn off my iPod.

Then, the next morning, I put it my earbuds and hit play and what do I find?!


At which point I squeal like a pig receiving his spring vaccinations and rip out my earbuds. I fumble for the volume and realize that my ears, eyes, brain and—for whatever reason—pancreas are all throbbing.

So consider this another friendly Public Service Announcement from your friendly, neighborhood lanky-Iowan…please, remember to turn down the volume on your iPod before you turn that sumbitch off…OR ELSE!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Shout-Outs: vol.1.0

I just want to take a second to send a shout-out to the dude who I call the “Main Street Sweeper.”

I don’t know who this dude is, but I do know that he holds a serious grudge with leaves, newspapers and wrappers. If you’re ever walking up Main Street toward Central Square, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter this dude. He looks like he’s in his mid-to-late 40s and he’s a little bit on the pudgy side, but he sure as hell knows how to handle a broom.

I’ve seen him out sweeping off the sidewalks early in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon and long after dark…so I can only assume his sweeping obsession runs slightly deeper than simply appreciating clean concrete. It also seems that he’s a bit anti-social or just “in the zone” when he’s sweeping because I always say “hi” or give him a wave and he immediately looks down and keeps on-a-sweepin’ away.

So maybe he’s a whack-job or maybe he’s just a dude who loves a clean sidewalk, I don’t know. But I do know that when you wander along Main Street between Portland and Windsor, you’re going to see one helluva clean sidewalk and it’s all thanks to that socially conscious—yet socially-awkward—sweeper.

This shout-out’s for you, “Main Street Sweeper!!”

Christmas on a (Time) Budget

The countdown is on folks. Whether you want to measure it in “remaining shopping days” or simply “days until vacation” it doesn’t matter. Any way you slice it, dice it, chop it or julienne it…Christmas is only about three short weeks away.

Now I’m not worried about the fact that Christmas is expensive, that’s a problem I deal with every year. Everyone does. We overspend to show people exactly how many dollars-worth we love them…and that’s fine. That’s a given. I’ll dig myself a nice little trench in which I’ll pour a nice heap of post-holiday credit card debt.

I also know that Christmas is a rough time to travel. In my experience, everyone at the airport has a tendency to have replaced the proverbial “Christmas Spirit” with a big ole dose of “Christmas Douchebaggery.” I don’t know what it is that makes people think they’re the only ones who are unhappy about standing in long lines at security or why they think they should be allowed to leave their shoes on because they “don’t look like a terrorist.”

I mean come on folks. I’ve been through so many lame-ass airline delays, mechanical failures, layovers, cancelled flights, etc in my two years of Christmas travel and I’ve yet to go ape-shit. You know how I handle it…I keep smiling, I say please and thank you to the airport folks and then I go have a $10 beer at the airport bar and you know what…it works out okay.

Anyway, as is apparently my style…I’ve drifted off-course with another of my long, pointless rambling introductions. Let’s get to the problem I do have with the holidays; a problem that can be summed up in ten words.

Budgeting time during Christmas is a pain in the ass.

I know this isn’t by any means a new problem or one that is specific to me, but it is a problem nonetheless. We’ve all had to deal with it and we all deal with it, because it’s totally worth it to see your family and friends. It’s great to reconnect with people you don’t get to see anywhere near often enough.

Unfortunately, it just keeps getting harder and harder to accomplish. It wasn’t really an issue in college. You’d go home. You’d veg-out for a month. You’d drink some beers with your buddies from high-school and come mid-January or so, you’d wander back to college refreshed and ready for spring semester.

Then you graduated. You got a job. You had to budget your time at home around you work schedule. You had to start using your VACATION days to go HOME for Christmas. Last time I checked, going home isn’t a vacation. Going home is going home. Going to Barbados is a vacation. Going to Sea World is a vacation. Heck, even going to a Super Wal-Mart is more vacation-like than going home.

However, I never get sick and I almost never take any real vacations, so I can’t really bitch about using up vacation days. What I can bitch about it (and fully intended to bitch about) is how tough it is to try and ration out the limited time I get back in the good ole’ Midwest.

First and foremost, I have to fly into Minneapolis. It’s the closest city with an airport that doesn’t jack you an extra $300 to fly in (see: Sioux Falls and Omaha). Now for anyone not from the Midwest, I am going to take a minute to explain this because often things that don’t touch an ocean get confusing. Minneapolis is nowhere near where I live. Contrary to popular belief all things in the Midwest aren’t next to each other. The Midwest is actually quite large and even the shortest journey requires some sort of passenger vehicle, motorized farm equipment or saddle-broken barnyard animal. As such, flying into Minneapolis puts me roughly four hours from home and—until this past spring—had put me at least an hour and a half from the nearest friend who could give me a ride home.

Essentially the first full-day of any trip home is kaput when you factor in the time spent at the airport, in-flight, gathering my baggage (assuming it isn’t in Cincinnati, Budapest or Poughkeepsie) and obtaining a ride. On top of all that it’s often hard to find someone who is in the mood to drive all the way from Minneapolis to Hartley; especially if they’re not headed home for Christmas yet. In that case it becomes necessary to set up multiple rides home with people meeting half-way. Not ideal, but it’s what you gotta do to make it home sometimes.

Then—once you’ve actually made it home—the real hard part begins. Everyone wants to hang out with you. Your brother wants you to drive over to Primghar (yep, that’s a real town in Iowa) and hang out at his house. Your other brother wants you to come visit him at his place in Sheldon and play video games with you all day when he’s at your parents’ place. Your Pappy wants to keep you up until all hours of the morning just talking about baseball and traveling and whatever else crosses his sleep-deprived mind. Your Mama just wants her baby boy home to chit-chat with and make her laugh and play cards. Your cat just wants you to feed him and scratch behind his ears and then leave him the hell alone. Your friends want to hang out because they’re lucky if they see you twice a year anymore and you are really shitty at calling them to keep in touch. They want you to hang out all-day, everyday and go out at night. They want you to come back up to Mankato (that’s back in Minnesota for you ‘Coasters’) and hang out for a few days. Your extended family (who let’s be honest—you’re really not all that close with) wants to see you. Mostly they just want to ask: “How’s Boston? Where’s Grace? Engaged yet? You look skinny, have you been eating? You look fat, have you been drinking too much? You look funny, have you always looked funny?” and then they’re done with you. They just want you there to say you were there. Then comes the really fun stuff…

In our six years together Grace and I have never gone to each other’s place for the holidays. We both totally understand that we want to spend Christmas with our family. Plus we both have a tendency to be bored out of our freakin’ minds when we go to each other’s respective homes. This year, however, we’re going to try and allocate a couple of days for us to venture across the plains of South Dakota and Iowa to one another’s humble abodes. Making it more complicated is the roughly two and a half hour drive (in good weather) between our places.

So how is a dude supposed to pull all this off? No one knows. Right now I’m laying out a rough sketch of my two and a half weeks off. I need to organize rides to-and-from the airport. I need to schedule some time, most-likely post-New Years’ to spend in Mankato and/or Minneapolis with the folks who will have to head back to work after Christmas. Christmas Day is reserved for an arduous, mind-numbingly boring day at my Grandma’s making idle chit-chat. The day after is reserved for Christmas Bowl VI—the Winter Classic returns!—and the official “Winter Meetings” for my fantasy baseball league. New Year’s appears to be shaping itself up as another trip to the much revered BARn; which essentially adds up to a night of total awesomeness back in the old stomping grounds. Right now I’m figuring I’ll head to Grace’s place on the 22nd and come back on Christmas Eve. She’s planning to head to Hartley a week later for the 28th through the 30th or so. So I’ve got the rough sketch, but as we all know, nothing ever goes according to plan, especially around the holidays.

Because preparation is key I’m expecting that someone will find out they have to work and can’t hang-out, someone won’t be able to make it to Christmas Bowl, some random snowstorm will pop up and throw a wrench into the plans somewhere along the way and I’m expecting someone in my extended family to get all pissy that Grace isn’t at my Grandma’s house for Christmas—even though if she was they’d just give here the same run through of questions they give me and be done with it. I’ll get to hear the usual line…“well your brother and Paige were able to make it work before they got married.” To which I must reply in my nicest-tone, “yes INSERT RELATIVE that’s true, but they also lived 15 minutes apart, not two and a half hours!”

Above all else, I’m fully-expecting that when I hop on my plane back to Boston on the fifth of January, I’ll stare longingly out the window and watch the baseball fields, snow-covered plains and lakes disappear like I always do. I’ll get that empty feeling in the pit of my stomach that I do every time I leave home and the worst-part is that I’ll feel like I left everyone short-changed. It sucks, but that’s how it works. That’s how it felt when I used to have a month of vacation time in college. It’s never enough. There is no such thing as the “right amount” of time to spend with your family and friends.

In conclusion, yes it’s going to go fast. No, I won’t get enough time with everyone. Yes, I’m probably going to spend the entire two and a half weeks fueled by energy drinks and No-Doze to cram as many extra hours into the day as humanly-possible. No, it won’t be easy. Yes, I will devour all of the ‘Taco John’s’ and ‘Dairy Dandy’ food I can get my grubby mitts on and yes…it’s going to suck to try and jam it all in, but it’s the holidays and it’s totally worth it to see my family and friends…

…which I may, or may not, have alluded to somewhere in my wayward, incoherent rambling.