05 January, 2009

And We're Back

By God's will alone I have returned from holiday break and am back at living this thing we call life. The break was an interesting one and one fraught with stress, difficulty, sickness, pain and nausea (car sickness mostly) with a dash of joy and goodwill interspersed throughout. I'll attempt to catch you up and fill you in but I fear anything short of having been there won't do it justice. Besides that, it's probably not very interesting, but let's see what we can do.

Christmas this year was to be spent in Portland with my wife's parents, the in-laws for me. Kristen's parents are great. Loving, accommodating, generous and friendly. They paid to fly us up there, shared their one car that could drive through snow and then handed us the keys to the Acura when the snow melted. They treated us to myriad movies, dinners on the town, fast food lunches, fine Christmas gifts and meals and a whopping dose of drama and awkwardness. It's this last part that I am reluctant to expand much on. Looking back now, it doesn't seem so bad, but at the time, I was seriously looking for prescription drugs that could help sedate me through the tougher times (thanks for the Flexorol offer Jane*). The tension was tangible. You could cut it with a knife, stab it with a fork and choke it down to get through it.
In their defense, I must say that the frustration and tension was not without warrant. There was some stuff going on that had built up amongst family members that came to a head while we were there and it manifested itself in some ugly and awkward ways and in most cases was a necessary evil leading to a positive outcome. You could call it tough love. All I know is that at one point in the car, on our way to Christmas Eve dinner and a traditional Nativity skit with the nieces, nephews and cousins, I pulled my hoodie over head, cinched up the strings so only my mouth protruded and breathed really deeply for a few minutes, thinking of my happy place and my power animal to give me strength (this is the part were I jokingly asked for Flexoral to calm my nerves and was actually offered the same.)
But whatever right? Being woken up by 3-year olds and mother-in-laws before 9am on almost everyday of your Christmas break isn't that big of a deal right? Icing testicular trauma induced by nieces and nephews using your crotch as a trampoline isn't the end of the world is it? Leaving Christmas break feeling about as stressed as you were when you arrived isn't a big deal. It wasn't about me. I was a pawn in a game of chess who sacrificed himself to save the queen. I was there, but I wasn't important, integral or necessary. I was a vehicle to assure the success of another. And although my wife agrees that it was the worst Christmas in the history of our lives, it was important family time. Like a slab of meat, a family is boring, bland and flavorless without some spice for taste and excitement. The in-laws are a delightful dish I gladly order up where available. This trip though, the flavor was just a little spicy and burned excruciatingly for a short time. It just burned going in, not out. The after taste was mighty fine.

Pat is Kristen's mother and I love her. Pat I love you. If you read this next story, I am sorry I am selfish and ridiculous, but this story is a must-tell:
Pat and Steve's house is a great little house in a retirement community, nestled quietly mid-fairway on a little golf course. Pat and Steve's house is well decorated and finely furnished. Pat and Steve's house is filled with food, but food that no self respecting, overweight, 20-something man would want...nay, NEED to eat to be happy in times of stress or vacational binge eating. I cannot count the times I was told, "if you guys are still hungry, you can go in the kitchen and make a salad."
Needless to say, I had to stock my own fridge and stockpile/horde my own treats. Before I continue with this story, let me just say that I am VERY SELFISH. I recognize this and promise to work on it, but let me say it again: I AM SELFISH (and shamefully so.) So, selfish, food-hording little me buys a summer sausage and wrangles up some nice, Russian cheese at a local European market. The owner, Anna, and her husband Vlad, excitedly sell me nearly $40 dollars worth of food during my stay. So one day, I go in the kitchen, poke around for some food and after nixing cereal, toast, salad and leftovers, I slice up 10-ish pieces of summer sausage with Russian cheese and Ritz crackers plated in similar numbers (I make little meat/cheese/cracker sandwiches.) As I delicately plate my last cracker and pull off my Martha Stewart apron in preparation to feast, my wife calls me into the living room to socialize with her family and grandpa who were all sitting and chatting. Being no dummy, I sighed in hungered frustration and the fear that leaving out of plate freshly prepared food provides. I'm no idiot. If you leave a plate of food out at your own home and someone eats it, you kick them in the gojos and slap them with a white glove, demanding they re-prepare what they've just eaten. When someone eats your prepared plate of snacks elsewhere, your hands are tied. It's not your house and it's not your family. You have to be married to in-laws for a long time to kick their junk or slap their face. It doesn't fly. So when Kristen's mom stood up and went into the kitchen, I started to sweat. When she hollered out at me, thanking me for preparing a plate of snacks for the group, my nervous sweat turned to salty tears of sadness. And when my plate of snacks floated out into the living room on her up turned and offering hand, I shattered the crowns of my teeth from clenching my jaw. Bless her sweet, giving, thoughtful, hostessy heart, but she just gave away the last of my beef stick.
See what I mean? I'm selfish. I went out and bought myself a brand new, $10 beef stick at Safeway that night.

So there you go. That's a pretty good assessment of our stay in Oregon. More? Sure there was more. There was tons more. I could tell stories endlessly. I could tell more horror stories and I could tell you about all the great movies we saw and all the fun stuff with did with her family and how cute the nieces and nephews were.
Movies? Here is a quick rundown:
-Tale of Desperaux: Cute, good, fun.
-Valkyrie: Good, tense but doesn't quite live up to the hype.
-Horton Hears A Who: Cute, good, fun, better than I expected.
-Yes Man: Jim's return to comedy, better than expected, very funny, memorable, Zoe Daschanel is hot as usual.
-4 Christmas: Hilarious, frustratingly relatable, Vaugn is comedy god.
-Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Hauntingly memorable, life changing, a fabulous story with perfect pace and character attatchement.
-Ghost Town: A+ movie with great comedy and an awesomely fun story, Ricky Gervais is amazing and along with Vince Vaugn in 4 Xmases, a comedy god, some weirdly placed profanity though that seemed unnecessary.

I think that's all the movies we saw. A couple on DVD and the rest in the theatre. 4 Christmases was actually a depressing give-in to the inevitability that two married Mormon kids weren't going to find anything fun to do on New Year's Eve. We drove around as all the restaurants were closing and finally were forced to settle on Sheri's, a Denny's like place that smelled like a Vegas casino and and served food that looked just a bit better than it tasted. I was in a bad mood over the whole inevitably-boring-New Years thing and when I get in a bad mood I eat a lot (obviously.) So I ordered buffalo wings and a stack of pancakes, a coke with lemon and two cups of hot chocolate. Dinner at that smoke filled place set me back over $30 for 2 people. I guess I was in a really bad mood. And as if our $30 meal wasn't insulting enough, after we ate and went to our movie, I expected to be lost in Vince Vaughn's sarcastically bitter humor when the clock struck 12 but no, we got out with less than 15 minutes to spare. I don't even get to experience the the depressing self loathing of being in a movie theatre while the rest of the world is celebrating the dawn of a new year. So we get in the car and sprint home. We both know there is no way we're going to make it home so we tune the radio in, listen to the countdown and pull over less than a mile from Kristen's parent's house for a New Years kiss. My beard has grown thick but tradition reigns supreme and I get a proper, loving kiss as illegal fireworks burst over head. As we finish our kiss and turn forward, we see a fireworks show going off for us straight ahead. We are parked on a tree lined little road and at the end, where the trees open up, a fireworks show is going off. Its like its for us. Just the two of us. No other cars, no other sound, lips still wet from our loving kiss. It actually all worked out and as my self loathing melted into appreciation for my wife and the providence provided us as manifested by this just-so fireworks show, I realized life is alright. Things were ok and you know what, this Christmas vacation really turned out to be just fine.
We flew back home the next day, uneventfully. Just sadness at leaving mingled with a little bit of relief. Family is love and family is home, but there's just something about sleeping in your own bed, pooping in your own bathroom and eating food out of your own fridge.

So that's all I think I'm going to write on the matter. There's more, oh there is so much more. Like the part where me and Kristen didn't get seated together on the flight to Oregon and I was enraged not only at that but having to sit in the middle seat. I'm darn near 300lbs. I do not sit in the middle seat...anywhere. And you don't want to be sitting next to me when I have to sit in the middle seat. Thankfully, I sat next to this adorable and friendly BYU freshman who kindly and unknowingly calmed me down through her friendly banter. She really was so nice and cute. Unfortunately, her cute and friendly innocence was overshadowed by her boomingly loud and flirty tone of voice. I'm pretty sure the entire plane thought we were flirty our brains out. I know my wife could hear her talking and thats what she thought. I tried to talk really quietly to kinda give her an example of how much volume was necessary to be heard on an airplane. Not much. She didn't get the message. Also, she referred to me as, "a nice man" when she was telling her boyfriend how the flight was and who she was sitting next to. That made me feel strangely old. Furthering the funny of the situation, is this story:
When we got to Portland and got to the in-laws house, we met Chad, or Chaz as we called him all trip (behind his back). He is Kristen's sister's boyfriend. He told us that his brother had been on the same flight as us. He told us that according to his brother, the plane was full of BYU kids and a couple of them had been sitting behind him chatting it up about school and classes and so on for the first half of the flight, essentially annoying the living crap out of him. A couple of phone calls were immediately made and in no time it was confirmed: I was the annoying man, and the cute freshman was the annoying girl and Chaz's brother had been sitting right in front of us the whole flight. What a small world we live in.

So yeah, thats the story(ies) about the break. Like I said, there is more but Im tired of typing and I think I've giving you a good feel for it all. I wouldn't even know how to segue into another story at this point anyway. I've devoured an entire package of warm Mamba's and will be starting on a purse of foil-wrapped chocolate coins I found in my backpack soon. Its time to stop.
I hope you enjoyed my adventure and I apologize for the length. Please refer to my facebook for pictures or my twitter account for more info and pictures.

much love,
Logan Tanner

*Name has been changed to protect the innocent, guilty and beloved.


Kaisha De La Mare said...

You had to ice testicular trauma? haha. But is true that kids love to use the human body as a trampoline. BTW, I think the straight jacket was the perfect image to depict the series of events that summed up your holiday "break".

Joey and Kim said...

I am surprised I read it all. It was well worth it. You always have interesting stories. We love you logie!

agirlwho said...

This definitely brightened up a gray day (as most days are here in Oregon). You totally kill me. It would be fun to chill next time you're in P-town. Seriously.

Kristen said...

Lol, Honey you did is justice. Super funny read.

Jeff said...

"You have to be married to in-laws for a long time to kick their junk or slap their face." How true that is.

Dev said...

Logan you are hilarious! I always get a kick out of your blog posts.

somebody said...