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Gone Fishin' ...


So I was at my grandmother's house, like I am every year at that time, late afternoon Christmas day. And all the cousins and aunts and uncles and more aunts and great grandpas next door and everyone else flooded in, and there were the usual jokes and chatter. This year, I got a lot of attention because of the new house. People asked me about my mortgage rate. My dad kept bragging about my big back yard. I got lots of house stuff and tools as gifts, which was wonderful.

I was thinking about change, because of how much of it I've had this last year. So much has happened, a lot of it just recently. I'm looking around right now in a new home office of a place I never dreamed I'd be living a year ago. Tomorrow night, I may go see Mojo Nixon again, and that will be wonderful, but however much of the same show it might be (and the same show would be just fucking dandy), it's going to be an almost altogether different person there viewing it.

I'm not going to do the whole "How I've Changed This Year," list, mostly because I don't believe in that. Besides the material, obvious things, I think human change is pretty hard to quantify. Short of life-changing events (or mass change like we all went through Sept. 11), the change in our personalities is mostly glacial, impossible to track, discernable only after years of good and bad decisions examined over time.

I was in that Christmas room. One of my young cousins is getting married this week. Another one isn't now. The others are growing up quickly. One of them has a boyfriend, and I can remember when she used to come over and play with my brother when she was two.

We focus so much on our own change, on the dramas and annoyances and tiny victories of our day to day, that when we see these people, our family, at the regular one-year intervals, it becomes an exponential amount of chaos and movement. And that's because my family has been blessedly missing most of the death, crime and bigger tragedies that hit every family eventually.

I got a little overwhelmed by that, at that moment, between opening the wrench set and the new shirt from my grandmother. I tried to calculate all the change in my family, to just imagine for a moment how much might have happened in a year.

I found I couldn't do it.



Just after Christmas, my folks came up to Austin and we did a lot of things to my house. I strung up some all-year lights up on my back patio. Fixed all the dead bulbs. Cleared the garage so now two cars fit in there. Fixed an old desk that was falling apart.

Santa Beer. Drink it with all your elfen friends.

During that visit, my mom, who is the absolute best shopper who has ever existed, took us on a wild hunt for "Deals," a dollar store that is going out of businesses. They have two of them in San Antonio, and the story goes that the owner decided to sell the business. My guess is he finally got tired of making all those trips to Taiwan for most of his products.

My mother was convinced that there was a "Deals" in Austin, but we had no luck looking it up in the phone book or calling directory assistance, so we went to one she remembered on William Cannon, and it turned out it wasn't the same going-out-of-business dollar chain. But it must have been part of the Fraternal Order of Stores That Sell 79-cent Spatulas because the owner knew the store we were looking for and directed us to a store way the Hell up on North Lamar. When my Dad asked where it was, the guy asked, "Why, you going to buy business?" My Dad considered it for a moment, until he came back to his senses.

Before we left, I found some hilarious ribbons. The said things like, "Hey, now you're 60!" and "I Can Tie My Shoes!" I wanted to get the one that said, "We're All Winners!" and send it to the Dallas Cowboys.

We drove way the Hell up to North Lamar and made several trips back and forth until I finally figured out that it was north of 183 in an area I'd never visited before, except in my nightmares. Except it wasn't that bad. It was just unfamiliar and I thought I'd been nearly everywhere there is to go in Austin.

So we get there and it was a true close-out. Whole shelves were completely empty and people were going nuts. In my rush to judgment, I didn't consider that my mom has never steered me wrong on a sale before. You must understand: If my mom had been alive and able to shop during the colonization of America, the English wouldn't have just gotten Manhattan -- they would have gotten the entire Eastern seaboard for two blankets and an interestingly shaped stick.

They had great stuff. They had a "Hey, Vern!" Sports Edition video starring Jim Varney, brand new for a quarter. Well, technically not brand new given that he's been dead a few years and all, but it was shrink wrapped and that's good enough for me.

I found mashed potato mixes, great little ceramic pots for plants, a wire stripper, super glue. I filled an entire basket. Oh, quick summation: This place was so cheap that even my little basket wouldn't work right. The handle kept falling apart. I bought roughly 128 items, and ended up paying $11.31. Yes, it is true. My mom rules the shopping cosmos.

Oh, and the reason we couldn't find it before? It was called "Only Deals." Too bad you missed it.



Wow, I forgot how fun this is. Talking to you guys like this. It's good. It's a lot of nothing, but it's something sometimes, you know?

The thing of it is, it needs to be a lot of nothing for a little while.

This isn't easy to do, but I've got to take a little break. There's something I really want to do for the next few weeks/months and the only way I can see getting a good start on it is to put Terribly Happy on break for a while.

The same thing happened recently with LCP. I had to bow out of this last New Year's show, and it hurt to know this was the first show I wasn't going to be on stage for. I sat in the audience Saturday night and it was funnier than I expected. I had a great time watching. But it was sad at the same time, not getting to be up on stage, playing and creating some of that laughter. But I was moving this month and starting a new job and I knew it was just a recipe for stress and heartbreak and frustration. So I skipped that show.

Don't be evil. Buy a Bendy.

Same with this. I know I could keep going for a while longer, but it wouldn't be fun and I'd be preoccupied with my other project. So let me get that going and when I come back, I promise I'll have some good stories for you, 'kay?

Will you be around when I come back?

The store's going to continue while I'm gone, so if you really miss me, you could order some stuff. The store's been updated and fixed up -- I think there were some link problems before. That's all taken care of now. I'm even putting the entire line of Bendys on sale. So buy some stuff, miss me, and I promise I'll miss you right back.

See you in a few. Feel free not to behave while I'm gone. And have a happy new year.

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