Sunday, April 29, 2018

Jr. Jazz

Today, please enjoy the recording of my most recent Strangerville Live story, told on stage last month, about what should be the most embarrassing experience from my childhood. And for the hearing impaired and those who hate the sound of my voice, I've included a written version and some pictures below.

I was enrolled in T-ball at age five. My parents were going to make a sportsman out of me.
I didn’t understand the sport, and to be honest, I was only there for the donuts. At the end of our last game of the season we were each handed a participation trophy, the only way I was ever going to be rewarded for the sports. My parents still have in their possession a picture of me holding two donuts. My participation trophy is on the ground.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Strangerhood of the Traveling Snuggie Report

As you know, because you've been unable to think of anything else since, several months ago I started Strangerhood of the Traveling Snuggie. Eleventy hundred of you emailed me your personal information and asked to be added to the list, so after stealing all of your identities and running up a lot of debt in your names to continue to build my Pogs empire, I sent a blue Snuggie off on a great journey.

It kind of feels like sending out Voyager 1. Every once in a while I hear that it has made it to some new place. Last I heard, that Snuggie was off in Ohio somewhere, probably confusing a lot of post office people. It has only made it to a small fraction of the Strangerhood so far, but I started feeling really selfish for keeping all of the award-winning photography I have been receiving, documenting the Snuggie's quest, to myself. So, here you are, in no particular order.

I highly recommend that you open another window and let the original Nintendo theme song for Zelda play while you look at these.
Athena, in West Jordan Utah.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Very Mississippi

Matt is leaving this week for very Mississippi to spend a month in his hometown. You might think I made a mistake by including the word "very" in that sentence, but I assure you that I did not. If you ever heard any of his family members communicate using the English language, you would know what I'm talking about.

Matt is like most of my friends in that he apparently has the ability to leave his job for entire months at a time and work remotely. Rebecca used to do this before she got knocked up. (If she reads this, she will definitely call me and object to that characterization and demand that I change it to something like "experienced God's miracle" and we'll ultimately settle on "lost her innocence"). 

When Rebecca was living in sin with me in 2014, out of the blue one day she told me she was moving to Paris and I didn't see her again for four months during which time zero keys to my apartment were lost BECAUSE IT'S NOT THAT HARD TO KEEP TRACK OF KEYS REBECCA.

I have yelled, nay screamed, at Rebecca eleventy hundred times about losing my keys. Recently she was in Salt Lake City and told me she wanted to come hang out at my house during the day while I was at work for reasons that are still not clear to me. I hid a key for her and later found out that she lost that key literally within 30 minutes of retrieving it.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Small Talk

In this week's Strangerville episode I may have overreacted about a thing that has been driving me crazy for a while. That thing is poorly-executed elevator small talk between coworkers.

I work in a tall building that houses several companies. My firm used to be in a different building, and we shared the place with a hip ad agency so every time I got into the elevator with anyone who worked there I felt like I was in an HBO series about millenials trying to make it in New York and have it all.

The ad agency employees would recount their wild weekends for one another every Monday morning, explaining how they're lucky to be alive after getting chased down by an entire gang of warlords while hunting anaconda on the moon. And I would pretend not to listen while actually very listening, because I loved hearing these stories.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Faceoff Tech Support

Two Sundays ago Gmac called to tell me that her "Faceoff is broken," which translates to "I can't log in to Facebook."

I was wondering why I hadn't seen any all caps comments on my posts, detailing personal and somewhat inaccurate information about myself, in a while.

Gmac is in her late 80s now, and having never been one to embrace the latest technologies with ease, we have all been pretty impressed with her shaky attempts to engage in social media over the years.

I mentioned to you recently that Gmac has a very bad habit of using Bob McCann as her personal tech support, a situation which I have referred to as "the blind leading the dead." I was told that she went to Bob as her first line of defense against the broken Faceoff, and after several hours of "help," the two were in no better a position.

So Gmac reached out to me. And really, she wasn't looking for my help. She was fully aware that I would then loop in Skylar and he, and he alone, would be responsible for this mess.

I invited Gmac over for dinner and then braced Skylar for a very frustrating evening.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Peggy the Therapist

For a while I've been wanting to write a post about my former therapist, Peggy, but I haven't gotten around to it because TV and Eating and Lazy.

It all started when a few years ago Brianne barged into my office and said "I made an appointment for you to see a therapist named Peggy." Then she left before I could ask any of the obvious questions.

This was offensive. Not because I think therapy is a shameful thing. But because it's always going to be a little jarring when someone out of the blue facilitates the provision of mental health services for you.

But I'm 85% afraid of Brianne, so the next Wednesday at 4:30 PM I got into my car and drove across town to see this Peggy person.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Salt Lake Ghost Tour

Please enjoy The Suzzzz's Strangerville Live story above, and today's ghost story below.

Skylar's mom visited Salt Lake City this weekend. Skylar was trying to find things to do to entertain her and at some point he made the interesting choice to ask and rely on me and Jolyn for advice, to which Jolyn responded before he even finished the question "TAKE HER ON A GHOST TOUR OR DON'T BOTHER COMING HOME."

There's a company that does these ghost tours of the city and for years Jolyn and I have wanted to go, but we've just never gotten around to it. As we understood it, you buy a ticket and then someone takes you around town on a bus and tells you ghost stories about all of the old creepy buildings and at the end you belong to Satan.

Skylar immediately found a groupon for 4 people and signed us all up.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Last week Brianne was lecturing me about love languages because she said that I need to be better at understanding how to work with people and she suggested that if I knew people's "love languages" I would have some success in this. This seemed like a strange lecture because I thought I was working just fine with people. Then I realized that the whole reason for the lecture was so she could say, "for example, your love language is telling people what to do and just getting your way all the time."

No matter how many times I try to remind Brianne that the nature of our professional relationship is one where I am supposed to ask her to do things and she is supposed to do those things, she refuses to not criticize me for "being bossy."

Please enjoy some Pictures & Distractions:
Mr. Pants lookin for cats.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

This is Strange

I wandered the city of 3 or 4 million people for a couple of hours, stopping in at an internet cafe for a moment to let my friends and family at home know that I had made it.

It was Kyiv Ukraine in 2010, before I had a smartphone and before wifi was ubiquitous. My plane had landed an hour or two before this. From the airport I had boarded an old marshrutka van that had a sign on the front, telling me that it was destined for the train station, which was in the city center.

The marshrutka ride lasted twice as long as it should have because Kyiv traffic is typical for a city of its size. The van was full. Several people had to stand in the aisle, holding onto the straps connected to the sides of the van. It was a hot day and there was no working air conditioner, and the two or three elderly ladies on board wouldn't allow the rest of us to open any of the windows.

There's an old Ukrainian belief that an open window on a moving vehicle will cause passengers to get sick. Having tried many times during the two years that I lived in Ukraine from 2003 to 2005 to talk elderly women out of this belief, I have learned that this isn't an argument worth having.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Mr. Pham

Please enjoy this week's Strangerville Live, and today's story:

My neighbor Lynne's landscaping could be in a magazine. Every flower and bush is perfectly manicured. I want to be buried in her backyard one day. Especially if I'm dead.

I was amazed that she had achieved everything she has by herself, especially considering that she's a flight attendant and is often gone for many days at a time. Then one day she told me about Mr. Pham.

I don't know Mr. Pham's first name and I'm not sure Lynne does either. He may not have one. She found him a few years ago and hired him to do some landscaping work on her property.

Mr. Pham is probably a genius. He is an exceptionally talented landscape artist. Lynne liked him instantly because of how proud he was of his work. He takes pictures of yards he's worked on and prints them out to put into a binder, and he likes to pull it out, a huge grin on his face, and show people that he meets. Lynne told me that only people who are really good at what they do care that much about it, so she trusted him and had him start helping her with her yard.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Grass Seed and Drug Cartels

My street is on a hill, which is a problem for three reasons:

1. Sliding past my driveway on icy days and having to circle the block multiple times to give it another try;

2. Losing balls that Duncan suddenly decides to set down on the ground mid-walk for reasons he refuses to explain to me;

3. The thing that happened on Saturday.

About three years ago I decided to base 100% of my self-esteem on my yard maintenance. This was a dangerous decision because a weed can send me to therapy now.

On the plus side, I can accidentally steal someone's car and get chased down by multiple employees of a car dealership and still think I'm a perfect human as long as my lawn is looking healthy that day.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Stranger Things

We got to the venue for Strangerville Live on Friday a couple of hours before the show started. Jolyn and a woman who works for Church & State started lifting and moving heavy furniture to get things set up while I pretended to be busy playing with the audio equipment.

As is always the case, time flew and suddenly people were coming through the doors, including Bob and Cathie who were already habitually telling me that my story was their favorite even though the show hadn't started yet.

Bob and Cathie's unwavering support for their offspring is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is comforting to have a constant cheerleader section that will reassure you, until their voices are hoarse, that whatever thing you did was the best anyone has ever done that thing. On the other hand, three decades of this have not made facing this cruel world an easy transition.

Suddenly, the show began. Jolyn took the stage and welcomed everyone. The venue looked beautiful. People were smiling. Everything was going just great. Jolyn announced that Rachel Miller would be our first storyteller of the night. Rachel began her story and the audience seemed to love it.