The Birthday Clock Never Stops…

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Birthdays are awesome…until you’re about 22. Then instead of offering milestones to greatness, birthdays start tallying up the years. When you hit 30 the tally shows adulthood is inevitable. 35 means it’s time to actually stop lying about it and actually start a retirement fund. When the calendar flips to 40 you can literally feel your gums recede and the fluid actually drain from your knees. I’m pretty sure the number associated with my recent birthday led to my immediate development of diabetes while my cholesterol skyrocketed and I gained 5 pounds of belly fat all within a two hour span. Aging blows.

What I wouldn’t give to spring out of bed and…(wait, let’s just stop there. What I wouldn’t give to spring out of bed period.) but really, wouldn’t it be great to have the same excitement about your birthday at 50 that you had at 5? (FYI, I’m not 50…not yet man, don’t make it any worse.) You know, that kind of excitement that leads to wearing a paper crown with your number on the front and telling every human or mammal you encounter, “Today is my birthday! Give me cake!”

My darling husband, The Turk, has never been great with holidays. I’m still waiting for a much-hyped 10th anniversary celebration and we’re only a little ways out from our 11th. Anniversaries are not his jam but he is coming around on birthdays. This year he shopped for a gift almost an entire week before my actual birthday, a massive improvement over days of old when he would head to the nearest supermarket for some expired roses moments before closing. No, this year he even took the boys along for help. Unfortunately, that was where things went wrong.

Within moments of returning and seconds after hiding the goods, Nugget with his newly acquired language skills, beamed, “Mom, we got you asshole atch.” Hubba whaaaaaa? Though Number 1 son and the Turk tried desperately to shush him, Nugget would not be silenced. “Asshole atch.” He told me again while squirming away from the hands desperately trying to cover his motor-mouth.

Because I may be geriatric  but still possess the maturity of a 12 year old boy, I immediately began to see images in my disturbed mind of sparkly buttcheeks sitting atop my wrist with a rapidly moving second hand shaped like a stink cloud. This caused me to laugh even harder. (I really am 12. It’s ok. I own it.) “You unt asshole atch?” The Nugget persisted.

While I was busy wiping the tears from my face, Number 1 was livid. “I can’t believe you told her! It was supposed to be a surprise! You suck Nugget!” Number 1 was right. He did suck but in Nugget’s defense, no one had any clue he was a blabbermouth because this was his first violation.

Somewhere around two, Nugget was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech – which involves a misfiring of neurons the prevent kids from being able to get the information from their brain to their lips to get the words out. Up until the past few months, Nugget had only signed and offered a few brief sentences using only vowels. Since he was a silent partner, for most of his 3 1/2 years, he’d been dragged along on many secret missions with all of us comfortable in the knowledge that our secrets were safe with him. Not so now it seems.

Now that Nugget has his hearing aid so he’s hearing all the sounds, is immersed in his special school with daily speech therapy and basically spends 3 hours each day working on his communication skills, he has exploded and there is no putting any cat back in any bag. The kid never shuts up.

You can see the thought process he goes through to get every sound out. His determination is astonishing. But, as illustrated in the case of the asshole ach, he’s still working on quite a few sounds like F. Every time anyone asks him to form an F he shoots back a look that insinuates F is not an actual sound and that we are clearly F-ing with him. I consider this the universe helping a sister out since he’s already demonstrated high skill with profanity thus far that last thing that kid needs is the power of the f-bomb. Sometimes only those closest to him understand him, but sometimes (usually with his favorite phrases like – ‘what the hell?’ Or, ‘oh for godsake!’) he’s a clear as a bell. It’s a process but after 3 years of silence, we’ll take every bit of it. (Until he gets suspended from PreK for that profanity bit…)

Nugget definitely blew the surprise by telling me all about my APPLE watch and quite honestly, there were about a hundred other things I might have requested over a pricey Dick Tracy wrist piece…like a dishwasher that actually washes the dishes…or the downpayment on a car younger than my offspring…or that dental work that keeps getting shoved to the back burner over and over again. But now that I’ve got it, I do quite enjoy it, probably since I spent most of the 70’s talking to my wrist pretending to be Maxwell Smart and now I’m legit.

As the Turk said, “It your birthday. You deserve special thing you do not ask for.” True that Turk, and though I didn’t ask for an asshole watch, hearing that Nugget tell me all about it is exactly what I’ve wanted.

January, You’re Dead To Me

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I’m not a fan of January. I’ve tried over forty of them and have yet to find any redeeming qualities in a single one. They’re gray, depressing, boring and butt numbing cold. (Global warming, you suck.) I’ve given this one a solid try but I see it’s just like all the other Januarys and next week after the presidential inauguration, its suckage is just going to ramp up to epic levels. So I’ve made an executive decision. I’m not going to do January this year. I’m going to hide out until it’s over. Harsh? Drastic? Perhaps, but that’s how I roll. January, you’re dead to me.

I’m going into my pillow fort and I will not come out until January is safely passed. And if February, doesn’t start off strong I’m skipping that too. I’ve got enough supplies to stay in my pillow fort until March. (I’m a planner and stockpiler, yet still a safe distance from doomsday prepper.) I’ve decided I have no choice but to take drastic measures and thankfully, my Mediterranean blooded Turk is right with me on this one. (Which is great because usually in situations such as these he just gives me the side eye and mutters about my instability in Turkish.)

I’m sorry kids, but you are on your own for the next few weeks because neither of your parents can do January anymore.

I know, it may seem harsh to turn over self-survival to a guy who has not yet mastered the concept that pooping should occur in the toilet and not in his pants and his brother who hasn’t gotten past the sixes on the multiplication tables, but I don’t see any other way. January is too much and we as parents just… can’t.

Simply put, the Turk is genetically incapable of cold weather. His blood is thin and according to him, solidifies into ice crystals the moment temps drop below 40 degrees. My dear husband hunches like a turtle somewhere in mid-November and does not stand straight again until April. It’s been hard on him since he moved to this country but now that he is on the other side of 40, we have to worry more about the old man. I’d hate for him to stroke out due to freezing temps. (Though he does have stellar life insurance that would provide my children and I with a bungalow in a warmer climate…no…no…that thinking is wrong!)

As for me, I understand that due to my ample supply of body fat you might wonder why I am incapable of dealing with the cold. I don’t get it either but I’m old and old people have these issues. The cold makes me surly and slug-like and though I was able to combat it in my youth, with the combination of my advanced age and the impending doom coming with the January 20th presidential inauguration, this year I simply haven’t the will.

Kids, if you need to go anywhere, I’d suggest you pile a few of your father’s old engineering books on the seat of the car (they’re in Turkish and thus extra bulky) and give it a go. Number One Son, you should be able to see over the steering wheel while your brother Nugget navigates from the safety of his car seat. Just practice a few times around the block before you hit the open road. If anyone questions you, cite a medical condition for your small stature then accuse them of judgmental intolerance. That should get any pesky do-gooders off your back. (If that doesn’t work, let Nugget and his newly developed canine-calibur biting skills handle things.)  

If anyone needs us, I’ll be where I’ve been since January 1: with the cat in the barcalounger, huddled under my grandma’s old quilt, binge watching Stranger Things on my IPad using the kids headphones to block out the world and dreaming of finding a portal to a warmer dimension.

The Turk will be where he’s been since January 1 as well: in Number One’s new beanbag chair, three feet in front of the fireplace with his little Turkish tootsies baking in a roaring fire.

January, it’s over for us and this time, it’s definitely you, not me.

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Here We Go Again…But I’m Cool With It

 

Full KubiHulkHere we go again. At approximately the butt-crack of dawn tomorrow morning Nugget will be in pre-op. Again. You might remember my grand appeals at the start 2016, begging that this year not suck. Well, now that we’re 7 months in with Trump and his hate train barreling down the tracks, senseless racist violence erupting seemingly daily, bombings in the Turk’s motherland on the reg and countless dead musical legends, I think it’s safe to say my pleading was disregarded. (Thanks Universe! This will be remembered.) 2016, it appears that much like your older brother 2015, you suck.

But I’m no Negative Nellie and I’m taking a different approach to this situation because even though my little guy will be sedated and out of my reach for a couple hours, this one is easy. This time around no one is pulling a vital organ from my Nugget to trim and reshape before stuffing it back into this abdomen with a slew of tubing and the hopes it will work again. This time we won’t be stuck in a hospital room for days, cradling a baby writhing in pain. This time we’re lucky and this year I’ve met a lot of people who have taught me just what it means to be one of the lucky ones.

A few months ago, in the children’s section at the library, I met a kindred spirit. I knew from her first F-bomb over the abstract puzzles we were meant to be. While other mothers discussed things like better options for Christian-based Mother’s Day Out programs (Seriously? What in the hell Hoosiers? I never heard of these before and I don’t get it…but you do you girl…no judgments.) my new potty mouthed friend and I were comparing notes on the two local children’s hospitals. We were discussing the merits of nursing staffs and surgical waiting rooms. We were talking about how much your prospective changes when you spend a lot of time in these places and how other parents are so lucky they will never need to know this. Then we were talking about her son.

Unlike me, my new friend wasn’t one of the lucky ones. Three months before we met, her five year-old didn’t get to leave the hospital. His rare and rapidly spreading brain tumor that initially took her through our shared experiences, took his life just months after diagnosis. When we met she was days from moving back to her native state while trying to hold things together for her younger son and prepare for the “miracle” son arriving in a few months. She was a tough broad and her story and those hours our kids played together will stick with me forever.

And then there is our Deaf Fairy Godmother’s son. After battling cancer and losing an eye to it years ago, her 19 year old is once again battling the same rare cancer he beat previously. The woman that so dramatically changed our life by teaching us how to relate to our little deaf Nugget and cheering us on every step of the way has spent the past month sitting by her own son’s hospital bed in that same children’s hospital. So far, it’s looking good and the hope is there that they will once again, be some of the lucky ones. (Now if you are a regular reader you know I’m not a promoter in any way but if you have the ability, please go to this Go Fund Me page and help out. This family is amazing. They are Deaf parents and activists of 4 deaf sons on their 3rd round of fighting cancer and they could sure use any generosity you might find.)

There are so many more families I’ve met this year fighting fights most would never dream of, so as we go into surgery tomorrow, it’s pretty easy to keep things in perspective. This time around Nugget is having reconstruction work done on some teeth and jaw parts that didn’t form due to his hard-core infant drug use. He had so much radioactive crap pumped into his kidneys those first months it’s a wonder he doesn’t glow. (Though it might explain his frequent Hulk-out moments) And he’s getting a new ear tube since his old one fell out and has been stuck in his Atresia canal for more than a month because it’s too small for the tube to fall out like in a normal kid. (Seriously, can you imagine something sitting in your ear like a bug for a month? No wonder he gets surly.)

As with anything, there is a risk. There’s always the risk of more hearing loss with the tube implantation due to his anatomy but there’s risk without the tube too. Like everything in life, it’s a crapshoot. But so far, we’ve been the lucky ones and I will always be aware of that. So tomorrow morning we’ll kiss our Nugget, then kiss the dice and hope for the best. Even when things are uncertain, (I’m lookin’ at you 2016!) perspective is the key – and hey, with only one ear to fix, it will take half as long! Perspective.

Grab Your Cape One Eared Wonder, It Is Time.

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When Nugget was a few weeks old and his failure of the newborn hearing screening was confirmed (Like that was hard, I mean, the guy has one ear. Duh.) we were told “The Center will be in touch to register him. They can keep track of him from here out.” Now I assumed, as one does, that “The Center” was something akin to the Hall of Justice. Logically, I also assumed that since the One Eared Wonder was born with a genetic glitch, as is true of most members of the Justice League, X-Men, Avengers, etc., it would only be a matter of time before The Center sent his cape and tights and called him in for duty. We got that call this week but we’re still waiting on the cape and tights.

Early Monday morning Nugs and I were instructed to report to The Center for his “evaluation.” While they tried to convince me this “evaluation” was for school placement, I knew better. I’ve got forty plus years of Wonder Woman fandom under my belt. I know how these things work. I also know it’s imperative to keep things on the down low, so I played along with the school rouse.

I tried to explain the process to Nugget, but to him it all sounded a bit too much like school. Unfortunately for him, The Center also shares a campus with his old school and if you’re following along, you’ll recall that that whole deaf preschool thing did not set well with the little dude and at present, he’s a preschool drop-out. As soon as we neared the sprawling, gated campus, (Huh. See that, sprawling, gated campus, synonymous with superhero training grounds –ie the Xavier Institute from the X-Men. They can’t fool me. I know what’s really going on.) Nugget knew exactly where we were and the meltdown commenced.

From the backseat he was screaming, sobbing, and signing no, no, no, I go home over and over and over. (While this is not behavior befitting one quested with world salvation, I’m sure AquaMan behaved the same when his AquaMom took him that first time too.) I assured him that I was staying and it would be fun but he’s heard enough of my crap over this situation and was not buying it. So, as I’ve now grown accustomed to doing, I entered The Center with a screaming fat kid clinging to my torso like a hostile chimp.

I was a bit concerned when I was able to just open the door and walk in. I’d expected there to be a handprint recognition security system or a membership swipe card at the very least. Upon entry we were met with a team led by a small older woman (their version of Dr. Charles Xavier-obviously) and her team of attractive young people, likely hiding their own superpowers beneath career wear. We were ushered back to the ‘testing suite’ where the One Eared Wonder was wired up to headphones and the process began. (While I’d hoped for a segment where they strapped him to an upright table for endurance, strength and mind control testing while I looked on from a glass-enclosed balcony above, that didn’t happen. I’m assuming they wait until he’s successfully completed kindergarten for that phase.)

As the testing continued so did his hostility, even after he was introduced into a room of fellow-trainees. (AKA two other almost-three year olds.) The other trainees were a bit more independent and did not demand to remain on their mommy’s laps. Because of this bravery, I assumed they were undercover members of The Center being used as a control group. That assumption was dashed when the interpreters entered the room.

Three kids, not quite three-years old, all of whom only communicate in ASL, received a team of two older women who interpreted their every sign for the hearing evaluators (whose hidden talents must not include the ability to read chubby fingered toddler ASL) and the result was hilarious.

The quiet room was now filled with dramatic, rapid-fire, voice-overs of every single thought the toddlers expressed:

Can I get some water?

                        I spilled my water.

            I want more water.

                        Did somebody poop?

            I pooped.

                        She pooped.

                                    I go home now! (Nugget, of course)

            Where is my snack? Can I eat his? He’s not eating it. I want.

                                    I’m done with this! We go in car now! (Nugget, of course)

            I’m ready for nap.

                        I don’t like this snack. Got something else?

            Are we done?

                        Where is my dad? My dad has snacks.

                                    I don’t want snack. GO HOME NOW! (At least he was consistent)

Upon our departure, I was given another form to complete regarding home behaviors and skills. While there was a question asking – does you child easily lift extremely heavy objects (Why yes, last week Nugget held my car up during an oil change.) I was taken aback when there were no questions like, does your child spontaneously take flight, walk through walls and/or appear out of nowhere. After completing the form I added a note suggesting those be added for the next printing.

Now we wait. Our next meeting is scheduled for May and I’m hoping that’s when he gets his cape and tights but if it’s based on Monday’s performance, we might be stuck with a bath towel and pajama bottoms for a while longer.

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If You Need Me, I’ll Be Inside Until Spring

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I hate cold weather. But every year when I’m peeling my sweaty thighs off a plastic lawn chair in the middle of August while perspiration creates a babbling brook though my cleavage, I wistfully dream of frigid temps certain that this year will be the year I appreciate them. This isn’t the year. I still hate cold weather. I’m didn’t chose the subzero life. The subzero life chose me and we’re not a good match.

Now that I’m becoming geriatric I hate the cold even more. My knees feel like the freakin’ Tin Man’s- all creaking and cracking. Any moment now I’m going to start predicting the weather by my bursitis flare-ups. (Oh my God, did I just say “my bursitis”? I’m officially my grandmother.) My back is all knotted up (Though I think that has more to do with hauling around an already fat toddler now clad in layers of fleece and fluff than with me being old.) and the cold air dries out my skin making my wrinkles more prominent. (Seriously, I look like 15-20 years younger in the summer.)

Sure, there are the lowered fashion expectations due to the necessity of snow boots and bulky sweaters that hide all my mid-section jiggle-o to redeem winter. And let’s not scoff at the fact that winter does demand a heightened caloric intake and increased sleep need for mere survival but after a lifetime of this crap (minus those three winters in Turkey were it never went below 35 but I still froze my ass off because heat was too damn expensive) I’m over ass numbing cold. I’m over El Nino, I’m over La Nina, I’m over global warming. I’m over it all.

I’ve taken a bad turn this winter and we’ve only had a handful of subzero days thus far. Readers, I think I’m turning into an agoraphobic. The condition seems to be developing nicely within me so maybe it’s time to just go with it. It’s worked for Paula Deen and Woody Allen- I know right, two great moral compasses by which to guide one’s life, but moral mishaps aside, they both came out on the other side and made millions.

Maybe true agoraphobia is too much for me because I predict that should we ever reach the great thaw, I will want to do a little biking and maybe buy a few groceries. Perhaps what I’m suffering from is more of a “Subzero Temperature Induced Agoraphobia.” Yes, that’s it. That is exactly what I have. See, when I watch Chuck, my go-to weather guy, point out a cooling trend that is bringing anything below 15 degrees, I go into a panic. I change my entire schedule to make sure I don’t need to go out on those days and if I do, I immediately become anxious and hostile towards that entity forcing me into the cold. (I can’t even tell you what happened with Nugget’s audiologist last week when we had to hit a 9:00 am appointment with a wind-chill of -15. That poor woman had no clue of the crazy walking in that door.)

Lest you think this is not a real condition, I’m here to tell you, It is.

In the past month since temps have begun to drop, I’ve canceled appointments, avoided gatherings, let my cupboards go bare and gone without deodorant for days all to avoid going out of my house in the cold. (Oh don’t roll your eyes at me. Nobody actually needs deodorant when it’s -15 degrees. Armpit sweat freezes before it can stink.) I conned the Turk into running errands and have seriously considered homeschooling my oldest to avoid that dreaded morning school drop-off.

In the past, I’ve had to survive the cold because I had to go to work but thanks to my current, caring-for-the-Nugget phase, that’s not an issue. Back in the day I would just slap on some long johns, pull my socks up to my undies and power though like the rest of humanity. Not now. My current life situation is fully supporting my case of Subzero Temperature Induced Agoraphobia.

I work from home so no need to go to work. Nugget’s team of Early Interventionists come right to our home for therapy. I don’t need to take the kids to the library because I can just download library books to my Kindle and videos from Netflix. (Thank you technology.) Target.com has me covered on diapers and Amazon can deliver anything else in about the same amount of time it would take to get the kids dressed and into the car. As for the going to the gym, oh hell, who am I kidding. Even if it’s 65 and sunny I’m not going to the gym. If I could get Trader Joe’s to deliver my $2 wine and some beet hummus, all bets would be off. (Don’t judge my addiction, that beet hummus is otherworldly. Oh, you were judging the wine. Well it’s medicinal.)

As I glance at my calendar I see I have one more obligation in January and about two in February. I’ll do my best to postpone those until April but if not, I guess I’ll find a way. Can they do dental visits via Skype?

Until March, if you need me, you know where to find me. I’ll be the one in her Star Wars jammies and foot warmers, peering out from behind the curtains with a steaming mug in hand waiting, just waiting for that thermometer to creep up to 50 degrees.

Vintage Winter Olympics (2)

Sitting in Post-op Purgatory With Tom Petty

Somewhere around 4th grade I discovered Tom Petty and have been in love with him ever since. Tom Petty is not only a handsome devil in that drug-dealing-ferris-wheel-running-carnival-worker kind of way, he is also my spirit guide. Long have Tom’s words come to me in times of need to give me a sense of well being. Back in the Turkey every time I’d successfully complete a solo trip to the bazaar, (A horror you will never fully understand until you’ve fought past vicious rotund women in floral headscarves and long coats for cheap eggplant and Hello Kitty undies in 150 degree heat.) the entire walk home I’d victoriously sing, “American Girl.” In our last home as we seemed to be a hotspot for the door-to-door sales of cable TV, roof repairs and numerous paths to Jesus, I always completed my hostile door slam with at least one verse of “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” No matter the situation, Tom provides the perfect soundtrack. This week, morning, noon and night my spirit guide Tom has been in my head, appropriately singing “The Waiting is the Hardest Part.”

Damn strait Tom, through everything with the Nugget the waiting really has been the hardest part. This week we hit a new height in waiting and even the wine isn’t helping this time. Let me catch you up to speed. Due to the reconstruction of his kidney and the swelling that would occur, a stent was placed to allow the kidney to drain through his side instead of the old fashioned way – though his little weinus. The plan was to cap the stent prior to us leaving the hospital, thus forcing the kidney to drain through his tiny man parts. Unfortunately, the Nugget’s kidney wasn’t interested in taking the natural path. Instead it backed up and made him hurl like a drunken frat boy post homecoming formal. The doctors uncapped it and thought waiting a few days would help. They tried again last Monday to cap it and this time the descent into hell was slower. No frat boy barfs but instead a slowly deteriorating Nugget and a kidney that was so swollen it was totally visible on the outside of his body within twenty-four hours. After uncapping it again and being drenched in a kidney juice tidal wave, (Gross right? Sharing is caring.) the Nugget was better and more waiting began.

With an uncorked Nugget in my lap, I anxiously awaited a return call from the doctor’s office with instructions as to our next step. As luck would have it, the nurse assigned to walk me though this “highly uncommon” situation, was Becky-it’s-my-first-day-on-the-job-as-a-urology-nurse. After waiting 4 hours, Becky finally called me at 5 to tell me the office was closed and she’d been unable to get in touch with the doctor who’d been in surgery all day so she’d call me back tomorrow. Before I could throw out my well refined, class A profanity, Becky, nearly in tears, disclosed that this was her first day and apologized for not knowing protocol better. She assured me it was safe to leave him uncorked and promised to call me back first thing the next day. Like a fool, I believed her.

At 10-freaking-30 the next morning, (Seriously Becky, in what world is that first thing? For the love of God Becky, I had time to panic-clean my entire house and even wash the rugs before your ass got around to calling me back.) she finally called with instructions on what we would be doing with my clogged up Nugget. Unfortunately, I’d had a full night to develop my crazy by Googling myself nuts and knew that the options we were facing were not pleasant, ranging from the surgical insertion of an internal stent, to a kidney transplant. We are nowhere near a transplant as he has one perfectly fine kidney that drains like it is maintained by the TidyBowl man, but by this stage in the game my continuing stress has ratcheted my crazy up to level hard-core and there is no longer any room for sanity here. Becky said the doctor was concerned but wanted to let it heal a bit more before making any decisions so we’d leave him uncorked until this coming Wednesday when the doctor would see him and assess the situation. Becky failed to note that part of assessing the situation involved an invasive test where dye is shot through the Nug as he is held down again for 45 minutes so the drainage process can be captured on film in a very gross Kodak moment. There is no way this isn’t going to be ugly. There will be kicking, screaming and lots of sweating and that’s not even taking into consideration the Nugget’s reaction.

So we’ve spent the past week waiting. With the exception of the drainage tube coming out his side, the Nugget is feeling great. He’s a different guy than he was before the surgery. He’s no longer puffy like a dude with a stuffed up kidney. His life-long surliness seems to have diminished because after two years, he finally just feels better. He’s back to patrolling the house in an Incredible Hulk mask and giant foam fist, stopping occasionally to inflict punishment in the form of a colossal fart to his brother’s head. What more could a mother ask for? If his damn kidney would work we’d be well on the road to recovery but instead we are languishing away here in post-op purgatory. We can’t celebrate what we’ve come through because it’s looking like it might not have worked and we can’t plan ahead because we have no idea what is coming. My return to gainful daytime employment remains a pipe dream and the prospect of me turning to late-night pole dancing work in a truck stop catering towards those who get a woody from cellulite dimpled thighs and C-section scars is beginning to grow uncomfortably close.

In the meantime, Tom keeps singing. Yes Tom, I agree, the waiting is the hardest part. Hopefully Tom has more faith in my sanity than I do at this point and I won’t start hearing verses of “Breakdown” before we get through Wednesday. I just desperately hope that we are not facing another surgery and in that exam room tomorrow I will hear the vocal styling of Mr. Petty singing “You Got Lucky, Baby.” If not, I will look that doctor in the eye and say, “Don’t Do Me Like That,” before taking a day or so to regroup so I can fight with my Nugget because, “I Won’t Back Down.” (See what I did there? I just gave you a whole Tom Petty medley. You will now most likely want to head over to YouTube to take a listen to my boy Tom and relive those good old days when rock stars looked like carnival workers, not middle schoolers (I’m talking to you boy bands.) You’re welcome.)

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