Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Plant a Tree for America

I heard the shovel clank against something hard, and my whole body shook violently when it did, causing me to fall backward. The metal tip had gone less than an inch into the grass when this happened. My sister, Krishelle, who had shown up bright and early at Bob and Cathie's beckoning to supervise the ordeal stood across from me, offering barely more than moral support.

We were twenty minutes into digging the second of four holes so I could plant these trees that had been delivered earlier in the week. I had oh so naively assumed that this would be a quick and painless project.

You guys. John Denver lied to us with that magical voice and admittedly exceptional head of hair. Because he made it sound like you could basically do it in your sleep. But I planted four trees for America this weekend and it was far and away the most difficult thing I've ever done in my entire life.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Thing That Happened on Friday

You guys. This thing happened on Friday morning. I hesitate telling you this story because I think you might not believe that it's true. But I'm telling you, this story is true. It will seem unlikely that this could happen to anyone and especially that it would happen to me of all people. But this happened. It really truly did happen. And the moment it did, I wished a witness had been there because I knew that nobody would believe me.

It all started when I decided to seize the day. When I went to bed on Thursday I set my alarm for 5:00 AM. I was going to get up and go for a two-hour run because the half Ironman is now five weeks away and OH MY GOSH I'M GOING TO DIE.

I was so proud of myself for setting the alarm for that early and I decided that I would consider it a victory even if I hit snooze for three hours until finally getting up and just going to work. Because sometimes you just have to be proud of yourself for setting goals.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Bob and Cathie showed up at my house tonight for another landscaping consultation. You guys. Everyone in this world needs a Bob and Cathie.

No. I'm taking this a step further. Everyone in this world needs the Bob and Cathie. Not just for the entertainment. Not just for the incredible (and usually outdated) family gossip. But because those people somehow seem to know how to do everything. Maybe it's a parent thing. Maybe it's a generation thing. I don't know. But in case these omnipotent skills are specific to Bob and Cathie, I hereby loan my parents out to the world. There will be a sign-up list on my door. You can rent them in hour-long increments. Don't forget to laugh at all of their jokes if you really want to hit it off.

And now, your Pictures and Distractions.
The world's cutest grandma and leading expert on Queen Noor. Thanks, Cathie, for the photo. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Did Eli Get the Garbage Bins Out?

The Stranger community really pulled through this week. I got tweets. I got emails. I got Facebook messages. Several of you left comments on the most recent post. Comments which were entirely unrelated to what I had written that day. All efforts were made by Strangers everywhere to make sure that I, Eli Whittlebottom McCann, got the garbage bins out to the street by Wednesday morning.

On a side note, I'm starting to forget what my real middle name is anymore.

You guys. You started posting comments and sending reminders on Tuesday morning. And I was like, "gee thanks. While you're at it, remind me to retire when I'm 65." Because I really didn't think that reminding me that far in advance was going to be effective.

I knew on Sunday that the garbage bins needed to be out on the street Wednesday morning. It doesn't help me to remember that on Sunday. Or on Tuesday morning. Or at any other moment in time than on Tuesday evening at 11:38 PM, right before I go to bed.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Man on a Corner

I walk passed him every morning. He sits on the same downtown Salt Lake City corner. I think he might be schizophrenic. I'm not a doctor. I don't know. But something is clearly causing him to behave in odd ways. Sometimes he yells. Usually he's not yelling at anyone in particular. Most of the time the yelling doesn't seem to relate to anything happening around him. His yelling portrays him as astigmatic and disconnected.

His clothes look homemade. Like they used to be a part of something else. Like they weren't intended to be clothes until he got a hold of them. Curtains? Discarded fabric? A blanket? He's been wearing them for a while. I know this, because I pass him every morning.

He's homeless. And he's loud about it. If you make eye contact with him he tries to pull you in to whatever hallucination he's having. So I don't make eye contact with him. Not anymore. I used to. But it was too uncomfortable. Barely more uncomfortable than not making eye contact with him as he tries to talk to me when I pass by. Every morning.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Yard Work

One of the main reasons I bought a home is because I wanted to till and take care of the Earth. You guys. I freaking love yard work. This was instilled in me at a very early age.

Flashback! 1987

Cathie: And don't come back inside until every blade of grass has been dusted! Twice!

Eli: But I'm only three years old!

End Flashback

See?! I grew up on yard work. Yard work was my only friend for the better part of three decades. There were a number of shovels in the garage that I considered to be family. We still get into awkward fights every year at Christmas.

So when I bought this house in December, it was with eager anticipation that I began my paper-chain countdown to yard-work season.

Yard-work season has arrived. And I am suddenly beyond overwhelmed.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

You guys. Wednesday was garbage day and you forgot, AGAIN to remind me. This is getting really serious. In the four months I have lived in this house, I think the garbage bin has made it to the curb on time exactly three times. And the first time was two days after I moved in and there was basically nothing in it but I was just so excited to participate in the neighborhood activity so I rolled it out there anyway. Isn't reminding me on Tuesday night to take the garbage out to the curb one of your duties listed in our Stranger contract? I inform you about mole rats and satanic chickens and you make sure I take the garbage out, don't sign up for triathlons, and stop unnecessarily taking my clothes off at the dentist and pharmacy.

June Snapple wouldn't forget to remind me. Just sayin'.

And now, your Pictures and Distractions:
My new exceedingly heavy bar stools. NOT THAT I KNOW WHAT A BAR IS, CATHIE.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Blog Comments

More often than you might expect I get emails from blog readers who are curious about how I feel about the comments on Stranger. My friends and family are constantly asking me about this, too.

"Don't you think it's annoying when someone leaves a comment telling you to marry Jolyn/Rebecca/Hannah/TheQofC?"

"Did it make you mad when that anonymous commenter said that your writing is boring?"

"Why don't you delete the comments that call you a liar and say that you exaggerate?"

"Why don't you ever respond when people accuse you of being gay? THEY ARE ACCUSING YOU OF BEING GAY!"

You may have noticed that I'm not the world's most avid comment responder. I make a point here and there to pop in and say hi, but mostly I'm too lazy and tired and distrac . . . oh look! A bird!

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Favorite Complication

A French woman asked me from the driver's seat where to turn. I pointed to the street and she emphatically and in a strong French accent told me that the homes lining the road were "lovely." Rebecca nodded along, agreeing with her mother's pronouncements.

For reasons that made absolutely no sense to me, I was asked to assist on this mommy/daughter adventure to retrieve Rebecca's vehicle, which was parked somewhere halfway across the valley. They needed it driven back to Rebecca's home in our neighborhood. I was sure there was at least one unnecessary person in this process. And I was sure that one unnecessary person was me. But when Rebecca had called moments earlier and asked me to drive to her house to assist, I knew that compliance would be easier to survive than an explanation.

And in any event, Rebecca time is always welcome in my life. I know few people as wonderful as that half French woman.

Rebecca's mom wanted to make a quick stop on the way to see my house, since she hadn't had the opportunity previously. So I directed her back to my starting location.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

That Old Couch

Several years ago I graduated from law school and moved to the BIG city with nothing but a dance belt and a tube of chapstick to call my own (please see Waiting For Guffman if you have not already). I had no furniture. None, whatsoever. And suddenly, I had an apartment that I needed to fill.

Unfortunately, I also had no money. I had spent my twenties sinking every penny I could get my hands on into education and traversing the couchsurfing world and now that I was done with school I had taken a government job in the state judiciary, which SPOILER ALERT did not pay me one million dollars.

Suddenly feeling the need to furnish my adulthood in one fell swoop felt incredibly daunting. I had moved to Salt Lake City with a law school friend, Matthew, who was in the same position as me and so the two of us went on a quest to find as much free furniture as possible to fill our 7th floor two-bedroom apartment on Broadway Ave.

We found this and that, here and there. Grandma furniture. Old lamps that needed to be taped up. Tea kettles, Venetian masks, and Snuggies. The usual things.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Joint Custody Woes

Matt: Here Ollie! You want some!?

Eli: Stop right there, sir. I've been meaning to talk to you about this.

Matt: Talk to me about what?

Eli: About your habit of giving Mr. Pants whatever food you happen to be eating.

Matt: And what's wrong with that?!

Eli: You are teaching him terrible habits and now he has come to expect it so I can never just eat in peace when he's here at my house because he's constantly barking at me.

Matt: What are you proposing here?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

End of the Week Appointment

The last time I wrote to you I had just pulled into the office late at night, again. I rolled in on Thursday evening sometime around 10:30 and began working on a project that I needed to try to get done by the time my meetings started midday Friday. What proceeded was one of the longest nights I've had in years.

I watched the clock progress through 1:00 AM and then 2:00 AM and then 3:00 AM WHEN IT IS NOT EVEN LEGAL TO BE AWAKE.

Every hour or so I would get up and make a quick lap around the hallway to try to get the blood flowing. It was creepy and quiet and if anyone out there is interested in murdering me that was seriously your best opportunity to do so and you blew it.

By the time my colleagues started showing up, I had been working for 8 or 9 hours straight. I was beyond exhausted, having pulled this all-nighter at the end of a very long week.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Alas, we have made it to the end of the week. Somehow. And somehow, again, I just rolled into my office at 11:00 PM for a full night of work and a busy day tomorrow. This work week from hell and I are in a battle to see who can out-survive whom.

Until next time. Here are your Pictures and Distractions:
With Kate riding horses last week.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Young Lawyer

I rolled into my house sometime late in the evening last night to get some rest. As usual, it took me three or four times longer than I anticipated to get ready for bed. No matter how tired I am and no matter how many or few distractions there are, it always somehow seems to take so much longer to get ready for bed.

I climbed under the covers, telling my Siri command to "wake me up in three hours." It responded, "your alarm is now set for three-thirty A.M."

Three-thirty. A.M.

I didn't really realize how ridiculous this schedule was until I heard the words come out of the i-phone. But I dozed off before I could dwell on it for too long.

I woke up before the alarm ever sounded. About an hour earlier than I had anticipated. And it was the kind of waking up that I knew was going to be long-lasting. I wouldn't fall asleep again. Not for a while, anyway. Too much running through my mind. Too much anxiety.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Things Cathie Said in the Car

I spent a lot of time last week in the car with Bob and Cathie. It was a blast. I highly recommend road-tripping with people in their 60s, especially if those people are my parents. They listen to Paul Simon the entire time and have the best, yet outdated, gossip you've ever heard. But more than anything:

Things Cathie Said in the Car