Thursday, December 4, 2014

Confessions of a Christmas Music Junkie


I enjoy Christmas music far more than the average person.  Christmas music evokes wonderful memories of my childhood; listening to Ferrante & Teicher duel their way through the Christmas classics, or to Barbra Streisand on vinyl is how I remember Christmas time at our house.  I always wait until Halloween is over, but once the calendar says "November", it is fair game.  I used to have to wait until FM100 switched over to their "All Christmas / All the Time" programming but with the advent of streaming radio, I usually beat them by a couple of weeks.  

I prefer older versions of Christmas songs, by singers who might be classified as "crooners" singing songs that sound like they are coming from a needle on pressed wax.  I listened to an internet stream called Christmas Vinyl for years and it was full of moldy oldies and some really different songs than the ones that get played repeatedly.  Sadly, it is gone now and I am still looking for a replacement.  I don't begrudge someone who wants to mash up and perfectly good Christmas song with a one-hit wonder from the 1980s...


...but I'll chill over here with Perry Como in the meantime.

Once Christmas music starts up on the radio, all the naysayers bemoan the fact that the Christmas season is getting longer, and overshadowing Thanksgiving.  For me, it's the best of both worlds.  Regardless of what's on the radio, I am going to eat the (ahem) stuffing out of some turkey dinner come Thanksgiving.  The fact that I can listen to Christmas tunes while I nurse my upset tummy is (again) the gravy on top.

For someone who logs many hours each holiday season listening to Christmas music, I have developed a mental list of holiday songs, or parts of songs that drive me nuts.  You may not agree, or even understand why these bother me, but after you hear "That piano song from A Charlie Brown Christmas" for the 250th time in a two-week span, certain things begin to wear on you a bit.

So here, without further ado, is my list of Christmas Music Irritations.  I have ranked them in order of irritation; the first part of the list is akin to a teacher writing on a chalkboard and her fingernail catches the slate, making a high-pitched squeak that makes everyone shiver.  By the end of the list, the teacher has turned into a devil woman and rakes her inch-long claws across the board, emitting an inhuman sound that makes blood spurt from your earlobes.

I have embedded the songs for your convenience.  Sample them at your own volition.

#12 - "Jingle Bells"  It's crime against humanity: the line "...the horse was lean and lank..."

This is a perfectly fine Christmas song, and then the line pops up in the second stanza. Just as we are recovering from hearing that the protagonist's date is named Fanny Bright, we are hit with this gem.  Lean AND lank?  I'm guessing that he wasn't a muscled-up workhorse then.  I will cut it a little slack due to the fact that it was written in 1850 but have you ever heard this phrase used outside of this song?  The worst is when Barba Streisand takes this song on and is singing JINGLEBELLJINGLEBELLJINGLEALLTHEWAYOHWHATFUNITISTORIDEINAONEHORSEOPENSLEIGH but slows down long enough to emphasize this line.  I better move on before I get upsot.


#11 - "Winter Wonderland"  It's crime against humanity: the line "To face unafraid, the plans that we made..."

This line puzzles me more than it irritates me.  What plans, exactly, have they made?  The line before this one they talk about conspiring while sitting around the fire.  Per Google, to conspire is to "seem to be working together to bring about a particular result, typically to someone's detriment".  And then they choose to go forward, fully committed and unafraid of what they conspired to do.  Are they planning a coup?  Will they do something that ultimately ends like this?  Seems a little shady in any event.

As an aside, thanks to the parody styling of Bob Rivers, it has been over twenty years since I have been able to sing the actual title of the original song when I hear it on the radio.  I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing.


#10 - "Baby, it's cold outside" It's crime against humanity: the line "Put some records on while I pour."

Did you know that on the original score, the two parts were denoted as "wolf" and "mouse", which takes on a predatory feel as this song goes on?  The female performer (always the mouse) keeps trying to leave while the male (definitely the wolf) tends to speak his lines to her in calm, hypnotic tone and, depending on the version, repeats the above line over and over.  Who says "while I pour"?  I know this is an old song, but people didn't just stop talking mid-sentence back in the day, did they?  What are you pouring?  Egg nog?  A hot toddy? Rohypnol?  


At the 0:46 mark of this version, Rosemary Clooney (not Doris Day like it lists) even asks "What's in this drink?" and gets the response "No cabs to be had out there".  At least his answer wasn't "It puts the lotion in the basket..." Every time she asks a question he basically cuts her off with a version of PLEASE STAY PLEASE STAY PLEASE STAY PLEASE STAY.  I hate the "while I pour" part.  I should have ranked this higher.

#9 - "Please Come Home for Christmas" 

I take no umbrage with the song itself.  The Eagles version made the cut on the Solid Gold Christmas TV show back in the day and I have enjoyed it ever since.  My issue comes with the fact that many radio stations take it upon themselves to splice in Christmas wishes from soldiers overseas who are in harm's way and are wishing they could be with their loved ones.  I don't need to be cruising down the road, blubbering like a big idiot.  Knock it off, radio stations.


Not annoyed yet?  I started off with the mild ones.  Brace yourself...

#8 - "Merry Christmas Darling" What's wrong?  The line "Logs on the fire fill me with desire"

Karen Carpenter had the most amazing, clear voice and this song shows it off perfectly.  I actually quite enjoy the first part of the song where she is relaxing, having finished her Christmas cards and is now able to reflect on the season and the joy it brings her.  She even invents the word "Christmasing"  which is pretty cool.  But then she begins to think about her partner who is not with her and then her attention drifts over to the fireplace.  And the logs.  And being filled with desire.

Well...that escalated quickly.  Going from a sweet love song about her one true love to making it clear that she is ready to work her way over to the Naughty List but her man is out of town on business or something.  As a bonus, Karen's brother Richard wrote this song for her to sing.  Ewwww.

I won't embarrass Stacie by writing what she thought this line said until I corrected her.  Let's just say it was much more innocent and MUCH funnier.  


#7 - "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" (Bruce Springsteen version)

I'm not a Bruce Springsteen fan; unless he's singing "Glory Days" or "Rosalita" or if it's the Fourth of July, "Born in the USA". And this live version of the song is just bad news.  They ease into it with an instrumental part, then Bruce starts talking to the band and finally asks the crowd "Everybody out there been good, or what?" and gets a tepid response back from the people who paid good money for concert tickets and want to hear "Born to Run".  Bruce responds with "Aww, that's not many...not many...you guys are in trouble out here" and follows that up with a dumb guy guffaw because he was SO clever.  They proceed to slog through the song, E-Street style until the end where he repeats the title over and over with (I assume) Clarence Clemens Ho Ho Ho-ing in the background.  The third time he repeats it, Bruce is overcome with how funny and silly they are all being and can't even get the words out because he's giggling so much.  Hysterical!  Plus, this track is always in HEAVY rotation on any Christmas music station.  Be prepared to hear this change the channel at least once a day.


#6 - "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"

There are only two possible explanations for what is going on in this song:

1. Our hero sneaks downstairs to catch Santa Claus doing his work only to catch his mom kissing Santa.  Of course, it's really his dad, who is taking the whole "getting into character" thing to a new level by putting on the red suit and a beard to leave the presents.

OR 

2. Santa is getting bizzzaayyy with his mom.

There is really no in-between.  The singer recognizes his mom, so he at least has a functioning pair of eyes and you would think he'd recognize his pops unless it was the best costume in the world.  I used to think it was the first option, that the boy saw his parents kissing, but at a closer examination, it seems like the latter.  In the Jackson 5 version, Michael even pleads with his backup band brothers that he saw their mom kissing Santa.  His brothers blow him off and probably figure that he had spent too much time in his personal hyperbaric chamber.  But little Mike is pretty convinced; in the middle of the song he even says "Oh what a wreck it would have been if Daddy had only seen..." and from what I read about Joe Jackson, it was a good thing his daddy wasn't around because Mr. Jackson would have taken off his belt and settled Santa's hash right there under the mistletoe.  

Just a bizarre song all the way around when you think about it; doesn't matter if it's the aforementioned Jackson 5 version, the Ronettes, or John Mellencamp (all three versions get ample airtime).  I think we can agree that for all parties involved, it was a true blessing that kissing was the ONLY thing little Mike saw his mom and Santa doing.


#5 - "White Christmas" 

Ha!  I'm kidding!  This is the perfect Christmas song. The best song and also the best Christmas movie.  Nothing could sully this masterpiece!

Except maybe Boney M.  Stick to teaching us about Russian holy men, B.

Actual #5 - "Silver Bells" Line that makes my skin crawl: "Ring-a-ling..." 

Did you know that when this song was written, it was originally titled "Tinkle Bells"?  The brain surgeon who wrote this song thought nothing of it until he went home and told his wife about the new song that was going to make them rich and she proceeded to slap some sense into him until he changed the title.  Can you imagine kids singing along to "Tinkle Bells" when it came on the radio?  It sounds like a Weird Al song. I chuckle every time I say it.  Even with the title changed and with Der Bingle smoothing his way through the song this line is horrible.  I get that it's about bells and ringing and such, but have you EVER heard someone use the phrase "ring-a-ling" unless it is about this song?  It may not sound rational but whenever I hear this it is grating to my last aural nerve.

Here's the Bing Crosby / Carol Richards version so you can hear them volley that line back and forth.  I shudder to think what Gleeatronix or whatever their name is would do to this one.


#4 - "Let It Snow" or "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" for those of you who want to sound like a skipping record  Why it's here?  The line "...and I've got some corn for poppin'..."

It's hard for me to put a finger on why this line bugs me so much, but it certainly ruins a perfectly good song (as an aside, while this song is truly played only at Christmastime, it never actually mentions the holiday).  It's another one of those lines that you never, ever hear anyone actually say.  First, this is a lousy thing to bring to a party; it's like going to a holiday function where everyone spends hours making homemade cookies, baking turkeys, etc, and this joker shows up and makes a big deal of what he brought. "Hey...I was running through the grocery store and grabbed a bottle of Orville Redenbacher's finest.  If I can just borrow some oil, a stove, a pot, and some butter and salt, we can get this party started!"

I know this song dates back to the 1950's, so maybe back then it was a hip lingo that they used, kind of like "Here's some corn for that fire, daddy-o".  In any event, I truly dislike this line.  The Harry Connick, Jr. version is the very worst.  I usually like Harry's Big Easy/Cajun drawl but I'd rather stuff a spoonful of Emeril's gumbo in each ear than listen to Harry sing "...and AHHH BRAWWTT SUMM KAAARRRRRNNNNNN FUR POPPING." BAM!


#3 - "Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy" (Bing Crosby and David Bowie). Why?  ONE SINGLE LINE.  Read on...

Many of my closest family and friends (at least the ones who made it this far) will be shocked to find that this is NOT in the top spot on my list.  For many moons, it was without question the worst.  But a funny thing happened: we joked about it and laughed about it so much that it kind of became like a snake with no venom. It could still bite, but it didn't do any lasting damage.  

To set the scene: 

Fade in on Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas, a TV special in 1977.  Bing is walking through Hogwarts and hears the doorbell ring (or maybe ring-a-ling?).  He opens the door and hey!  It's David Bowie!  He's more "Thin White Duke" than "Ziggy Stardust" here, but it's a bit jarring to see this cat chatting it up with Bing.  They make some small talk and then find zero excuse to walk over to a piano for a little more chatter.  It's a bit painful to watch:

Bowie - "Well, I sing too."

Bingle - "Oh good!  What kind of singin'?"  (internal monologue: "And how can you sing with your hair like that, you dirty hippie?)

Bowie - "Well...mostly contemporary stuff. Do you, uh, do you like modern music?" ("I put on skin tight bodysuits and androgynous makeup and wail about a Starman and Spiders from Mars.  It would melt your face off").  

Bingle - "Oh, I think it's marrrrrrvelous.  Some of it really fine."  

Mmm hmm.  Modern music like maybe the Andrews Sisters or Count Basie.

This continues for a few more awkward seconds and then they decide it's time to test out the pipes.  Bowie leans over and pretend-picks out a few notes on the piano while Bing watches and they start in on a duet of "Little Drummer Boy".  It actually sounds pretty good.  I'm convinced that even I could sing a duet with The Old Groaner and it would sound velvety smooth, but they really sound decent togeth

PEACE ON EARTH!!!!

Suddenly Bowie breaks away from their harmony and fires off this gem.  It's like a swift kick to Santa's goodie bag: it stops you dead in your tracks and takes your breath away.  Plus the video fades in on just Bowie as he veers off on this tangent, relegating Bing to the background, both visually and musically (and nobody puts Bing in a corner!).  It's like watching a Budweiser commerical with the Clydesdales pulling a giant sleigh through a road covered in fresh powder and suddenly smash cutting to the Grinch flying down Mt. Crumpit on a runaway sled. 

Could. Not. Be. More. Jarring.

The duet "continues", and Bowie even throws out the line again.  But now, it's over our lifeless corpse; the damage is already done.  A minute later, they segue back into another verse together, and it's my favorite part of the song, but it sounds far too nice and they separate once again.  The third time, Bowie sings the line gently, smartly realizing that he no longer needs to bring out the heavy artillery as we sit drooling uncontrollably, waiting for it to mercifully end.  

And...scene.

Apparently, Bowie didn't want to sing "Little Drummer Boy" and the show writers wrote this mashup on the spot.  They ran through it a couple of times and rolled the cameras.  Bing was asked about working with Bowie later and said that he was "...a real fine asset to the show.  He sings well, has a great voice, and reads his lines well".  Which means that Bing was still on a contact high.



Time has softened my disdain for this line, and the rest of the song sort of makes up for it.  Which is why two vile, heinous songs have rising above this, like a curdled cream that rises to the bitter top.

#2 - "Santa Baby" (Every single version. Every one.)  This is the one Christmas song that I will turn off.  Every other song on this list has its redeeming qualities or at least some value to it.  Not this pile.  

This was originally performed by Eartha Kitt back in the 1950's as she ran through a list for her sugar daddy Santa whose breadth and scope is rivaled only by my own son's list for Santa.  She wants furs, cars, boats...the deed to a mine for heaven's sake.  Plus, she moans it all in her Catwoman-y voice.  It goes on and on and on, mercifully ending with her telling Santa that if he likes it, he better put a ring on it.  I get that it was Eartha Kitt's shtick and I can't pile on her too much because I just read that she died on Christmas Day a few years back and that's too ironic and a little bit of a downer.

The biggest problem with the song is the cover versions that followed.  Every time a new ingenue entered the music scene, they would crank out their own version.  Hey...it's 1987!  Madonna is a huge star; let's have her sing this in her worst Betty Boop voice! (My dad bought my mom our first CD player for Christmas that year and one of the CD's that he bought was an all-star charity album called A Very Special Christmas that featured not only this horrendous Madonna offering but the live Springsteen version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" from earlier in the list.  Good thing Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" was on the disc).

Now it's the '90's, so Mariah Carey, it's your turn!  Present day...hello Ariana Grande!  Taylor Swift...The Pussycat Dolls...LeAnn Rimes...Miss Piggy...I think the Macy Gray version is offered as a substitute to water boarding.  And each version is long and whiny and just not good.  It's not even a Christmas song that you can sing along to.  It just sort of oozes out of the radio for what feels like sixteen minutes and sits in a puddle at your feet. Elvis' "Blue Christmas" is a slower Christmas song as well, but unlike "Santa Baby" everyone wants to sing like The King and you can do that "A-WHOO-A-WHOO-OO" that the backup singer does during the whole song too.  I'm embedding Elvis instead of this mess.  


What could possibly rank higher than the monstrosity that is "Santa Baby"?






















Number one with a bullet...















#1 - "Wonderful Christmas Time" - Paul McCartney and (sort of) Wings

Man...what a train wreck this one is.  This is Paul McCartney. He's a BEATLE!  SIR Paul McCartney!  This is what happens when you stop eating meat, people!  (I'm kidding.  Sort of).  Supposedly, Sir Paul wrote this song all by his lonesome while working on a solo album.  One listen and you realize that he was NOT alone when he wrote this; I know his friends Jim Beam and Jack Daniels must have co-written this because it is awful.   

This song was released as a single-only version in 1979.  As a testament to how horrendous this song is, it only got to #6 in the UK.  I suspect any one of the Beatles could make body function noises into a microphone for five minutes and it would get to #1 in the UK.  But this one only got to six.  It is truly wretched.  After it was out for a couple of years, the song got released on a Wings album so that Linda McCartney could have a piece of the pie as well.  

The whole Wings gang was part of the "promotional video shoot" for the song, which is what they called it back in the 70's when they pointed a camera at musicians and they lip synced along.  Somehow, it makes the song even more nauseating.  Please observe:




To give this it's proper due, here is a list within the list (how meta) of what infuriates me about this song/video:

1. The synthesizer.  Great googily moogily.  The synthesizer is repetitive and unyielding.  Most of the time it has ZERO bearing on the song.  It's just like a sound effect or a video game noise.  Maybe Sir Paul fell asleep to a loop of the song "Popcorn" and woke up thinking "Eureka!  I have the best idea for a song!".  Sometimes it follows along with the melody but by then you want to claw your eyeballs off to distract you from this song.

2. The line "...simply...having...a wonderful Christmas time..." is repeated approximately 154 times.  It's simply...crappy...to hear this line that much.  What do you expect?  It's not like he was part of the greatest songwriting duo in history or anything.

3. The music video is just ridiculous.  I don't mind them all heading down to the wee pub for a pint, but don't bring the rhythm guitar, or the stand up bass, or pretend to play the piano.  We can all hear the song.  Same goes with the concert footage.  It's a machine. You're pushing the correct button and sounds come out.  Kind of like going to watch a DJ in concert.  

4. Every time Paul "duets" with Linda during the song; especially because we know how she sounds when she sings.  Frankly, she sounds like me singing.  

3:44 later and it's over.  You've survived it for another couple of hours until another radio station runs it back and you get clobbered with the synthesizer right out of the gate.  Forbes estimates that Sir Paul makes about $400,000 every year from royalties, meaning it has earned over $15 million in its lifetime.  That's the most depressing thing that I have heard in some time.

and on that mechanic, synthesized note...

Merry Christmas everyone!  Even through all of these atrocities I love Christmas music and the feeling it brings during the Holiday season.  May your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmas stations not play "Santa Baby" ever again!





Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day!

Wow! First time I've been here on the old blog in many moons. It looked like the lobby of the Tower of Terror in Disneyland (picture link provided for those who are not Disney idiots like myself)when I just got here. I did a little housecleaning though, and now it's acceptable for new blog posts. It's been far too long, plus it will be nice to have a post at the top of the blog that isn't a long pity party about getting a boo-boo on my foot.

Mornings are generally hectic for us, as I'm sure they are for most folks. Stacie is busy trying to get ready for work, I'm busy with Lexie getting her breakfast and getting her ready to go catch the bus for school, and Jaden is busy breaking things. Today was no exception, but as Lexie was eating her breakfast, I found a video of today's ceremony in Gobbler's Knob with Punxsuwtawny Phil. Lexie's teacher does a great job of making a big deal out of things like Groundhog Day, and they had made sack puppets in anticipation of the big day. Lexie told me that she was VERY excited to see if he saw his shadow or not, so I figured she'd get a kick out of watching the video. This is what we watched:



We watched the whole video, Lexie laughing about how rotund Phil was, and Jaden peering around her. When they got to the very end, and announced (SPOILER ALERT!!!) that he did NOT see his shadow, Lexie leaped up in the air and screamed "Hooray! Spring is coming!" Then she stopped, looked at me, and got tears in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong, and she had a puzzled look on her face. She though for a second, and then said "Nothing Daddy, I'm just so happy!".

Anyone who has been around Lexie for more than three minutes knows that she can be ultra dramatic. In fact, my dad took the kids to McDonalds on Monday while I went to the foot doctor, and had to deal with the Level 5 trauma of Lexie finding mustard on her cheeseburger. After the ordeal, he remarked that he "wasn't used to girls yet". He didn't have daughters, so Lexie is a new experience for all of us. And while I am becoming conditioned to the hystrionics, yelling, and crocodile tears, today was different. It was a genuine emotional experience for her.

Of course, we relived this multiple times on the way to the bus stop. She related it to "when those ladies cry in church...you know...even though they're happy", and just before the bus came she mentioned that "I'm not even an adult yet, and I was crying because I was happy".

She is such a kick...her passion and determination are such a huge part of her makeup. I have thought many times (and been told many times as well) about how this will serve her well in her life. It makes raising a five-year old more liking breaking a wild stallion, but I know that she will be successful in her life with that type of drive. Let's just hope she doesn't choose to become the most successful art thief or something like that!

So it was a fun little walk to the bus stop and back this morning for me. I can't stop picturing her face as the pure emotion caught her by surprise and really overwhelmed her. If asked, I would have blamed the moisture in my eyes on the frigid winds outside but it was due more to her excitement and indomitable passion of life. I sure love her!


Lexie posing as a unicorn. Her words, not mine.


.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Wait...Josh is WHERE?!?!?"

(Warning: lengthy, somewhat incoherent, sometimes nauseating ramblings about my recent interment at LDS Hospital follow. May cause drowsiness. Do not operate heavy machinery or automobiles while reading.)

I write this from the comfort of my own home sitting on my own couch. It has been a roller coaster of craziness over the past several days…and I wanted to chronicle what happened and explain everything. More than one person has been heard bits and pieces of our little family saga and was surprised to hear that I spent nearly four full days in the hospital. It came as a surprise to us as well; so here’s a little recap of my week.

I have dry feet. It’s something that I have had for several years, and it’s something that several members of my family have as well (OMINOUS FORESHADOWING NOTE!). Normally a little foot cream keeps it in check, but it the skin will occasionally crack and split, making it pretty sore and tough to walk on. I usually apply some Neosporin and it mends itself over a couple of days. I developed one of these cracks on the ball of my left foot, near the outside of the foot, a week or so ago.

For a while, it wasn’t too uncomfortable. These splits in the skin can get a little painful when I walk on them, but I kind of get used to them and don’t think too much about it. This particular sore hung around and got progressively tenderer each day. By last Friday it was really sore, and my foot started to swell up a bit. I stepped up my treatment, wrapping my foot in moleskin, more ointment, bandages, anything that took the pressure off of it. The outside part of my foot got really tender, and even putting on my shoe became painful. We had a busy weekend, full of errands, family reunions, and birthday parties, and I was on my foot quite a bit. When I took off my sock on Sunday night and removed the bandage, it looked pretty ugly. It was really swollen, and discolored, and I was beginning to understand that I might have a real issue here.

I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, so I went to bed hoping that the foot fairy would visit overnight and spackle my foot back together. I woke up with a bit of a fever, some nausea, and no real improvement on my foot. I finally decided that it was time to see a doctor (I know…I’m an idiot), so I hobbled to the InstaCare. It’s a little bit disconcerting to explain to a qualified professional what is going on, take off your sock, and watch his eyes widen and see him scramble for some gloves. He even brought a couple of nursing students in to check out the carnage, explaining to them “if you see something like this, let the doctor know immediately”. Oh joy.

He made an appointment for me to be seen at the wound care clinic the next morning (calling it an “act of God” to get me in so soon), but as he continued to examine the wound and was able to push a swab over an inch into the wound, he became more concerned that it needed immediate attention. He directed me to the emergency room at LDS Hospital and told me to step on it (Ha! Foot joke!). Again, it becomes disconcerting when you check in, casually notice the sign that reads “Patients will be seen in order of importance”, sit down in a waiting room with a half dozen people, and YOU ARE CALLED BACK WITHIN TWO MINUTES. Fantastic.

I was shown to a “suture room”, equipped with a small bed that was obviously used for short term visits, which became a bit of a torture device over the next seven hours that I occupied it. They ran a whole gamut of tests, finding elevated white blood cell counts (indicative of the infection), high blood sugar counts , and elevated heart rate/blood pressure (I guess I finally got it through my thick head that I was not doing so hot and was a little nervous). They hooked me up to an IV, started pumping me with antibiotics, ordered an MRI on my foot, and told me the only place I was going that night was upstairs.

Stacie had arrived, and decided to run one of our cars home so that my dad could bring her back up with some personal items for me. This sentenced my poor mother-in-law to an extended visit with our kids, but she was so sweet to help us out. Conveniently, Stacie got back to the hospital mere minutes after I was taken upstairs for an hour-long MRI, so she had to sit and wait until they brought me back. I finally got taken to my room and just before midnight I got tucked in for an extended stay.

Nights in a hospital are a real adventure, and the first night was even crazier. They were running so many tests, checking my vitals, drawing more blood, etc. that there wasn’t even an hour long window of time when I could sleep. I was tethered to an IV tree, and they hooked me up to a heart monitor, which I learned to loathe. It consists of five adhesive patches that are stuck to your chest and stomach, and if they come off even a fraction of an inch, the monitor begins a droning BEEP, causing me to scramble in the dark and feel which monitor wasn’t on. The adhesive disks didn’t really agree with my hirsute self (I don’t look like THIS or anything, but I’ve got some coverage), and it was a constant battle during the balance of my stay. It’s crazy how a small BEEP can sound like an air horn in the middle of the night!

The morning came, and with it came a slightly clearer picture. I had some severe cellulitis in my foot, which is a skin infection caused by bacteria. In other words, the infection was eating a hole in my skin, almost through the top of my foot, and it was beginning to spread throughout my foot. They were considering some surgery to clean out the wound, and were continuing the rounds of antibiotics in an effort to kill the nasty infection.

Oh yeah…and they told me I had diabetes.

It was kind of like getting a parting gift on a game show. Go to the hospital with a rotting foot, and you get to go home with a gift basket full of needles, a glucometer, and (hopefully) a new lifestyle. I guess these types of wounds (specifically known as a foot ulcer…Google it if you have a strong stomach. NOT good times) are much more common in diabetics, and my elevated blood sugar tests tipped them off to this possible diagnosis. Further tests would confirm this, but it was pretty obvious to them that I was a Type II diabetic.

Over the course of the next several days, I had visits from dieticians, diabetic specialists, and the internal medicine doctors who all discussed this with me. Each one of them included a bit of a pep talk, and I realized that being diagnosed with diabetes is a really big deal, and can seem overwhelming to many people, although I was able to get my head around it pretty well. Stacie has been diabetic for around six years now, so I’ve lived vicariously through her, and I was comfortable with the testing, carb counting, injections, etc. Sadly, my family is no stranger to diabetes either. My dad is diabetic. So was my grandpa. So were both of my grandpa’s parents. I have two uncles with diabetes. In my mind, it was never really a question of “If?”, but “When?”. Apparently, that time is now. If I’m being completely honest, I kind of suspected in the back of my mind that it was coming on. My energy levels have been so low for a little while, and looking back, it’s pretty clear to me that I’ve been hauling this around with me for a little while.

The MRI showed that the infection had not spread into any of the bones, so I was going to be able to keep what was left of my foot. There were no pockets of infection, so surgery was not necessary. Basically I needed to stay off of my foot and allow the antibiotics to wring the infection out of my foot tissue. This, of course, meant some more time in my prison cell, I mean hospital room.

I consider myself a world-class sleeper. In high school, when I worked a double shift at the movie theater, I would lie down on the cold concrete floor in our changing room and take an hour-long nap. I can sleep anywhere, anytime. But I can truthfully say that I didn’t get more than two hours of consecutive sleep in the four days that I was there. The constant tests, the aforementioned monitors, not to mention getting my petite frame comfortable on that hospital bed, proved to be a lethal combination for sleeping. I have started catching up now, thanks to sleeping in my own bed next to my sweet wife, but rest is not what you get in a hospital, that is for sure.

Thursday morning, the podiatrist woke me, clipped off some of the dead tissue, and dressed my foot. I was told that I had finally worn out my welcome, and was going to go home. The day before, they had placed a PICC line in me, which is basically an IV line that can stay in you for an extended period of time. You can see a picture of one HERE; it’s not really that gruesome. Basically they insert it in your upper arm, and snake the tube through your vein into the main vein in the center of your chest. Kind of an interesting deal; they did it at my bedside in full masks and gowns and had to later check their work with a chest X-ray to make certain that it didn’t accidentally make a U-turn up through my neck (Seriously). This allows me to go to the Infusion Clinic at the hospital and get more IV antibiotics, which I have to do every day for the next 10 days. This is on top of the oral antibiotic that I am taking twice daily. It was one nasty infection, apparently.

I am going to start seeing Stacie’s endocrinologist (who also treats my dad…maybe we can get a group rate) to manage the diabetes. For now, I am taking insulin shots to manage my blood sugar levels and to keep the infection from flaring up. My pancreas has been working overtime for who knows how long, and this will give it some rest. We hope to transition to oral medications in the near future, and diet/exercise will help me to achieve this. I suppose this will have to satisfy my sweet tooth for now:



That will only be stuck in your head for like three days, max. And no, I have no idea why Archie turns into the Trix rabbit when Sabrina kisses him.

I want Stacie to know how much I love her and how appreciative I am of how she took care of things. I can’t imagine a good week for something like this to happen, but this week was especially busy for her at work. Her boss and team were willing to cover for her but there were some things that she had to be around for. Besides winning our bread, she hauled the kids around, and brought them up to the hospital to put a smile on my face. Enclosing Jaden in a hospital room filled with cool things that he couldn’t touch was a challenge, but I cherished the moments I spent with them and I appreciate the extra effort that she took bring them up. Her long holiday weekend has gone from possibly going camping to trying to keep me off of my feet and chasing our kids around all day with little or no help from me. Sorry sweetie…but I sure love you!

Taking care of Stacie and the kids (and all of my loved ones, for that matter) is something that I love to do, and I try to do everything that I can for them. I also know that I tend to not devote very much attention to myself…as is evidenced by letting a tunnel of festering bacteria rot my foot apart to the point that I could barely stand before I go to a doctor. I realize that if I want to be around to take care of my family, I must take care of myself as well, especially with my new diabetic lifestyle. This will be my greatest challenge, but I am looking forward to feeling better and living better. And being able to put weight on my foot again.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone for their kind words and concerns. Every Facebook post or phone call that I received was uplifting to me. I especially want to thank Stacie’s parents and my parents for their help. They were both trying to get ready to leave town this weekend, but dropped everything and rearranged their lives to help take care of our highly emotional daughter and Tasmanian Devil-esque son. I don’t know what we’d have done without you!

My bed beckons…so I will end this long narrative. Sorry for the length, but I needed to document what has been such a crazy few days. No four a.m. wake-ups for vitals, no incessant beeping. Hallelujah!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Getting Around Downtown

My friend Dustin and his family came into town from Dallas the other day. They come out here every couple of years to visit family and see some of the Church history sites. Lexie, Jaden, and I decided to tag along with them and see what we could. It's kind of funny (sad? pathetic?) that we live so close to these places and don't visit them like we should unless someone from out of town is here.

Regardless of the motivation, we had a great time. On Tuesday we went to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, took a tour of the Conference Center (or "Mo Dome", as my Dad calls it), rode to the top of the Church Office Building, and went through one of the temple's Visitor Centers (with an amazing model of the temple...the south and east walls are cut away so you can see how it's all laid out. So cool.)

Wednesday saw us hoof it to Heritage State Park and the This Is The Place monument. When I worked for my dad they were involved in the renovation and building of a large part of the park, and it was a nightmare for him and his company. According to the plaque in the visitors center, it was dedicated in 1996, so I'm hoping that the statue of limitations has run out on his intense anger with the place! Lexie managed to slice her fingertip on a chair rail, so maybe his curse is still haunting the place. In any event we had a fine time, and Jaden got to ride his first pony.

Below is a slideshow with some of the days' highlights. Thanks to Dustin, Jennifer, Ashley, David and Nathan for letting us share their adventure!

Friday, April 9, 2010

New post, old news

So, I've had about a week of a break in my scholarly pursuits, and it has allowed me a little free time to finish up some of the "fun projects" that I have wanted to do. Stacie had a conference in Las Vegas last November, and I went down there after it was over to see her and fly home with her. I've had this video 90% done for a while now, but I finally finished it, so I decided to post it. This way we can maintain our "one post on our blog per month" average as well...

Vegas Baby! from Josh on Vimeo.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Water Damage

On Wednesday, February 10th, we had an unexpected, unwanted, experience. We had put the kids to bed and went downstairs to watch TV. Josh had turned on the Jazz game and I had fallen asleep on the couch (as I usually do when a jazz game is on). Josh had heard an odd sound but didn't pay much attention. After about a 1/2 hour he went upstairs to see if he could find out where the noise was coming from. Well, the ice maker had gotten stuck and the water poured out all over the kitchen and dining room floor. Josh spent 3 hours trying to clean it up before he woke me up to go to bed. When I woke I noticed bubbles in the ceiling ... not a good sign.

The next morning at work I was talking to a friend who told me I needed to call the Insurance company if the drywall was soaked or we'd have mold or mildew. It was a stressful morning as we got a hold of the Insurance and they sent a clean up crew to our home. They ripped up everything in the kitchen and cut out drywall from the ceiling and wall in the basement. We had 8 industrial fans and 2 dehumidifiers for 4 days before we were able to get a quote to begin the restoration. You know, it's amazing how when your home is in shambles it's so easy to justify home improvements. I can't count the number of times we said, "While it's out we should replace ..." or "since we have to replace we mine as well upgrade". In the end we ended up with a new flooring in the kitchen/dining room/entry way that I've wanted for years. A new kitchen sink and faucet plus a new dishwasher. It wasn't all flowers and roses, they had to redo the kitchen floor 3 times. The first installation was perfect but then when they installed the dishwasher and sink something scratched the floor and they had to rip it up and do it again. Then it wouldn't stick to the subfloor so they had to rip it up and do it a final time. The company was great to work with and they took full responsibility which we were most grateful for.



The basement was the easiest to restore aside from the fact that all the kids toys are downstairs as well as our TV. We were really limited when we unable to be downstairs during the work. Thanks to family who helped us out by taking in our kids on multiple occasions as well as taking us to dinner so we didn't have to be home fighting the kids. The biggest headache was painting. We decided to paint the entire basement and went through 2 different colors before making a final decision. It looks excellent, Josh did a great job! We also replaced the wall lights and Josh painted the entry hallway because it really needed it! Once the painting was complete it took several days to "de-dust" everything in the basement. They sanded the textured ceiling without using drop cloths ... Brilliant! Everything had an inch worth of dust cover.

We love the outcome from our "forced remodel" but we're also very glad it's over and life can get somewhat back to normal.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lexie Montana

I can't believe we haven't posted anything since before Christmas. Sorry about that, faithful blog readers (especially you, Hydee!). Anyway, this video cracked me up. Lexie watched the Hannah Montana movie on Saturday, and decided to perform during the closing song and the credits. She's a crackup...certainly not shy.

And make sure you watch after the 2:00 mark when Jaden decides to join in the fun.

Lexie Montana from Josh on Vimeo.