Welcome to yet another year end wrap-up of my life. I have been writing Christmas letters for so long now I have trouble remembering which one this is. Lets see– the earliest one was from 1995, and its 2002 now. Subtracting the two numbers gives seven– which is only one off from the correct value of eight. And that isn’t counting 1999 when I wrote two letters– which means this is the ninth letter in the series. What is significant about the number nine? First of all, its the number of fingers Kristin has (not counting, obviously, her missing finger.) And if that wasn’t enough, nine is also the number of people who are in the title sequence of “The Brady Bunch.” I’ve also discovered, thanks to my extensive travels in Europe, nine is a word often used in Germany. Since I’m not a professional linguist, I have no idea what it means.
One of the first things I did in 2002 was meet my girlfriend Kristin. Anyone who is familiar with the writing on my website and my below-average spelling abilities might think that Kristin and Kristen are the same person. Despite sharing eighty-six percent of the letters of their first name, these are two different people. Kristen was the original newfunny.com editor and a semi-fictional character in my novel “Internet Grandeur”. (Which, by the way, I’m still working on getting published.) Unfortunately, Kristen had too many time constraints between working full time at the library and going to school to correct the constant barrage of grammatical errors that kept accumulating in her E-mail account.
So this is where Kristin came into the picture. We started seeing each other in the middle of January. I’m not sure exactly when we started dating, and asking Kristin doesn’t shed any light on the issue. Personally, I would just like to consider the first time we met in person as the start of our relationship for future anniversary purposes. Kristin, on the other hand, has documented no less than five different levels of the relationship that need to be taken into consideration in establishing an anniversary date. There is the first time we met, the first formal date, the first time we agreed not to see other people, the first time we said “I love you” to each other, and a few other milestones that I can’t remember at the moment. Nailing down an anniversary date has been an exercise in futility. Since we have both agreed to disagree, I made an executive decision and placed our anniversary on the same day as the Superbowl. This way we can always celebrate it on the weekend, and the odds of me forgetting are slim to none. I briefly considered making it Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, but that is always on Monday, and I didn’t want Kristin accusing me of playing the race card.
Semi-random thought: Since I’ve gotten in the habit of having Kristin proofread my writing most people don’t get to see the way my brain and fingers like to spell words. In my own defense I get most of the words right. My favorite spelling mistake was in an E-mail message to a friend of mine talking about how difficult it is for me to shave my face on a daily basis. I meant to ask if there was some kind of personal hygiene product designed to permanently remove facial hair for men. I wanted to say “beard Nair,” but I wrote “bread Nair.” I don’t think either product currently exists.
In February I went on a road trip with Kristin to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. We decided to take the northern route through Wyoming. Now I truly understand why it is the least populated state in the country. This was the first time I had ever been to Salt Lake City, and the only thing I can say is [NOTE TO READER: insert your favorite Morman joke here.] No matter where we were in Utah, we couldn’t escape the Olympic hype. Olympic pins sat prominently on the counter of gas stations, highway signs pointed the way to Olympic venues, and twelve-story high images of figure skaters clung to the sides of various twelve-story buildings. I spent most of the long journey home going on about curling being an Olympic sport. Kristin enjoyed my rambling thoughts so much she only tried to throw herself out of the moving car once or twice.
After staying put for a few years, I decided I was tired living in Boulder, Colorado. Sure, it has its share of liberal wackos, but in the end I decided to move in with a friend of mine in Loveland, Colorado. Moving was a lot more work than, say, staying put, but now that I am all settled in I really enjoy the area. Traffic really isn’t an issue in Loveland, so I always enjoy listening to the Denver radio stations during rush hour to find out how bad the situation is fifty miles south of me. The biggest problem I have with the town involves a lack of a book superstore such as Borders or Barnes and Noble. Oh yeah, and someone stole one of our recycling bins a few months ago, but it turned up a few days later. Other than that, things are going pretty well.
This year I altered my shopping habits when I got a membership to Sam’s Club. Well, OK, I didn’t actually buy it– my mom got herself a membership and added my name to the account. Anyone who is familiar with these types of large-volume discount retailers knows they are the perfect place to pick up life’s necessitates such as a ten pound container of salted cashews and a battery-powered atomic clock. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what I came home with after my first visit. While I can’t recall anything particularly fun or exciting about the cashews, the atomic clock is quite a piece of work.
I need to start out by saying that, to the best of my knowledge (and despite the name), this device does not contain any significant levels of radioactive material. I’m not sure exactly how it works on the inside, but I suspect the heart of the device utilizes a government operated cesium powered chronometer, encoded radio signals, and a genetically designed race of miniature gnome slaves. What I do know is you enter your time zone and whether or not your township or local municipality follows daylight savings time and suddenly POW! Radioactive gnomes fly out of the clock in an effort to enter your ear canal and take control of your higher brain functions. STRIKE THAT– WE ARE NOT CONTROLLING YOUR THOUGHTS OMAR. STRIKE THAT– GNOMES DO NOT EXIST, YOU, I MEAN I, JUST MADE THAT PART UP.
Next to my move to Loveland, the biggest change in my life this year was moving back to the ranks of the employed. In September I started working part-time for UPS. I get up way too early in the morning, load boxes into delivery trucks, and clock out with plenty of time to stop by Burger King before they stop serving breakfast. When I first started working, I quickly realized that this type of work is more physically demanding than, say, surfing the Internet all day. It took me a while to acclimate to this change, but I am in much better shape now and have even managed to lose a few pounds. I like to think of the whole situation as going to the gym five days a week. The most significant difference is that at this gym you get in trouble if you don’t show up every day.
I think that about wraps things up for this Christmas letter. Since I never really know how to end these letters, I’ll just stick with my traditional mechanism of quoting whatever movie comes to mind. So until next year, just remember what Jack Nicholson said in As Good As It Gets– “Sell crazy someplace else– we’re all stocked up here.”