Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My Christmas Spirit Refuses to Die!

Not even sleep deprivation, sex offenders, violent crime, overtime, work-related holiday parties, drug overdose, autopsy and bureaucracy, can wreck my sense of holiday cheer. Nope. My Christmas spirit is indomitable.

This last week was something.

Our family, for all its chaotic zaniness, has always placed a premium on buying and decorating a tree together every year. Over the past couple of years, though, our tree-buying expeditions have gotten smaller, and I’ve missed the decorating once or twice as well. This year Hannah (our youngest) and I managed to get a tree while MizBubs and the Mad Seamstress were both at work. It was important to get the tree last Sunday afternoon, because I had to go out of town for a couple days to attend a seminar, and we didn’t want to wait much longer. So, we got the tree, bundled it into the back of the minivan, and got it home. We didn’t get time to put it up before I left on Monday. MizBubs did an admirable job of cutting it, getting it inside, and set up in our dining room while I was gone. It’s still there, undecorated. It’s been there all week like that, fresh and green and piney-smelling, but oddly naked.

I spent a couple days in Champaign, Illinois, attending a class on investigating officer-involved shootings. My department sent me to this class by myself, and I didn’t really know anyone else in the class. This meant that, for the first time in 18 years, I went to bed early while I was out of town at a seminar. I ate a good meal at a place called Radio Maria, and found a neat little vintage shop called Carrie’s, where I got some good gifts that I can’t talk about here without spoiling someone’s surprise. Best of all, I found a pristine copy of Hillbilly Holiday for $5! The CD contains four extra tracks of hillbilly Christmas goodness featuring Faron Young, Johnny Horton, the Davis Sisters and Buck Owens. It's out of print, and the cheapest I've seen it on Amazon is $50!

The class was informative and good, but two days of studying worst-case scenarios, gunshot wounds, lawsuits, police fatalities and the like left me a little drained and happy to get home. Then it was back to work, trying to catch up on some administrative crap and some cases I was working on to clear my desk for my 13-day holiday. Most of it was just routine—lots of forgeries and financial crimes, and the usual thefts and domestic batteries. I had one woman who believed someone else used her name during a 1985 arrest (she found out during a background check she had to undergo for a license she was applying for) and wanted her name cleared. The mug photo from 1985 was gone, the arresting officer long since retired. I got the original inked fingerprints from 1985, and submitted them as “unknown”; the results matched to the woman I was dealing with. According to the fingerprints, she was, in fact, the person arrested by our department back in 1985. I don’t see how someone could forget being arrested 20 years ago, but I guess it happens.

Then this weekend hit. An 18 year old girl died in her bed early Saturday morning. It looks like it was probably an overdose; I went to the autopsy Sunday morning and the medical examiner explained the telltale signs. We won't know for sure for at least 6 or 8 weeks, when the toxicology report comes back. What got me, and this is the first time something like this ever happened to me, was that the girl looked quite a bit like my oldest daughter. I tracked down her boyfriend, who I know as a burglar and junkie, ready to tear into him. Instead, I found myself faced with a 20 year old, on methadone for 6 months now after a 4-year addiction to heroin, who couldn’t stop crying because of his dead girlfriend. I did get an idea of where she might have scored before she died, but we might never know for sure.

That same weekend one of our officers caught a weenie-waver at the library. The freak was kneeling between the stacks, tugging away, and the officer grabbed him and handcuffed him so quickly the freak didn’t have time to get the, uh, offending part back in his pants. I talked to this guy for almost 2 hours, and found out that he loves visiting local libraries and masturbates in public or exposes himself almost every day. He also prefers looking at porn on the computers at the Chicago Public Libraries, because, he said “it’s easier.” Oh well. He had a stack of computer-printed photos, folded up and, eh..stuck together...with him when he got arrested. He printed them (thanks Chicago Public Library!) from a website that specializes in fully-clothed young women sitting on, and trampling, and rubbing their feet in the faces of passive, dopey-looking men.

I finally got to the end of the workday yesterday, and attended my final work-related party of the season. I bugged out early and got home to watch the second half of the Bears game. The best thing about yesterday turned out to be falling asleep during the post-game, snoozing happily in my knowledge of a Bears win with a belly full of holiday bourbon.

I’m cooking dinner for my family for the first time in over a week tonight: Cajun fish, sweet potatoes and greens. After dinner we’ll finally decorate our naked little Christmas tree, and all will be right with the world.

Oh, and I hope to have some more fun stuff posted later this week, before our trip to Indiana.


Anonymous said...

Great cd catch! Champaign is a great place to find all kinds of rarities-- I always hit the stores when I'm down there visiting an old college friend. Love Faron Young! Phil Ochs was a big fan of his. Weird-- he and Phil met the same fate-- Faron took his own life a few years ago.

My friend Mary was a CPS librarian for years. She told me that guys would come in and openly surf for porn on the net, and run to the washroom.

I finally got the Christmas tree I'd been dreaming of literally for decades-- the aluminum tinsel one with the color wheel. Our artsy neighbor/landlord in Lincoln Park had one when I was little, and I had Christmas Tree Envy ever since. I'll blog about it this weekend.

That's really sad about the girl. My first year teaching, I got to be friends with the off-duty cop who moonlighted as a security guard on our floor (this was a grade-school in Austin), and he told me about pinching young white yuppies buying various substances. It ain't just inner-city kids doing this stuff.

How you guys don't become totally jaded, I don't know. Enjoy every minute of your family time-- you've earned it.

Anonymous said...

Life certainly doesn't slow down for the holidays, in fact, it sometimes becomes worse. I have found a sense of humor (which you definitely have) helps. Eat some catfish and greens for me as well!

Dale said...

That's quite a packed post Mr. Bubs. As Johnny said, enjoy the family time and the Johnny Horton, I love Johnny H.

Bubs said...

Johnny, MizBubs, girl genius, works at the library here (a couple towns over from where I work) and they now have a police officer working there in plainclothes several nights a week. Libraries are freak magnets. Your tree sounds AMAZING!! I love it! We're still going traditional here, our tree is probably the most normal thing about us.

Lady, it amazes me the degree to which the holidays accelerate each year. I did enjoy those greens, but I cheated on the fish--it was perch, on sale, not my beloved catfish.

Dale, almost any mood can be lifted by the correct application of a Johnny Horton tune.

Anonymous said...

My dad tells a tale of his military service involving Johnny Horton. He was in a bar-- it must have been in the town Fort Leonard Wood, where he did his Basic, was in. There were some visiting British soldiers. Someone put in a buck's worth of nickels and punched "The Battle of New Orleans" 20 times. He said by about the 8th time it played there was a brawl between the limeys and the Americans.

Bubs said...

I almost got the same effect at a bar near the Ginger Man by playing "96 Tears" about 20 times in a row.