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A nice vacation (part 1)...


It was one of those weeks, and the worst part about it was that it could have been any week.

It's that feeling that you get at work, when you can't sit still at your desk because you simply don't want to be there. It doesn't matter that this might be your dream job; that you've been striving and working for something like this for more than a decade, and here you are, sitting at that desk you've wanted, typing those things you set out to type in your career. It's being in the same place for five years, seeing the same faces, hearing the same cadences in the same voices until you start to feel an irrational kind of hatred. Not for the people because for the most part, they're decent enough folks, doing their job, telling funny jokes once in a while.

But it gets to that disgruntled postal worker point, where after five years at the same place, hearing the same people, you just have this little list of "If that happens again"s that you can never quite finish because you're not a violent person.

"If one more fucking person comes by my desk asking me stupid questions while I'm trying to chat with someone on AIM..."

"If one more person e-mails me stupid questions while I'm trying to play this online game without anyone noticing..."

"If someone else looks over my shoulder and hovers behind me while I try to surf for porn at work..."

Ha ha! Which of course isn't true because I'd have been fired long ago if that were the case.


Taken when on vacation. Because if you can't take pictures of flowers during your vacation, what the Hell kind of vacation is that, anyway?

So. But, yeah. I was just at that breaking point where each dreary week was blending into the next bleary week and every day I wanted nothing more than to be rid of that place. At 3 p.m. every day, I'd start plotting my little machinations, trying to figure out how I could best get home early. Doctor's appointment? Going on an (imaginary) interview? Going to get donuts for everyone and never coming back?

What I needed, really, was a vacation.

Let me tell you something about my fucking vacations. Something bad always happens. One time I took a vacation and I had an accident on a moped. I wasn't hurt, but still. The last time I tried to take a vacation, it was the week of Sept. 11 and we all know how that turned out. This time, during my vacation, a friend of mine had a grandmother die. Someone else almost had a grandmother die from the exact same malady (hip surgery at 85+ years of age) in the same week.

I mean, I'm not trying to say that fate is the valet parker of tragedy when I take a vacation; all I'm saying is that next time I plan a vacation, I'm going to make sure the FBI knows in advance so they don't have an excuses about not getting warnings this time. I may even color code the warning for them.


The vacation

One week. No frills. A short trip to Oklahoma to visit friends and attend my buddy Chris' book signing (I think you can order his novels online. Well, what are you waiting for, ho? Go order them!) It would be at the beginning of my vacation, to get things started right.

I went, and it was exactly what I needed. I hung out with nearly everyone I'd planned to see (there were one or two exceptions because of scheduling -- Adam and Lori? We'll hook up on the next trip, I swear!), but mostly it was a chance to hang out with my infamous 'guy friends' whom I hardly get to see.

Here, in Austin, I've got a lot of female friends. I mean, you can't shake a stick in my direction without hitting a female friend. And if you did hit one of then, I'd be pretty upset, and maybe a little scared because I'd be thinking that maybe I gave you the hitting with the stick idea and then they'd be mad at me even though I didn't really intend for you to take that literally. But you see my point, yes?

Yes. Great. Now then, I have all these female friends, and I'm always getting asked, "How come you don't have any guy friends?"

And it's kind of true. Except for the guys in my comedy troupe, whom I only get to see once in a while outside of performances, I don't really have any guys I hang out with. I don't do a regular poker night (although I'm working to correct that) and outside of relationships, my only "hang out" friends have ovaries. And by that I mean, ovaries inside their bodies. Not that one weird doctor who keeps several pairs in jars. He and I hardly ever hang out anymore.

But in high school and college, I had the best guy friends; fellows who still are tuned into some weird frequency where when we get together, the jokes fly and we completely understand each other, often to the annoyances of anyone who happens to be around and just hears silly gibberish.

I'm sure you have or have had friends like that — people for whom English is just a gateway to another language that only you and your buddies share. It's like that. And even if we're just hanging out in someone's garage at 2 a.m. playing Ping Pong on a Ping Pong table and then writing songs about the Ping Pong playing, that's a great time.

It was a total charge, though. I laughed until I hurt and it's something that just never happens here. I laugh a lot, believe me, and I know the difference between laughter and hysterics. These friends of mine, the ones I only get to see once or twice a year — they put me into hysterics.


The homeowners

There was lots of junk food. There was a bit of drinking. And then there was a huge shock when I discovered that not only do four of my closest friends own houses, but that they own nice houses. Tastefully decorated homes with sconses and paint and cozies for their teaspoons. Fine. Maybe not cozies for the teaspoons, but certainly the teaspoons themselves, fine silverware of possible Pottery Barnish origins.

Some of these people; don't get me wrong — they're my friends. But I just never expected to see them living in these gorgeous places, or reading books about home improvement and doing their own electrical wiring.

They're supposed to be like me! We grew up at the same time; went to the same schools. They're not supposed to know how to install a nice lighting fixture or put in their own drywalling! They're supposed to be idiots like me, people who barely know how to mow their own lawns or install a set of bookshelf speakers.

Instead, they've become consumed with a virus I've only myself contracted in recent months: The Home Depot Virus.

Yes, folks. It's the Home Depotization of my generation. They're taking us one by one, infecting us with Ralph Lauren paint finishes and Pergo floor coverings.

These are people whom, if I remember correctly, used to built forts in their living rooms using pizza boxes in college.

It may not be this messy a body snatching, but it's damned close.

These are people who named alcoholic drinks after their favorite bands, then drank by the blenderful in tribute while listening to that bands' albums.

And now they're all badasses with the drills and the nailguns and the Martha Stewart-brand footstool fabric gromits?

I'm not fucking buying it.

I'm not convinced they're the people I went to school with.

Body snatching is not out of the question.


Next time: The Babies, The Graduation and the Rest of the Vacation.



This is the last time you'll have to hear this for a while: My season finale recap of Smallville went up last week. No more recaps for a while! My heart is sad, but my typing fingers are ecstatic.

Oh, and while you're here, why not buy some Terribly Happy merchandise? You know I took a bath on that stuff last year, right? Damned, ungrateful capitalist market. There's still plenty of stuff left, all sitting right next to me on my bookshelves.


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