the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Many (Un)happy Returns

There is nothing quite as depressing as firing up Outlook on a Monday morning and seeing the message:

Out of office is currently on. Would you like to turn it off?

No, not really, but thanks for making me feel like I had a choice in the matter.

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One More Sleep Till Christmas

Technically, it's Christmas now, since it's the middle of the night. But as the theory goes, it's never really the next day until you sleep for more than an hour or two. Now, operating on that basis, it means that it won't really be Christmas for all of us for another half a day. We're in Ann Arbor, at Andy and Lauren's house, and she's on what they call "Santa Watch" tonight at the ER, midnight to nine. Once she gets back, eats, and sleeps for awhile... Then it will be time for some hard-core gift opening.

Oh, yeah... :-)

Shanahan the yellow lab is delighted with the chew toy that we picked out for him. It's blue, hard rubber, with lots of odd-shaped knobby things to chew on, and little wiggly bits that are supposed to be good for his teeth. He's in heaven.

(I suspect he's not really a dog, just a localized manifestation of the Law of Conservation of Energy. Ever wonder where all the energy goes as you get older, when stars are sucked into black holes, and so forth? It's this dog-shaped force of nature, I tell you. He's off the hook!)

We were originally going to drive up last night, but that didn't work out too well once it became apparent that I was going to be cheerleading and hand-holding at work until almost nine PM. Then we were going to be heading out around ten this morning, but due to UPS's complete inability to cope with customer service requests, we had to stick around the house to intercept a perishable package that had been overnighted to us about five days late. This gave us some time to finish packing up Santa's Sleigh--Liz's mom had shipped all the presents for Andy, Lauren, and ourselves to our house rather than risking their premature opening--and take care of some things around the house. This meant that we ended up leaving around two, and that we got the snow at the front of the journey instead of the middle. Astoundingly, as we rounded a corner and turned towards Michigan, not only did the snow cease, but the fog lifted, and roads were startlingly dry!

Dinner tonight at the Zingerman's Roadhouse, a premium-ingredient American restaurant that's a spinoff of the very cool Zingerman's Deli and catalog business. Their wine list is profoundly tempting; I'd love to just stay and drink my way through it. They're the first place I've seen Bell (the Cab that [info]reasie liked so much) in a restaurant. Very cool.

Presents are now all wrapped. Socks are hung with care, and laden with goodies. The turkey is cleaned and thawing. Vintage champagne is chilling. All is in readiness... Now if we'd just stop being chatty and got some sleep, it would be full-on Christmas all the sooner. Humpf!

However... Liz has hiccups again. It's cosmic justice, I tell you. The trick is trying not to laugh so much that I get hiccups too.

I don't know when I'll post next, so I'll close by wishing you all happy holidays, whether they be Yule or Kwanzaa, Christmas or Hannukah, Giftmas or Bumbleshins (okay, I made up that last one). If you can, be with your family and friends. Even if you can't, be sure to let them know you love them. Be nice to the random strangers, because really, we're all random strangers. I almost cried today when I heard John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" while running an errand at K-Mart; the juxtaposition of Lennon's pure sentiment with the rampaging consumerist capitalism made me feel ill. Remember, kids, it's not about the presents, and no matter what Cartman tells you, it's not about ham either. It's all about being nice to each other for a change, and trying not to wreck this nice little planet of ours. So, in the words of the truly wise, be excellent to each other...

...and party on, dudes!

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Things Strange and Novel

After being sick and out of it for so long, it's really amazing how little things can be so strange and novel. For instance:

  • Listerine burns like hell, seriously! Damn!!
  • Using a keyboard feels totally alien to my fingers.
  • Meals RULE.
  • Driving feels wildly funky -- I suspect due to the action of the suspension.
  • RedHot, the "Freedom Fry" condiment of champions, is rather hotter than I remember it...
  • Fresh air is so... wild and alive.
  • Social interaction with fellow human beings is fun!
  • There's nothing quite so joyous as a really good and desperately needed shave. Awww, yeah....
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Tidings of the Morning Post

I received an envelope from my mom in this morning's mail. Inside was a clipping from their local newspaper, and a post-it with a quick note from Mom. The headline on the newsprint is "Serving In Our Place," and it's accompanied by the head shots of the young men and women of southwest Colorado who are currently serving in the armed services. My mom's note pointed me to a particular photograph, of one Benjamin Fiala, a schoolmate of mine from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation. We'd never gotten along as kids (we were both pretty rotten to each other), but by the time high school was nearing and end, we'd managed to establish a level of respect for one another, and parted on good terms.

This photograph in the newspaper was the first time I've heard anything about him in eight years. And there in the sidebar was the caption, designating his current position: Officer Candidate School, Marine Corps., Quantico, Virginia. It took awhile before I could really believe it. But now that I do, I am damn impressed.

Ben, I'm sorry I was such a jerk to you. You've turned out all right. Give 'em hell, and come back safe.

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Gosh. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I am feeling pretty damn low for some reason. Sort of like being spiritually kicked in the nuts. I have no drive to do anything, and I'd be pretty much satisfied if the world just all went away for awhile.

I wonder, is this just a post-winter/early-springtime generic malaise, or something more? I suspect that my borderline addiction to the news isn't helping, now that NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and Google News have launched a massive assault on my senses. Is it the occasional, inexplicable weirdness I am seeing from my car? Does it have something to do with waking up on February 1 to the news of Columbia? Am I still hurting from the departure of Mr. Rogers from this mortal coil? Maybe I've got unresolved feelings about Grandma and Grandpa both dying this winter. Maybe it's the still-lingering traces of guilt I feel about how my fuzzy little Nala left the world, so small and helpless and stupidly tragic.

I just have this feeling like, with a few exceptions, the entire world is systematically going horribly, horribly awry. I have this sick feeling in my stomach wherever I go, and I just can't seem to shake it.

To borrow a phrase from everybody's favorite angst-monkey, Trent Reznor, I want to do something that matters. I want to find something that I enjoy doing, and do it. I want to be a part of something meaningful. I want real relationships with friends again, not just the stimulus/response of the glowing screen and online journals. I want to see people, and do things, go places, and have some fun before the world goes completely to hell.

I guess what I'm trying to say is:

Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn ?
Remember how she said that
We would meet again
Some sunny day
Vera ! Vera !
What has become of you ?
Does anybody else in here
Feel the way I do ?

- Pink Floyd, "Vera", The Wall

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And Lest Gary Be Forgot...

we are so fragile
advertising lies that are whiter than yours
we are so fragile
they could give us a war just to keep us amused

we are so fragile
i could stay here inside and say it's all been done
we are so fragile
just pretend i never tried i leave it up to you

we are still so young
and it must be wrong but i'd do it all the same
and we are really so shy
there's nothing i can do but believe in this

we could always go home
but everyone says this is the place to be
we are so unnatural
but you wouldn't understand, you only deal with men

Gary Numan, "We Are So Fragile", B-side of "Are 'Friends' Electric?"

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Barbarians and Trigger-Happy Pluralizers

Posted above the urinal in the men's room here at work is a sign which reads:

Please refrain from putting coins in the urinals

Now, I'm not sure which bothers me more -- that people are putting coins in the urinal, or that the sign's creator thinks there is more than one urinal.

Maybe I should just worry about being too pedantic for my own good?

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Since we took care of all the birthday festivities a week ago, today feels like only a barely merry unbirthday. I am tuckered out from getting in late last night. Tomorrow is going to be a hassle picking up Grandma's clock (I have to be in Richfield at nine -- ugh!). And the week just sort of looks blah from here.

Oh well.

So I'm officially 26 now. One year closer to the big 30. One year closer to my somewhat arbitrarily imposed "start having kids" age of 28. And it's weird, because I know I want to have kids, eventually, but I don't know if I want "eventually" to be so damn soon. Am I ever going to feel responsible enough to be a father? Am I ever going to figure out what I want to do with my life? Am I ever going to get my proverbial shit together?

Tick... Tock...

(I guess it didn't help that Six Feet Under started its new season the other night.)

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