Monday, August 30, 2010

Farmville's Tragic Hidden Costs

My buddy Mike got a little fed up with Farmville... he posted this letter to Farmville on his Facebook and now I'm pretty sure he's sleeping on the couch.

Dear FarmVille

by Michael E. on Monday, August 30, 2010 at 8:30am

Since you've been spending the majority of my wife's time with her, I thought maybe it would be cool if you would come over and share some of the duties that normally fall to her husband. Maybe bring home a paycheck or two, cut the grass, take out the garbage, do the dishes.....something maybe (surprise me). Oh yeah, her birthday is coming up but I guess you already knew that. I can't really suggest what she may like as I'm not sure I know anymore. Oh wait a minute...she likes "you!" Maybe you can find a way to let her farm in her sleep so she doesn't miss any quality time with your freakin imaginary asparagus or your stupid beehives that she had to become friends with countless random teenagers and sex offenders with fake profiles in order to build (she doesn't even like bees!) I personally will be getting her a prescription for Ambian which I will be secretly mashing up into her dinner so that she might fall asleep before midnight instead of you keeping her up until 3:30am and letting her fall asleep with her face in the keyboard trying to get one last magical baby blanket to make a nursery for all of the "poor little orphaned platypuses" or whatever random sob story you throw at her to keep her clicking on weeds and bear poop. I considered having an intervention until I realized you were having the same sick affair with all of her friends and family members. So you win again Mr. Farmville! Maybe you could cut some of us "ex"-husbands a break and add some fucking seasons into your little tryst so that we might get to know our wives again for a mere 3 month period during the Winter months? Know that I am learning how to program so that I can hack into your programming and add natural disasters into the mix but I am sure that you will parlay that into something where she can click on hurricanes and flood waters some God awful amount of times to earn some ridiculous limited edition duck pond. So I guess, bottom line Farmville, you win. You have proved to be the better man. Go fuck yourself! Please extend my thanks to your friends HappyPets, FrontierVille, HappyAquarium, HappyIsland, ZooWorld, BackyardMonsters, and PetVille.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oh Boy, Oh Burger (A Review)

The Cherry Cricket doesn't seem like much from the outside. Located in chic Cherry Creek, this place isn't flashy, it's not particularly classy. If you're looking for a little black dress and suit kind of place, move on. However the long line on a Friday night should be a clue: this place has something.

What the Cherry Cricket has is burgers. The menu is simple, almost disappointing if you don't know what you're about to consume. Customizable, delicious beef burgery goodness. I had mine with blue cheese crumbles and bacon. Bill took his with smoked, bacon and barbecue sauce (and the rest of mine, of course). Of course, you can get all the required side deliciousness: baskets of fries, rings, frings but they also have a surprisingly extensive list of beers.

Dress is casual and the prices are low, especially for the area. If you go on a weekend, be prepared to wait for a table. I doubt, after 65 years they need many more endorsements, but if so, they've got mine.

2641 East 2nd Ave
Denver, CO 80206
(In Cherry Creek North)

Open everyday 11AM -2AM
Happy Hour 4:30 - 6:00PM and 10PM - Midnight

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day, whether you like it or not

My dad and I have a rocky relationship. He's a Jehovah's Witness, an organization I left nearly 20 years ago. I have made choices he cannot approve and sometimes doesn't understand. At times, we've gone months or weeks without talking.

My dad has hurt me more than almost anyone ever could. I am positive I've done the same to him and yet, we work through it. We find our way to a battered but nonetheless welcome peace. Sometimes I reach out, sometimes he does, but we always find our way back to each other.

Several years ago I was at a point where I wondered if my dad loved me anymore, whether he regretted my existence. At the time, my parents were in the process of moving from Laramie, Wyoming to Rochester, Washington. Even though our relationship was in shards at the time, as my parents prepared to move, I felt like a person about to be orphaned. My issues with my dad made the process excruciating. How could I ever hope we'd fix this if I couldn't go to him, take his hand and talk?

You know what it's like when people live in one spot more than 20 years; stuff builds up. Crap builds up but also stuff. Almost like the Oregon Trail days, on their journey to the West, my parents were dumping items they loved but could live without at the edge of the trail. Furniture, books, pictures, hideous old clothes all went by the wayside.

Apparently, most of the items my parents didn't need, they believed I truly did. Almost every week, I'd get a call asking me to come pick up a box or two. Sometimes the items were my own possessions; items from my past, sometimes possessions of my parents which they thought I needed or wanted. Sometimes they were right and sometimes they were wrong. Thanks Dad, but I really don't need a 20yr old home humidifier that doesn't work. Let me know if you find someone who does need that, I need to have a serious conversation with that person.

Each kid has a story of betrayal by his or her parents. The bike you begged for on your birthday but didn't get. The piano recital they couldn't get to because they had to work. We collect them, moon over them, sometimes using them as excuses for crappy behavior in our adult lives, even though they're really not. One of my parent's little betrayals had been that I'd believed, right or wrong, that they'd lost my baby book. My brother had one but not me. Oh boy did I use THAT little gem during hard drinking binges.

One afternoon, we went to pick up a box of items my parents took out of my room. My scrapbook from H.S., a trunk full of Barbie clothes, the letter I earned for band, various other items were piled in to the box but at the bottom was another, smaller white box. The kind books usually come in. Its lid would hardly stay on for the number of items stuffed into it. Papers, letters, cards, heralding and celebrating my birth, a handwritten sign that my dad's coworkers must have put up on a door somewhere with the details of my birth. Finally, amazingly, a baby book. Mine. You may need tissues for this next part, I know I will. I opened the cover and got the shock of my life.

Most of the time it's the mommy who fills out the baby book but not for me. My father filled out mine. The dad I fought with for twenty-some years had filled in every single page, every milestone, ever anecdote of that journal. Every entry burst with pride, every word filled with love. Practically every single day of my first year was there, written in his horrible handwriting, accounted with the same care and diligence he brings to everything. I cried for hours. I'm crying now.

No matter what happened after, no matter how we let each other down, I will always know how much I mean to him. It's all there, written in ink, for me to see.

Because he's a J.W., I can't call him to say Happy Father's day. Can't send a card, can't take him to a ballgame or golfing, can't have a picnic. But today I still want to say 'Thank you, Dad.' For everything.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Life Worth Living

My grandfather died a week ago.

All things considered, it was very peaceful. All things considered, I am incredibly lucky. For those reasons, and because it's how I process death, I haven't cried very much since it happened. I start grieving long before my loved one actually passes and by the time it happens, I'm well into a numb/dry spell. I spend days and weeks telling everyone in ear shot my little memories, our special 'nobody else cares' traditions so I'm talked out and often cried out when the day itself comes.

I have cried a little but for other reasons, other hurts. Much less involved with my grandfather and more involved with old wounds and tough memories, the kinds of things that come up when you spend time with close relatives. Since he died, I've spent a lot of time thinking about and remembering little things. saying goodbye quietly and gently.

Two weeks ago, I went to see him.

I sat at on PopPop's bed and picked up his hand. Wish #1 fulfilled: touching him one more time. He was incredibly frail but didn't mind that I sat close. He woke for a few minutes and greeted my brother and I. Wish #2: he knew us and was glad to see us.

Alex brought beautiful little Lorelei, my niece. Wish #3: PopPop met all of his great-grandchildren. The contrast between the two people was striking, bringing the reason for our trip into sharp clarity. A life beginning with joyful noise and one ending with respectful quiet. His voice was a whisper, Lorelei's is usually a delighted squeal.

Though the trip was brief and for me, very sad, it was also incredibly fulfilling. Time was precious so we didn't waste it. Sure, we had downtime; hours of talk and quiet with my parents, my brother, sister in law, aunt and uncle but that time was time well spent. These people knew him and respected him, loved him just as much as I did. To spend a few hours, better, a few days bonding with them was a balm to my heart and a reassurance that wonderful new things can come from the end of wonderful old things.

Throughout the trip, and even through profound grief, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude. To my parents for arranging the trip, to my grandfather, aunt and uncle for facilitating it, to my brother and his family for accompanying me on the journey. To the universe for setting the situation up so perfectly, at exactly the right moment. It might not have shown outwardly, but even as my heart broke, it was comforted by the kindness of near-strangers, by the touch of someone I deeply loved and the chance to be near him one last time. Few times in life is a person fortunate enough to get the sort of closure I did. Rarely is anyone lucky enough to actually get there in time or to say what they're really feeling. I carried that gratitude home with me and it's propelled me through the last few weeks, will probably drive my life for a long time after.

There were many wonderful, comforting moments during the trip. I was able to say things to him that I needed him to know. He told me what I knew but needed to hear. The climax came just before we left that first day. That was when I was able to find exactly the right words.

Thank you for saving my life.

I'd hoped for a kind response, an acknowledgement. Instead, I got his best, last gift.

You're welcome. It was a life worth saving.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why do I have to be THAT kind of writer?

I am the sunny optimist. I complain that literature has to be sad. I get into great debates with literature teachers about the reason WHY great literature has to be so sad.

I think I finally understand. I don't write when I'm happy or content. When I'm happy, giggly, goofy or silly, it's hard for me to write. I want to be enjoying the moment, not clacking away at my keyboard and my loved ones want me to be enjoying the moment with them, not clacking away at the keyboard.

The other downside to writing in that mood is that unless the occasion is momentous, happy giggly goofy silly writing is, well, boring.

Now I understand. Pain makes me write. When I'm tired of crying, or when I cannot yet cry, writing forces the emotions out. It lets me see them, lets me tell others what I mean in a way I generally cannot with my voice.

Now that I know it, one thing concerns me. Does this mean I have to start being miserable?

Holding His Hand

When I was five, I flew all by myself to Cincinnati to be with my grandparents for Spring Break. It was one of the most magical weeks of my childhood. That time, one on one with my grandparents was a wonderful fanciful treat. I stayed in a room decorated just for me, we visited the zoo, I had my hair done at my grandmother's salon, they showered me with gifts and showed me off to friends. Every night, during cocktail hour, they let me use their foyer as a kind of stage where I performed selections from Annie and Fiddler on the Roof with great enthusiasm. If they were anything but enthralled, I never knew. I must have come back spoiled rotten, my poor parents.

When I was six, I wanted to play the flute. More than anything. My cousins, older beautiful, sophisticated fourth and fifth graders that they were, both played an instrument and I wanted to be just like them. My grandparents paid for the rental. My hands were tiny; too small to make the first crucial reach of the flute's keys. I wouldn't figure out breath support for another four years and got light headed every time I touched the thing. I quit.

When I was seven, I wanted to play the piano. My parents had purchased an antique full upright and I'd been tinkering on it, plunking out commercial jingles and Rogers and Hammerstein melodies by ear. I wanted lessons. My grandparents offered to pay the month or two they figured I would stick to it. I took private lessons until I was seventeen. They ended up paying for five years of private voice lessons too.

When I was 11, I got braces. I have a mouth like a bowling alley. Tiny, narrow jaw; great big horse teeth. I had two oral surgeries, countless extractions but after years of pain and inconvenience, I had a beautiful smile, financed by my grandparents.

When I was 19, I became a single mother. My first husband had walked out seven months earlier. My daughter and I had nothing. My grandparents were part of the network of people making sure she had a good start. Thanks to them, she had tiny pink sleepers, a lovely cozy cradle, a carseat, a swing.

When I was 31, Cowboy had been hospitalized and out of work a month. My cupboards were bare. I went to sleep one night knowing I had no means of feeding my children the next week. My grandfather's 5:00AM phone call woke me. He was worried for us and was sending grocery money.

I said goodbye to my grandmother the next spring. Actually, I never got the opportunity to say goodbye. I was too blocked to write and by the time I had the courage, she'd lost the ability to understand. I spoke at her wake and in a cracking voice, talked for all of her grandchildren about her propensity for fulfilling wishes and rewarding hard work. I still think of her and thank her in my dreams.

When I was 35, I introduced my children and husband to my grandfather. I looked forward to that moment for months and fussed about it almost as long. This man, opinionated and sometimes dysfunctional as he is, has been so many things to me and I owe him so much. I couldn't wait for my family to meet him and him to meet them. I wanted him to see what bright, intelligent children they are and to know that he influenced the way I raise them. To hear him say I was doing well was like the blessing of heaven.

When I was 36, I needed a surgery to save my life. Giving me the money as a gift would have been inappropriate. I needed to demonstrate I had the strength to walk the path I was setting. It was a very big investment; one I needed to make in myself. My grandfather offered to pay half only if I came up with the other half on my own. I wanted it and I found a way. My grandfather helped me save my life.

They are moving my grandfather to Hospice this week. At 96 the man who used to walk or swim at least two miles a day can no longer walk across a room. I wish I could carry him. The man who attended weekly concerts and treasured lively conversation has been devastated at the loss of his hearing; even the best hearing aid a poor substitute. I wish he could hear through my ears. His eyesight is fading, I wish he could see through mine. These are the quality of life issues, there are others, much more serious that are shortening his time. If I could give him more time in comfort, I would. Since I can't, I can only offer compassion and hope I get there in time to say goodbye.

I owe him so much that 'thank you' seems lame. There's so much I want to say that every thing I start seems insipid. He and Grandma talked about holding my hand when I was a baby. I guess, I'll start by holding his hand and hope the words come. If I can't tell him how I feel, at least I can say goodbye the same way I said hello.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Resolutions? Bah! The Leaves are Changing

It's January 6Th. I'm guessing, and you're probably hoping that this is THE LAST New Year's Resolution Blog entry you'll read this year. I procrastinate, plus, I was really busy. Honest. The highlights from Christmas and New Years:

It was a joy for to see my brother, sister in law and tiny niece. BONUS! They took a gas stove that had been taking up space in our garage for almost five years. Win win. Oh and the bad weather only made a 6 hour drive down into a two day drive home for them (sorry, guys).

Christmas Dinner at the in laws was relaxed and stress free, for the most part. Lowlight: my daughter and Sargent David nearly skunked me at Cribbage. Hiighlight, watching Sargent David give Mistress Shanna a field sobriety test in their own kitchen while we all offered support and suggestions. Family bonding moment.

Cowboy and I attended a White Trash New Year's Bash where we won a prize for best couple's costume. Not particularly sure if that's a compliment.You be the judge:
I had to work New Year's Day but the highlight included getting to say "I know something you don't know! I am not left-handed, er, well actually, I sort of am!" while playing ping pong during a system issue. Yep, that's right, I am an ambidextrous ping pong paddler. HA!

This year, instead of resolving not to sin (or maybe too sin? now that sounds like fun), I am looking at my life in terms of trees. Some trees lose their leaves and start new ones from time to time, other trees-- evergreens, keep their 'leaves' all year.

There are habits I picked up and personality traits I treasure. These are my evergreens:
  • Placing a high priority on my nutrition and personal needs. I know how I got where I did, what it took to get back to where I am and what it takes to stay here.
  • Making time for the kids even when life gets busy
  • My love of learning. Anything. Anytime.
  • Date nights and downtime with Cowboy so we remember why we like each other
  • Willingness to teach others what I know for their development and my future delegation benefit

Habits I want to develop, I will think of as new leaves(examples):

  • Blogging more often and with more quality
  • Leaving work at work
  • Taking breaks and lunches at work

Finally, there are some leaves and branches I may want to prune:

  • My sedentary lifestyle is the one remaining habit of obesity that I haven't done enough to change. I want to move more to live more.
  • Newly acquired and hopefully short lived smoking habit. Nasty disgusting habit, it can go, thanks

My inability to let go. I want to let go of not being able to let go? Tough one. That might take a few
Here's to growth for those things I need, endurance for those things I want to keep and letting go of those I don't.