Best of the Bucket

Butt chugged

Butt chugged

It didn’t happen when Leah told me she was pregnant. That day I said something like: “Go buy another test. Get a digital one. I don’t care that you saved $3.” She bought and took a digital test and apparently the analogue pregnancy test had worked. She was definitely pregnant. The digital test even knew how pregnant she was—2 weeks. But I can’t say that I really connected with that information immediately.

It happened 3 months later. How many ultrasounds pictures have you seen? I can’t seem to get away from them on Facebook. They are about as meaningless as a QR code. It’s robot language. Actually, it’s sound language. But, to me, it’s nonsense. I’ve never connected with an ultrasound picture. Even now.

So let me be clear—I’ve never literally been butt chugged:

Similar to a beer bong, but the consumption of beer is rectally, using a funnel and tube to administer the beer as an enema. The primary purpose of butt chugging as opposed to drinking beer is that alcohol administered as an enema has 3x the effect of alcohol taken orally.

It’s a term I picked up from my friend, Ken. Apparently Ken knows a guy who knows a guy who did it. And one beer was enough to obliterate this guy. Even just imagining it makes me shudder. Awful, but if you really needed to get drunk in a pinch… butt chugging could be your saviour. You likely have the necessary tools at home. I digress. Ken introduced it to me as a metaphor. We aren’t that close. (We totally are.)

For 3 months Leah was sick and I was trying to comprehend what is about to happen to me. Wait, let me rephrase that. For 3 months Leah was sick and I was ever at her side, doing everything a perfect husband would do… Actually, in retrospect, Leah went to bed a lot earlier and I suddenly had a lot of free time to play computer games.

I knew the ultrasound appointment was coming up, but the night before I had forgotten about it. Also, I stayed up late playing video games. (There is a theme developing there but I say we don’t acknowledge it.)

We woke up (late) and we rushed to the clinic. I don’t remember driving there, but I do remember that the ultrasound clinic was in the basement. We went down to a small office and into a smaller waiting room and finally into a tiny, dark exam room with a large, humming ultrasound machine that was keeping the room very warm.

Ken uses the term “butt chugged” to mean a moment when you have a revelation or realize a new idea that destroys your mind or radically changes the way you think—in the same way that injecting alcohol into your body through your ass would destroy your mind (kids! (future child of mine!)). We also used the term somewhat comically. For instance, I might say that “Inception totally butt chugged me.” That would be an acceptable use, I think.

In the ultrasound room—where it’s dark, warm—I was in a comfortable chair and Leah was on the bed. I was barely staying awake. The technician came in and asked Leah to lift up her shirt and, just like you see in the movies, she squirted some goop on her and put the wand to her stomach.

At first it was nonsense. But the technician knew what to look for and she quickly found my little dragon. And it wasn’t a QR code on a piece of paper. It was moving. It had little arms waving. It squirmed and danced. I hope I was smiling, but my mouth was probably gaping wide open and drool may have hit the floor.

I apologize for the following language—my brain fucking melted. I was totally and utterly butt chugged.

You know those assholes (sorry assholes) who say “oh, it’s different when it’s yours”. That’s an irresponsible sentence. No one told me that it was going to fry and rewire every circuit in my brain.

I cried. It was the must beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It was a revelation. And now I was awake, but speechless, barely able to comprehend what I was seeing. That baby ruined my whole day. I was totally useless. That little heart flickering. The spine developing. Life has never seemed so special and I spend a lot of time reading Cute Overload. What are you supposed to do after receiving information like that? I don’t know, but it changed everything.

I’m happy, quite late and excited to personally announce that Leah is (6 months) pregnant. She is due mid November and we just saw the doctor this week and the baby is happy, healthy and totally normal—for now.

And you all can feel free to start calling me “Big Poppa”.

P.S. “It” is a girl.

How I lost my ass

You know what I hate—when I look at myself 5 years ago I think, “that guy was such an idiot”. And I can generally do that when I look back. It’s the “if I knew then what I know now” game. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that. But do you realize what that also means? I’m an idiot right now, but I just don’t know it yet. Actually, in this instance, I know it and it smashed me in the face on Monday.

I was going to use the “head in the sand” cliché, but actually I think the “fog of war” is a more apt analogy to what I’ve been up to over the last year. 2011 was a rough year for me. A lot happened and a lot of it was very stressful. I’ve been doing my best to keep a lot of issues inside the fog. It’s not that I didn’t know. It’s that I rented an industrial fog machine and ran that 24/7 inside my brain so that I wouldn’t have to deal with… anything.

For some of it, I was so focussed on moving past my anxiety in creating a podcast that I purposefully ignored other issues. (Speaking of which, the second episode is recorded and I’m starting to edit tonight.) But I ignored a whole bunch of other anxiety because I didn’t really want to face my fears. I thought I could get away with it. If you haven’t already guessed—I couldn’t. I didn’t.

Leah’s been telling me for months that I’ve been losing weight. But that’s impossible. That should be impossible. I ignored her.

I want you to understand my logic, because I’ve been wearing a 32×34 pants since I was 16. I was 165 pounds from 16 until 25 and then I got married and gained 15 pounds—that’s just part of marriage. It’s like the “freshman 15″, but for marriage.

What I’m trying to say is that my weight doesn’t fluctuate. I can eat whatever I want, at any time of day, and I don’t gain weight—which on top of being white, male and impossibly handsome, I’m sure you have a ton of sympathy for me. I’m not looking for sympathy. I just kind of slid “impossibly handsome” in there. I bet you didn’t even notice, but I’m sure unconsciously you’re thinking—yup, that sounds about right.

I’ve been dealing with anxiety before I knew what anxiety was. Anxiety is my bag, baby. And, for me, it comes from the dissonance between who I am and who I want to be. And I’m scared of who I want to be. The problem is, while maintaining a heavily fogged mind, the gulf between those poles was growing further and further apart and my anxiety was increasing, daily, with it. And I started to get sick.

I thought it was the flu at first. But then I kept getting a “stomach bug”. I’m really a strep throat or tonsilitis kind of guy. I rarely have stomach issues. I’m historically quite regular.

On Monday, I went to the doctor and it (obviously) wasn’t the flu. It was my anxiety causing my stomach to release too much acid, which made me sick. Also, I decided to see if Leah was telling the truth and I bought a bathroom scale.

I lost 20 pounds. I can slip my jeans off without undoing the button. Currently, I weigh less than my 16 year old self. I look like Christian Bale in The Machinist (not really, that’s hyperbole).

I freaked out.

So here I am, about to turn 30, and I’m just realizing that I can’t ignore myself and moreover I can’t try to be someone I’m not. I’m an idiot, but hopefully I’m getting a little smarter.

My goal for 2012 (it’s a goal because resolutions are for January only) is to look my fear and anxiety in the face and walk into it and not stop until I am the man I want to be. I’ve started jogging and exercising. I’m forcing myself to eat regularly and not skip meals, even if I don’t have an appetite. I’m done hiding. Done with excuses and shift blaming. I’m responsible for me. And you’re just going to have to deal with me—the real me.

You know what the worst thing about all of this is—I lost my ass. And I didn’t have much of one to begin with. But now I really don’t have an ass. If there’s one thing that will motivate me, I can always count on my vanity. I’m going to go eat another cinnamon bun. All booties begin with cinnamon buns and I want mine back.

On Turning 28

I am now about 9 days away from turning 28 and I have a few things to say about 27 and the future.

My 27th year on this earth was actually pretty good. We lost JD, but we got Duke. I finally became a “Pastor’s Kid” as my mom took up the “Call”. I got, what is basically, a dream job as the Web Editor of WestJet’s up! magazine. And Leah, as far as I know today, still loves me and has loved me all year. A good year. But I’m not feeling so positive about the year ahead.

Moving Towards 28

I could be wrong (unlikely), but I can’t help but suspect that 27 is the last year I can fit in with the younger 20s. I’m just going to say it—if there was ever an opportunity to make out with a twenty-something, you basically have to do it before you leave 27.

Once you hit 28, that’s it for you. You’re part of the old crowd. You drink wine now and maybe martinis when you’re feeling fancy. You only make out with 30 year olds. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I think you might start feeling nostalgic and like you wished you had made out with more twenty-somethings. I’m not saying that I do, I’m just saying you might. Totally innocent.

28 is an awkward age

The problem with 28 is that everyone basically thinks you’re old or an asshole. First, (as mentioned) the cute, young girls all think you’re old. It’s been 10 years since you’ve been in high school and there is no 18 year old alive today that can imagine life beyond next week—let alone make out with you. You might as well be 80. Plus, do you realize that cute 18 year old’s were born in the 90s? THE NINETIES!

And now all your 30+ year old friends think your an asshole. When you’re 29, people either make fun of you because you’re about to turn 30 or feel sad for you because you’re about to turn 30. But no one likes a 28 year old. You’re that asshole that still has 2 years before you feel the sharp pains of age and imminent death (in 40+ years hopefully).

I’m not ready for 28

As Leah speeds towards 30 in October, I am digging my heels in and trying to slow down before I turn 28. Leah’s lucky. She has me to keep her young and feeling like she might still be in her 20s. But not me. Leah drags me up a couple years. Men die earlier as it is (generally). I don’t understand why she has to drag me into old age so soon. It’s rude frankly.

So, here’s to me. Turning 28. The asshole. Ladies don’t love me and hopefully, after reading this post, Leah won’t leave me. Salute.

The smell of marriage

bellybutton

I think there are a lot of smells you might associate with marriage and family. Cooking a turkey at Thanksgiving. Gingerbread cookies at Christmas. The smell of a new TV or car. And there are the close smells like the smell of hair or how Leah’s side of the bed smells just a little better than mine.

There are other smells too. The ones that you inflict. Farts are obvious. When I fart, especially when followed by me fluffing the covers, is hilarious. It’s not funny when Leah does it. It’s gross, frankly. Call me a mysoginist if you will. But this is an area where I do not wish for equality. I want to be the fart master. But I don’t need to bore you with the pungent nature of my derrière. Especially after almonds. Keep me away from almonds.

There are a lot of smells in marriage. And I do enjoy all the good smells. But the good smells are for when you are sad and need a smile. Today, I have a grin and I’d like to share it, as I’m sure you guessed.

The bad smells are special. There is so much anticipation with a bad smell. Whether you are waiting in horror or waiting for someone to inhale. It’s exciting. I won’t say that it’s not a little perverse. It is. But with marriage, comes the desire to share in all the ways you can. At least, that’s the way it is for Leah and I. And I want to tell you about two very special smells.

Leah’s belly button

Let me start by saying that I was forbidden to blog about this. But I figured she was only joking. But if I disappear, call the police. I mean, that’s pretty much a standing order—whether or not Leah has had anything to do with it. There’s been a little extra belly talk around here lately. But that’s just a coincidence.

That’s Leah’s belly button up there. And it’s pierced. It was pierced years and years and years and years ago. I don’t want to insinuate that she’s old, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. Anyway, there is some strange reaction between metal and skin when it is the dark crevasse of a belly button that creates an awful smell. It is really something foul. I’ve sniffed it. I know.

And this is the perverse nature of sharing in marriage. I just had to know and—I can’t stress this enough—Leah wanted to share it with me. She often tries to get me to smell it. It’s disgusting. But that’s love.

The geek stink

This smell is all mine, but I know I’m not alone. And it’s not a natural smell. It’s something that takes dedication and work to achieve. No level 1 Paladin is going to achieve this. Only after hours (read: days) of pure geekdom can you achieve this noxious smell of geek. It’s the smell of nerds and geeks. The funny thing is that I don’t always smell like this. In truth, I only rarely achieve this special scent. It’s only when I sit, locked in my office for hours, playing a computer game.

Here’s a couple tips on how you can create your own geek stink:

  • It’s easiest if you don’t shower.
  • Schedule a solid 3-5 hours of gaming time.
  • Pick a game somewhere between hyper-nerd RPG and teenaged-alpha male FPS. Depending on where the game sits in the spectrum will determine how sweet or sour your particular brew will be.
  • Find a small, enclosed room that you can really stew in your juices.

From time-to-time, you can check on your progress by shoving your fingers into your armpit for about five seconds and then do a sniff-test. When you have procurred the right amount of stink, show your wife and she will be incredibly impressed*.

*To date, Leah has never been impressed and usually fights me in order to avoid taking a sniff of my geek stink.

Couple dating

As many of our couple friends have left the city over the last year or so, Leah and I have been put in the position of either becoming suburban hermits or making some new couple friends. Frankly, suburban hermits isn’t as fun as you’d think. It’s actually kind of depressing. So we’ve been out. Hitting the clubs. Letting the cleave hang out. Padding the bulges. Bathing in perfumes. Grooming with miniature shears. Eyebrows waxed and threaded. Collars popped.

We should start by defining our terms. First, let me say, that we aren’t talking about keys in a fishbowl. You might think we are talking about double dating. Frankly, that’s a whole other level. Couple dating is very complicated and I am going to break it down here. Double dating, I think, presumes a certain schedule and comfortability. Couple dating is the stage before double dating. It’s the stage where you see if there is enough compatibility to take it to the next level. In regular dating terms, it’s the difference between a kiss goodnight and losing their phone number (though, in this digital age, is it even possible to lose anything?).

Couple dating is a very complex process. This isn’t just boy meets boy and they are friends. Or girl meets girl and they do awful things to each other and then some day they become friends. This is boy meets boy and girl and girl meets girl and boy and then that a few more times. I think. Wait. Now I am confused. What I am saying is that a duet is easy (in the spectrum of things that are hard and simple). A quartet is difficult and harmonies are not easily achieved. And this certainly isn’t a barber shop.

Everyone has to like each other. If one of the four is annoyed by another than it’s off. And you’re back to a duet. Or if things go particularly bad you might be a single for a few days. There’s a lot on the line with couple dating, except there is literally no commitment. Otherwise these couple friends would stop leaving the city like a-holes to follow their dreams. You know what, I had a dream once and it was to have some friends. Looking at you Leif. Ian.

Alright, so let me help you out with some ground rules for couple dating.

  • Experiment or don’t. Frankly, finding people like you is going to be the easiest route. Same values, goals, etc. However, there is something to be said about finding a couple so different from everything you value that it will challenge you and your other. I don’t think there is a real rule to be found here. I think it’s about ratios. If you have 4 sets of couple friends then maybe you should have one that’s diametrically opposed to what you believe in.
  • Bring wine. I don’t reccomend having a couple over for supper on the first date. Pick some neutral ground. But if they invite you over, bring wine. If you don’t think it will come off too strong/needy, maybe bring a salad too. Don’t show up empty handed. It’s a rookie mistake. Apparently, grown ups don’t just show up to hang out anymore. You bring gifts. There is no room for argument on this point.
  • Pay for the meal. If you make the invitation you are probably supposed to pay. This isn’t grade 12. Once again I have to remind you that you are an adult and presumably can afford this. Or at least that’s what you want this couple to think. You are trying to be impressive! I have to tell you that I hate this rule. Frankly, I didn’t know about it before Connor—that scarf-wearing Nazi—invited Leah and I out for brunch with his fiance Caitlin. I mean, they aren’t even pure in the eyes of God. Plus, they are living in sin. Maybe we can just write off this whole rule? Leah says no, but my heart says yes. I’ll let you decide.
  • End the date strong. You’ve already invested in this process. You’ve either just paid for a meal or brought wine (and maybe a salad if it doesn’t make you look desperate). If you liked the way it went, trust yourself and go for the hug. This was the mistake I made with our last two couple dates. One with the aforementioned scarf-man-boy and the other with Adam and his wife Stephanie. You’ve just spent the last few hours connecting, learning and sharing everything about you. If you feel like there’s harmony you need to seal it with a hug. At least a handshake. I like to hug.

When I married Leah I told her I was excited because I no longer had to worry about girls, dating and all that stress. But couple dating is arguably worse. There are so many dynamics at work. Because some times 2 of the 4 people are already friends and if a couple date goes wrong then everything become exponentially more awkward for the original 2. Or some times you have to keep seeing the couple at various social functions and pretend to like each other when you already know there is no spark and their salad is gross. Plus, a merlot? Are you kidding? I’m just saying what you already know or are going to know some day. Couple dating is hard work, but when you find a harmony—even if the guy wears a scarf and that’s definitely not okay—it’s totally worth it.

JD (2004-2009)

JD

The worst thing about love is that it grows without notice. You know it’s there, entrapping and entwining all the cavities of your heart, but you never know the full extent of the damage until it’s too late. It’s rooted. It’s inside the walls. And then it is pulled out at such excrutiating force that all you can do is sob and sob and there is no way to fix or fill the void left behind.

Last night, Leah and I went to see Funny People (to cheer ourselves up with a (funny) movie about death) and one of the songs in the movie was Warren Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart. I think it’s the perfect song for this post, if you’d like something to listen to while you read.

If you’ve been following my Twitter account for the last little while you’ll know that JD has been a topic of much conversation. From the problems with him starting to urinate in our house again and, this past week, when he disappeared and our attempts to find him. I think I can now say, with relatively dry eyes, that JD was killed by a car on Friday night. A nice young man saw it happen and contacted us on Sunday morning after seeing one of our posters. We retrieved his body that morning and took JD to the Humane Society for cremation immediately after. He was five years old. Those are the details.

I was surprised to see just how many times I have written about JD on this blog. We adopted JD November 5, 2006 when he was two years old. September 2, 2006 we were married. What on earth were we thinking? Two months into marriage and we need a cat? We went into the pet store (housing Humane Society cats) and thought we would just look. You can’t just look at animals in cages. Or at least I can’t. And JD was a charmer. Out of the 10-20 cats in the room, JD is the only one that even bothered to look at us. He was playful. He was vocal. He was a con-artist. If you ever adopt an animal and there is one that is receptive to you—unless you want trouble—move to the next cage. Get an animal that will ignore you. It’s the least you could do for yourself. JD was so smart. I’d be tempted to say that he adopted us. But I think it would be more accurate to say he owned us.

JDThere are plenty of opinionated cats in this world and you’ve heard all the stories, but JD was dominant, kingly. I can remember taking Stormy to the vet and she was terrified. She hid in my arms and shook.  JD, on the other hand, sprawled out on the examining table, proudly displaying his girth and looking at everyone with a serene indignation. And that is how he lived his life—he owned it.

JD was not always an easy cat to live with. I still have the scars to show it (and I hope I don’t ever lose them). I don’t know what he went through, if anything, the first two years of his life, but he was not a soft animal at first. However, we gave him time and space and slowly he came around to us. He never became the lap cap that I had hoped, but we learned to appreciate the affection he would give us. And he came around. He always wanted to be close enough to be near, but not close enough to wrap him up beside you in blankets and smother him with kisses (which we did anyway).

JD loved being outside. At least, he loved being outside without a leash. That experiment did not work at all. I remember trying to drag him. Recently, he took up eating worms. Or eating half of the worm and then leaving half of it on the cement to bake in the afternoon heat. He even caught multiple birds (poor little sparrows) and a mouse and left them at the back door for me.  And I appreciated the sentiment.  I am really happy that he got to experience that freedom, and torn by it because it obviously brought about a much earlier departure from us than I would have hoped.

JDUltimately, we made the choice to let JD be a cat. I can honestly say I never thought this would happen. He was so smart. Too smart. But I realize now how naive that was. I have almost been hit by cars so many times. Actually, one time I was hit by a car (but that’s a whole other story). How could I think that JD would be so much better equiped? And no one needs to tell me it was my responsibility to protect my cat and friend. But I hope the argument can be made that I also had the responsibility of encouraging JD to live, explore and—simply—be a cat. I know that there would be those who would insist that in a world of increased speed that we need to protect the wild ones. And I agree, but at what cost? Cage them so no danger can ever find them? All of this rhetoric does not really fit in here. I just hope he knows how much we loved him and that we tried to do the right thing.

We had a lot of good times with him. JD was my boy and I am really going to miss him.