Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Eff-SD" (no, not South Dakota)

Seasonal Depression:
I'd say that I suffer from mild seasonal depression during the months of January, February, and sometimes even a little bit into March. It seems as if life has left the area with the fallen leaves, it's cold, and it NEVER actually snows in this blasted city. It certainly doesn't stop schools from having snow days though. I could go throw a handful of powdered sugar at the local TV-News station and immediately schools would close, interstates would jam up with accidents, and people would run to the store for bread and milk. I'm not joking.

I went to visit my mom's brother (Uncle Ed) and his family near Boulder, CO last year at this time. I left my snowboard out there as collateral so that I'll actually pull the trigger and move out there myself. After returning to Nashville, I realized that I probably wouldn't miss it that much. I've used it one time here in the last 10 years.

Southern Snowboard Silliness
Some college friends and I went to Winterplace in West Virginia on MLK day weekend during our sophomore year to go skiing/snowboarding. Being with friends was a blast, but the "snow" experience was laughable. As it was MLK day weekend, every yahoo with a pair of a sticks within in a 300 mile radius was there. The slope was so short and the lift lines were so long, I literally could have walked to the top before the lift would have gotten me there. So ended my attempts at "southern snowboarding."

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, seasonal depression. After Christmas is over, all the things that make winter worth it's while are absent. There's basically a 2-2.5 month lull till Spring swoops in gently to rescue us from the drear of winter. She does it so subtly that it's like she's trying to make us forget about Winter without insulting Winter himself. Very kind of her. Besides, without Winter, the world doesn't work right, and Spring doesn't feel anywhere near as good when she arrives.

Man, am I ever on the slippery slope of digression this morning...

The Point
In the past, during these first few months of the year, I feel like myself and all the people with whom I'm connected just seem to mope around. It's this constant, "What do you wanna do?" - "I dunno what do you wanna do?" thing. And when that magical first day of Spring rolls around, we are all of a sudden able to make decisions again.

Most of you know my buddy, Andy. He, a fellow sufferer of seasonal depression (SD...tired of typing that), and I spoke at length about SD during one of our Tuesday night brain-puke sessions. I decided that it'd be best to create a social calendar for myself and others to keep people moving and integrated within their society of friends during this volatile time. It seems to be the best medicine.

I started the year out strong, but don't remember making any more conscious effort to adhere to my master "Eff-SD" plan. I jokingly told a few people about my cure, but never really pushed it on anybody. Oddly enough, this year I've managed to book up almost every waking minute of my life between work and social events, and it seems as though I'm not the only one. I think all of my friends are just as busy, and you know what? I think my master plan is working. Although I can't really take any credit for people voluntarily filling up their schedules during these months, it seems they're all generally happier than those who haven't. To attribute to one of my recurring themes...just goes to show you how important it is to have your friends around. Example 1, Example 2

Anyway - "Second Star on the Right & Straight on till Morning!"

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dia del cajero

I had the most fantastic Wal-Mart experience this afternoon.

So, I'd already spent more of this day driving around & doing errands, than I'd actually been able to spend working. It was a beautiful day - the windows were down, and the music was loud enough that I'd already missed 3 phone calls, so I'm not complaining. Driving around town, however, does make me more tired than actually working does though.

All that to say that around 2 or so this afternoon, I needed a pick-me-up, so I swung by my local neighborhood Wal-Mart for a twix bar & a Bolthouse fruit smoothie. At the check-out, my whole day changed.

I was standing in line behind somebody when I realized that check-out #2 was open, so I headed that way. This is when I encountered "James," with the flames on his lanyard. He was looking down when I arrived at his post, and I thought he was looking for something. Upon realizing that I was there, he straightened up and smiled at me. He wasn't looking for anything at all - he was actually amusing himself with some sort of cashier acrobatics and was not the least bit ashamed that I saw him doing it. I liked this guy already.

He began to ring up my Bolthouse Smoothie, my Twix bar, and a little Cherry Snack Pie I found on sale. (Don't judge me - I'm 6'3" & weigh 200 lbs...I need fuel). When I told him he could skip on the bag, he proceeded to make a little tower out of my items on the plastic bag lazy susan. After carefully topping the tower with the Cherry Pie, he exclaimed a quick "Woo Hoo," and went on to complete the transaction.

I was actually starting to chuckle to myself at this point, which is sort of uncommon. We got to that awkward part where I'd done my part, he'd done his part and we were waiting for the register to finish. He looked over and read the Cherry Pie package aloud, "No Sugar Added," to which he added, "Yeah Right! That's when they add ALL the sugar!" He looked at me and smiled, then looked with satisfaction back at his register knowing that he'd done his conspiracy-revealing duty for the day. I was at a loss for words, but mostly I was really starting to have to stifle my laughter. That statement and the manner in which it was presented was one of the funniest things I'd heard in years.

Finally the receipt printed and as he handed it to me he said, "I can stand a penny on top of a nickel. You know - on it's end."

Grinning ear-to-ear, I told him that I would definitely come back just to see that.

When I got to my car, I lost it. I could not stop laughing. I don't remember the last time I was by myself and had to try so hard to keep from laughing out loud. My favorite part is that I'm pretty sure James would have behaved exactly the same no matter who was at his register, or if there was no one there at all. So today, I salute you, "James S" at cashier station #2, for your overwhelmingly good spirit and sense of humor - and for sharing it with others.

Just for the record, I wasn't laughing AT James. I have an odd ability to adapt to the senses of humor of those who I'm around. It's great because I like to laugh...another reason my parents called me "Miller Time" when I was younger. What James was saying was only a little funny to him...just playful banter. If I'd have laughed out loud as hard as I was laughing on the inside, he might have thought that I was mocking him. It would be a terrible way to repay the guy who just made my day, to leave him with the thought that I might have been laughing AT him.

If you're ever at the Wal-Mart on the corner of Nolensville Rd. & Harding Pl. in Nashville, try to check out at the register of "James S." You won't regret it. I'm going to make sure I've got a nickel & a penny with me on my next trip.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Mattress research

Well, let me start off by saying this isn't as scandalous as it sounds. I'm actually in the market for a new mattress. Here's the situation:

My junior year of college, my mom and I got me a queen-sized mattress. I was stoked because it was the first time in years I had a bed that actually fit me properly - I outgrew twin-size beds in about 9th grade. Well, it wasn't a very nice mattress to begin with, and after about eight years, it's much worse. I feel like it's time for me to get a big boy bed now...apparently, it's not normal to wake up an roll around 15 times a night.

Like with most big purchases, beginning the research process is a bit daunting. I keep having visions of those infomercials I used to see as a kid w/ the old people on the contorting bed-sets (& people think my Fu Manchu is creepy), or a glass of wine not spilling as somebody drops a bowling ball on the mattress next to it. I know it's hard to believe, but neither of those are huge enticements for me to purchase one of those particular mattresses.

The good thing about this situation is that I can't really lose by getting another mattress. The one I sleep on now reminds me of a big piece of stale, burnt toast wrapped in multiple layers of cardboard. It actually feels like you're sleeping in a bowl, or a hard hammock. I certainly doubt any new mattress could be worse. If by some crazy stroke of Providence, I end up married in the next few years, I'm sure the (lucky?) lady will already have a better bed than myself. I could just keep whatever I end up getting for a guest room - a.k.a. sleepy time-out for disobedient husbands.

So, here are the questions that seem most relevant to me:
  1. Memory foam or "spring-loaded?"
  2. Cushion or pillow-top mattresses - worth it or not?
  3. Are there any beds that are actually proven to be more healthy for your body?
  4. What sort of budget am I looking at for a decent (middle-of-the-road) bed?
Does anybody have any suggestions?

It would be fun to get a huge group of people together and go mattress-shopping. Partially because I wouldn't feel so silly testing mattresses out in a public store with other friends doing the same, but more so because knowing my friends, this would turn into some big ridiculous fiasco that would definitely end up being video-blog material. Oh man...gears are turning now...

Fu-Graham-Chu & "El Bigote"

Once again, I have been remiss in my blogging responsibilities. Believe it or not, I've actually been so busy working lately that I haven't had a lot of time.

I'm watching my Saturday morning cartoons right now and getting ready to go to running club. Today, I'm actually going to run TO running club. It feels much more exciting to actually run TO a place rather than just running from a place only to return to it.

El Bigote

(FYI: "El Bigote" means "the mustache" in Spanish. It's what we refer to as a "false-cognate." It looks like the word "bigot" but means something beautiful as opposed to something terrible. This is MY blog - don't argue.)

I finally decided this week that it was time to shave the beard that I've been growing for a few months now. I've had a few ladies recently express their slight envy at the idea of guys being able to shave their faces and change their looks so severely. It's also low-risk in that if it isn't a nice change of pace, you can just shave it all off and start over again. Yep - it's awesome - no doubt about it.

That being said, it felt awfully wasteful to shave EVERYthing off all at once, so I did this:

As you may have guessed, I think it's TOTALLY AMAZING! Naturally, I immediately changed my profile picture on facebook to see what my friends thought, which incurred more responses than when I was voted Nashville's #1 Handyman in the Nashville Scene Readers' Poll.

The jury is still out and the polls seem to be split down the middle. There doesn't appear to be any middle ground at all. Everything looks either like this:
"That stash is frightening...."
or this:
"Amazing facial hair! Four thumbs up!"
For the record, the only negative responses I've gotten are from females. Why so negative ladies?

So, what's the verdict peoples?!? Shave or Save?!?!?

Just for giggles - my dad's old album cover. He's actually about my age in this picture.

It needs to be explained that the Stoner mustache is a rite of passage. Grampy Stoner, my dad's brothers, and my own dad all rock some version of a mustache, and they do it oh-so-well. So, it only took me 27+ years to reach manhood...I wonder what's in store next.