Monday, June 04, 2007

Some of the best money we've ever spent

"You never post anymore," Tara said on Friday night. "I'm tired of seeing that Michael guy that sucks."

Well, let the record reflect that he still sucks.

But the point stands. It has been a while, and I see Matt wondered where the hell I've been. More on that a little later.

My wife invited some friends over because Tara will be leaving us soon, headed off to Florida. So this was a chance to drink and reminisce. (I should note it was a girls' night party, so I mostly kept to myself here in the computer room.)

But eventually I was invited out to share in the revelry. Hey, just because I'm in here doesn't mean I can't drink a beer.

We ventured onto the deck for a lovely evening.

Our deck has become a place of refuge from the real world in recent weeks. Sure, we enjoyed being out there, but those plastic green chairs are ridiculously uncomfortable. We had talked about upgrading the furniture out there, but it had never gone past that.

Until one day...

In a joint trip to go shopping and test out my new E-Z Pass, we rode out to Ashburn to visit the Wegmans out there. (For those of you unaware, Wegmans is about the damn finest grocery store you'll ever see. Anything you could want, really, is there.)

We parked the Explorer and walked in to grab something in the food court. We ate outside and headed toward the main entrance when we were distracted by the patio furniture; we picked out one of the nicer looking sets and sat down.

The chairs were comfortable enough that we didn't really want to get up. (They're here on p. 16-17; you'll see them in the photo in the lower left.) Then and there, we made the decision that we should take these home.

Since they've been there, life has felt a lot better. Our apartment looks onto a wooded area (in a city of 200,000 in a region of several million; go figure!) and the serenity out there is wonderful. This morning, while what's left of Tropical Storm Barry rained down upon us, we enjoyed the sound of the rain and the wind while reading the Sunday paper. How relaxing...

What a wonderful way to start the day. It's nice to get out there and just chat or enjoy the peacefulness - so rare in the city and close-in suburbs. And honestly, it feels like we're living, really living; before now, there really weren't many places we could escape to. Now we have that place, and it's a great feeling.

Who knew comfortable patio furniture would bring such happiness?

-- SO, JUST WHERE IN THE HELL have I been?

Where to begin...

Work's been insanely busy, has been since a month ago. There was the run-up to the high school playoffs, which is always a bitch in the spring - there are so many sports going on. So far, I've done boys soccer, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse and baseball (the latter two are my beat). All while trying to maintain that NASCAR blog.

It'll slow down sometime soon. The lacrosse season is all but over, and none of our teams are left. There's one baseball team left, and its season could be over as early as Tuesday. In the meantime, I've got to e-mail All-Area photo notices to all the affected coaches; which is a problem, since I don't have them completely finalized yet. They're 90 percent done, but not completely.

In any other season, that wouldn't be an issue. But in the spring, the seniors are itching to graduate and get out of town to celebrate; we have to get their pics before they split. And the pics are scheduled for later this week. So that's one of my two must-dos tomorrow.

Then it'll be actually putting the All-Area page together and getting that sent; only then will summer officially begin.

Speaking of the NASCAR blog, I've found there's a racing component to Second Life, so I joined there to see what was going on. There's a track all right, but you need a car to use it. And to get a car, you have to buy one. And I don't have any Lindens (Second Life dollars); fortunately, I stumbled upon a group that gives out daily prizes in a writing contest (400 words or less). I've now won three contests at $25 a pop, but still well short of what I need to buy a car. So that's taken up time.

In case you're interested, here's one of the essays that won. Each day has a topic, and this day's topic was to write about going to a frog jubilee. So I came up with the idea to write from the frog's perspective; moreover, I roughly followed the script of "The Natural" and gave my character a performance-enhancer, too, bringing it more up to date. Enjoy:

See that tree over there? The one with the moss coverin' the scar on the bottom? My daddy died under there. A thunderstorm like we get here in the forest now and again. Bolt came outta nowhere, a boom like I ain't never heard, and he was gone. Just like that.

I always promised him I'd go be someone and not just another frog, that I'd use my God-given talent to jump. I know we all can jump like humans can think or cheetahs can run, but I was always better than most.

It almost didn't happen, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The tree, right. Right after daddy died, I took a few splinters and fashioned a leading edge for my arms. They're round, in case you didn't notice, and the wood made them more aerodynamic. Hey, it's all we had back in 1984.

I was flying higher and further than I ever had. No one had seen jumpin' like that, least that's what they told me. Well, one day I was practicing when some 8-year old kid wanders by. He's got a pointed stick and a mischievous look in his eye. I figured it was best to get the hell out of Dodge, but he caught me before I knew what happened. Put that stick right through my shoulder. I know you were wondering what that scar was.

Took me a long time to recover. I was always a bit of a loner, so I just dropped outta sight for a while. A long while, actually. I didn't need everyone seeing me all laid up.

I liked the solitary life I had.

Then one day, I ran across an old friend. Roy and I used to go at each other on the competitive jumping circuit. We got to talking about the old times, and he said his last event was coming up. We were both gettin' on in years and he thought it was time to hang 'er up.

"Why don't you come along? It'll be like old times, one last time," he asked.

"Nah, I gave that up a long time ago."

"You still got them wings?"

"Carry 'em with me everywhere, even though I've no use for them now. Just my way of bringing daddy with me."

"Lemme see you jump."

It took some persuadin', but I did. Just because it was him.

"Shit boy, you ain't never lost it."

So I met up with him at the jubilee. Some people recognized me, at least the older folks did - the ones who could see through the wrinkles. I heard them whisper but didn't pay them no mind.

And wouldn't you know it? I beat Roy in his last jubilee. Just like the old times - one more time.

Some of them folks grumbled. They said my wings was unnatural. What's the term they used? 'Performance enhancing.' Well no shit. Why else would I use them things? Ain't no law against it.

Just 'cause I figured out a better way doesn't make it wrong.

I'm the best that ever was.

Hope you liked it...


ME said...

Welcome back!!!!!!!!!

Tara said...

Yes, welcome back!

Thanks for having us over Friday. I wish I could have enjoyed your balcony that evening, but the hallway floor and I needed to bond.

Brian said...

You were split down the middle it seemed, half in the kitchen and half out...

Matt, I saw your last comment. The flights are tending to take a lot longer with the bigger jets; most of the time in a 767, my choices are hub-to-hub flying (United hubs include JFK/Newark/LaGuardia, Dulles, Denver, O'Hare, San Francisco and LAX), from the west coast to Hawaii or from the east coast to a secondary European airport (say, Dulles to Vienna). Heathrow or de Gaulle in Paris are for the wide-bodies...soon enough.