In which I win the lottery

By which I mean the Hamilton lottery, of course. The only one that counts!

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The musical has a lottery system by which you enter for a chance to win Hamilton tickets for a “Hamilton” (Hamilton is on the $10 bill). I have dutifully entered this lottery for every performance for about THREE YEARS. You can imagine my surprise when I actually won!

Not only are the tickets super cheap, but they are very good tickets. I vaguely knew they were very good, but I didn’t realize they were FRONT ROW good until we got there!

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Now, I know what you’re saying: haven’t you seen Hamilton before? Yes. *ahem* Three times before. BUT I ASK YOU, who would appreciate these seats more than me?

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Okay, maybe one person, but I brought her with me!

Being this close was a TOTALLY different experience seeing the show, and really just unlike anything I have ever experienced. The seats are not good for actually seeing the show in the sense that you are almost too close. Anything that happens near the back of the stage is not visible. (Although it was really funny when they were on the rotate-y stage thing because you couldn’t see it and it seemed like they were just floating along by magic!)

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Given that I’ve seen the show a number of times before and know the story and music forwards and back (and can probably “see” it with my eyes closed at this point), that wasn’t really a problem for me personally. And it was vastly, vastly outweighed by the awesomeness of how close people were when they came to the front of the stage. Aaron Burr in particular comes out to the very front often, and when he did, he was an arm’s length from me, at most.

I mean, I was so close I could have reached over and played the piano!

Because I was in the first row, I totally forgot there was anybody else in the theater. It was so intimate, like they were playing just for me. The lights were in my eyes, the bass was in my chest, and I totally forgot there was like 1000 of my closest friends sitting behind me; it was like they didn’t exist.

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Oh hai there, where did you come from?

The thing is, there are so many things you notice when you’re that close. The acting is so much more pronounced when you can see their faces! And there are these moments with the crowd: sometimes they would lock eyes with someone and just give them a look. For example, there was one part where one of the dancers came up from the orchestra pit, and he kind of startled the woman sitting just to my right. After that he kept like winking at her and stuff. It was great! But you totally wouldn’t have even known that was happening if you were even a few rows back.

There are a million little things you can’t see unless you’re that close: little, hilarious quirked eyebrows, or expressions of grief, or tons and tons of sweat and spit. Seriously. We didn’t get spit on, but people on either side of us did.

Okay, but that got me thinking about what consummate professionals these people are. This is just a random Wednesday night, and each and every one of them is giving it their all, selling it with emotion, sweating it out, singing so hard their faces are turning red. FOR THE SECOND TIME THAT DAY! Just absolutely bringing it, nonstop (you see what I did there?)

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LOOK AT HOW MANY COMPLICATED LIGHTS ARE UP THERE!

Another funny thing about being so close is you really just focus on the most random things. Like there is a person dancing two feet in front of you so you’re just staring at them, unable to look away. And then all of a sudden you’re like, “Oh, there is singing on the other side of the stage, what am I doing?!”

Anyway, the whole experience was utterly magical, and easily one of the best nights of my life. When it was over I was extremely reluctant to leave and just kind of lingered by the stage, hoping to prolong the magic. I’ve probably never been that close to ANY musical act, but to have it be the greatest musical of all time…

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Thank you Hamilton lottery for giving us a night we will never forget!!

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Hard hitting, investigative journalism

As some of you may recall, we have been feuding with Whole Foods over their multi-grain crust pizza for several years.

So imagine my surprise when I open up the school newspaper and find that, after dipping her toes in with a few puff pieces, an intrepid reporter had made her first foray into the world of investigative journalism. There it is, in black and white: an exposé!

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I, for one, am glad that a journal of the HIGHEST INTEGRITY has finally decided to shine the HARSH LIGHT OF TRUTH on one of the great stories of our day, and I applaud this reporter, whoever she is, for having the gumption to stick up for the little guy!

(Seriously, this daughter of mine. Sometimes I just don’t even know what to do with this girl…)

In Regards to 2018

Because my birthday comes right at the top of the year, it is often a good time to look back on the previous year and reflect. Usually when I write up my birthday / reflection post, I look back at the previous year’s post to see how far I’ve come, but I forgot to do that this year.

I went back and took at look at it now, and…yowza! I guess I was already starting to forget how stressful 2017 was. I said in last year’s post:

At the very least I’m hoping for a calm, uneventful 2018, after which we will look back on 2017 and see it for the aberration it was.

So I guess the good news is that 2018 wasn’t NEARLY as stressful as 2017. Not to say it was all rainbows and unicorns….there was THE GREAT FROZEN PIPES incident of 2018 and that time I got shot, but luckily those were the exceptions, not the rule.

I am physically the healthiest I’ve been in decades, and I am mentally light years ahead of where I was in January of 2018. There are still some big things with the house on the radar, and of course you never know when calamity can strike, but

My 30s: One Last Time

I should probably save some of this angst for next year’s birthday post, but as I enter the last year of my 30s I do find myself reflecting on the impending big 4-0.

I have never been one to put much stock in the “milestone” birthdays, but as I am turning 39 it occurs to me that maybe that’s only because I haven’t really hit any big ones yet! 30 didn’t seem like a big deal because I *felt* like a 30 year old. I owned a house and had a second kid on the way. But I don’t know that I’m ready to be a 40 year old, and I’m suspecting to feel the same about every milestone birthday from now on.

BUT, I am going to see Hamilton (again) tonight (for the 3rd time), so it seems appropriate to say to my 30s:

One last time
Let’s take a break tonight
And then we’ll teach them how to say goodbye
to say goodbye
You and I

One last time, 30s. Let’s make this a good year, shall we?

Hipster Mouse

Evelyn had activities late one night, so I was upstairs with Ollie when Sara and Evelyn got home. I found out later that Sara was emptying her bag when something ran out onto her arm. She wasn’t sure what it was, so she flung it off in disgust, and only when she saw it scrambling on the floor did she realize it was a mouse.

That’s when the screaming started.

And it didn’t stop until I had run all the way downstairs thinking that someone had broken in and was actively abducting Evelyn. I couldn’t think of anything short of home intruder / murderer that could cause that much screaming. (Spoilers: it was Sara screaming, not Evelyn, but Evelyn still stayed up on a chair for about 30 more minutes just to be safe.)

There is nothing more worry-making than a mouse in your house, so of course I practically covered the floor with mousetraps. However, I’m guessing this must have been some kind of escaped University of Chicago laboratory mouse, because it was a *genius* at snatching little bits of chocolate out of the trap without setting it off.

I even bought this:

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So you can see I was really doing everything I could to catch this guy, but to no avail.

“Use peanut butter!” everybody said, so I dutifully put peanut butter in all of the traps and reset them. However, the second I put those out, it was suddenly no longer interested in my traps. I thought somehow it was smart enough to know that the peanut butter would spell his doom (U of C lab mouse), until I found this:

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Ahhhhh, I see. This was a HIPSTER mouse, who was turning his nose up at my peanut butter in favor of avocado! (“Well of course it’s a Millennial,” said my co-worker, “why do you think it’s staying in your house? They can’t afford their own.”)

I probably could have switched to locally-sourced almond butter, but I just wanted this thing out of my house. As we all know, the best way to get rid of a hipster is to convince him that our house has become “cool” with the other mice. Nothing repels a hipster faster than something becoming mainstream. Therefore, I set up a little stage dressing:

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I was quite confident we’d seen the last of our little buddy, but no, I guess I didn’t fool him. (ESCAPED U OF C LAB MOUSE!)

Well, no worries. Now that I knew I was dealing with a hipster mouse, I knew just the enticement I needed to lure that little bugger in!

I am happy to report that that hipster has canceled his last cable subscription! (I guess technically it could have been the beard and moustache wax, but I’m hoping not to need to conduct a scientific study on which hipster mice prefer…)

“Let’s hope he or she did not help make baby mice before his premature death,” said my mom, but I’m not worried: Millennials are having kids later and later these days. Now I just need to take all the signs down really fast before I lure any more hipsters to the area…those hipster mice can smell a new Starbucks location a mile away!

Shane Halbach and the search for the Holiday Party Pants

So last weekend was my work holiday party, and I realized that I’ve lost too much weight and none of my nice pants fit me.

The pants that I wanted to wear were from Gap, and there is a Gap just a few blocks from my work, so I thought, “No problem! I’ll just get the same pants, except smaller. Easy peasy!” Except when I got in there, it turns out they don’t have the same pants anymore.

I suddenly realized, I don’t have a backup plan, and I am out of my element.

I started furiously texting Sara things like “help”, “emergency”, and “I need pants”. I looked around the store but, I don’t know! Everything is too casual, and nothing goes with the shirt I was planning to wear. “Why didn’t you just buy a new shirt too?” asked Sara later, but come on! Now I have TWO problems to deal with??

So I didn’t do that, instead, I ran out of the store into the street in a blind panic. This is a shopping mecca…surely there must be somewhere that sells pants!

Across the street was a Nordstrom. “Nordstrom is a department store,” I says to myself. “Department stores have pants.”

I went in, laser focused. Found some pants. This was good. I could do this. I looked at the price tag…$200!!!

At this point it was like the camera panned back and I looked around me and there was like a woman wearing a fur cap shopping next to me and I realized, “I shouldn’t be here.”

At this point my texts to Sara are like, “Please help me”, “I don’t know what I am doing”, and “There are $200 pants”.

Nordstrom was in a mall, and a mall is a place that you buy pants, right? I started wandering into stores saying things like, “Do you sell pants here? No?” and wandering back out. I was starting to think that shopping on Michigan Avenue was not my thing.

I finally start texting things like, “I am punching out” and “I will just not wear pants to the Christmas party”.

The thing is, I don’t want to be the dumb sitcom husband who can’t buy himself pants, but I just was very overwhelmed at this point. I guess I have just lost the knack of shopping in an actual store. I am naturally a researcher and on the Internet I can look at everything at my leisure, find something I am comfortable with, and go with it, you know? Nobody in fur hats looking at me like, “Who let you in?” No surprise $200 price tags. Nobody working there who can smell my fear and mock me for my shocking lack of fashion sense.

That night (after declaring, “THE CHRISTMAS PARTY IS OFF”), I looked around online and found a pair of pants that was in stock in my size at a store nearby. The next day I went in, tried them on, and bought them, proving that I am still an adult who is capable of social interaction and buying himself pants.

And now we can all just forget this ever happened…

I guess that’s a kind of drive by?

Yesterday when I was walking home from work, I noticed a guy walking quickly toward me from the opposite direction. He seemed to be looking at me and slightly angling toward me, things that I now associate with getting mugged.

“Oh my god, that guy is going to mug me,” I thought, trying to remain calm looking on the outside while in actuality planning 15 escape routes in my mind.

Just as he was passing me (and about a millisecond before I leapt into traffic to avoid him), he kind of…aggressively farted at me.

Not really on me, per say, because he didn’t turn to angle it toward me, it was more of a farting next to me I guess? But there’s no way it was a coincidence because he clearly angled to be closer to me. He could have done it at any time before or after me, but instead he did it right next to me (and there were multiples!)

So, uh…

I don’t know, in that moment I was mostly so relieved that I wasn’t getting mugged that to be honest I was almost happy about the whole thing.