Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016


When 2016 began I decided I was going to be much more productive. I was going to be brave enough and work hard enough to get whatever it was I wanted for myself.

I close 2016 much more tired than I can remember being in a very long time. Not sad; not disappointed. Not regretful of how I spent the year. Just, pretty tired.

This was a busy year. I evolved significantly during it, and I'm glad for that. But as it closes, and I rest on the emotional and physical fatigue that I achieved along-side the benefits that came from seeking to evolve, I can see that moderation and balance aren't a treat--they are necessary sustenance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Top Ten Most Viewed Stranger Posts of 2016

Just Because
We have somehow made it to Stranger's second to last post of 2016. I'll send you some final thoughts at the end of the week in my 2016 post. Today I give you The Top Ten Most Viewed Stranger Posts from this year.

This list never turns out how I think it's going to. And it has become one of my favorite December traditions to take a walk down memory lane and visit what you seemed to like (or hate) most.

I had a lot of good times with you in 2016. And I mostly just threatened you with Tami without actually assaulting you. So I think my favorability ratings are probably up from last year. (Shooting for 12%).

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Friendly Reminder to Make Some Spare Keys

We all get to agree that 2016 was a weird year. I say "was" even though it isn't actually over yet. I'm confident in the statement anyway. Nothing can happen in the next few days to make 2016 not a weird year.

So it shouldn't have been a surprise when this morning happened.

It started snowing on Christmas Eve in Salt Lake City. Apocalypse snowing. Snowing so much that there is currently an avalanche risk in Ecuador.

I know we're supposed to just be super happy about snow on Christmas because all of the songs have manipulated us into believing that it makes the season more magical. But I will not be duped.

Snow is a necessary evil in my neck of the woods. I appreciate it for hydrating the land and cleansing the air. But it is not magical.

It is cold, wet, and it always feels vindictive. Like, I don't know for sure if God is using it as a punishment, but every time I see the first snow flakes of the season start descending upon us I can't help but wonder if it's happening because of all the trashy television I watched throughout the year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I Called 911 Again

Matt had a Christmas party on Friday and I went even though I'm not very good at parties lately. See this and this.

But I figured that third time's a charm. Plus he needed help and Mr. Pants needed snuggling, so I showed up at 1:00 PM to do both.

We made some food. We decorated some tables. We (illegally) cut branches off of trees in a nearby public park to better adorn Broome Bungalow's chicest spaces.

Mr. Pants and Mr. Scraps didn't help at all. But they get away with it because they're usually doing this incredibly cute thing instead:

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Episode 11: The World of Guardians

We somehow made it through our first year of Strangerville. The learning curve has been steep, and will surely continue to be so. But somehow Jolyn and I have survived the year without

1. Killing each other

2. Falling (mutually) in love

3. Getting married for tax reasons

4. Getting divorced for tax reasons

5. Starting a band that specializes in Caribbean-themed bat mitzvahs

6. Destroying the entire internet except for the Spacejam website

7. Prison for more than one month

So as you can see, it has been a miraculous year.

When we started Strangerville at the beginning of the year we never dreamed that by the end of 2016 we would have obtained the reach that we have. And we have all of you to thank for that. Jolyn and I would have an illegal amount of fun putting Strangerville together even if our mothers were our only listeners (Cathie and Nancy? You are listening, right??? You've been awfully quiet lately. We know where you live.)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

This morning I woke up with zero puppies, which is exactly too many fewer puppies than one should have. So tonight I drove to Adam's house and made some excuse about why it would make sense for me to take Teddy with me and to my shock this actually worked. Then I drove to Matt's house with Teddy in tow and gave Matt a guilt trip about how lonely Mr. Pants was going to be if I didn't bring him with us and have a puppy slumber party, and to my shock, that worked.

So now I have two puppies. And they are hysterically barking at each other because there's only one bone at my house and they aren't good at sharing and this town is only big enough for one of them. So, yeah. I used my super powers of persuasion to achieve this result.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Brianne and I took a work selfie and posted it on Instagram. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Popcorn Part II

AND THEN.

You guys didn't think there was going to be an "and then." You thought that dumpster fire of a life I told you about over the weekend was the finish line in my 32-year journey to become the trashiest person in all the land.

You probably thought, "Eli isn't going to post anymore after this. There's really nothing else for him to say. He has completed this blog and it will now become yet another abandoned page in the blogosphere."

Well, you guys were wrong. Because there's more. There is more crap to tell you about. On Monday I gave you the ice cream, but I withheld the cherry on top. Because I was worried I was already going to cause your type II diabetes and I wanted to give your poor pancreas a 48-hour break before shoving a nearly-illegal amount of proverbial powdered donuts down your proverbial gullets.

I think I got lost in analogies somewhere back there.

The point is this.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Popcorn

On Friday Skylar told me he was going to some party at some woman's house and he asked if I wanted to come along. I wasn't really in the mood and I was tired and lazy and TV and stuff so I started to decline but then he promised me that he was only going to stay for 15 minutes and then he wanted to go to a movie after.

That sounded fine to me because popcorn.

So I agreed under the terms. Skylar told me this was a "PJ party." This sounded odd to me because (A) we are grownups, (B) what the hell is a "PJ party," (C) we are grownups. But I decided not to question it because another human told me I was about to get into a car, drive to a place with food, then go to another place with popcorn, and I could do all of this in sweats. And I've learned in my life that if something sounds too good to be true, it definitely is so just ride the high of belief in an impossible thing for as long as you can and postpone the devastation until later.

We showed up at the party, in sweats.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

I'm going to choose this one time to say a word that I literally never say beause I feel like it's appropriate: y'all, I'm exhuasted.

I PROMISE NEVER TO SAY Y'ALL AGAIN.

What a week/month/year. As I sit in my office this Thursday evening, watching the flecks of snow drift down to the ant-like cars below, I'm full of nostalgia and just a little bit of longing for a time when life was slightly simpler, gratitude for the richness of the complexities that make it not so simple anymore, and optimistic that all is well, or at least will be, whatever that means.

Thanks for your amazing support lately--even the support you didn't really realize you were giving. You Strangers make my world go around. Sometimes that's weird, sometimes it's lovely, but always it's entertaining.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Christmasing with Matthew and Skylar.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

You know I'm a hypochondriac. What you don't know is that I only tend to believe I have a disease when I don't actually have one. The moment there really is a serious medical concern, I'm like, "Nah. I'm immune to that. I'm fiiiiiiiiine."

For example, I was sure I had leukemia in 2009, and in fact read half of a book on it so I could best understand how to cope with the inevitable diagnosis. Two months later I was taken ill while everyone around me was incapacitated from Swine Flu. When my friends insisted that I also had Swine Flu, I repeatedly assured them that I was immune to this.

It wasn't until my friend Annette picked me up off of the floor where she found me in the hallway of BYU Law School and took me to the doctor that the diagnosis was confirmed. What proceeded, then, was the most dramatic Christmas of my life, including fainting spells, a broken hand, emergency surgery, and law school finals while under the influence of drugs that doctors promised me were legal.

And so it was no surprise when I disregarded Brianne's screaming with a dismissing hand wave, despite the obvious merit in her concerns.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Airbnb

I'm having some sort of midlife crisis recently, one that I don't have the stamina to try to explain right now. It's causing me to make some rash decisions. For example, I started a furniture-making business with Adam despite having never ever made furniture in my entire life.

The furniture business was a result of a series of panic attacks wherein I suddenly became extremely worried that for irrational and illogical reasons I am going to (a) lose my job, (b) become incapacitated, (c) zombie apocalypse, (d) The Queen of Colors, (e) etc.

I just suddenly became really worried that I'm not being smart with money and that I won't ever be able to retire or provide Tami the lifestyle that she demands.

My friends are extremely worried right now. These are actual quotes from them over the last month:

You need to pull yourself together because I'm counting on you raising Ollie when I'm dead.  Matt

If you become an Uber driver I'm taking your keys away.  Skylar

Please don't start selling your body.  Cathie

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

So last night I went to Wendy's at 11:00 PM because last I checked this is still America and I can do what I want STOP JUDGING ME. I went through the drivethrough because obviously I wasn't wearing pants or shoes and when I got to the window the man handed me a bag with 12 hamburgers in it which was crazy because I only ordered three STOP JUDGING ME.

He said that they just made a whole bunch and they didn't want to throw them out so they were giving them to me and I screamed "THANK YOU" like I just won the lottery but then as I was pulling away I realized that I didn't know what I was going to do with the 9 burgers I didn't order (ok let's be honest, the 7 burgers). And I also didn't want to throw them away because Bob and Cathie raised me in the great depression and one should never throw any food away so then I drove around in the snow looking for homeless people to give them to, and as I stepped out of my car, pantsless and shoeless, to do so, I kept feeling the need to explain to everyone that Wendy's gave me these for free because I didn't want unearned credit for good deeds, but mostly everyone just seemed interested in the fact that I wasn't wearing pants and then one man (whom I actually know) asked me if I wanted one of his blankets.

So yeah. I'm not sure whether I did any good last night. But I did eat 8 hamburgers right before bed.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Mr. Pants, just as we brought out the stuffing. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What Constitutes "The Midwest"?

Last week I complained to y'all on the Stranger Facebook page that Skylar keeps referring to Salt Lake City and Denver as "the Midwest."

AND I DON'T EVEN SAY Y'ALL.

Skylar is from Portland and his general lack of knowledge of any city that isn't somewhat near an ocean is disconcerting.

I need this to stop. I don't have a problem with the Midwest. But I do have a problem with misinformation.

I have explained to Skylar on several occasions that this area is, at most, called the "Mountain West," but he usually dismisses this with a wave of the hand and a condescending up-turned head shake.

It is very obnoxious to argue with Skylar because of this exact type of argument strategy. How can I argue with a condescending head shake? I invented the condescending head shake. I invented it because you can't argue with it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Can Dogs Be Racist?

Recently I told you about Herminda.

She comes to my house every two weeks. I never know what time, exactly, she'll be showing up. So it sort of feels like a ticking time bomb. Unfortunately sometimes I forget altogether that it's an Herminda day. This happened last time she came.

I still don't know how many minutes she heard of my twenty-two minute performance of the first twenty-two minutes of Hamilton wherein I do the men and women parts, including occasional beat boxing and sound effects that make very little sense and are not part of the original production.

All I know is that when I came out of the bathroom in a towel, dancing (also my own unique addition to the production), and caught somewhere in the middle of an excessively-vibrato'd and high-pitched "HELPLEEEEESSS," Herminda was finishing loading the dishwasher.

As a credit to her professionalism, she didn't even look at me when I screamed.

Herminda has tried to explain the schedule to me on several occasions, wanting even more than I want, to avoid these bi-monthly accidental encounters. At least I think she has. 99% of our conversations sound like this:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Idaho City

This weekend Skylar and I drove from Portland to Salt Lake City. In case you're not familiar with maps, that is just under 600,000 miles and it takes 12 weeks to travel the full distance. Actually a little more when you factor in the time warp.

Obviously I don't have the temperament or . . . what did Skylar call it? Oh yes, "human decency." I don't have the temperament or human decency to "behave like a good person" on road trips exceeding two hours.

We split the drive into three days and explored Oregon and southern Idaho, which made it a lot easier for me to avoid a toddler-like tantrum.

The plan was to stay in Boise over night before making our final leg of the drive, but then I serendipitously stumbled upon a place called "Idaho City" while interneting. After google imaging the place for five seconds, I demanded that we visit the 300-person town, 45 minutes out of Boise and buried deep in the mountains.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Tenth Circuit

Some time ago I took on this interesting case with a partner at my firm. It's an Eighth Amendment case (the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment).

A year ago I successfully argued a part of the case and after the judge issued his ruling, the State of Utah decided to appeal the decision. When something is appealed from federal court in Utah, it gets heard by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is located in Denver.

I was happy to go to Denver to argue the case, and I did that this week. It has actually been a dream of mine for a long time to get to argue in front of that court.

Normal people dream about becoming a famous musician or meeting Oprah or getting hit by a car owned by a very wealthy person and being injured badly enough to never have to work again but not badly enough that life is miserable. I dream about standing in front of a panel of judges and indignantly saying something like, "WELL THEN I GUESS THIS ISN'T EVEN AMERICA ANYMORE."

When I told Rebecca that I was going to be doing this argument, she immediately invited herself, bought a plane ticket from Mississippi (where she lives right now I swear don'tevenask), and turned our text chain into a paper chain every 24 hours to count down the days until we could meet up in Denver.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Episode 10: The World of Hard Conversations

It's an ultra packed episode this week in Strangerville, in large part because of all of the happenings in America over the last week. We invite you to join us on a thoughtful and peaceful journey through stories about hard conversations. Come and laugh with us, cry with us, blow snot all over the wall with us (wait . . . you guys don't do that? Yeah . . . neither do we . . . we were just testing you . . . ).

As always, we beg you like people without pride to share Strangerville with your family and friends. And if you haven't done so yet, please go leave us a review on what the kids are calling the iTunes. Cathie will nod approvingly if you do (this is worth a lot).

Also, of special note, Jolyn and I tried our hand at singing a Paul Simon song in this episode. It was much more complicated than we were expecting. And I now have a new respect for professional musicians. 

Without further ado,

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

We're all exhausted. So let's just enjoy some pictures of puppies and some links of stuff to waste your day.

Because if we can't do that, WELL THEN I GUESS THIS ISN'T EVEN AMERICAN ANYMORE.

Too soon?

I love you guys.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
I will be arguing an 8th Amendment case in front of the 10th Circuit in a few days. My friend Jenna came to help me practice. We call this "mooting with puppies."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Transitions


A lot of people were shocked last night when the election results unfolded. There's disappointment in many people today. This disappointment is the most consistent part of American presidential campaigns. I can promise you right now, there has never been a presidential election in my country that hasn't left hoards of people feeling a pit in their stomach and something like extreme worry or terror for their future.

And those people are entitled to that disappointment.

That disappointment is beautiful. It's beautiful because it means that apathy isn't winning.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Whole Bunch of People Decided to Vote



A whole bunch of people got up today in my country to vote. A bunch of others already voted days or weeks ago by mailing in their ballots. The ballots were long, and they included names of people some of us have never heard of and categories of offices some of us have only vaguely heard of.

But a bunch of people decided to vote anyway. They didn't pretend to understand every intricacy of every race. They didn't pretend to know all of the implications of any feasible outcome. They just stared at the ballot and tried to remember what they've heard and conjure their understanding and their research.

They may have felt unsure about a choice here and there. They may have felt proud about a choice here and there. They may have felt emotional about a choice here and there.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Repurposing a Cupboard Door

A couple of weeks ago I got home from the office after a particularly stressful day amid a particularly stressful week/month/year. The weather was nice so I decided I would winterize my home.

I say "winterize" because that's a word I've heard other grownups use. I have no idea what it actually means or what one is supposed to do to complete the task. All I know is that each fall I wander my yard pretending to do stuff while The Perfects are outside in hopes that they'll call some instructions over to me.

On this particular evening, I decided I would go ahead and turn off the water to my sprinklers and do some other sprinkler-related stuff my brother-in-law told me to do once. He didn't explain why any of these particular actions were important. I think this is so he can maintain all the power in the family. It's a job security issue.

Naturally turning off the sprinkler water led to cleaning my entire garage and replacing 12 light bulbs before determining that the light fixtures themselves were the problem.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

So tired. But Matt's going out of town and Adam has some crap going on so I'm having a puppy slumber part tonight and you can't stop me.

We are going to stay up all night gossiping.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions.
Skylar and I didn't have Halloween costumes mere minutes before Halloween parties were to commence. So he made these. We were dominoes. And then my perverted cousin made Instagram comments about our inadvertently inappropriate number choice. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Special TV Surprise

It was Survivor night, so the usual crew gathered in my home. I flipped on the TV. There we were, minding our own business, like good Christians/Jews/Muslims/Americans/muggles/beliebers, when suddenly,

Anna: IS THAT MATT BROOME!!!!???!?

Eli: No. Matt Broome would tell us if he was on TV. Surely he wouldn't keep something like this a secret.

We rewound the commercial because these are the days of miracle and wonder and you can do that now. We watched it eleventy hundred times. And we had a major debate. Well, not so much of a debate. More of a "everyone telling Eli he's wrong."

Adam: That's Matt!

Eli: No.

Anna: Yes it is!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Herminda

One quick word: Halloween is the last day we can all vote for Jolyn to get the grant for her kindergarten class. Apparently she is on the cusp of winning this thing. Please take a second and go to this link, search for "Metro," and vote for Jolyn.

Several years ago I lived briefly with my Uncle Will. This was during one of my law school summers. Will had an old house very similar to mine and only a block from where I live now. Much of my life today feels like a constant deja vu because of this. Really the only difference is that I might go through puberty this time.

Back then, Will had a very close Colombian friend named Herminda who was like 65 or 70 years old (I never was sure), and who spoke exactly zero English words. Will hired Herminda to clean his home every couple of weeks because she needed some work and because he wanted to live like the upstairs people in Downton Abbey.

I was the unwitting beneficiary of this arrangement, and although Herminda and I were completely unable to communicate with one another, I found that Herminda Day was easily my favorite day of the week.

That summer I was coauthoring a series of articles on digital contracts with one of my law school professors, Cheryl. These articles were so boring that we are probably on several terrorist watch lists now.

Cheryl lived in another town about 20 minutes away from Salt Lake City. I would drive to her house a few times each week to work with her at her home.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Today is Jolyn's birthday. And by today, I mean Thursday. Because that's when I post Pictures & Distractions. Most of you don't see this until Friday. Which means that most of you missed Jolyn's birthday. And I'm not saying Jolyn is the kind of person who notices that sort of thing, but I am saying that Jolyn once gave my phone number out to the entire Internet and invited literally hundreds of people to text and call me to talk about Star Wars. So I'm not sure you want to get on this person's bad side.

Happy birthday, sister. I love you and I fear you. And I love that I fear you.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Mr. Pants.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I Sat Down To Write Something

I am burned out tonight.

I sat down to write something. I thought this creative outlet might be a helpful break from preparing for a court hearing I have in the morning. Work has been a special kind of overwhelming lately. Not an exciting kind. The kind that makes it hard to sleep or enjoy things that aren't work.

So I sat down to write something. I thought it would be easy. And I thought it would be helpful. Because sometimes when I feel inadequate at something, it calms me to do something in which I believe I'm competent. It's not a big thing, but I usually feel competent jotting down some story or jokes or thoughts that will bore some troll enough to hate what I have to say but weirdly not enough to stop reading Stranger.

But I sat down to write something, and nothing really came out. I stared at the blank white space in the middle of the screen, a blinking cursor inviting me to say something every three-quarters of a second.

I stared at it for a while. I typed a couple of things and then deleted those things. Because they weren't funny. Or helpful.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Lost Journal Series: Part XII

It's been a full year since we heard from young Eli. And so today I give you the next edition of The Lost Journal Series.




February 23, 1995 (10 years old):

The goverment has a lot of responsibilty and it is importent to suport our leaders becaus if we dont there can be KORUPTION. You cant vote until you are an adult becaus it takes a lot of years to study the issues so you are ready to vote becaus if I voted right now I would probly just vote for someone named bob or someone else that I dont even know who it is BECAUS I HAVENT STUDIED THE ISSUES YET. We have student goverment and thats alot better becaus at least I know those people haylee runs evry year and shes probly good and everything but I cant be friends with her becaus my mom already met her one time and she said haylee was my girl friend and now my sisters make fun of me becaus they dont even have class!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Skylar: Why did you just pour half a bag of grated cheese into that?

Eli: Because it's mac & cheese. Duh.

Skylar: You do realize that the box comes with the "cheese," which you already added into that pan, right?

Eli: WHY ARE YOU TREATING CHEESE LIKE AN ENEMY IT NEVER DID ANYTHING TO YOU!

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Mr. Pants took care of me while I was sick. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How Do You Overcome Anxiety?

Oh, to be Mr. Pants.
The other day I told you about my anxiety attack in the middle of the night last week that came about because of a story we did this month on Strangerville. What I didn't tell you is that these are a semi-regular occurrence for me and have been for some time.

I have no idea when I started getting them. Bob and Cathie tell me I was a very nervous child. I didn't notice because I was too busy hoarding candy with my best friend Mandy Williams when we were six years old because Bob told me one night when I wouldn't eat my dinner that there were people in the world who didn't have food and "would be happy to have that" and so I became obsessed with preparing for famine and this seemed like the best way.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Episode 9: The World of Fear

You guuuuu-uuuuuys. (I hope you read that the way I said it when I typed it. And yes, I do read everything I write out loud as I'm typing it. And I do a sassy head shake when I'm making a joke. I basically perform a one-man show for myself every time I write something on Stranger.)

We have our special Halloween Strangerville episode ready for you. We're calling Episode 9 "The World of Fear." A few notes about this episode:

1. Jolyn took her first crack at recording and editing a segment completely by herself (Segment 1). And it's amazing. And now I'm worried about my job security. So please go listen to that and tell her how pretty she is because she's a kindergarten teacher and if you don't do this it means you are against teachers and your political rivals will use this against you when you run for PTA president.

2. Segment 2, Trapped in Thailand, is one of the most stressful stories I have ever heard in my life and after spending a couple of weeks developing and editing this story, I literally woke up in the middle of the night having a panic attack because it started triggering memories of my own similar traumatic experience you recently heard about on Strangerville. I'll let you listen and see if you can guess what I'm talking about.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This Might Be My Last Post

This might be my last post because I am so so sick. Like, exorcist girl during the the swine flu year at a daycare sick.

I don't even know what happened. I woke up at 4:00 AM and vomited the sins of all mankind mostly into a previously-clean toilet bowl. Apply, rinse, repeat. For several hours.

Then, like an idiot, I drove to my office for a meeting. And the whole time I was saying in a crying voice that I hear my nieces and nephews use when they want candy, "I'm too good of a person to deserve this." Just over and over again.

Then I got into the office and Brianne said, "you look like a Chucky doll that replaced sleep with drug addiction." Which was hurtful. And she knows I'm sensitive about my secret gingerhood.

Then I went to my meeting and I stared at a person across a table like I was a zombie and I was trying to convince him that I wasn't so he would let me get closer. Then I walked back to my office, which took 12 minutes when it should have only taken 2 because I had to stop and sit on the ground a few times on the way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lost Millennials

So the other day I posted that thing about how Skylar orders food the wrong way and needs to be severely reprimanded by the internet. Then he responded by creating his own blog so people could "fact check" my stories.

And after he did it, I was like, "you're seriously going to spend time out of your busy life to regularly post on the internet about how I lied about something?" And he said something about how he didn't believe that he had enough follow-through to post more than one time on this blog of his. So I started making some comment about how millennials don't follow through on things and then we ended up in the huge fight that we have once a week about millennials and how he claims that I actually am one and that I should be proud of that because something about innovation and snapchat and twitter and blah blah blah.

Usually when a millennial is talking all my mind hears is the sound of a grown man eating cereal in his parents' basement at 2:00 in the afternoon.

WHICH IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF STATEMENT THAT MAKES SKYLAR ANGRY, BY THE WAY.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

How to Order Thai Food

Ring ring

Woman: Thai restaurant, can I help you?

Skylar: Yes, you can, thank you.

Woman: Ok . . . how can I help you?

Skylar: Well, my friend and I would like to have some Thai food tonight and we were wondering if that was possible, by chance.

Eli: [whispering] Why wouldn't that be possible?! Why are you wasting time with this question?!

Skylar: Shhhhhhhhh! I'm being polite!

Woman: I think that's possible. We are open until 10:00.

Skylar: Well, we are both very tired and so I don't think we are interested in dining in and so we wondered if it would be possible to order some food that we could pick up and then take home with us. IF IT'S NOT TOO MUCH TROUBLE.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

So I'm on a layover in the Phoenix airport right now and I have a bag of Swedish Fish, because candy. And there's this guy/kid who I think is either 16 or 18 or 21 and he's one of those for sure I just don't know which and he was staring at me for a full ten minutes and it was starting to really creep me out. Actually, I just realized that I can take a secret picture of him so you can weigh in on the 16/18/21 question:


Anyway, finally he walked over to me and I thought he was going to kill me, because that's what you do after you stare at someone for ten straight minutes, but he said "excuse me. Can I have a Swedish Fish?"

So I gave him a few because I can respect any man/child who just wants candy. But now I'm realizing that this was actually very bold of him and I'm wondering when we started teaching the kids to ask for things they want because BACK IN MY DAY you didn't ask a grownup for a lifesaver if you were drowning in the ocean. AND you apologized for the inconvenience of dying in front of adults. And now I can't decide if it's good or bad that the kids are so bold these days. Assuming he's a kid. He might be 30. I can't tell how old people are anymore.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
It was Mr. Teddy Scraps's birthday this week! He turned 1!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Jolyn is a Kindergarten Teacher


Jolyn is a kindergarten teacher, which means she is responsible for our children. 

This is not a drill, people. Jolyn Metro is responsible for America's children. Can you imagine what April Fool's Day is going to look like twenty years from now?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Halloween Costumes

I love Halloween like a fat kid loves cake. And when I was a child I was actually pretty creative when it came to Halloween costumes. I got this gene from Cathie, who I swear to you made Crayola Crayon Halloween costumes for me and each of my three sisters in 1989 and had us march up and down the street together like a box of crayons.



I was blue. My sisters were purple, pink, and orange. Cathie had the foresight not to make a "white" crayon costume and then have all of the neighbors wonder why one of the McCann kids was allowed to dress as a Klansman for Halloween.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Our Next President

The silver-haired nearly-naked senior citizen on the podium instructed me to fold my body into such an unnatural position that I think she could be charged with attempted homicide. I paid for her to tell me to do this. It was part of a package of five individual yoga classes taught at the end of my street. I purchased five classes because the snap-pea-eating effervescent woman answering my questions at the front desk when I first visited place so convincingly sold the service that I was afraid that not buying the package would make me a bad American.

The room was 104 degrees during all 90 eternal minutes of this torture. The same panicked reconsideration I've had each of the handful of times I've done this flooded over me the moment the instructor signaled the start of our evening torture session.

The class always seems like a good idea, until, engulfed in heat, reality overcomes my naive self-help optimism, reminding me that I've just committed to another hour and a half of hating who I am and what it means to be alive.

The others in the class seem to love what they're doing. Most of them have resting-namaste face, which simultaneously makes me want to be them and destroy them.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Norwegian Ridgebacks

This weekend I was in Portland and I went hiking with Skylar and THE WORLD'S MOST WHINY DOG.

I'm not kidding you about this dog. I love her. But OMG.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

I found out that the best way to get Matt to do something is to text him and act as though he already committed to that thing. So just a minute ago I texted him, "what are you doing tonight after you come and tile the hearth of my fireplace?" And he responded that he didn't have plans after that, that he found the tile he wants me to use, and that I should meet him at some store at 5:30. And I honestly don't know if he really thinks he had agreed to do this previously or if he's just humoring me. But I'm going to conduct the rest of my life this way because it's possible that this is working.

I'm starting today's Pictures & Distractions with a video of my awesome 13-year-old niece and me at music night this week, wherein I hope her mother doesn't realize that I'm making her sing songs with mildly suggestive lyrics.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Perfect Storm

Rebecca got married on Friday and Saturday. Notice I said Friday AND Saturday. I say this, because this person who told me she just wanted to elope had a TWO-DAY wedding. I'm going to spare you my rant about how this should be illegal and how it is most definitely offensive to the Constitution, the Magna Carta, AND most of Aristotle's books on botany.

Whether or not a two-day wedding should be illegal (it should), the important thing is that it was extremely inconvenient for me. And I'm what matters here.

I've been referring to this weekend for some time as "The Perfect Storm" because in addition to Rebecca's TWO-DAY wedding where I swear to you there was a tree-planting ceremony, East Indian dancing, a wedding picnic, Chinese origami, singing in Hebrew, a ukulele-led march to a meadow, and a freaking tepee, I also had a two-day law firm retreat in the mountains, AND a two-day law school 5-year reunion.

BECAUSE IT HAS SOMEHOW BEEN MORE THAN 5 YEARS SINCE I FINISHED LAW SCHOOL OMG YOU PEOPLE ARE GETTING SO OLD.

Unfortunately, the events geographically spanned about 1 hour, which made it really difficult to bounce back and forth between all three things, which I somehow managed to do. Looking back I think I may have been using one of those plot-destroying Hermione time-turners from Harry Potter III.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Episode 8: The World of Discovery

After Jolyn's many unsuccessful attempts at entering the witness protection program to get away from me, I found her and forced her to produce this month's episode of Strangerville.


Fewer than 50 animals were harmed in the making of this episode.

Also, can we take a moment to congratulate me and Jolyn on the fact that we have not quit this project and in fact have somehow made it to month EIGHT of Strangerville, wherein our hair has legit never looked better? We love our little Strangerville and all of you who wander into it to enjoy the real stories we've been able to share together.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Yesterday I came home from work and there was enough wedding picnic crap in my house to host all of the wedding picnics Rebecca will ever have in her entire life. Skylar and Matt apparently spent the better part of an afternoon shopping for and creating decorations to fill all of the parks of Utah for this thing. I surveyed the damage, shook my head, and wondered, for the 1,000th time this week alone, how I gathered the people I have gathered into my life.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
My baby.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Wedding Picnics


This weekend is Rebecca's wedding, which she purposefully planned at the exact times that I have eleventy other commitments. And because Rebecca insists on being a complication in my life:

Ring Ring

Eli: What.

Rebecca: I need you to do something for my wedding.

Eli: I'm already in charge of the clowns. What else could you possibly want me to do?

Rebecca: The wedding picnic. I need you to plan the wedding picnic.

Eli: That's not a thing.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I. Went. Camping.

A couple of weeks ago I got to thinking about how much I hate camping and how I don't trust anyone who claims to like it because it's not possible to like it and if my Mormon pioneer ancestors knew they were crossing the plains so we could all be homeless a few times every summer and poop into holes in the ground they probably would have just stayed in Ireland where they wouldn't get skin cancer or have to learn how to make doilies.

But then I saw an REI commercial and I was like, "I would look cute in those clothes." And I wasn't wrong.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The 19 Steps of Building IKEA Furniture

By Skylar Westerdahl

I secretly think there is a small masochistic part of everyone. A tiny desire to make our physical lives match the twisting turmoil that lies within. Or maybe we're all just born wide eyed and innocent, until the soul-crushing realities of life crash down upon us like the Red Sea.

Anyway, I went to IKEA.

Here are some tips from my experience.

Step 1: Reserve 45 minutes of your day to "bang this one out." It's incredibly important that you believe this is enough time. Ignore anyone who says otherwise. You've seen enough episodes of Fixer-Upper with Chip and Joanna to know what you're doing.


Look at that naive idiot.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Colorado Wedding

My childhood best friend Sam asked me a few weeks ago to officiate his wedding in Colorado, a wedding that happened on Saturday. Obviously I immediately began preparing FOR MY SPECIAL DAY. This included my ordination as a reverend in the Church of the Holy Internet.

Ok, I don't actually remember what the thing was called. All I know is that Sam sent me a link to some page where it took me literally four minutes to fill out some basic information and receive a certificate that bestowed upon me enough power to legally bind people to one another for life.

It was almost disappointingly easy to obtain this power. It kind of makes me question all authority considering that the following things took more effort in my life to obtain than a certificate authorizing me to marry people to each other:

1. My food handler's permit when I was 15
2. Costco Membership
3. Ringworm
4. Respect from my mailman
5. "I Voted" stickers at any election
6. Etc.

As you can see by number 6, the list could go on and on.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Brianne: AND DON'T YOU DARE STEP OUT OF THIS OFFICE UNTIL ALL OF YOUR CLOTHES ARE PICKED UP OFF THE FLOOR!!!!

Eli: What does it matter? They're just going to end up back on the floor tomorrow anyway.

Brianne: Don't you smart mouth me. There are bosses in China who would be happy to have what you have.

Eli: Remember when we had that rule for a while that we had to end every conversation with each other by saying "I love you?" I miss that rule.

Brianne: This is called "tough love," and if you don't start obeying me, I'm going to turn to "terror love."

Co-worker who walked by just then: You guys have an unhealthy relationship and it scares me.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:

Skylar and I went surfing all day on Saturday in Santa Barbara and we got super dehydrated so he insisted on bringing Pedialyte to the restaurant that night, "in case they don't serve it there." @soldomiresol on Instagram said that "Pedialyte tastes like the salty tears of sick babies."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

And Then I Met Ruth

As I mentioned to you recently, I've been engaged in a new quest to meet all of my neighbors and become the most popular person on the block, so much so that they all start listing me as their emergency contact.

You guys. I would be an amazing emergency contact. There is literally no emergency too big for me to be contacted about. I would answer that phone call with all of the professional dignity required of the role. I'm not saying you're stupid if you haven't listed me as your emergency contact yet, but I am saying that you're missing an opportunity.

In an effort to meet the above-mentioned goal, I walked across the street and met Ruth.

Ruth is constantly gardening and manicuring her perfectly-landscaped yard and so I've had occasion, regularly, to send a friendly wave her way as I've come and gone over the last nearly-two-years since I moved into this house. But we had never met, until last week.

Ruth was friendly. She doesn't look old, but she informed me that she is, in fact, basically older than the Titanic. And she proved it by updating me on neighborhood gossip that preceded the maiden voyage.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Strangerville Fan Mail

Somehow it has been about eight months since Jolyn and I launched Strangerville. If our announcement of Strangerville was equivalent to conceiving a child, you would have to watch the graphic video footage of the baby's head crowning in just a few short weeks.

NOT THAT WE KNOW WHAT CONCEIVING, BABIES, HEADS, OR CROWNING MEANS!

While we are admittedly novices (with exceptional hair) at podcasting, we've ridden the learning curve with some success and are arrogantly proud of how far Strangerville has come this year. Very much of that has to do with your continued support, comments, emails, and the number of times you spend your birthday candle wishes on us.

This week on Strangerville shorts, we decided to finally go through some of the emails you have been sending us and answer them to the best of our ability. One Stranger has expressed a hope on a few occasions that Strangerville might somehow be made accessible to those with hearing impairment, something I would love to have the bandwidth for at some point. For today, I've pasted the text of the emails below, so there's at least something for you.

Enjoy!



Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Yesterday someone accused me of "making up" the phrase "the squeaky wheel gets the grease/oil" and this was a pretty intelligent person and it caught me off guard because I have been using that phrase for many years, almost to the point of cliche, and nobody had ever called me out on it. So suddenly I started to wonder if this was a twice up the barrel, once down the side situation where I have just used this so confidently that nobody ever thought to question me on it. So I took the Stranger Facebook page for some backup. And you guys backed it up, fanatically. (You can go read those responses here). And I just want to say that I'm grateful for social media because how else could we find such instant validation AND completely ridicule another human being en masse?

One more thing, the other day, Stranger Sandy Cook left a very helpful comment on Stranger explaining how to calculate your "middle age." So please take a moment and do this, if you haven't already.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Craft Lake City, Year 3.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I See Dead People. They're Everywhere.

Last week I was on a cruise ship for seven days with my family. It was basically the Titanic. I can still smell the paint.

It was an Alaskan cruise. And I was nervous about going because I once got trapped in a very small space in the middle of the ocean for an entire year and I wasn't sure I was ready to relive that.

#PalauanPTSD

Fortunately, my family is exceedingly fun to travel with, which was actually really helpful in preventing anxiety attacks so big you could see them from space. Also, Alaska is the most beautiful place that has ever existed and I swear to you I saw a bald eagle fly over a bear catching a wild salmon for her three cubs right next to a waterfall coming off of a glacier surrounded by forest. I actually believe that anyone who visits that exact spot automatically becomes a U.S. citizen.

Sunset from the ship

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Year of Productivity

I realized some time ago that New Year’s resolutions work as well for me as they do for most people. I embrace them enthusiastically on January first and then drop them with reckless abandon sometime around January fourth.

If I was as goal oriented every day as I used to be January 1 through 4, I would have cured everyone’s cancer by now AND fulfilled my lifelong dream of teaching a water aerobics class to a group of 50 plus.

Maybe some of you are more dedicated to your goals than I am. Or maybe you all live your lives so effortlessly and perfectly that change isn’t really needed and so resolutions are pointless.

Well I’m not like you. I’m deeply flawed. Layers and layers upon flaws. Flaws coming out of my ears. Flaws coming out of my nose. And I pick at them and wipe them under seats in public venues. And then I chew off all of my fingernails and spit them across the room. And I don't even cover my mouth when I yawn.

I don't remember what we were talking about.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Episode 7: The World of Travel


Welcome back to Strangerville, the Titanic of podcasts. Actually, I don't know what that would mean. I might have just insulted Strangerville. UNLESS I was saying that it's like Titanic, pre the whole iceberg incident. The Titanic was basically the bomb before that happened. The point is, somewhere toward the end of this episode you'll hear Jolyn quite nearly criticize me for bringing everything back to Titanic. So I think I may have a problem.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

My new best friend/neighbor has 100 billion potted plants in her backyard and since I'm now house sitting for her (you thought I was joking about this) I get to water all 100 billion of them and it takes an actual 7 and one-half eternities. Within the first 10 seconds of watering them on the first night I dropped my phone and completely shattered the screen WHICH PROVES that when you befriend your neighbors it completely ruins your life.

Fortunately she has a lot of amazing clothes that are surprisingly very slimming on me.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Taylor Hicks played a concert in Matt's new neighborhood. Mr. Pants stayed home and took a nap.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hi. I'm Your New Neighbor.

I walked two houses down the hill to greet my neighbor, a blonde woman, age 50 or so, who rivals The Perfects in magazine-cover landscaping and lawn care. It was 9:30 PM, a time not usually reserved for greeting neighbors for the first time after living two-hundred feet from one another for 18 months.

I felt compelled to do it out of jealousy. Not jealousy for the neighbor. Jealousy for Matt's new life in his new neighborhood in which smiling pedestrians line the street and force-feed any passerby a history lesson on the area, the speaker's genealogy, and the schedule of mandatory events for neighborly bonding.

Somehow, without ever having lived there, I know more of Matt's neighbors than my own. I've also been to neighborhood parties there, I've stepped inside people's homes, and I've played with multiple dogs, all things I have never done on my own street.

And so I made a new promise to myself. I would transform my neighborhood, one neighbor at a time, and turn it into the social place I know it has the potential to be. And who better to get things rolling than me, the guy who lives smack dab in the center of the street.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Magical World of Broome Bungalow

The Broome Bungalow project (Matt's house) is finally about to hit "move-in" date. And everyone is looking forward to this more than any child has ever looked forward to Christmas because we don't like seeing the Pantses homeless. And Matt's street currently doesn't have an old man who yells at kids to get off his lawn so there's going to be a general imbalance in that neighborhood until he moves in.

Broome Bungalow has been an exercise in frustration for Matt, one that, if you ever run into him, he will tell you about in such a strong southern accent that you'll taste fried chicken by the time he's done.

There have been plenty of hiccups and unexpecteds. And in recent weeks, Matt has sought the aide of a few contractors to help with some of the work, contractors who performed poorly enough that Matt left online reviews so scathing that it actually restarted the Civil War.

But if you happen to stop by Broome Bungalow now, you'll notice that what once looked like the set of a horror film, which was then turned into the set for a film about crack-addicted babies once we started tearing it apart, is now starting to look like something out of a magazine.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Mr. Pants is sleeping over at my house right now because we love each other and we don't care who knows it. Last night I tried to take him outside to "do his potties." Right when I opened the door, he looked out and saw a cat in the Perfectss''s'ses' yard and BOLTED. I'm not kidding you when I say that he ran faster than I have ever seen an animal run. And I chased him all the freaking way down the street, screaming, barefoot, and in my underwear, until I finally caught him trying to go through a fence to murder a cat. Because Mr. Pants hates cats. And loves my anxiety disorder.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
It was Matt's birthday. We made a mistake trying to take an ice cream cake hiking. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My Favorite Posts

With some regularity people will email me and say they just found Stranger and they wonder if I have any "favorite" posts they should make sure to check out and I'm like, "START FROM THE BEGINNING OR DON'T COME BACK AT ALL!!!" But then I remember that I'm positively ashamed of everything written before 2013 and mostly ashamed of everything written after that and so I immediately send a follow up email that says, "JUST KIDDING GO READ CHARLES DICKENS I HELPED HIM." Because I refuse to use punctuation when I email.

Which reminds me, I posted the below photo on the Instagrams the other day as a throwback to that one time a couple months ago when I was in Latvia and I was having problems interneting and I started screaming and then Adam looked over and captured the moment.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

We All Wear Masks

Ring ring

Skylar: Hello.

Eli: Someone called you a "hotty mc hotty" in the comments of something I posted on Stranger last week.

Skylar: Wait. I'm on your blog now?

Eli: You were last week. I hope you aren't in the witness protection program.

Skylar: Don't you have to get someone's permission to write about them on your blog?

Eli: Haha. Anyway, they also said there should be a website that has pictures of the hot people of It Just Gets Stranger but then they said something really hurtful.

Skylar: What?

Eli: They said that Tami better not be included on this site.

Skylar: That's not hurtful. This person sounds like a good a decent American.

Eli: No. This isn't right. She shouldn't be criticized like this so close to her birthday and right after we put all of that work into making an inspirational video to celebrate her.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

How's my night going? Well after a very long day I was in the drive-through at Wendy's at 11:15 PM and I ran my car into the the back of the car in front of me and that guy stuck his head out of his window and asked me what happened and I actually "SHHHHHH'd" him because I was in the middle of ordering "extra large fries with that" and I was concerned that with this interruption the guy taking my order maybe wouldn't catch that last part and it was really important to me that he got that order. So that's how my day is going.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
If this picture doesn't make you happy, then you probably don't even know what America is.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

On Being a Mom

Brianne: Why do you already have a late fee on your phone bill?

Eli: Sorry, I think you have the wrong number.

Brianne: You know that line doesn't work in face-to-face conversations, right?

Eli: Can we talk about this later? I'm really busy right now.

Brianne: You're sitting on the floor eating Cheetos.

Eli: So we agree, then.

Brianne: I want to know right now why you already have a late fee on your phone bill TWO MONTHS after I switched your phone service providers.

Eli: Well it was a very confusing time in my life and I didn't really know what was happening and I didn't even realize that you had switched it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pioneer Day Miracle

We gathered aboard the raft, the five of us, unaware of the trauma that awaited us. Bats flew overhead, and the sounds of water churning on the cliffs of rocks beckoned us forward, pulling us down the river.

The risk was inescapable. The moment we climbed aboard, we bid farewell to safety and any opportunity to turn back. The calm shore inveigled us into a sense of security that was quickly disposed when the first rabid rapid sucked us into the abyss, like an avaricious swarm of piranha drawn toward anything moving.

Our lack of experience served us what we deserved and betrayed our natural instincts for survival. Our screams echoed off of the canyon walls, the sounds' dissipation a testament to our seclusion that made more terrifying our situation.

Rapid after rapid threatened to do us in, twirling us deeper and deeper into profound disorientation until finally all we had left were our basic senses and each other.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Hello. Let me usher you into the greatest weekend of the year. PIONEER DAY WEEKEND!!!!!!

You guys. This is a magical year because Pioneer Day falls on Sunday so the State of Utah observes it on Monday, WHICH MEANS that Pioneer Day is basically two days this year. Also please don't forget that it's Tami's birthday and she expects to get a call from every one of you. Don't test her on this. She has anger issues.

Happy Pioneer Day(s). I love you.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Don't be a cliche, Macy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fan Mail

First, thank you for the awesome response and support of Episode 6 of Strangerville this week. After it was released, Jason, who was featured in the fourth segment in which he shared a story about a man named "Shorty" who tried to help him find a place to sleep when he was stranded in Wyoming, was able to dig up an old photo he took of Shorty in 2002.


Please check out The World of Homelessness if you haven't already and let us know what you think.

And now, an email exchange I had last year that I completely forgot to share with you until just right now AND I'M SORRY OK?!:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Episode 6: The World of Homelessness


Welcome back for Episode 6 of Strangerville! We are still alive, so are still moving forward.

Please take a listen and help us get the word out about Strangerville! Every time you share Strangerville, a new poodle mix is introduced into the world. Also, don't forget to subscribe on whatever thing-a-ma-gadget you're using. Enjoy!


This time in Strangerville, we explore the world of homelessness. A senior citizen explains what it is like for him to live on the streets of Salt Lake City. A panhandler catches the attention of a passerby. A detox facility shares some insight and discusses misconceptions about the homeless community. And a young man, stranded on the highway, is befriended by colorful character who seeks to help him.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Today Brianne told me that I was being moody again and that maybe I needed to get my hormones checked out so I foolishly started arguing with her and in the process said something that sounded sort of sexist even though I strongly believe in not saying things like that to women. So then I immediately tried to backtrack but it was too late and she told me she was going to file a sexual harassment lawsuit and I told her that I didn't really have time for that right now because I'm dog sitting this week but she said that she didn't care what I have time for so then I gave her a gift card to Subway I found in my office during the move in order to pay her off and told her it had five dollars on it and I offered it as settlement for her sexual harassment claims, which she accepted because apparently she only felt she had been wronged about five-dollars worth BUT THEN she came back ten minutes later and told me she called Subway to verify that the card was actually still valid because apparently she doesn't trust me and Subway told her that the card has FIFTEEN dollars on it so yeah, now I feel like Brianne owes me ten dollars.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
The Pantses

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Macy

I love titling posts with a female's first name because I know that at least 15% of you are terrified that I'm about to introduce you to one of Tami's family members. This is no such post, although I do think we need an update on Tami's newest hairstyle soon.

My sister called me the other day and asked me if I would watch their dog while they go out of town because "your entire social media presence is basically a virtual dog pound so we thought you wouldn't mind taking in another."

I never did think there would be a time in my life when anyone would consider me an option for dog sitting. But as I've explained on numerous occasions, Mr. Pants has changed my world view on everything.

I pretty much immediately and enthusiastically told my sister that I would gladly accept their request, in large part because they have a Boxer and I really wanted to post a picture of the dog to Instagram, including as a caption the lyrics to Paul Simon's "The Boxer" because I'm poetic like that.

Two days later, Macy showed up at my house.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lifetime Original Movies



When I was growing up my older sister Krisanda and I used to play this game where we would take turns reading the names of movies printed in the weekly TV schedule that came with the Sunday morning paper. The person reading them would do it in a monotone voice and the person listening would have to guess whether the title was to a Lifetime movie, or something else.

Friday, July 8, 2016

There's Still Dancing


Some terrible things are happening. Horrific bombings in Iraq. Fanatic shootings at home. Families and lives torn apart because of hate, and misunderstanding, and anger, and fear, and and and . . .

And we feel heartbroken for it. And passion. And a compelling urge to say and do something about it. Because we despise tragedy. And we don't want lives to be torn apart because of hate, and misunderstanding, and anger, and fear. Nobody should have to experience the unfathomable grief that so many are experiencing. And especially not because of where they live, or what they look like, or what they believe, or who they are.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Brianne said that she doesn't think our relationship is going to survive the big office move this week because apparently I'm being "emotionally abusive" when I have my "temper tantrums" and "act like" her "child used to act when he was five and" she "told him it was bedtime."

Admittedly, I may have been somewhere approaching bridezilla on Tuesday, but I've been saying "please" and "thank you" to most people since at least Wednesday afternoon.

I DON'T LIKE CHANGE, OK?!? Being a 75-year-old man on the inside is the entire basis of my relationship with Matt. If I wasn't this way, none of us would have Mr. Pants in our lives. So you're welcome!

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Last day in the office hashtag selfie. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day Resurgence: America is Definitely Getting Dumber


You guys. I went into this with very low expectations. After Jurassic World happened last year, I was convinced that the United States of America no longer has enough brain cells to support action films that make sense.

But oh sweet mother of goose.

As usual, I'll start this with an empty "spoiler alert." It is empty, because, as usual, I'm not convinced there was enough of a plot in this movie to possibly spoil.

We all remember Independence Day in 1996. It was amazing. As a 12-year-old, I vividly remember sitting in the theater on July 3, 1996, thinking, "special effects cannot get better than this. We've reached the end result."

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

My law firm is currently the in process of moving to another building and we were supposed to pack everything in these boxes so the movers can come and move them over the weekend. Naturally I did not do this. Brianne, however, did it for me. And she was not nice about it. And she threw away some stuff that I definitely wanted to keep. And she keeps coming into my office and popping bubble wrap even though she knows I will murder her for this one day if it does not stop. But that just makes her want to do it more. Things have been very tense between us. And so in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, she has made a new rule that we have to end every conversation with mutual "I love yous." She insists on saying this as loudly as possible.

Brianne and I are a social island in this place.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Spoiler alert: it's BREAD.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Yahoo! Answers XII


Question 1: How long does Ambien take to wear off on cats? I like to take my cat Trixy to work but my boss is so prejudice and said she can't be there because of food and sanitation even though Trixy is actually really clean because she self bathes and stuff so I gave her 5 Ambien and put her in my shirt and went to work and now it's been a week and she still hasn't woken up and her birthday is coming up and I'm worried we'll have to postpone her party and I work at Arbys.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Wedding Dress Shopping

An obviously-candid shot of Rebecca and her lucky man.

Eli: Wait. How did I end up here?

Rebecca: What do you mean?

Eli: How did we get to this store? I don't even remember getting in the car with you.

Rebecca: Hahahaha. What do you think of this one?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Today is Cathie's birthday. Since she was born, we have landed on the moon, the Soviet Union fell, and cookie butter was invented. Coincidence? I think not.

Happy birthday, mother.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Sometimes Mr. Pants looks like a very old wizard who is about to drop some bomb wisdom on everyone. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Beware of Sisters

My sister Krishelle house-sat for me while I was in the Baltics. And by "house-sat" I mean "killed all of my flowers and broke my A/C."

Periodically throughout the trip, this text exchange would happen:

Eli: Hello.

Eli: Hi.

Eli: Hello???

Eli: Are you there?

Eli: HELP ME I'M DROWNING IN MY OWN TEARS!

Krishelle: What do you want?!

Eli: Oh, hi. Since you seem to be awake, how is everything going at the house?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Aftermath

Last week I wrote what is probably the most controversial thing I've ever published on Stranger. Don't worry. This isn't a political post, and today I'm not writing about the substance of that other political post. And I ask that you help me not make it a political one in the comments. There are some other places for that discussion, and I would like for it not to be here.

The post I wrote was in response to my feelings about the horrific tragedy in Orlando last weekend. Adam and I had connected to wifi at the end of a wonderful day in Lithuania, nearing the end of our trip. We were bombarded with texts and news updates about the heartbreaking details that had just started coming out in the States.

We both sat, quietly, thumbing through the news filling our phones' screens. With each new detail, I experienced what so many of you experienced. The knot in my stomach grew tighter. My heart felt heavier. I just felt helpless.

I wrote that thing. I published it, knowing that I was expressing thoughts that would be contrary to the way so many of you feel. Many of you responded with comments and emails, mostly civil and certainly passionate. My writing bred some contention. And while I never want to be the kind of person who doesn't advocate for his beliefs because they might be unpopular or because they might receive backlash, I also don't want to be the kind of person who breeds contention. I think that's a line I'll try to figure out, however imperfectly, for the rest of my life.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cat Videos

When I last left you on mine and Adam's increasingly stinky road trip through the Baltic States, I was recovering from twelve-inch lacerations caused by being severely beaten with entire trees in a Russian banya.

I told you that we were staying in an apartment with a Latvian family. What I did not tell you is that we never saw more than one given family member at a time. And, considering that mom, dad, brother, and sister, all kind of looked the same, we were left to believe that this was something of a Bates Motel situation.

I also informed you that a cat had somehow gotten into our room as I was writing you and I took some pictures of the cat to prove it to you. What I did not realize at the time, but what I discovered several days later, was that during the course of trying to take pictures with the cat, I accidentally took a video. Which video I came across while reviewing the pictures in my phone from the trip. And which video I have now watched 379 times.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Episode 5: The World of Choice



In this heavy week, we bring you an aptly-timed Episode 5 of Strangerville: The World of Choice.

In this special episode, we explore religious extremism from an exceedingly unique perspective. Please enjoy the heartbreaking, thoughtful, and inspiring account from one of my biggest heroes, Jeff Barlow, as he details his experiences growing up in Warren Jeffs's polygamous FLDS community. Explore the value of choice in our lives from the eyes of a man who was kept from it, who escaped the closed community and left everything behind, and who returned later to make a profound difference for the people he never stopped loving.