Valium Vickie

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Obligatory Proposal Story: Part 1

"How did you do it?"

More often than not, that's the question my girlfriend* and I are asked after we let someone know that we're getting married. People want to know how the proposal went down because they're expecting this big, elaborate story. If that's what a proposal's supposed to be, then I failed miserably.

Here's the short(er) version: After living together for five-plus years (dating for six), Liz and I discussed the possibility of getting married in a very pragmatic way. On the drive back from a week's stay in Atlantic City, I remember broaching the subject with: "So, we should probably look into getting married at some point, huh?"
"I guess we could do that," was Liz's overjoyed response.

The ring purchase

That was in August of 2012. Following the mutual declaration of our deep-seated desire to express our undying love for one another through the institution of marriage, I set about getting a ring. I got the circle part or, as those in the jewelry industry call it, the setting, from this hippie place in Seattle that makes custom-made jewelry (Liz had bookmarked the website). But the diamond was purchased from a family friend, a man I'll call "Vito the Bear" (I wouldn't do a Google Search with those terms).

Vito is this adorable little elderly Italian man. His face has the type of orang-ish hue that's only ever achieved with the help of a spray-tan bottle. It made me wonder if Vito tanned his entire body for consistency or if he simply sprayed the face to exude a healthy and youthful appearance for sales purposes.

Vito the Bear, a couple of moms, a life-saving aunt and me.

By the time I'd gotten the setting made, taken several trips up to New York to check out Vito the Bear's diamonds and picked out the right one, it was March. All I had left to do was get Vito to put his beautiful diamond in the hippie setting. So one Friday night I told Liz I had a show somewhere in the Poconos and I'd be staying the night at the hotel the booker had offered. Instead, I stayed at my friend Shawn's in the Bronx, shot over to Manhattan to meet Vito in the morning and was home by two in the afternoon.

The carefully orchestrated proposal

I didn't plan on proposing right away; I actually had a semi-formed plan set for later that week involving a Scott Weiland concert and fondue. But as soon as I got home, I felt like I needed to get rid of the ring. Plus, due to my carelessness, Liz had found out about Vito the Bear and knew I'd been working on getting a ring. I figured any type of scheduled plans I made would be a dead giveaway that the proposal was coming, so I scrapped the idea of the Scott Weiland concert cover-up. Instead, I opted to go with what I thought was the element of surprise.

On some random Saturday afternoon in March, I took the ring out of its fancy box and tied it around my dog Luna's collar with the chocolate ribbon that had been wrapped around everything. I remember sitting in my car, tying the ribbon and saying out loud to Luna: "I really need you to step up here. This is big ... this is really big." Luna responded by licking my nose repeatedly, which I took as her way of letting me know she understood the importance of our mission.

She thought the mission was curling up in the bed.

With my heart beating rapidly and Luna in my arms, I marched up the stairs and headed toward our bedroom. Liz had called me several times on my way home, and she sounded good and pissed about the fact that I wasn't home yet. She'd also worked the previous night and gotten around four hours of sleep. The best way to tame an angry, sleep-deprived girlfriend was with an engagement ring ... or so I thought.

When I walked into our room, Liz was getting ready for her cousin's surprise birthday party, a party we were both going to later that night. I handed her the dog and said something like, "Luna has something she wants to show you." Liz immediately put Luna down on the bed and went back to getting ready.
Unfazed, I picked the dog back up and handed her back to Liz, insisting, "Luna really has something she needed to show you."
"What is it Jar.." she started, but then she saw the ring. Liz's first words were: "Really? You're doing this now?"

That sounds bad, but the involuntary noise she made prior to that question was even worse.
"Ohhh" is a sound that means vastly different things depending on the pitch of the person making the noise. If the person's voice goes up when the "Ohhh" sound is emitted, it generally means that person is surprised, excited and even possibly overjoyed. But if the person's voice drops down an octave, then it's normally meant to convey annoyance or outright disappointment. Liz's voice sounded like it dropped several octaves when she made that initial "Ohhh" noise.

She did agree to marry me -- on the condition that I didn't tell anyone about the engagement during her cousin's party. To be fair, Liz knew all along that I'd been at Vito's picking up the ring. She'd checked out all of the firehouses in the area where I was supposedly performing and discovered there were no comedy shows even remotely close to that area. So she was annoyed that my lies weren't more carefully planned out and exhausted from working a 12-hour shift and dealing with needy patients. On top of all that, because of the party, she didn't have the proper amount to enjoy the moment and call up every person she's ever had contact with since she was seven, which I believe is a requirement of the engagement process.

She did love the ring, though. And because the company that made it encourages customers to share their proposal stories, I felt like I needed to contribute something. But the actual proposal story just wouldn't do.


* I've been avoiding the word fiance at all costs for a number of reasons, many of which I discuss in detail here in this video.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

'Why Is The Iron In The Refrigerator?'

"Why is everything such a production with you?"

My girlfriend, Liz, asked me this right after I told her about the six or so tasks I planned to accomplish before I went to sleep on a random Monday at 10:30 p.m.

She followed that question up with, "Why do you have to drag everything out?"

I tried to explain that I'd never be able to relax enough to get to sleep until I at least attempted to do those very specific things, because some part of me insisted those things needed to be done at that very moment.

The reality of the situation is, I'd only get half of those tasks done that night -- and that was if I was lucky. See, I've always had a major problem with time management -- but it's more than that. I'm also unorganized. My personal space is a lot like the notebooks I'm constantly scribbling in: full of sloppy, unfinished projects with coffee stains everywhere. But it's not that either. My head is the real problem. Everything "is such a production" because I'm so focused on what's going on in my head that I have a lot of trouble doing the things that are going on outside of it -- or at least doing them correctly. Then night comes, and I realized I haven't done anything I was supposed to, so I try to cram everything into a ridiculous time frame.

Here's an example of what happens when I notice the kitchen's a mess and decide to try and straighten it up a bit:

(Man in his early 30s, to himself): Jesus, look at this place. How did it get like this? I just ran the dishwasher yesterday .... No, no, yesterday I came home and went right that open mic. Must've been the day before. (begins unloading dishes from the dishwasher and placing them off to the side) OK, if I clean up the kitchen, then I can sit down and write for a half hour before Liz gets back, and we can catch up on our shows. We've got Parenthood and Modern and ... When does Mad Men start up again? This waiting a year between seasons bullsh$t is really starting to get old. What was that thing I wanted to write about? ... Probably put it in my notes ... (walks to the counter, picks up his phone) There it is ... 'Bitch face/People act their face' ... what the f#ck does that mean? (furrows his brow and rubs his chin) ... Oh yeah, right. That woman from the Right Aide became a bitch because she was born with such a bitchy looking face. Even if she tried to be a nice person she'd fail because of that severe face ... I don't know, could work I guess. Seemed a lot funnier when I was drunk ... Oh, I love this song. I used to know how to play this sh$t, too. (walks to the living room, picks up guitar; 19 minutes go by, and he returns to the kitchen) ...

A strange, simple man.

OK, what time is it here? 8:12! How the hell did that happen? It was just 6:30 a couple of minutes ago. I can't ever seem to get a handle on this time thing ...There's just never enough time. Doesn't matter how much you get done, there's still so much left to do. And what's the point of being busy all the time? It's so stupid. All we're doing is trying to distract ourselves and keep our minds off the fact we're going to die some day ... All of us are going to die ... I really should try meditating more. That would probably be good for me ... But it's kind of weird. If it's weird for me, it's gotta be weird for Liz, right? Yeah, that's probably why I don't do it more ... I'm more afraid of her walking in on me mediating than of her walking in on me masturbating (laughs to himself) ... That's pretty funny. I should do something with that ... (picks an unfamiliar object out of the dishwasher) What the hell is this? Where does it even go? ... Where does all this sh%6 come from? We have so much sh$t that we don't even need in here than ... I'm getting a motorcycle. I don't care. I'm not really that bad of a driver, and motorcycles are different ... you have to pay attention. you have to focus. And it's amazing. I'm too old to do drugs, but I need something ... I'm getting a motorcycle. That's it; it's settled. I'll take those classes the DMV has in the Spring, then I'll start looking for bikes then ... Do I say something about it or just show up with a motorcycle one day? ... There it is (walks over to the counter and picks up an iron) ... There's no way this has just been sitting here all day. I looked everywhere for this thing. It doesn't belong here. That's probably why I couldn't find it. Alright, I gotta get this sh$t done ... I need to get a motorcycle. She's not gonna like it, but it's gotta happen ... God I'm starving. I really need to eat something (walks over to the refrigerator).

35 Minutes Later ...

(Young woman enters the house, put her stuff down, walks over to the fridge and opens it): Why is the iron in the refrigerator?
(Man): I'm getting a motorcycle!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Top 5 Valiums of 2013

With another year in the books, some of us are planning out how we'll spend 2014 -- a year my Great Aunt Jeanie has already begun referring to as "The Year The Mexicans Took Over Main Street." Rather than looking forward, however, most of us are looking back, taking one last look at what just happened. Because that's what we do. We really like to look back at the stuff we just did or the stuff we just went through. A quick Google search of "A look back at 2013" yields more than four billion results.

We (i.e., this guy) here at the Valium are no different than the rest of the people. The 2013 edition is the third installment of the Top-5 list.  If your wondering why it's such a short list, the answer is very simple: There weren't too many posts to pick from -- a Top-10 list seems a little silly when there were only 12 choices in all. So that's why it's five. Before I jump right into the list, I'd like to thank everybody who took the time to read, comment and share anything from this blog. There are so many places on the interweb where you can go to waste your time, I'm genuinely flattered that anyone would choose to waste their time on my little blog.

I'm always looking to expand the reach of this Valium Vickie, a blog that got its name from an over-medicated former co-worker of mine. So, if you read something you like, pass it along to anybody you think may just feel the same way. And the same goes for stuff you hate. Feel free to reach out and let me know you think I'm an idiot.

Words with Friends, Foes and Complete Strangers

5. I've Never Been 'Molested, Molested.' As a mother, when your adult son asks you how you felt about a trip he took to Roy Rogers with a Catholic priest as a young child, you have to be careful exactly how you frame your response. Otherwise, he could easily take your completely innocuous response and turn it a blog post that causes a minor uproar in a small village in the Philippines.

4. The 3 Most Annoying Signs At The Philadelphia Rock And Roll Half Marathon. When I signed up for this thing, I had around six months to prepare, which seemed like plenty of time. Then, six months went by quicker than I expected, and I only ran the thing because, otherwise, it would mean I spent $90 on a T-shirt. The only thing dumber than paying a bunch of money to run long distances packed in with men in really, really short shorts (although sometimes you're lucky enough to run behind a fantastic ass in a pair of yoga pants) is standing around for hours holding a homemade sign, hoping to catch a glimpse of some friend, family member or person you're having casual sex with. This post was all about the worst signs I saw during my13-mile jaunt. On top of appearing on this humble little blog, the fine folks over at Philly Sports Live were kind enough to post it on their much more established site, which you can see here.

3. Dear Signature Room. Last summer, I took my future wife to dinner at the prestigious Signature Room, a restaurant located on the 96th floor of the John Hancock Center in Chicago. During our meal, a middle-aged German couple made a series of overtly sexual gestures toward us and did everything but ask us directly to partake in an orgy with them ... or at least that's what I told the restaurant in the detailed survey in filled out (I did give the Signature Room excellent marks in every real category). This post is a transcript of the conversation I had with the Signature Room's Director of Operations as a result of my allegations.

2. What Do You Do When That Dog You Love Too Much Dies Too Soon. My dog, Luna, died last summer, and instead of writing a ridiculous email to the company that handles the credit card we used to pay for Luna's care in her final months and asking them to waive a late fee because we needed every last cent to pay for the pet psychic we were going to use to contact our "ghost dog," I wrote about the pain I felt. (OK, I actually did write that email, too, and they did waive the fee, and I will be posting it at some point in the future.) Instead of writing something I thought was funny and was pretty sure at least a few others would the same way, I wrote this because I thought it would make me feel better. And it did. At first, I had no intention of putting the I'm-really-really-sad-over-my-dead-dog-and-here's-why post on this blog; it doesn't fit. It's like the Catholic Standard & Times including an editorial on the perks of being an atheist. I am glad I posted this one, though. On top of being the second most viewed post, I also received a bunch of very sweet, heartfelt messages from people, which meant a lot to me.

1. Words with Friends: What 'Needs More Games' Really Means. I'm kind of surprised this one took the top spot. I really thought "Dear Signature Room" was going to run away with it, but this one got almost twice as many views as any other post this year. If you haven't read it, give it a shot. It's basically a breakdown of the psychological disorder/disorders each type of Words with Friends' player suffers from. For example, Words' players who fall into the "Plays At Your Pace" category are often sexually aroused by humiliation. How do I know? This post explains it all in a very frank and often unnecessarily graphic detail.