Back Inaction!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hello blogosphere, I'm back in action!

My return is thanks to my back inaction.

After seven years of dealing with pain in my lower back ranging from "Owie!" to "AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!", I finally had surgery a couple of weeks ago. As I heal over the next several weeks I can't bend/twist/arch my back, drive a car, or work, which means I need to put my Chubby Checker celebrity impersonator career or hold. But it also means I have plenty of time to write.

My back pain was the result of a herniated disc at the L5/S1 vertebrae. The surgery I had was an intricate and expensive procedure called an ALIF, which stands for "Allowing the hospital to Loot my Investment Funds" - or something. The goal of an ALIF is to remove the collapsed disc then fuse the L5 and S1 vertebrae together, thus relieving the constant and horrible pressure on the spinal nerves.

I thought my doctor was going to fuse the two vertebrae using a hot glue gun or duct tape, but the procedure ended up being a little more involved than that and included titanium screws and bone graft material.

The bone graft material was taken from cadavers. Ew, gross, I know.

What worries me about this is I saw my spinal surgeon take the bone graft out of a cardboard box that had "Prison Morgue Donations" written on it. The bone graft is now having a bad influence on some of the surrounding bones, like my hips and coccyx. My now evil bones are in cahoots to rob a bank, and there is nothing I can do to stop them.   

With my ALIF, a vascular surgeon first, in his words, "cut me open near my belly button to move all of my organs and blood vessels out of the way so the spinal surgeon could access my back." So a vascular surgeon basically gave me a C-section. How did the Normal Mormon Wife give birth to three children, and I ended up with the C-section scar?

After the vascular surgeon played Peek-A-Boo with my bowels, my spinal surgeon removed the herniated, collapsed, and thoroughly EVIL disc. Though I was under full anesthesia at the time the, I bolted awake when the disc was removed and grabbed it from my surgeon's forceps and repeatedly punched that stupid disc in the face over and over again while screaming, "HOW DOES THAT FEEL, HUH? YOU LIKE THAT? HOW DOES THAT FEEL?"

The revenge beatdown continued until about twenty nurses and orderlies finally pulled me off the hernitated disc. The whole scene reminded me of Ralphie finally getting his revenge on Scott Farkas.

Speaking of the anesthesia...The last thing I remember before going nighty-night for my surgery was entering the operating room and the anesthesiologist asking me, "So tell me about your job." I think I responded by saying, "I work in Human Resources flibberty jibbet rock lobster."

Then I woke up. The surgery was over.

The nurses then transported me to my hospital room and barrel rolled me into my bed. Being 6'6", my feet hit the rail at the end of the bed. One of the nurses asked me, "How tall are you?"

Though the anesthesia had still not fully worn off and I was pumped full of more drugs than Toronto mayor Rob Ford, I still managed to say, "Taller than this bed." For a hazy moment, I felt like Buddy the Elf.

In the end we were able to have me squirm back a little further back in the bed, and I just barely fit. 

I stayed in the hospital from Thursday until Sunday. The doctors, nurses, and techs were all great. They took very good care of me. My incision didn't hurt, neither did my back. But there was one terribly painful part of the recovery I was totally unprepared for - the catheter!

Oh, the catheter!

Before surgery my doctor warned me of all the potential risks - increased pain, the fusion doesn't take, follow-up surgeries, organ damage, infection, death, yada yada yada. But he didn't tell me about having a catheter invading my privacy for two days after surgery. I won't go into detail, but it was awful. Every time I felt a sneeze or a cough coming on, I would helplessly whimper, "Oh, no! Oh, no! OH, PLEASE NO!" until that torturous tube of terror was finally untethered.

Now that I'm a couple of weeks out of surgery, I am so glad I went through with this. The nerve pain before surgery was like having a small knife constantly stabbing my lower back while my midsection felt like it was being perpetually electrocuted. That pain is now gone. While there is still a long road ahead, including making sure the fusion takes, I am thrilled with where I am right now.

I am incredibly grateful for the Normal Mormon Wife who has selflessly, patiently, and happily served me since I came home. My inability to bend my back and being so physically limited has led to some funny conversations between the two of us, like me asking, "Hon, can you please pull up my pants?" and the NMW once declaring, "I think I'll just bring your urinal downstairs and take my chances."

I couldn't ask to be stuck at home for six weeks with anybody more wonderful than the NMW.

I think I will do a follow-up post about this in order to do it justice, but I have also been very touched by the outpouring of love, faith, and service from my family, ward members, and co-workers. You guys are wonderful. Thank you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a bank to go rob...

Good Bye, My Friends

Saturday, September 26, 2009

When the Normal Mormon Wife was in high school she once broke up with her boyfriend by saying three simple words:

“I dump you.”

No long-winded explanations. No ultimatums. No room for compromise. The relationship was simply over.

Sometimes it is best to just get to the point. After staring at a blinking cursor for the last fifteen minutes I have decided to follow the NMW’s example and just come right out and say it:

I’m done as a blogger. This will be my last post.

The reason is simple. Over the past several months blogging has become more of a burden than a blessing. It feels more like work than a relaxing pastime. I have found myself often doing posts because I feel like I “have to” more than I simply “want to.” The demands of my top priorities in life – family, church, work, fantasy football, NCAA 2010, and Slurpees – have dramatically increased. My free time and energy have fallen faster than ACORN, though in my case it had nothing to do with pimps and/or women of ill repute.

While the NMH blog has a very small following, a few people may be disappointed in some way that I’m hanging it up. If that’s the case, I’m sorry. There are about 48 buzillion other blogs out there and I’m sure you’ll move on faster than Brad Pitt with a new female co-star. But before you do – thank you! Thank you for your comments. Thank you for your compliments and encouragement. Thank you for helping build a small NMH community. It’s been a very cool ride.

When I started my blog in September 2006 I never intended for anybody outside of my family and close friends to ever read what I wrote. And this is exactly what happened for over a year and a half. Then I wrote the Twilight Series for Dummies (And Desperate LDS Guys) in February 2008 and it got circulated around the web. Suddenly I was getting more traffic that I ever imagined. A reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune interviewed me. Bill Simmons at ESPN gave me a small compliment. People were actually paying me to advertise on my blog. And before I knew it, it felt like I had a second job.

After the initial excitement of seeing my blog grow wore off, the pressure to crank out a couple of good posts every week started to get to me. The pressure was always there, constantly lurking in the back of my mind. Roughly 14% of my brain was continuously saying, “How can I turn this into a blog post…” every time I went on a date, got stuck in traffic, visited a dirty urinal, or went on vacation. In the end, it wore me out. Drained me like a thirsty Homer chugging a cold Duff on a hot summer day.

I debated for a long time if I should scale the blog back a little bit or if I should just shut it down completely. Call me the anti-Favre. I’m 100% out. If I did fewer posts I would still feel that constant pressure to churn out more stuff and find an angle to turn everything I do into a witty post. This all-or-nothing decision has been liberating. I’ve made the right decision.

So, in the spirit of being a Normal Mormon Husband, I’ll give my concluding thoughts as I hobble off into the blogging sunset:

I’m grateful for being NORMAL. It is a blessing to be a pretty regular guy. To experience both the joys and trials of life. To have a job that I sometimes love and sometimes makes me want to throw up before I walk into the building. To have good friends to play hoops with and beat at fantasy football. To find Dollar Menu items delicious. To drive a Honda Accord. To love my country. To get sick and hurt enough that I enjoy my health when it is good. Yes, it’s great to have a normal life.

What a blessing it is to be MORMON. My personal relationships with God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, give meaning and purpose to my life. I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded by the Savior Himself. He leads this church through the power of His priesthood and continuous revelation to modern-day prophets. The word of God is found in the Book of Mormon, and I find peace and direction within its pages. Knowing that I have been sealed to my family for the eternities brings me hope and happiness. It is truly a miracle that an unpaid clergy consisting of normal, imperfect, everyday people like you and me move this great work forward. I love being a part of the Lord’s kingdom here upon the earth and know I have found the truth.

I thoroughly enjoy being a HUSBAND. My wife is my best friend. She radiates purity and goodness and optimism and fun. She makes me laugh. She gives me confidence. It humbles me to know that we made three beautiful kids together. Being a dad is more rewarding (hugs, princess dress-ups, sports, reading books, FHE activities, wrestling, etc.) and more challenging (disciplining, scheduling, losing my free time, providing for a family, etc.) than I ever imagined it would be. My greatest hope in life is that the NMW and I raise our children in a way that will help them love the Lord, love their families, love their fellow men, and love life in general.

Okay, so maybe this was a little more long-winded “good-bye” than what the NMW said to her former high school flame, so sue me.

Oh, man, that could be a hilarious blog post – worst high school break-ups! (Fight the urge, Andrew. Fight the urge…)

Thanks again to all of you. Take care.

-The NMH

Obama & NMH Speak To School Children

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

This morning President Obama addressed all K-12 students via satellite broadcast. I quickly glanced at the online copy of his text before he spoke and grew concerned when I read the following statements: “All across America…it’s understandable if you…quit on school…I want…you to…stay home from school…Spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox…or Twitter and Facebook. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.”

Maybe I should go back and read the full speech instead of those few random snippets before rushing to judgment here. But it also got me to thinking - If I was able to speak to all of the school-age children in the United States, what would I say?

Please read the draft of my speech below and post comments with any other items I should teach to the children of America. The person with the best comment will be appointment as the NMH Czar of Speechwriting, Copy Editing, and Kitty Litter Removal. (Just make sure your comments are not pro/con Obama’s speech, there are plenty of other sites for that – remember, politics free zone here.)


Greetings, children of America. If you don’t know what that means it was like I said, “Wuddup, dudes!”

I would like to begin my remarks today by speaking directly to all high school and middle school students. As teen-agers, the vast majority of you think you already know everything there is to understand about life. You also believe all adults are total morons, so there is no point in me speaking to you since you will not listen to me anyway. Just go back to texting under your desks, rolling your eyes, adjusting your hair and excluding your unpopular classmates while I speak with the kids in elementary school.

Elementary school kids, I have an important message for you today about staying in school. It is this:

Stay in school.

Now that I have that out of the way, let me tell you some secrets about elementary school I wish I knew when I was your age.

First, stop picking your noses and eating your boogers. By my estimation, 94% of you eat nose candy several times a day as if your body manufactured an endless supply of green gummy bears. While they may feel like melted gummy bears on your fingers, boogers are filthy little disease balls that can give you illnesses like H1N1. Since none of you kids care what H1N1 is, just know it is way worse than cooties.

Second, take full advantage of recess. Run around. Play games. Get sweaty. The bones and joints in your bodies are made of rubber until you hit your twenties, so take advantage of this time when you can fall down without fracturing your tibia. Run across a field while you can do so without your thighs and lungs burning like California in the summer. Play dodge ball while you can enjoy sports without consulting with your primary care physician. One day you will grow up and get a job. Recess will disappear. As an adult you will be lucky to get one 10-minute break per day and your coworkers will rather spend that time smoking themselves to death than playing Red Rover, so do it now while you can.

Next, while I encourage you to have fun during recess, do not get so crazy that your pants end up with grass stains or holes in the knees during the first week of school. Seriously, guys, could you please take better care of your pants? Those things are expensive! Many parents would love to just buy your soon-to-be-destroyed school pants at Goodwill, but there are no decent second-hand kids jeans because all new pants get mangled. Easy on the pants, kids.

Many of you ride the bus home from school. Talk about a sweet gig! Do you realize how lucky you bus riders are? At the end of a long day at school you get to sit in a huge bus with a bunch of your best friends to talk, giggle, scheme, gossip and trade Pokemon cards while somebody else fights traffic for you. One day you will grow up and realize what a pain it is to finish a tough day at work and then get repeatedly cut off in traffic, hit red lights, get stuck behind slow drivers, and inch through construction zones on your commute home. They shouldn’t call those big yellow vehicles “school buses.” They should be called “Mobile Party Units.” Man, I wish I had one of those. Kids, enjoy the chauffeur and endless supply of friends while you can.

Every once in a while, just say "thank you" to your teacher for no particular reason. Teachers work hard and most of them care deeply about the children in their classes. They have to deal with a lot of administrative headaches (that's a fancy way of saying "stuff") and the pay is not great. You'll look back and be grateful for the teachers who pushed you, challenged you, and inspired you. (Except for the creepy male 5th grade teacher with stringy hair that every school seems to have. You know who I'm talking about. Avoid him at all costs!)

Lastly, please stop losing things. Your parents try very hard to let you be independent. But they need your help. While 87% of your brains are focused on the internet, Play Station, TV, The Jonas Brothers, candy and Hannah Montana, please use the other 13% to remember exactly where you have left your homework folders, shoes, glasses, lunch boxes, and library books. The amount of stress your parents need to deal with will be greatly reduced if you can keep track of those five items. And the less stress your parents have, the more likely they will be to give you dessert or let you stay up a little later at night.

Thank you, children of America. May you enjoy this upcoming school year. May your hard work be rewarded. May your minds be expanded. May you prepare for a bright future. May all of your dreams come true.

Just don’t trash your pants in the process, okay?

Cash For Clunkers...And Memories

Monday, August 24, 2009

Can you imagine what it must be like to be an old gas guzzling vehicle right now? The Cash for Clunkers program has instigated genocide of the vehicular nature like nothing we have seen since Eddie Griffin got behind the wheel of a Ferrari. Yesterday I literally saw a rusty 1991 Jeep Cherokee wearing a Groucho Marx-type oversized glasses-nose-eyebrow disguise trying to blend into the background, like he was some sort of 2006 Honda Civic or something. Poser.

The purpose of this post is not to debate the merits of Cash for Clunkers (remember: politics-free zone, please) but to give us an opportunity to reminisce about the Clunkers we have all loved or hated over the years. Most of us are passionate about our cars. We name them. We talk to them. We bond with them. We decorate them. We claim them as dependents on our tax returns. And then inevitable day comes and we have to either sell them or kill them, like CBS had to do with Dan Rather.

So today I’m going to share with you the memories of the clunkers that have come and gone throughout my life. I’m sure most of you have some fond memories of certain cars in your past as well, so please post a comment to share the joy with the rest of us. Here are my stories:

1982 Toyota Celica Supra
Year Adopted: 1991
Nickname: The Thunderbolt
My first car. I inherited her as a 16-year-old and I will love The Thunderbolt for the rest of my life. Though it was 10+ years old, the ‘Bolt was in good condition and lightning fast. It had a fifth gear that we called “The Police Gear” that could be used to outrun the fuzz like dropping the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace. Two passengers could squeeze uncomfortably into the back seat and I used to drive three of my high school basketball teammates to our games. We would crank L.L. Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” and look as intimidating as four tall, skinny, white, tattoo-less Mormon Priests could as we rolled to our basketball games.

The ‘Bolt gave me freedom. Freedom to go places. Freedom to hang out at my friends’ houses. Freedom to just drive aimlessly while listening to Depeche Mode as I sorted out the drama and angst of youth. I love The Thunderbolt. May she rest in peace.

1994 Jeep Wrangler
Year Adopted: 1996
Nickname: The Chick Magnet
My brother is fourteen months younger than I am and we shared The Thunderbolt in high school. As soon as I left for Ricks College my folks sold the ‘Bolt and bought a new, beautiful black Jeep Wrangler. Naturally I was livid at the injustice as I trudged to my classes on foot at Ricks while imagining my little bro picking up chicks in his new Wrangler. But when I returned home from my mission my little bro was still preaching in Bolivia, so I had the Wrangler all to myself for a year.

My favorite memory in the Wrangler happened two weeks after returning home from my mission. It was a warm summer day and the top and doors were off the Jeep. I was drinking a milkshake and listening to Smashing Pumpkins as the wind rushed through my hair. In a sudden moment of clarity I said to myself, “Dude! I’m HOME from my MISSION!” I left the post-missionary nerd mode behind as I cruised down 35th South, oogling at all of the girls who were no longer off limits. But no matter how fondly I remember my year with the Wrangler, I always felt like her heart belonged to my little brother, almost like I was dating a girl he had previously dumped or something.

1991 Geo Prism
Year Adopted: 1997
Nickname: None
The NMW and I were married in 1997 and she brought the Prism into our marriage. I also wanted seven pigs, three sheep and twelve head of cattle as part of the marriage arrangement, but my in-laws weren’t cool with that. I never really bonded with the Prism, but the NMW and I bonded with each other as we drove it repeatedly from Provo to her home in Winslow, AZ. We drove the Prism for the first two years of our marriage – car payment free - until the transmission seized on I-15 just past point of the mountain. I only have vague memories of the Prism, like Cheech and Chong probably remember the eighties.

1997 Kia Sephia
Year Adopted: 1999
Nickname: Satan
The Kia is important in my auto history because it was the first car I ever purchased and was responsible for paying off. The NMW and I were recently married and still living the student life, so the $110/month payment seemed like a billion dollars at the time. The Kia was cheap and under warranty so we bought it. The bad omens started almost immediately as our mailbox was inundated with recall notices for issues with the brakes, windshield wipers, CV boots, and the need to exercise demonic spirits that possessed the transmission. We drove the Kia for six years while living in constant fear that it would one day spontaneously burst into a ball of flames and kill us all. I never liked or trusted that car, and it hated me too.

1985 Ford Escort
Nickname: The Poop-Scort
Year Adopted: 1999
Back when we were partying like it was 1999 – because it was 1999 – the NMW and I only had the Kia to get to important places in Provo/Orem like school, work, church, Movies 8 and the Nickelcade. The opportunity of buying a co-worker’s old but running Ford Escort for $1,000 cash was impossible to refuse, like trying to bypass an $.89 chicken burrito at Taco Bell. The Escort was old but had fewer than 100,000 miles with a nice interior. While the battery mysteriously died more frequently than Itchy and/or Scratchy, the ‘Scort got me around town for four solid years.

My favorite ‘Scort memory happened while I was interning in Las Vegas during summer break of my MBA classes in 2002. I was trying desperately to impress the General Manager of our business unit so I could get a job after graduating. My chance to shine happened one day when the GM had to take an emergency flight and asked if I could take him to the airport – in my car. At this point the driver’s side door no longer opened and the A/C was broken, which is a only a minor inconvenience in Las Vegas in July when the temperature reaches 184 degrees on a cool day. As the GM followed me to my car I opened the passenger door, slid my 6’6” body across the gear shift, rolled down the windows, and pretended that nothing was out of the ordinary as we roasted all the way to the airport. In an unrelated story, I was not hired to work for that business unit after I graduated. The ‘Scort was a great investment and it pained me to see her go to that giant scrap heap in the sky.

2002 Honda Accord
Nickname: Sally
Year Adopted: 2004
Yes, I drive a car named Sally. The kids named her after the Porsche in Cars because they are both silver. The NMW and I met Sally back when she was the display vehicle with a ridiculously low price to attract customers who could then be baited-and-switched to a fancier model. You see, Sally has no power windows, no power doors, no alarm, and an engine consisting of a hamster jogging rather lazily in a crank wheel. The salesman was shocked – shocked! – that somebody was actually cheap enough (we prefer frugal, practical, and/or provident living-ish) to buy the base model. But Sally was affordable and easier to pay off than a Bolivian prison guard. Five years and 125,000 miles later, Sally just keeps chugging along problem-free, never breaking down. I hope I’m still driving Sally five years from now.

So those are the stories of my clunkers. I'd like to hear yours, so please post away. While getting some cash for these four-wheeled important parts of our lives would probably be nice, I'm happy just holding on to the memories for now.

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Lenny's Birth Announcement

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Please share in our joy (and pain) of the newest addition to our family! (Click to enlarge)

(Props to my bro T-Boar for the birth announcement idea.)

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18 Hours, $150 bucks, and 0 Kids. Fun? Hardly.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tell me if our day last Friday doesn't sound like a surprise romantic getaway for the Normal Mormon Wife dreamed up by her thoughtful, fun-loving husband:

-I take the day off work without the NMW knowing anything about my plans beforehand.
-Our three children are cared for by friends for most of the day, giving us sweet privacy.
-We spend $150 in less than 12 hours.
-Our adventure begins at 7:30 a.m. and lasts until 3:00 a.m. the following day (Saturday).
-Heavy, heavy hallucinogenic drugs were freely administered throughout the day.

Well, folks, our day last Friday proceeded exactly in that manner. But not only was our day a complete surprise to the NMW, it was a surprise to me as well. And instead of heading out for some ditch-the-kids-for-the-day retreat, the NMW and I spent most of the day in the Emergency Room as I was diagnosed with a kidney stone. The kidney stone's name is Lenny.

Lenny is a jerk and I hate him.

I woke up on Friday morning with a sharp pain in my right abdominal region and I just chalked it up to the usual stuff - a cramp, Taco Bell related gas, the fact that our house was built on a Native American cemetery, etc. - and tried to get ready for work. But the pain increased to the point that I had the NMW take me to my doctor at 9:00 a.m. My doctor found a lot of blood in my urine and referred me to the ER for additional testing.

I thanked my doctor and proceeded to vomit in his trash can.

We managed to drop off our kids with a friend (you know who you are, you little lifesaver you - thank you!) and we went to America's Funnest Spot - The ER! Here is how the rest of our day unfolded:

10:00 a.m. - Arrive at E.R. and pay $50 copay. No sign of George Clooney or Anthony Edwards. We're off to a good start.

10:45 a.m. - I have been admitted and now look and sound like a woman in labor. I am wearing a hospital gown and groaning in pain while the NMW strokes my hair like a doulah and says, "Remember to keep breathing..." They say the closest a man can get to childbirth is passing a kidney stone. Out of respect for my sweet wife, we will have no more children.

10:54 a.m. - The nurse hooks me up to an IV with pain meds. The drug immediately burns through my body like a big gulp of Stephen's Gourmet Hot Chocolate on a cold December day, easing my pain for the first time in four hours.

10:57 a.m. - I groggily ask the NMW with a smile, "What's the name of THAT drug?", referring to what is in the IV. The NMW is now afraid I will end up on an episode of A&E's Intervention.

11:15 a.m. - The pain meds are making me hallucinate. I ask the NMW if I am holding keys in my hand (I'm not) because I can feel keys in my hand. I ask her if I'm wearing shoes (I am) because I can't feel them on my feet. I start laughing and tell the NMW I just saw the star of My Name Is Earl's drivers license and he has a huge afro in his photo. Lastly, I tell her that I thought I was in our front yard watching the kids throw cherries at the house for several minutes before I thought they should stop. Who needs TV when you have narcotics?

12:50 p.m. - The ER doctor tells me I have a 4 mm kidney stone, writes me several hundred prescriptions, then discharges me. As we leave the hospital I thank the staff for their excellent care by throwing up in their bathroom. (I've always been terrible with good-byes.)

1:30 p.m. - We are now back at home where I can repeatedly vomit in the privacy of my own bathroom.

2:42 p.m. - The NMW realizes the refrigerator is not working. She immediately calls a serviceman to come look at it before the weekend kicks in.

3:15 p.m. - Our neighbor tells the NMW that water is leaking from our property onto his, most likely from a leak in our sprinkler system.

4:08 p.m. - The NMW withdraws $2,970 from savings and flees for Mexico. (I mean, can you blame her at this point? Maybe it was a bad idea to build our house on that Native American cemetary after all.)

7:00 p.m. - After vomiting the entire day, we call the ER and they tell me I need to come back for another IV, anti-nausea medication, and more pain meds (yipeeee!). Another wonderful friend agrees to hang out at our house until we return, which ends up being six hours later.

7:20 p.m. - Another $50 copay.

7:30 p.m. - There are about twelve depressed people in the ER waiting room as Two And A Half Men airs on TV. I have never seen more than two seconds of this inane show and it immediately gets on my nerves. The NMW and I play a game called, "How long can pass without the laugh track?" The record? Twelve seconds. I think an actual script of that show reads as follows:

Dude 1: "Good morning." (queue laugh track)
Dude 2: "And good day to you, sir." (queue extreme laugh track)
Boy: "Sir? More like sirloin!" (queue outrageous laugh track for seven straight minutes)

Yes, I wrote that myself. If my HR career doesn't work out maybe I can write a sitcom. Sitcom? More like sit-bomb! (queue laugh track).

7:48 p.m. - The NMW tells me the ER waiting room "Smells like Otto's jacket." This is a code word we swiped from The Simpsons to say it smells like marijuana. Not only does it smell like Otto's jacket in here, but his socks and underwear are probably in here too.

8:02 p.m. - WWE Friday Night Smack Down is now on TV. Nothing takes your mind off of your pain like watching steroid-fueled wrestlers whack one another over the head with metal chairs as the announcer yells, "OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!" I'm pretty sure this IS the Telestial Kingdom.

9:11 p.m. - Still in the waiting room and the NMW is hungry. She uses twelve dimes to buy a Rice Krispy Treat from the vending machine in the waiting room, but the machine has problems accepting dimes. She has to push them in real hard or else the get spit back out, like a George Brett wad of tobacco circa 1982. It takes her about thirty tries to finally get her snack. Every person in the ER gets a kick out of the display, especially the guy who smells like Otto's jacket.

10:35 p.m. - Finally get admitted.

11:34 p.m. - Finally get my IV. But this is a really, really bad omen. 11:34 is the worst time of the day because it's hexed. Or at least the NMW and I think 11:34 is hexed. If you turn a digital clock upside down at 11:34 is spells "H-E-Double Hockey Sticks" so we try to avoid 11:34 at all costs. With my luck they probably accidentally gave me IV's consisting of barbecue sauce, Elmer's glue and Clorox. But I've heard hospitals are not legally liable for weird things that happen at 11:34, what with it being hexed and all.

1:50 a.m. - Discharged with several dozen more prescriptions.

2:15 a.m. - Stop at 24-hr pharmacy to get prescriptions filled. Oh, and to also watch crack deals transpire down the street.

3:00 a.m. - Get home, thank babysitter, perform a voodoo doll ritual on Lenny (the kidney stone) and go to bed.

Well, five days later and I still haven't met Lenny. He's just hiding out in my ureters, bungee jumping and whatnot. I can't wait to meet this guy. I bet our encounter will go something like this:

Me: "So, Lenny, it's...uh...nice to finally meet you." (queue mild laugh track)

Lenny: "Same here. Thanks for letting me crash at your place the last few days." (queue regular laugh track)

Me: "Lenny, I hope you like knock-knock jokes 'cuz I've got one for you. Knock knock." (queue uproarious laugh track)

Lenny: "Who's there?"

Me: "Urine." (queue extreme laugh track)

Lenny: "Urine who?"

Me: "Urine big trouble now, bucko!" (queue laugh track where they guy's head literally exploded he was laughing so hard)

***Fade to black***

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The Joys of Child Abandoment & Covetousness

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nothing strengthens a marriage like abandoning your children and coveting the possessions of multi-millionaires. While this claim might not be completely in harmony with the church’s official position on child abandonment (don’t do it) or coveting (ditto), this is exactly what the NMW and I did to celebrate our 12th Anniversary.

My totally awesome Normal Mormon Mother-in-Law visited us in NC from Utah and agreed to watch the kids for two nights, thus allowing the NMW and me to have a little getaway. We decided to make the 3-hour drive to Asheville, North Carolina, to visit the Biltmore House and stay in a cozy Bed & Breakfast. Asheville is located smack dab in the green, picturesque Smokey Mountains and is the undisputed hippest, coolest, trendiest city in North Carolina. For you westerners, think of Asheville as Utah’s equivalent of Park City, Arizona’s answer to Sedona, or Wyoming’s version of Old Man Cooper’s Dairy Farm.

Asheville is the home of The Biltmore House, which is known as America's Largest Home. It was constructed by George Vanderbilt in 1895 and contains 250 rooms, 43 bathrooms, a 7-story dining room, and original Renoir artwork. I think Batman lives in the basement as well. George Vanderbilt was made obscenely wealthy either as an industrial tycoon or a crack dealer (I’m too lazy to Google the answer), but he somehow managed to build a ginormous house. As part of our getaway we toured the Biltmore and thought you might enjoy reading how our day unfolded:

9:28 a.m. – Have breakfast at the most upscale McDonald’s I have ever seen, a fitting testament to Asheville’s trendy vibe. The exterior looks like an Alpine chalet. The interior d├ęcor features Roman-styled columns, a self-playing baby grand piano, and classy floor tile. This McDonald’s is so classy I bet the Playland slide doesn’t even smell like 3-day old toddler urine.

9:47 a.m. – As we walk back to our car, the NMW asks me if there are any homeless people in a place as nice as Asheville. After thinking about it, I conclude Asheville does, in fact, have homeless people. They are called “middle class.”

10:12 a.m. – We enter the Biltmore and park in section C-3. I tell myself to just think of the Star Wars robot C3-PO to remember where we parked. We will either end up back here, or completely lost in section R-2.

10:21 a.m. – The shuttle arrives to take us to the Biltmore House. As I lug my 6’6” body on to the shuttle I nail my head against the roof of the bus, which is about 6’4”. To my complete delight, the Biltmore shuttles have comfortably padded roofs! Those of us who are freakishly tall hit our heads quite regularly, which explains why our short-term memories are worse than Dori from Finding Nemo. I’m just glad the Biltmore had the courtesy to pad…their…ummm…uhhhhhh….what was I talking about again? Sorry, I lose track some times. Oh, yeah, I was talking about Finding Nemo! Right?

10:23 a.m. – The guy sitting in front of me on the shuttle is slathering on some sort extremely pungent lotion and/or biological weapon that is burning my eyes, nose, lungs, and every other sensitive bodily orifice. My head feels as though I touched my tongue to a 9-volt battery and deeply inhaled the scent of a nappy-headed European backpacker.

10:27 a.m. – Step off the shuttle and am amazed at the size, majesty, and elegance of the Biltmore House. But then again, the NMW and I rented small college student apartments for six years, including one that I’m pretty sure was actually a retrofitted Tuff Shed, so I’m easily impressed.

10:31 a.m. – We have entered the Biltmore House and the main dining hall is an obscenely ridiculous seven stories high. No wonder they pad the roofs of the shuttles – George Vanderbilt must have been forty feet tall!

10:40 a.m. – Unimpressed by the “Breakfast Room.” Heck, even I have my own breakfast room. It’s called the driver’s seat of a 2002 Honda Accord, people!

10:52 a.m. – I realized why John Mayer is so famous – he sold his soul to Lucifer in the late eighteen hundreds in order to become a rock star in the 2000’s. This 110-year-old gargoyle was commissioned by Satan himself to commemorate the moment when he took John Mayer’s eternal soul. Look closely, this IS John Mayer.
10:55 a.m. – The Biltmore Library is slightly more impressive than the stack of random old newspapers I have by the side of my toilet. In the corner of the Library there is a statue of an early Christian saint. The saint has his index finger raised to his lips, as if shushing people as they come through the room. I lean over to the NMW and say, “Hey, get a load of Saint Shushie – patron saint of Shushiness.” The volume of the NMW’s laughter will definitely incur the wrath of Saint Shushie throughout the rest of eternity.

11:23 a.m. – So much for George Vanderbilt being forty feet tall. He and his wife slept in separate bedrooms and their beds were about four feet long by three feet wide, or roughly the size of Nell Carter. The NMW says, “I can’t believe they ever had any kids, sleeping in separate rooms on those tiny beds…” But then again, the two of us are a combined 12’3” and are touring this summer with Captain Rickey’s Carnival of Freaks. (Look for us in Pocatello on August 18th!)

11:55 a.m. – We are shown a huge double door that is used for transporting all oversized cargo and materials into the house, including Michael Moore during his 2007 visit.

12:20 p.m. – We enter the Bachelor’s Wing where gentlemen from an earlier era used to retire for cigars and brandy at the end of a long day of hunting, gallivanting, tomfoolery and general shenanigans. A sign hung in 1902 stating, “NO CHICKS ALLOWED!” remains displayed in the hall. I can’t tell the NMW exactly what we men did in the Bachelor’s Wing, but it involved shotguns, endangered species, and extremely tasty jerky. Also, we can no longer register under our real names at the Bed & Breakfast.

1:21 p.m. – Our tour of the actual Biltmore House is over, so we head toward the gardens. We begin walking through an area called the “Shrub Gardens.” After about six seconds we realize that shrubs are totally boring and leave. (Sorry to all of you shrub lovers out there, but it’s true. Shrubs are totally, totally lame.)

2:06 p.m. – On the advice of a friend who recently visited Biltmore and was struck with the number of British tourists she encountered, the NMW and I begin speaking with British accents. My new name is Sir Bertram Van Munster of Newlincolntonshire. The NMW changes her name to Cat Deely. We keep the British accents up for nearly an hour, constantly afraid that a true Brit is going to overhear us and out us as the frauds we are. I think our straight, white, healthy teeth will give away our non-Britishness before our terrible accents will, though.

3:09 p.m. – Head to the Biltmore Farm. I know drug use is a problem in this country, but take a look at this obvious pot head!
3:11 p.m. – As I look at the beautiful, fruitful garden on Biltmore Farm, I tell the NMW I want a garden like this one day. Mark my words – our next house will have an acre of land and 2-3 dinners per week will consist largely of what we harvested from our own crops. Now do Choc-o-Diles grow in plants or on trees?

3:31 p.m. – We are watching a live butter making demonstration and the farm worker says, “Everybody knows fat floats to the top of the milk.” The phrase “Fat Floats” makes me giggle. I think “Fat Floats” would be the perfect title to the sequel to the 1998 Sandra Bullock movie “Hope Floats.” In “Fat Floats” Sandra Bullock has lost all hope, gained 186 pounds, and taken up swimming.

We ended up finishing the day with dinner at a Japanese restaurant, playing pool at our B&B, and watching the movie “New In Town” on my laptop. (Nothing says “relaxing getaway” to an HR Manager like watching a movie about shutting down a small-town manufacturing plant. I could have written that screenplay in my sleep…) NMW, I love you. Thank you for the twelve best years of my life. You make me smile. You strengthen my testimony. You give me confidence. You make life fun. You make me laugh.

Just tone it down around Saint Sushie next time, will ya?

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