Saturday, January 29, 2011

Wait, this is a competition? Oh, of course it is! I knew that!

I must confess. I'm Twittertarded.*

Being horrible at Twitter is fine for most people--I mean, who the crap cares what random people think in random 30 character snippets or whatever, right? But for someone who's trying to break into the world of writing, not being able to Twitterfy effectively is a serious handicap.

Take, for example, this last week.

Last week when I got on Twitter, I saw that my writer friend Paul Joseph and some other people were doing this awesome game that I thought was really fun.  They were writing six word stories!

Have you ever heard of Hemingway's six word story? If not, I'll explain it to you really quick. It's his attempt at communicating a full story in as few words as possible.  His is famous for packing a ton of meaning into just six words, leaving you with a haunting intuitive knowledge of something that has happened. His famous six word story is:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

*sad face*

Or perhaps I should say:

;-(

Except it's more effective without the semi-colon which looks like a wink.

:-(

There. I'm not the best at emoticons, either.

Anyway, when I saw other people doing their own six word stories on Twitter about a week ago I got really excited and was like "That's awesome!" and I decided to join right in and came up with some because I am the nerdiest person on this planet I am a huge fan of intellectual challenges involving language.

Soon, to my utter embarrassment and shame I realized that people were doing this because it was a contest and not because the world was filled, suddenly, with people like me who view this kind of thing as a fun game with no extrinsic reward. Haha. ha. ha.... ha? Yeah, I'm a freak.

 These people must be having the time of their lives! *hyperventilates*

Anyway, I immediately deleted all of my original tweets and submitted them with the proper link and hashtag, (#6wordstory)  so that I could be like "Yeah, I totally realized this was a contest all along and was so entirely not just doing it for the fun of it..."

I'm sure everyone believed me.

I then continued for like two hours in my Orgy of Nerdiness coming up with fun six word stories which all ended up being graphic and demented.

Cut to last night when I'm on Twitter trying to Tweet like a regular, good, technologically savvy twitter person when I noticed that my username (@the_weed) had been mentioned A LOT for a couple of days. This is something that a person who is good at Twitter would have noticed immediately. Not days later.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that, you know that six word story contest I had entered just to not look stupid? Well, I accidentally became a finalist totally dominated just like I knew I would because why would anybody ever write a bunch of six word stories unless they were doing it to try and win a prize. Duh!

But wanna know the weirdest part? The six word story that got chosen as a finalist was perhaps the stupidest, lamest, least offensive and disgusting one I wrote. (Wait, maybe there's a clue in there somewhere?)

Here it is: "He's still breathing. Get the axe."

Quite a humdinger, no!? Sure wish I didn't suck at Twitter so I could have rallied my twittertroops to vote for that one. And because I didn't, it's losing by quite a margin.

(DON'T TELL ME IT'S LOSING BECAUSE IT SUCKS BECAUSE THAT'S RUDE.)

You want to see the rest of the ones I wrote, don't you? I knew it. I'm really good at projecting my own desires and wishes on others, I MEAN, knowing what people want deep down.

All right, here are the other ones. Enjoy! And don't judge me! 

"I'm a necrophiliac," admitted the mortician.

"You ate it? That wasn't yogurt."

"I had blood in my stool." <----- True story. (Was that TMI?) 

"I have news. The condom broke."

John molests children. His girlfriend's pregnant.

Or, my personal favorite: 

"What sweetener did you use?" "Antifreeze."

Is anybody surprised I'm not winning when true genius such as this was left in the trash bin??? More importantly, is anybody NOT questioning my mental stability knowing that, when given six words to tell a story, THIS is what comes out of me?

I think not.

If you'd like to vote, here's the link. But honestly, please vote for mine! the one you like the best. I don't like it when I lose contests stuff like this becomes a popularity contest. (See next paragraph before you vote.)

Update: Do not vote for me.  Since I'm so far behind anyway, I'm thinking, why not go down in a blaze of ignominy? Instead, I think you should vote for Paul Joseph, number five on the list (@ImPaulJoseph), mainly because he really wants the prize and entered the contest specifically to try to win it, and is in a close second place. Also, I only "knew" about the competition because I saw him doing it. So, click here to vote for Paul Joseph. Let's make him a winner!

Also: Is this unethical? I'm not so good at ethics either. So far, the list of things I suck at as oultined in this post is: Twitter, emoticons, and ethics. Oh, and not being a complete nerd.

Also:  I would like to propose two things. 1. Will you please play Facebook Scrabble with me? and 2. How's about, if you think it's fun or whatever, you write a six word story in the comments. Only if you want to though. ALERT: THIS IS NOT A CONTEST. THIS IS JUST FOR "FUN." Non-six-word-story comments are also acceptable. <------You know what will prove the extent of my nerdiness? When nobody does this. It will be awesome.

Have a good Saturday.

*Lest you think me a brute, in this conflation of the words "twitter" and "retarded" I refer specifically to the fact that my comprehension of the newfangled mechanisms involved in the tweeting process is, in fact, slower than a snail on THC.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Did I ever tell you about the time I got thrown in jail in Venezuela PART II-The next and final installment.

This is the post where I tell the rest of the story about when I got thrown in jail in Venezuela.

First, go here to read Part I. This second part will make a whole lot more sense.

Go on. We'll wait.

No? Okay fine, the basic recap is that at the end of my two-year LDS mission in Venezuela in which I was chased often by scary dogs but never bitten, I went to the airport filled with anticipation, ready to go home. As we were about to board the plane a bunch of fastidious airport workers determined that the four missionaries with stickers on the passports could board the plane, while the four with stamps could not.

My passport had a stamp, not a sticker.  Naturally.

So, they took us into a holding room, read us our Venezuelan "Miranda Rights" and then questioned us.

Then a guy came in, looked at us with disdain and said "And you guys dare to call yourselves Catholic" (in Spanish) which we would have found endlessly hilarious being Mormon missionaries if we weren't, at about that very moment, WATCHING THE PLANE THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO TAKE US HOME AFTER TWO YEARS OF LIVING IN SOUTH AMERICA WITHOUT SO MUCH AS A PHONE CALL HOME (except on Christmas and Mother's Day) SPEED DOWN THE RUNWAY WITHOUT US IN IT.

A small piece of my soul died right then.

But then things got worse.

First, my Mission President, who was a General in the Air Force, began calling senators and crap like that. He told them that four missionaries had been arrested on charges of who-knows-what and were detained in the airport as they tried to exit the country, and asked what could be done.The general consensus? "Shucks. I dunno. But that's awful."

We tried to keep things light. We told jokes. We talked about memories from the mission. We talked about what we'd do when we got home. The time passed quickly. Surely we would be ushered onto the next flight so we could go see our families who had been planning to meet us in the airports of our respective home-towns for weeks now and probably had the posterboard signs saying "Welcome home!" and "We missed you!" and "You don't get your room back!" ready and waiting by the front door. Surely this little mix up would be resolved soon, and we'd be eating airplane peanuts and watching the first movie we'd seen in two years on our flight home. (For those who don't know, mission rules are pretty intense. They even have a rule about sleeping arrangements: you are not allowed to sleep in the same bed as your companion. Other rules include: no movies, no TV, no girls, no phone calls home, bed at 10:30 up at 6:00 etc., etc. etc.)

It was during this type of lighthearted and hope-filled discussion that one of the Guys in Charge barged into the room and informed us that we would be imprisoned.

Like, in jail.

In a third world country.

This was actually happening.

FOR NO IDENTIFIABLE REASON OTHER THAN THAT WE HAD STAMPS ON OUR PASSPORTS!!!

That's when shiz (as they say in Mormonhood) got real.

We were handed our passports which had been stamped with FALSA repeatedly in red, and were escorted out of the airport and put in an actual, real life, paddywagon. They blared the sirens and lights like we were some regular criminals.


By this point, I was in a state of bemused amazement mixed with a bland acceptance of anything and everything that was taking place. I was hardened. (I think the clinical term for this is "in shock".) A circus of extra-terrestrial clowns riding seahorses and eating humans beings they lassoed out of cars could have paraded by the paddy wagon and I would have thought "Hm. Interesting choice of clothes, my martian friends..." The President of the United States (who at that time was George Bush) could have tapped my window and handed me a plate of scrambled eggs and I would have said, "Um, I prefer over-easy, Presidente Busho." Now that the most improbable thing that could EVER  have happened on the day I was flying home from Venezuela HAPPENED, my mind automatically set itself into a mode where any contingency would be met with cool, calm collectedness.

And it's very good that I was in that state. Because, in case you were wondering, jails in third world countries are absolutely repulsive.


So we got to the facility and were taken in to be processed. We must have been quiiite the spectacle. Four gringo missionaries in missionary garb being escorted from police vehicle to the jail. People must've been like "Hey, there goes the Los Mormones.... into the prison.... to teach inmates?  Uhh, no, they're restrained themselves and appear to be under arrest...wtf?" (wtf = what the freak in Mormonspeak. And also that rhymed.)

The subsequent events are kind of a blur to me.

I remember them making us take off anything we could hang ourselves with including our belts and shoelaces. Because I'd lost so much weight, what this meant for me was that my pants were now falling off.


Awesome.

But then, when we got to our cell, I was a little surprised to see a plastic bag fashioned into a noose hanging from the bars. Thanks for taking my belt and shoelaces, guys. Certainly wouldn't want me using those when there's a perfectly good jury-rigged noose available.

There was good reason for that jury-rigged noose. The cell we had just been corralled into was... well, words defy description of the nastiness. It was wet. Everywhere. Dark, damp, disgusting. Smelly. There was a big plastic tub filled with water in the corner, and a spigot above it dripping, drip, drip, drip. It soon dawned on us that that water was... all the water. Toilet. Bathing. Drinking. Baptizing. (Ha.)

The nastiness is hard to encapsulate.

Here. Let me try and paint the picture for you.

Think this:


Mixed with this:




With a dash of this:


And a hint of this:


Only times the disgusting factor by about four trillion.

In fact, see that last picture there? That's a luxury hotel compared to the cell we were put into. Remove the bed, remove the toilet, remove the sink, add about 78% more dank nasty darkness and stench, throw in a complete lack of unnatural light, and you start to approximate the cell we were placed in.

Bottom line: it's more disgusting than I can really portray. And I've been trying pretty hard to give an accurate picture.

Anyway, so there we sat. On newspapers. Trying to remain calm even though we had NO IDEA how long this insanity would last.

Suddenly we heard a voice. "It is the voice of God chastising the wicked, here to release us from this injustice!" we thought triumphantly and incorrectly. Turns out it was the inmate in the cell next to us. He introduced himself (I think his came was Carlos). He was really nice. He explained all about about how he had been transporting a backpack from Venezuela to the US "for a friend" and when it was checked shockingly there was cocaine in it. So he was arrested.

Do you know long he had been there?  Three months. *ominous music plays*


It was kind of cool to talk to him. We actually taught him some missionary discussions (remember this fact, it becomes important later), and he ended up being a really cool cat. An addict and a drug dealer. But cool all the same.

There was no food in this establishment. All food had to be brought in. So when the Mission President and his wife brought in some home-made goodness, we shared with Carlos and had a grand ol' time. You know, sitting back on newspapers we put all over the slimy floors having a picnic, sharing Oreos and muffins, shooting the breeze in our germ infested jail cells. What a life!

It was about this time that the guards changed, and something good actually happened. We finally met somebody sane. The new guards came in, took one look at us, and were like "what the crap is GOING ON? Why are you guys in here?"

We told them to story and they were like "Um, this is insanity."

Finally! Finally somebody was acting like a decent human being. They were rolling their eyes and shaking their heads and it was clear that they thought the whole thing was idiotic.

And do you know how lucky we were they thought that?

Very lucky. Because when night came and we were thinking we were going to have to figure out how to spoon each other in the least awkward manner possible in order to make room enough to sleep on the ground in that horrific cell, they came in, opened our the door and said "you guys aren't sleeping on the floor of this cell. You can sleep in the lobby."

Halle-freaking-lujah!!!

It wasn't the lap of luxury. No bed or whatever. It was uncomfortable and the floor was hard. But by golly there was a graffiti riddled bathroom we could use, and there were lights on and we weren't about to get drenched by sewer water or molested through the bars by Carlos.

And we slept. Not very soundly. But we slept.

The next morning was... incredibly odd. Just what do you do with yourself when you are a convict who is in jail but isn't actually in the cell because the guards broke the law by letting you and your comrades sleep in the lobby and then you wake up, stretch a little, and think "I'm in jail right now. And I have a whole day ahead of me... here in the lobby? And also, I'm supposed to be in the United States of America with my family and my dog and my hot girlfriend who is probably devastated right now. But nope? *pinches self* Definitely in jail."

The guards still hadn't changed, and they continued to be really cool. Soon, the Mission President came with delicious muffins and a bag of razor blades so we could shave (mission rules!). The guards gave us free access to the stuff. I hope I'm not the only one that thinks it's funny that at that point I had no belt, making it so my pants were nearly falling off, and I had no laces in my shoes--all for the protection of myself and others--yet I was handed bag full of razors.

The Mission President spoke to the law enforcement in order to get us out of jail--the aim was to get us home immediately. We were told that we needed to see a judge in order to not have to remain in jail. So, we were transported through the city to see a judge.

Okay, this was 2002. The internet had been in full swing for many years. Computers were a given. Yet, when we got to the governmental building where we were to see the judge, we had to actually write our names into some big ledger book as if it was 1928. It was hilarious. I felt like I was on Perry Mason.

Then we got to see the judge.


So, do you wanna know when it's really not a good idea to go platinum blond as a woman? When your ample arm hair is the color of coal. This is a lesson our "judge" who looked as though she had recently had the honor of graduating from high school had not yet learned. She was nice enough, seemed somewhat sympathetic to our plight, yet the best she could give us is that we didn't have to stay in jail but, for no identifiable reason, we were required, by law, to stay in the country.

So, let me ask you a question. If you were a country, and you had people inside of you that weren't supposed to be there, what would you do with them? Would you keep them there? Like, let's say your body was a country, and its borders didn't tolerate copper pennies? What would you do if a copper penny sneaked inside of you illegally? Would you throw it in jail and then make it stay inside of you for no identifiable reason? NO! No you would not! You'd CRAP IT OUT. You'd jettison it. You'd get it out of you. You'd poop until you heard the sweet sound of copper hitting porcelain. That's what you'd do.

Venezuela didn't understand this scientific concept very well.

Instead of deporting us--alleged trespassers on their soil--they said "We really want to let you go. But you are United States Citizens, and arresting one of you for reasons of visa and passport has never happened in our country's history, therefore, let's have you hang around here for no reason. Indefinitely. Until we *mumble mumble mumble*"

Wait, until you WHAT, Venezuela?

"Until we.... uh, straighten things out legally."

Right. Okay Venezuela. Whatever. We will comply.

So, we lived with some other missionaries while we waited it out, and tried to work, but there was really nothing for us to legitimately do. After all, we were going to be going any minute. ANY MINUTE we would get that call saying "Pack up those bags, boys. You's goin' HOME." But then, a day or two turned into a few days. And a few days turned into a week. Our families were freaking out. We were freaking out. I know Wife was FREAKING OUT and was about ready to fly down to Venezuela on a plane and personally escort me out of the country. I had no idea what life meant at this point. I had finished my mission and was supposed to be home. Yet I wasn't home. And I wasn't really on a mission.

I was in no-man's land.

Then a really excruciating day happened. We got the call. "Pack those bags, boys! You's goin' home!" We were so freaking excited! We got those bags packed up, and we got taken to the airport again. And we sat on the multicolored, weird carpet and watched planes take off headed to the United States of America all day long and dreamed of our families and our girlfriends. And then it got to be night time, and we still hadn't been let on a plane. And there was no explanation, and no logic, and nobody taking responsibility for what was happening. But as the sun was setting, so too set our hopes of getting of this island. (IT WAS KIND OF LIKE WE WERE ON LOST!!! EXCEPT WITHOUT A SMOKE MONSTER!)

But yeah. That's right.

They didn't let us leave AGAIN.

Going back to the missionary apartment that night caused this pit the stomach. This gnawing comprehension that things had been so downright insane the possibility of having to go back to jail again because Venezuela is acting crazy was not out of the realm of possibility.

That night was rough.

It was after that day that the two buffoon Venezuelan lawyers that were "representing us" mentioned that they might be able to get things rolling for us in a few months.

Months.

Might.

Might be able to in months.

As you could imagine, there was a lot of praying that happened in our missionary apartment around this time.

Oh! And I have to tell you how we became an urban legend and a faith promoting rumor!

So, in LDS culture, there is sometimes this phenomenon. It's this thing where where totally false stories are perpetuated in meetings. And it happens because very well-intentioned people who want to inspire others have heard a rumor. And they get tears in their eyes and a twinkle, and earnestly share the rumor with a group of people. And then it turns out that, while based in truth, this rumor was complete and utter balderdash. And now thousands of people are believing a lie. That's what we call a faith promoting rumor. It's kind of like a really inaccurate email forward.

Anyway, we became a faith-promoting rumor.

During the time all of this happened, my dad was teaching a religion course at the Institute of Religion (based at Portland State University) and during one of his classes--probably about good things coming from adversity or something--a woman who was visiting from out of town raised her hand and with the sincerity of a nun said "I don't know if you all have heard, but there are some missionaries that have been thrown in jail down in Venezuela. They were locked up for no good reason and aren't being let go, but..." (dramatic pause) "amazing things are happening. They are sharing The Gospel, even in the prison! And hundreds, maybe thousands of people are being baptized!"

*record screeches to a stop*

My dad was like, "um, I actually know one of the missionaries you are talking about. He's my son, whom I've recently spoken to on the phone. It's true--he and several other missionaries were in jail. For one night. And it is true that while in jail they shared some of the missionary discussions. With one drug-addicted convict named Carlos who was probably much more interested in the Mission President's wife's homemade muffins than the chat they were having.  And so, yeah, your numbers might be a teeeeeensy bit off."

I've never been more proud of a made up story about me that spread through hundreds and maybe thousands of people.

Anyway, guys, it's sooo late. I'm really tired. But I want to wrap this up well.

Here's the rest of the story.

After another week, we realized that the buffoon Venezuelan lawyers were completely and totally useless. So the LDS church ended up having to send one of its bigwig lawyers (the one over all of South America) to REGULATE. And by golly, that man was effective. He took us out to a fancy dinner, and gave us all ties, and he wreaked havoc on the legal system.

Days still continued to pass though. Each day, there was the hope that we'd get the call, and that it would be the day we'd go. And each day passed with nothing.

Plans were forged. At one point the idea of us hopping aboard a bus and and driving into Columbia to take a flight from Bogota, passing through dangerous guerrilla zones, was seriously considered. But all the plans were rejected. We just waited.

When nearly a month had passed, on March 7, 2002, we were told to pack our bags again. We were ensured that this time, we would not be left standing awkwardly in the airport. Because this time, a high up Venezuelan official, who I think might have been their Secretary of Defense but I'm not sure on that, thought we should be able to go home and was going to personally escort all of us onto the plane.

So, we went. We wore civilian clothes so as to not draw attention to ourselves. And we hoped for the best. We hoped and prayed we'd be able to get on the plane and go home.

And then, as simple as that, the nightmare ended. He did in fact escort us onto the plane. And we did in fact board the plane, sit in seats, and fly into the sky. And I did, in fact, enjoy the first TV show I'd seen in years. It was Everybody Loves Raymond.

When my feet touched US soil, I was genuinely tempted to kiss the ground. Then, I nearly missed my connection in Dallas. BUT I DID NOT.

And finally, I had my moment. After the 8 hour flight, I got off the plane, walked towards my family, and could see that look in their faces. That look that said "Where is my 300 pound child/brother? And why are you, skinny guy, looking at us with such an awkward I-haven't-seen-you-in-two-years expression?" And then, they realized that I was ME, and we all embraced wildly. And they took me home. And I told lots of stories and made them listen to Shakira and gave them gifts and ate real food again and sat in our house looking at a porcelain cup and thinking "Wow, our life is so abundant it's almost sickening."
And then the next day, I reunited with Pre-Wife.

Was I worth the wait? Still to be determined, says Wife.


And we were engaged to be married seven days later.


Not sure if my smile could GET any wider.


I love this picture because it's totally candid and completely captures how we felt in that moment.

But that's another story for another time....

Oh, and PS, it was not long after this (and some Chavez related riots and other things) that all North American missionaries were removed from Venezuela. They haven't returned to this day.

Oh, and PPS, a couple of weeks later, I got a call from the mission president saying "One of the other Elders that was imprisoned just found out he has tuberculosis, which probably happened in jail. Get tested."

I never got tested. And I'll gladly shake your hand.

Just kidding. I got tested. And I was disease free. But that's still early 20th century WILD that he contracted TB while in that jail cell.

It is late. Good night, friends.

Photo attribution here and here and here and here

Friday, January 21, 2011

And the winner is.... (Plus a photo of me when I was really, really fat!) UPDATED WITH SECOND WINNER

Well, I've tallied up all the votes and it's now time to reveal the lucky winner of one (1) complimentary $25.00 gift card to The Cheesecake Factory and one (1) complimentary vibrator called The Little Thumper.

Clarification: WIFE tallied up all the votes while I worked on the second part of the Venezuela story which I wasn't able to finish because I've developed a nasty case of ADHD cold. Sorry about that. BUT, to assuage your grief, I do have a surprise at the end of this post. That way, even if you're a non-winner you still win something.

And that something is the chance to see what my face looks like shrouded in excess fat.

That's right! we found some pictures of The Weed pre-Venezuela! And they do not disappoint. (To the contrary, I don't even comprehend how the self-preserving part of my psyche is allowing me to post this on the internet. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it's 2:21 in the morning?)

I think I'll only share one tonight. Kind of like an appetizer. You know, something delicious to keep you coming back for more. Because there's nothing more delicious than an obese man's neck-rolls. Mmmmm.

Lucky you! 

Anyway. Down to business. So, the winner is:

*drumroll*

*more drumroll*

*hopefully enough drumroll that you have to actually scroll down to the see the winner, thus adding to the suspense*

*and*

*a*

*few*

*more*

*drumrolls*

*for*

*good*

*measure*

*Is this obnoxious?*

*Let's face it, if you entered, the very first freaking thing you did when you got here was scroll down to the bottom to see if you were the winner*

*Was it you?*

Only if your name happens to be:

Paul Joseph (who blogs at pauljosephwrites.blogspot.com)!!!

Congrats, man!

Paul Joseph is a writer buddy of mine and a really cool dude--I don't think the prize could go to a better guy.

So, P.J., drop me an email with your address and I'll send you the gift card along with your friend and mine, The Little Thumper (unless you decide to reject the latter in which case another randomized drawing will be held.)

And to everyone else, so sorry I couldn't give the prize out to all of you. No kidding. You all are awesome.

Here was the data on the drawing. Total entries? 230. Number chosen by a random generator? 189. Program used for number generation? randomizer.org. Amount of money Paul Joseph paid me to win this contest? $100. (Coughs loudly) Excuse me. As mentioned, I have a cold.

And now, the other moment you've been waiting for.

The Consolation Prize of Consolation Prizes:

The Weed, circa 1999/2000, circa 300lbs--


 There. Are. No. Words.
(Also, that date is wrong.)
Updated: Wife says the date is correct. Jabba the Hut wishes you a happy Y2K!!!!!!!

Good night, everyone.

UPDATE: Paul Joseph says "Since there seem to be a number of disappointed women regarding the Little Thumper, I will be a gentlemen and pass that little guy on to someone else.  I'd love our friend to find a home where he can be cared for appropriately.  Wow, did that just come out of me?  Hmm...." 

Yes, Paul Joseph. Yes it did. And it made me laugh.

So, time for drawing number two. *presses enter on the randomizer* This time the prize goes to #58 who *checks list* is Kimmel Tippets! Congratulations Kimmel!

Both prizes will be sent out post haste. Congrats to both winners, and thanks to all who entered.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Did I ever tell you about the time I got thrown in jail in Venezuela?

No?

Well, shame on me. It's an important story.

Once upon a time I went to live for two years in South America as a Mormon missionary during which time I lost almost 100lbs, talked to people in a form of pig-Latin I have since come to understand is "Spanish," and got chased by a lot, and I mean a lot of mangy, nasty rabies-infected dogs who had lost their hair.

 Terrifying.

I never got bit, either. Because I'm pretty brave. And also because I learned early that if you get up in the dog's face and start shouting louder than it is barking, and then shove your scripture case thing in its face like it's gonna get hurt, they usually run away. And if they don't, you don't have to worry. You're a missionary. God will protect you. Except when He doesn't. (Originally this linked to the news story of a missionary who died a horrific death, but the board of directors (i.e. Wife and her sister) both said "NO. Too brutal." So instead you get a story about a snowball fight.) But, thankfully I was spared and was never bitten by a dog. Or killed by the several guns I saw pulled.

At the end of these two years, I was exhausted. I was ready to go home and see my family and marry the beautiful Pre-Wife who had just finished a "Spanish" speaking mission of her own in Florida.

So, the fateful day arrived. I packed my bags, said good-bye to good friends and to a people and country I loved, and was driven to the airport with the Mission President who, before this, also happened to be a Three Star General in the Airforce. I mention this because it's kind of relevant. But only kind of.

I was excited. The airport was tiny and uncomfortable but I didn't care. I could see the plane. I could feel the cool Oregon air on my skin. I could smell the scent my Mom's fake "I don't cook" cooking in my nostrils. I could already see the looks of surprise on my family's faces when they saw me looking 100lbs. lighter than when I'd left. I could already feel the warm embrace of Pre-Wife as we held each other for the first time in two years. This was HAPPENING. I was DONE. Yaaaaay!!

And about that moment in my thought process was when some fastidious airport worker asked to see our passports again. For no reason.

Sure, Airport Security Person, we said (there were eight of us leaving).  Go ahead. And so the fastidious airport worker took our passports and went and talked to a bunch of other fastidious people who were feeling a bit Anti-USA, and things started getting dramatic, and I suddenly felt like I was in a Hispanic Telenovela entitled "Maldrones De Los Estados" which roughly translated is "THIS IS GETTING RIDICULOUS GIVE ME BACK MY PASSPORT SO I CAN FLY HOME AND MAKE OUT WITH PRE-WIFE." When he came back he was like (in Spanish) "The four of you who have stickers on your passports are free to board the plane. Those of you with stamps, come with me."

And then we got taken to isolation. Where we were questioned about nothing. For hours.

And we were read our Miranda Rights, or whatever the equivalent to that is in Venezuela, but which I'm pretty sure they copied off of Law and Order and then translated.

I'm really tired and need to go to bed so this is a perfect time for a CLIFFHANGER!!! In the next installment of this story, you'll hear about how I became an urban legend and a faith promoting rumor! Also, I ride in a paddy-wagon. And hopefully I finally stumble upon the box that has my mission pictures and you can see my impression of weighing as much as Jabba the Hut.

Nice to meet you. My name is The Weed before Venezuela


Wait, before the cliffhanger, I want to tell you one of my favorite parts. When we were sitting there being questioned, one of the airport workers came in and in the most self-righteous, disparaging tone ever wagged his finger at us and said "Y ustedes se atreven a llamarse Catolicos" which means "And you dare to call yourselves Catholics."

Not so much. 

Oh, also if you haven't entered my contest to win a gift certificate to The Cheesecake Factory and a vibrator called The Little Thumper (you know--to say thanks for reading), click here.

Okay now the cliffhanger music: DUM DUM DUUUUUUM

UPDATE: Itching for part II?  Click here.
Photo attribution here and here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thoughts on childbirth (Take 2)

Disclaimer: if you are a woman who has ever contemplated giving birth, or who might contemplate giving birth in the future, or who has ever even remotely thought that maybe someday, at some point she MIGHT like to birth a child, or who knows for certain that she does not want children but still harbors a 1% chance of wanting to give birth before she dies READ THIS POST AT YOUR OWN RISK BECAUSE I GET ALL KINDS OF REAL UP IN HERE. <--caveat posted at the recommendation of Wife

You have been warned.
 
I feel the need to clarify my actual thoughts on this topic since my satire wasn't obvious enough in this post. I will do so through a sequence of scenarios.



Scenario 1:

Two people are in a sterile hospital room. Both of them feel tense. One of them feels tense because he just rushed in from a meeting. His child is about to be born. He feels nervous, unsettled and a little bit excited. He doesn't know what to expect, and he feels anxiety and hopes all will go well. The other feels tense because she has an IV pumping fluids into her arm, a heart monitor on her self and up inside her junk attached to the human being living there, and has a constant barrage of nurses, doctors and other people messing around with the most sensitive part of her body in preparation for a human being to come out of her vagina if she's lucky enough not to need to have it ripped out of her through an incision to her stomach muscles that will leave her unable to move without pain for weeks.

Which one of these two individuals deserves the remote control to the bed/TV?

Scenario 2:

Two people are in a room. One of them has to stand and give somebody moral support. The other has her feet in stirrups and has to deal with the terror that is coursing through her at that thought that her body is about to be racked with unspeakable pain by yet another contraction of her uterus as it is wrenched open to allow her to push a human being out of her vagina.. This pain happens every several minutes, and is so intense it makes her scream in agony, throw up, and weep.


Which one of these people deserves to be lying down in a bed?

Scenario 3:

Two people are in a room. One of them had to hold his wife's hand for several hours and whisper supportive words. The other one had the most sensitive skin on her body ripped to shreds as a human head and shoulders wormed its way through an orifice normally the size of a quarter, and then had this skin sewn back together with (women, don't look if you don't want to be horrified. I'm not joking) this while using a local anesthetic.

Which of these people deserves to look at a menu, point to some food in exhaustion, and have it brought to her without having to pay for it?

Scenario 4: 

Two people are in a room. One of them is bleeding blood clots the size of plums into an adult diaper while she tries to get a 3-hour-old baby to effectively suck liquid out of her nipple so that it doesn't die. The other is napping lazily on the couch in the room, congratulating himself on a job well done.

Which of these people deserves coddling?

Something to think about...

PS--as Wife was proofreading this post for me (and giving it her hearty stamp of approval as a woman) we had the following short exchange:

Wife: Hey, you have a typo here.

Me: What is it?

Wife: You have two periods after this vagina

Me: (confused) Wait... oh, you mean the typographical period. Gotcha.

And not joking, just this second as she read the Post Script

Wife: You need a colon. And also you need a period after that vagina. (I've left period typos so you can see which vaginae (I had no IDEA vaginae wasn't vaginas--thank you spell check) the periods came from. Bah!)


Oh, and have you entered the contest to win a $25 gift card to The Cheesecake Factory and a vibrator? Because, nothing says "Thanks for reading my blog" like a vibrator...

The Little Thumper greets you.


As does the gift card. They both crave to be yours.

Click here to enter.

Bye now.

Friday, January 14, 2011

100 Follower Giveaway!!! TWO AMAZING PRIZES!

Wife has been waiting weeks for this day. She said she wanted to be the 100th follower on my blog, so the last couple of days I've been carefully watching and waiting for that magical moment when there were 99 followers, and I could call her and say "Wife, get on the computer right now or you'll miss it" in an overly annoyed demand.

And today was that day! Hooray!!!

I've been thinking long and hard about what I wanted to do to celebrate this milestone. Tradition is that a blogger does some kind of giveaway. But I wanted mine to be special. I wanted mine to be unique.

And there is only one way.

You know what it is... I know you do.

Yes. Yes this is actually happening.

For my 100 Follwer giveaway, I'm giving away The Little Thumper. I would never in a trillion years have ever guessed that I would one day write a blog that got 100 followers and that to celebrate that achievement I would put a vibrator in the mail and send it to somebody. Yet, here I am, in a picture, holding a vibrator, and here I am in text saying the words "if you comment on this post, you very well might win this blue vibrator called the Little Thumper."

Awesome.


I'm gonna miss you, Little Thumper. You were a good friend. And I mean that in the I've-never-opened-you sense.

To sweeten the deal, I'll also throw in this:*


A $25.00 Cheescake Factory Gift Card
(If you win and don't live near a Cheescake factory, equivalent arrangements will be made.)

Will I do a point system?

You betcha!

To enter the contest, you must leave a comment on this post. Each additional point counts as another entry.

1 point for commenting on this post
1 point for being a follower of The Weed (2 if you were one of the original 101 here before I posted this.)
2 points for tweeting or facebooking about this giveaway
2 points for announcing it on your blog
1 point for mentioning the The Little Thumper in your tweet, blog post, or facebook--because that's just hilarious.
1 point for being awesome, which you--yes, you, with the nose--are. Seriously, thanks for visiting and reading The Weed.

Go ahead and tell me how many points you've earned in your comment. If you posted on your blog, go ahead and throw up a link in your comment. The contest ends in one week from today (so, Thursday the 20th of January 2011 at midnight PST), at which point I'll choose wife as the winner so I get the gift card use a number genererator to randomize the winner and then announce him or her on Friday.

(*Disclaimer: entering this contest does not necessarily mean you want The Little Thumper. If you win the contest and do not want The Little Thumper, you are not required to take The Little Thumper in order to receive the gift card. Or you may decide to receive The Little Thumper and sell The Little Thumper on eBay. If you end up rejecting The Little Thumper, it will go to the next random number chosen until a home for The Little Thumper is found. I wonder how many more times I can say The Little Thumper? The Little Thumper The Littel Thumper yeah this is boring and I keep making typos so the answer was two and I'm done. Bye now.)
   

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thoughts on childbirth from somebody who's seen three of them.

Being a guy can be great.

But there are times when it's really tough.

One of those times is when your wife is in labor. Cuz, that's really hard for a guy. You have to sit there while she's writhing in pain, and you have to be really strong. You have to keep your nerves calmed and your face soldier-like and your hand needs to be made of cement so it's not ripped off. And you also have to be able to tolerate a lot of noise and screaming, which a lot of men aren't really equipped to do because deep down we're like gentle little sleeping babies ourselves, and we need to be coddled. And like my friend Paul put it after he and his wife had their first child, "I honestly don't think people realize just how tired the husband gets during labor."

We're there to coddle our wives while they go through labor. But who's there to coddle us?

Just look:

Wife looks downright peaceful in this photo, about 30 seconds after pushing Viva out.


Whereas

On that same night, I look like I might pass out. And like my eyebrows might peel off and fly away like a bird. (And yes, this is the Dahmer Bin Laden picture.)


So, I think it's pretty plain to see that we need to be a little bit more sensitive to men during the childbirth process. Women get so much--they have nurses and doctors and anesthesiologists and midwifes and doulas all there at their beck and call. They get free meals. They get a cool water bottle with a long straw to drink from whenever they get thirsty.  They get to just sit back and relax in a bed that moves up and down when you press a button, and they get to hold the remote to the TV because it's the same remote that moves the bed. They get lots of soft padding for their bum bums, and cool antiseptic creams, and a jetted tub and lots of attention.

But what do men get? 

Something to think about...

UPDATE from the comment queue: The only reason I had more children after the first one was to get the cool water bottle with long flexy straw. Anna Campbell

My point exactly.

UPDATE #2: To see my actual thoughts on the subject go here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Delicious Recipe and Some Gorgeous Photos

I'm trying to come up with something interesting to talk about here that doesn't involve me telling the story about me getting thrown in jail in Venezuela, which I wrote half of, but will have to come later when I have time to find pictures documenting my 100lb weight lost. Yeah. That extra "0" there? Not a typo.

So, for today I need something simple.

I decided to drag Wife into the process (because, let's face it, the 20 or so half-written drafts I have in my draft folder are still drafts for a reason. And that reason is that they suck). (And also, let's face it, she's brilliant, and has come up with some awesome ideas, such as Celebrity Crush, never mind the fact that she probably came up with it as easily as she did because when is Lionel Richie's freaky face not on her mind?)

She suggested I post a recipe. So, without further ado: Macaroni and Cheese.

(Fun fact: when I first typed that I doubled nearly every consonant making it maccarronni because I couldn't remember which letter there was two of. Turns out, there are no double letters at all. It's probably really good that I'm no longer an English teacher.)

All right. First, you need a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese:






Then, you need Wife there to make it for you, but you don't have a photo of that because she said "No, I don't want to pose and pretend I'm making macaroni and cheese right now because I'm busy taking care of your children while you write a blog post."

Touche, wife. But I still need you to make some for me because I'm hungry and I'm really busy "working."

*she does so, begrudgingly, for the kids*

Then, you eat it. 

It's all natural!

Mmmm, it's delicious.


Wow, that was so easy! So easy that I just made an executive decision: I'm going to start a recipe blog. Because there are definitely not enough of those. Directly thereafter I plan on starting a photography business. Because ever since getting my DSLR I've discovered I have real, genuine gift for photography. I especially have a knack for shooting nature shots.

Look at that foliage. Didn't I totally "capture" it?

 What do you mean you have no idea what this is? It's a SWAMP, stupid. 

 You don't find this broken shell in dirty sand breathtaking? Um, get some vision. Seriously.

Hey, National Geographic. *Does an air phone* Call me.

Photo attribution here.







Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The White Elephant in the Room (Or, "How is it that my blog has become primarily about sex?")

Wanna see my loot of white elephant gifts this holiday season? I really made out like a bandit.

First, this:
A soothing fountain for my office (which is out of focus, but I'm too tired to take and upload another picture. But my does that carpet behind it look sharp!)

Then this:

A fancy Care Bear futon for our living room the girls' bedroom.

And finally, this:

Why hello there, Little Thumper.



Yes. Yes that is a vibrator.

Merry Christmas! <------- This is how I had planned to end this post when I wrote it down in my head before Christmas, but now Christmas is over, so I suppose Little Thumper (who is the one doing the merry Christmas wishing in my head) is referring to Christmas of 2011. That's right, a vibrator just wished you a merry Christmas in 2011. Bet you've never had that happen before, huh?

Also: true story. The day after we brought this stuff home, the Little Thumper was sitting on the girls' Care Bear couch and Anna woke up and saw it and was like "Mommy what's this?!" in a voice that was filled with Christmas glee, thinking it was some new toy. And then Wife grabbed it really quickly and actually said: "Oh, no sweetie, this is just a toy for Mommy..."

I thought I might die laughing.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Resolutions for a Blind Man

Being irreparably legally blind in one eye is awesome. I'm basically a pirate with no patch.

However, there are times when it becomes a little problematic. Like when you want to pour a drink from one of those soda fountains that you just push the button (instead of pressing your cup up against a lever) and have it make it into the cup without getting all over your hand but can't because you can't tell even remotely whether the cup is under where the liquid will pour out. Or like when you want to merge onto a freeway without causing a horrific accident in which you smash into a mini-van filled with toddlers and old ladies and then watch the burning bodies of small, helpless children who scream and writhe in agony while you, the sole survivor, attempt too cool the charred, black skin of your upper torso with your tears. You know. Stuff like that.

BUT, I've decided that this year, I will accomplish some things that are blindness related, and hopefully nobody will die in the process.

1. I would like to drive through a drive through and order a food item all by myself.

 Me:"Um, yes, I'd like to order a taco. For myself. Because I'm all all by myself right now."
Cashier: "Sir, you have ordered a taco. Why is your voice quivering with excitement?"

2. I would like to learn to play a sport that involves throwing, catching, or hitting a ball. I would like this sport to not be ping pong. (Have I mentioned that my Grandpa, no kidding, was a competitive ping pong player in his later years? Like, he went to huge playoffs and stuff. If only he had won the world championship, my life would be so much different now...) I would also like to not get hit in the face by whichever ball is chosen during the entire course of a game.

Cue: montage of The Weed getting hit by every type of ball imaginable during junior high P.E.

Cut to: The Weed in the corner of his bedroom rocking back and forth in the fetal position chanting "The ball is my friend, the ball is my friend, I can catch the ball.." and sucking his thumb.

3. I would like to merge onto a freeway. (I have actually done this before without killing children. At 3:00am. With my brights on. While there wasn't even the hint of another headlight for miles.) I would like to do this during the day. Maybe even in peak traffic, but I'm not making any promises. (That I'll get brave, nor that death won't happen if I do get brave.)

4. I would like to see a Magic Eye picture. You know what I'm talking about, right? Those psychedelic looking graphic images that if you look at them in the exact right way and have two functional eyes turn into some amazing picture of a landscape or dinosaur. However, this resolution likely won't happen as it would require an eye transplant. But maybe if I stare hard enough... (When I was a kid and they'd pass those around, I'd stare at them for hours and hours trying to see the stupid image of a penguin or whatever it was. I really wish somebody had come over and been like "Uh, honey, you're blind. You're never going to see the penguin. Here's a cookie.")

Here's another one that sounds like it's clever, but I sure wouldn't know.

5. When an object comes up on my blind left side and passes me, it doesn't matter what it is or how fast it's going, there is a conditioned response from childhood which sees the blob of movement and says: "BIG SCARY DOG!!!" and then I jump as if I'm a two-year old about to have his face chewed off by a pit-bull. It doesn't matter what the item in question is. Someone rides their bike past me on the left? My brain says "DOG!" and I scream like a girl in fear and start to run away. A Frisbee breezes by on the left? I hit the deck. A grandma passes me on the left with a walker? my brain says "DOG ATTACK!!" and I find myself ready to kick the crap out of her. To defend myself.


I would like to not react in this way to something approaching me on the left. Once. Once this year.


Welp, I think that pretty well sums up my ambitions for the year. Anyone wanna teach me how to play basketball? (Warning: do not, I repeat DO NOT come up on my left side.)

PS--Um, remember how I said I used to spend hours as a kid trying to see those Magic Eye graphics? Uh, I think I lost at least another hour of my life during the writing of this post because there was part of me that still believed that if I tried hard enough I could see one even though I know it's physically impossible.

(Photo attributions: here and here)