Facial Hair Removal Horror Stories

People are generally surprised when I claim to be a tiny amount Persian because I’m pale and always have a soy latte in hand. At which point I show them my faint handlebar mustache. But really, the only bodily characteristic that confirms the presence of a small amount of Persian blood is the speed and veracity at which my facial hair grows. Unfortunately, I am not a man so my facial hair inspires slight revulsion instead of deep respect and fear.  You would think I would have a favored method for removing it by now as a 23 year old, but this is not true. I have no loyalty to hair removal procedures because so far, they have all resulted in mediocre eyebrows and pain.

My face during facial hair removal.

My face during facial hair removal.

I wish I could just allow the monolithic caterpillars on my face to continue to grow into a majestic unibrow butterfly. I wish I just could accept Frida Kahlo as my style icon and move on. And, to be honest, there are days when I enjoy my hairy wolf face. Like when the sunlight streams into my room, dappled by swaying trees, and hits my mustache, soul patch, and unibrow juuust right so as to produce a very attractive effect. And I think to myself, “Wow, I should really just be highlighting these features instead of getting them ripped out of my face every few weeks!” Alas, the sun is not so kind most days so instead, I find ways to rid myself of this extra hair. And don’t worry, I don’t waste my waxed/plucked facial hair; I donate it to the Justin Bieber Facial Hair Relief Fund. I urge you to do the same.

Justin Bieber Facial Hair Relief Fund #neverforget

Justin Bieber Facial Hair Relief Fund #neverforget

Annnyway, after months of leaving my facial hair alone besides the occasional use of tweezers, I decided it was time to turn to the professionals again. I went to a threading salon where I was promised a pain-free experience that was better than waxing. Yeah, no. There is not such thing as painless hair removal. I sat in the chair as the nice lady methodically used friction to remove my face hairs and I proceeded to sweat everywhere  because of the pain. I’m sure my eyes were watering too but I can’t remember because I have mostly blocked out the memory.

After the threading session, I had shaped eyebrows, a sweaty dress, and an unwavering desire to never get my eyebrows threaded again.

However, a few weeks later, I realized my eyebrows were out of control. I was a human sheepdog. I couldn’t see right and my parents were getting worried.  I decided to go back to the waxing salon where I also previously had told myself I would never return.

This was a mistake because, for the second time, I had actual skin ripped off instead of hair.

I Snapchatted this to all of my friends.

I Snapchatted this to all of my friends.

I thought that maybe it was just a fluke or something when this happened the first time. Nope. I’m just sensitive to wax and get lightning scars but not in a cool Harry Potter way or in a way that would discern me as a truly committed SD Chargers fan – no, just an unsightly scar. I religiously put vitamin E on it in the hopes that it would help heal it with its magical science powers. It did heal the outside scar, but the emotional scars have yet to heal.

I hope we can all learn something from my terrible grooming mishaps: just accept the lady stache.

- M

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Hair Weaves from Hell

vulcan

I was watching a portion of the national evening news this evening, and one of the featured interviews involved a ninety-four-year-old man.  All I can say is that I hope I look that good when I’m his age, assuming I’m still around to poof myself up in front of a mirror, that is.  Not only did he sound reasonably articulate, he also managed both not to drool and or fall asleep during the segment.

And his hair.  My God, his hair.  He sported a full head of jet black locks, as if he had used shoe polish as a dye.

Dude.  Your 94 freaking years old.  There’s no way your hair isn’t gray.  No way.

Why is it that guys who reach a certain age have to undertake such extreme, ridiculous measures to hold onto some fiction of their youth?  Has The Real Housewives perfection desperation migrated to men?

I really don’t know the answer, but the phenomenon of ridiculous-looking elderly men tarted up with unnaturally colored and fully covered noggins seems to be spreading.

It is my understanding that when we grow older and reach a certain age, our hair will turn gray and will slowly thin out — maybe not in that order, but you get the idea.

But it seems that some guys just can’t accept the facts, and the results are often cartoonish shades of black and orange tresses buttressed by a body with a dumpy midsection propelled by feet adorned with white socks and sandals.

Classic AARP mass hysteria.

And I haven’t even mentioned the dreaded comb-overs yet.

For instance, I occasionally have to deal with a very senior guy at work, and I have an extraordinarily hard time even talking to him with a straight face.  Sure, he’s nice enough, but whatever it is on top of his head resembles a giant squirrel’s nest or something.  I half expect to see an acorn drop out, but the rug he wears occupies a solid position within the top ten list for worst hairpieces ever worn by man.

I frequently find myself completely ignoring whatever he’s saying because this voice inside of me keeps yelling, “For God’s sake, man, don’t you see yourself?  Either come clean and go bald, or break out a WeedEater and get that mop into shape!  It’s over-the-top horrible, after all.”

I just can’t take him seriously with that thing on his head.  And if that’s his modus operandi regarding personal appearance, what does it say about how he conducts business — “Yep, we rounded up on that invoice, but we’ll probably round down on the next one.  It will all work out.”

You get the picture.

Generally speaking, I’ve come to terms on a personal level with the ongoing graying and thinning processes.  After all, I think I had my first gray hair in high school, so it’s not like I’m surprised it’s happening.  I’m also determined not to fall prey to the dreaded comb-over zombie attack.

Unless, of course, I want to portray myself as a complete clown and buffoon to the world at large.

But just when I think I’ve got the whole thing figured out, I get surprised.

Not more than four days ago at a fast food joint, there was an elderly gentleman who sported what can only be described as a work of art on his head.  The color was almost natural, but what truly impressed me was the multi-layer comb-over that had a solid cumulus cloud baseline around his ears and was topped with a Greek mantle weave worthy of Zeus himself.  It was classy in a Ron Burgundy sort of way, yet dignified in an Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter sort of way.

In other words, it just worked.

So I guess I have another option to consider taking over the next twenty or thirty years.  Option A remains keep everything close-cropped and neat, since Matt Lauer seems to have popularized that look.

But then there’s Option B.  That would include letting everything grow out in biblical proportions and length, with the idea that with enough brittle stringy hair, anything might be possible.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking dreadlocks.

Plus, there’s the added bonus that it will surely annoy Daughter, as well as my greater family at large.

And that makes it all worthwhile.

- Dad

Moron Mechanic

scooter

Rather trying to “walk off” Thanksgiving turkey and wine, I chose to spend what little is left of the holiday drinking coffee, watching sports, and working on the various motorized vehicles that litter the general environs of my home.

And I really attempted to tackle the sorts of mechanical jobs at the end of which I could hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner across the garage threshold.  You know the kinds of things I’m focused on here:  tightening a few bolts, inflating tires, and wiping off the greasy detritus of many, many months of mechanical non-intervention. 

True story:  I was recently engaged in the semi-annual washing of my much beloved but very “beaterish” Miata (“You know that’s a girl’s car, Dad.”), when I heard a hissing sound from one of the wheels.  Fearing the worst — that my car was either haunted (which would have required an immediate call to Zak Bagans) or was harboring a snake — I soon discovered that I had damaged one of the valve stems when I cleaned the wheel. 

(Note to self:  Don’t clean the wheels.  They just get dirty again anyway.)

Upon closer inspection, I discovered all four valve stems were damaged and ready to crack, and for once in my long-suffering lifetime of automotive woes, I actually had a workable backup plan already in place, as I had picked up a used set of wheels and tires several months ago.  They had been rotting on the side of the house since purchase, of course, but they held air. 

Ready, set, swap-o-matic, and I was back in business. 

It only took me two months to get around to fixing the valve stems on the original wheels, but I had a great time doing it this week.  I got to use an industrial, real-world tire changer.  And the guy at the hobby shop only had to explain to me five times how to use it. 

I’ve got new respect for the knuckle-draggers at Discount Tire now, believe you me.

So the tire mounting deal turned out not to be enough of a challenge, and I ramped it up a notch:  Clean the carburetor on a friend’s scooter. 

Now I had already cleaned and serviced this scooter for the same guy ab0ut a year ago, and though I returned a perfectly functioning, driveable piece of crap Chinese motorbike to him, he promptly let it sit for a year and finally returned it to me, head hung in shame, asking me to repeat the favor. 

I agreed to work on the bike on one condition.  I told him he had to sell it if I fixed it. 

That might sound harsh but:  1)  I was sick of this particular piece of machinery, and 2)  I feared for his safety riding it.  It truly is a junker and is truly better off being donated to some high school automotive shop class to demonstrate how not to build quality machinery. 

Long story short.  I’d done this particular job before and could do it again, probably in under an hour — especially if I didn’t replace all the bolts and screws (or simply dropped some of them, never to be seen again).

So I dutifully pulled everything apart and got most of it back together correctly, and then tried to fire it up. 

And tried again. 

And again.

Oh, it cranked.  It cranked until I killed the battery two or three times.  This is how I know having a battery charger comes in handy — another purchase made because of idiotic decisions I’ve made in the past.

But no matter what I did, I could not get the stupid thing to start. 

Surely I had made some stupidly simple mistake in reassembling the carb, I thought

I probably tore it down and rebuilt it at least three times, since I was absolutely, positively sure it had a carb problem.

Nada. 

Time to retreat to the Internet.  And I quote, “In general, a scooter needs three things to start:  fuel, spark, and the left handbrake engaged.  And remember to ensure the kill switch is not on.”

Snap! 

Kill switch.  This bike has a kill switch?  No way.

I went back outside to determine whether this stupid scooter had a kill switch.

Yes way.

Was it pressed in?

Yes way.

If I disengaged it, would the scooter immediately start?

Yes way.

By the way, even though the engine started on the first crank, because I had screwed around with the carburetor so much, I am fairly confident I damaged some of the internals. 

Why do I think this?  Well, though the bike runs, it runs and drives like crap which, I suppose, is appropriate, given that the entire thing is a piece of crap (or carp, depending on how tired my typing is, and that’s kind of a Chinese analogy, too). 

Now I sit here in a pool of shame and need to go out and buy a carb rebuild kit, to fix something that I should never have broken in the first place.

On this Thanksgiving, then, I have confirmed that I am both a moron and an idiotic mechanic. 

If you haven’t figured out something to give thanks for this year, count your lucky stars I’m not the guy working on your car, or motorcycle, or scooter, or bicycle.

Did I mention I’m a pretty awful carpenter, too? 

Happy Thanksgiving, then.

- Dad

 

10 Things to Avoid During Thanksgiving

Louis C.K., the sage of our time.

Louis C.K., the sage of our time.

Here are ten things to avoid during Thanksgiving, the first holiday that sets the tone for all other impending holidays. DO IT RIGHT OR NOT AT ALL.

 

1) DON’T drink before embarking on the adventure that is a new recipe. 

Put the wine glass DOWN. I have learned the hard way: just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean that the Food Network gods have suddenly graced you with culinary gifts. You still have to read the directions like a literate adult and if you have wine in your bloodstream, the ability to read is quickly ripped away like so many appetites upon viewing turkey gizzards.

Case in point: Last year, I tried making a pumpkin pie. I put in baking soda when the recipe called for baking flour… This resulted in an absolutely heinous salty pumpkin cake and also a salty discharge from my tear ducts.

Obviously not a picture of the horrible monstrosity I created. It was truly the Frankenstein of holiday desserts.

Obviously not a picture of the horrible monstrosity I created. It was truly the Frankenstein of holiday desserts.

2) DON’T make homemade cranberry sauce. 

That’s cute and all, but guys, can we all just agree that that canned stuff is AMAZING and King of All Things Cranberry & Delicious? Just because it comes out in the form of a gelatinous cranberry can does not mean it is not both mighty and majestic. It even has ridges to show you where to cut each serving.

Me: “How helpful you are, Canned Cranberry! With your evenly-spaced ridges and Jello-like consistency, I can never go wrong.”

Canned Cranberry: “You’re welcome.”

Mmmmm.

Mmmmm. Can.

3) DON’T exercise. 

Are you serious? That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for, dummy! Why start a habit now when your Old Year’s resolution should be to become a giant sea cow? Actually, sea cows are too healthy – they eat marine vegetation. Try for something larger, like a planet. Become a planet. Mercury, maybe?

750px-1e7m_comparison_Uranus_Neptune_Sirius_B_Earth_Venus

4) DON’T spend three-hundred hours blessing the food. 

WHAT IS THIS, DAY 1 OF THE PILGRIMS LANDING ON AMERICA?* Please, for the love of all things holy and unholy, this is not the time to list all six million saints in the Catholic canon. Take the time to say your thanks, give the sky a thumbs up, pat your friends and family on the head, and then eat! If you do spend three-hundred hours on something, make sure it is spent being grateful for Kimye and realizing what is truly important in this world: the existence of North West.

Calm down, everyone.

Calm down, everyone. The saints will still be here tomorrow.

5) DON’T eat at all except for dinner. 

I play a game every year called how-hungry-can-I-get-before-I-pass-out and this year is no different. Time to fast. It’s like a trendy juice cleanse except the juice is air.

I do love a good painted cheese.

I do love a good painted cheese.

6) DON’T send a mass Thanksgiving text. 

If you could opt-out of mass texts, then maaaaybe it would make them slightly more tolerable. But inevitably, your phone buzzes nonstop with the tangential side conversations mass texts tend to cultivate: “Who is 454-444-0456 number?” Just send a personal text or tweet. And by tweet, I mean, send a message to your loved ones by carrier pigeon.

7) DON’T talk about Black Friday or lament about the holiday season.

WE KNOW. WE ALL LIVE ON PLANET EARTH IN A CITY CALLED OBVIOUSTOWN, USA.

Black Friday Logic.

Black Friday Logic.

8) DON’T talk politics.

Uncle Bob, put down the butter knife and channel your political enthusiasm into aggressively washing the dishes or something.

“We. Are. Trying. To. Have. A. Nice. Day,” said hosts and hostesses through gritted teeth all throughout the land.

9) DON’T be ignorant of American history. 

You guys, Thanksgiving can hardly be boiled down to a bunch of white people high-fiving the native population.

10) DON’T be a cynical killjoy.

Wait a second…

26e871ff25dc7b7ca24804a0aeb09194 (1)

- M

* I am aware that Thanksgiving was not Day 1 of Pilgrims landing on America.

Knock it off, People!

lights

It’s getting pretty bad around here.

You know.  My neighborhood.

It started before Halloween when several of our fellow Muggle inhabitants chose to both decorate and put up lights.

For Halloween.

I’m not talking about a random plastic lighted jack-o-lantern here and there.  I mean strings of orange and white lights, inflatables, and elaborate figurine displays.

I mean, come on, don’t these folks have anything better to do?  Why don’t they treat Halloween like the rest of us — scrambling around late in the afternoon on Halloween itself looking for the meager, years old bargain bin crapola we will gladly drape over our doorway and sagging fall foliage in the front yard?

After all, that’s tradition.

So I tried to file away this year’s early decoration phenomenon as simply a one-year anomaly, until early one evening last week I spied something very disturbing while cruising down an adjacent street to ours.

Oh, My God.

Christmas lights.  Somebody has already hung up (and turned on) their Christmas lights!

Mark the day:  November 8th.

That’s just wrong.

And I have to make a distinction among neighbors, at this point.  We do have a few who apparently never take down their Christmas lights.  I guess during some long ago December they made the effort to hang them and simply decided that once was enough, damn it.

There’s a certain logic to that approach, I suppose.  But at least these lazy butts people have the decency not to illuminate for the balance of the year.

You know that would truly be in bad taste.

I guess compared to hanging early, it  is only a little less distasteful to leave your lights up year round, and there’s a certain measured ambivalence in doing so, especially around here.  It’s almost like thumbing your nose at the HOA.  After all, as I’ve mentioned previously, our HOA would not seem out of place in 1938 Germany — I half-expect a Kristallnacht to occur one of these years.

To compound matters this year, a local radio station started playing 24 hour a day Christmas music last week — about November 15.

And they are proud of it.

But let’s think about this.  How many possible recorded versions of Little Drummer Boy can there be in existence?  I’m guessing plenty, unfortunately.

Plenty.

Which brings me back to what exactly I’m supposed to do about all this premature display activity.

Well, I have thought it through (not really), and have come up with the following.

I have decided that I will wait until the last possible day to put up decorations.  I have decided that they will be as kitschy and rusty as possible.  I have decided that those made out of plastic absolutely must originate from China.  And I have decided to keep whatever original yard and house display I put together will remain fully functioning and lighted all the way through the end of January, or until I blow one of the house’s main fuses — whichever occurs first.

And just to demonstrate that our Nazi Storm Trooper wonderful HOA scions have a heart and really do care about appearances around in our neighborhood, today we received a letter from them to trim down the three dead palm fronds in our yard that are visible from the road.

Yeah, I’ll trim them soon enough, after I get the holiday lights up.

Sieg Heil!  Merry Christmas!

- Dad

RIP Chuck Taylor

chuck

First off, I don’t even know who Chuck Taylor is.  I guess I should, but that would require either:

a)  Executing a cheap google search that would simply lead to a crappy Wikipedia entry of dubious accuracy and/or quality, or

2)  Accessing the deep recesses of my increasingly faulty internal memory banks to try to remember what is was like in the “good ole days” and why I used to care.

Instead, I will just lay out the story simply and quickly, and then you can figure out how much older I’ve become.

As many of you know (and probably lots more don’t), I usually treat myself to a foo-f00 coffee on the way to work most Friday mornings.  Most of the time I try to leave the house a little bit early to make up for the delay along the way, but today I actually left later than usual, with the very predictable result of longer lines in the shop and heavier traffic on the interstate afterwards since every other Muggle in existence seemed to have gotten a delayed start to their Friday morning like me.

Whatever.  Work will wait, I know.

While standing in line waiting for my beverage, I noticed a young lady amongst the throng of other  customers also waiting for their (to me) indecipherable specialty drinks, and she was wearing a pair of high-top Converse Chuck Taylor basketball shoes. 

I happen to be familiar with these shoes because:

a)  I used to own several pairs myself from the ages of 8-14 or so — you know, back when they were actually used for athletic events, and

2)  I’ve seen Daughter wear some version of the same footwear around the house on occasion. 

I must say that my first-hand exposure to Chuck Taylors in my youth was when they were pretty much considered the de rigueur basketball shoe back in the day.  Owning a pair of Chuck Taylors was something every young kid aspired to, and an especially sought after color was Carolina Blue. 

On the other side of the tracks, the lesser, uncool kids had to make do with shoes from Kinney’s or Sears or, God forbid, Montgomery Ward.  Don’t ask me how I know.

Just google those stores if you’ve never heard of them.

I seem to remember a real battle for supremacy in the athletic shoe market took place at some point between increasingly upscale Converse and ProKeds.  I could only afford the Keds, and I used to own a pair (factory blems, mind you) of suede ProKeds that not only weighed about twenty pounds each, but were also nuclear fallout-proof. 

They were rugged. 

I eventually gave them away when,  after years of ownership, they simply never wore out.  Their real fault was that they smelled bad and had fallen out of style. 

Canvas Chuck Taylors still survived, of course, and periodically I still wore them, but time was beginning to pass them by since the 800-pound Nike gorilla had entered the scene and was beginning its long, inexorable march to market domination.

Side Note:  When Nike first appeared, my friends and I didn’t know if the brand was cool or not (we hadn’t been bludgeoned by their marketing yet), and none of us knew how to pronounce the name.

Nowadays, Chuck Taylors have become some kind of “street cred” fashion statement, and I’m sure most of the punks kids wearing them know nothing of their long and storied sporting history. 

As for myself, I no longer care what brand of athletic shoe I wear, as long as they are comfortable.  Good grief, three layers of tissue paper have more cushioning than Chuck Taylor soles, after all. 

So, I figure I can talk reasonably intelligently about three types of shoes at the next holiday party I attend (Yes, maybe I’ll be invited to one this year.  Who knows?):  Chuck Taylors, loafers, and espadrilles. 

Well, I really don’t know anything about espadrilles, but I do remember a creative writing instructor in college using the term in one of his short stories and me thinking, “How the hell does he know anything about women’s shoes, and I need to get some more life experience.”

And platform shoes.  I can talk about platform shoes, I think. 

The irony is that now that I can afford basically any Chuck Taylor version out there, I don’t care to wear them anymore.  I know they would hurt my feet, and other Muggles might think I’m pretending to be seventeen years old or something. 

Sorry, Chuck.  But the good new is that googling you is on my “to-do” list this weekend. 

- Dad

I’m White Hot… in the Insurance Industry

My biggest fan! But seriously, Flo, stop sending my resume to HR - I'm not interested.

My biggest fan! But seriously, Flo, stop sending my resume to HR – I’m not interested.

Maybe they’ve heard through the grapevine that I really like Progressive commercials, maybe they know that I deeply appreciate and am grateful for medical insurance, or maybe they just want a drone to carry out their paperwork – whatever the reason, insurance companies are pursuing me incessantly. Seriously, it’s like some sort of Renaissance-era courting ritual. I’m surprised they haven’t just gone straight to my father for my hand in insurance-marriage. Or written me a ballad. Or gifted me with expensive jewelry while making grand platitudes about my beauty and wit.

"Girl, you iz fine!"

“Girl, you iz fine!”

No, instead of the *proper* method of going about courting me, they’re e-mailing me. Sometimes, multiple times. They keep telling me I’d be great for their “team”. I’m prettttttttyyyyy sure they’ve misunderstood my resume and have no clue what they’d be in for if they hired me. Hypothetically, I’d be a great asset in terms of my ability to communicate like a human – I’m literate and can sometimes participate in small talk without gagging. Retail has also afforded me some vague knowledge of “customer service”.

The recruiters for these companies probably have a good laugh over my statements on my profile that describe my desired job as “writer” and send me a recruitment e-mail half out of pity and half out of genuine interest in hiring me. They know I will be poor and living among the plebes and probably feel like some sort of hero offering me an insurance position.

I know I shouldn’t be complaining because, as we all know from the news, the job market is dismal and we’re all going to die horrible deaths. It’s not that I’m too good to work for an insurance company though, it’s that I actually think that maybe there’s a chance I could write for a living and do what I like instead of shilling life coverage plans? I don’t know, maybe I’m taking crazy pills…

Who knew The Matrix would be so relevant to my life?? I choose the Red Pill! I want to know how far the rabbit hole goes. LET’S ALICE IN WONDERLAND IT UP, GUYS. 

- M

Wisdom Teeth and Other Dental Hijinks

If there’s one thing I would like to avoid in this life, it’s getting surgery. Well, unless I end up living in Beverly Hills and decide that elective rhinoplasty would boost my writing career (because duh!). I guess wisdom teeth surgery is “elective” in that I “elect” to get them out now while I am under the magical umbrella of parental insurance for two more months before I am thrust in the savage world of DIY dentistry… or until I get a job with dental coverage. Anyway, my wisdom teeth have been slowly but surely moving in. And not only that, but there is one in particular that aches with an increasing intensity every single day.

It’s weird because usually I’m complaining about my knees… but now, as I get older, I slowly experience pain in places I would never have even dreamed about!

Ah, but really, I am looking forward to getting these little monsters out.

Not all things dental are bad but when teeth come up in a conversation, more often than not, it is part of a terrifying tale. A drunk girl once came up to me during a party and started babbling at me. I had time to respond a few times in the midst of her stream-of-consciousness  remarks. Apparently, those few seconds were enough time for her to appraise my teeth situation. She suddenly interrupted the already erratic rhythm of our conversation to compliment me: “Your teeth are so pretty and straight! I can tell you’ve had braces.” I replied in the affirmative, thanked her, and thought that that would be the end of it.

But, no.

She went on to say that she, too, had braces but in her living room with her aunt doing the procedure who, she assured me, was not a dentist. It seriously sounded like some backwards medieval level stuff . I just stood there slack-jawed and eyes wide open – not sure of how to react or what to say. Luckily, the girl in question scampered away after this to find the next recipient of her dental horror story.

The teeth are located in the abdomen.

The teeth are located in the abdomen.

Her description of braces was a far cry from what I dreamed about as a kid. I remember coveting every boy and girl for their metal-enhanced mouths in elementary school. I resolved that I, too, would have a mostly synthetic mouth and rubber bands that changed according to my whims.

I was a pretty frumpy elementary school student but even I knew the style potential of braces in the midst of my frump. Braces were like permanent jewelry for your teeth! Ah, yes. My naivete would be shown years later when I actually had them.

I had those fun Invisalign braces (which, by the way, totally not invisible) for the top teeth but my bottom teeth had the traditional metal kind. Man, not that fun!

image (4)

1) Getting hit in the mouth – instant, profuse bloodshed.

2) Popcorn – why did I even try? Seriously bad decision-making.

3) Getting the wires tightened – the wires were like taut guitar strings, except they were in your mouth and instead of music, they made your entire oral cavity quake in fear and pain.

So, in conclusion, I am not looking forward to this next dental adventure. I am looking forward to what sort of fun painkillers they will give me though!*

- M

* In a non-recreational, responsible sense. Of course.

It Only Seems Fitting . . .

doggie poop bag

The details are not important, but Daughter has berated me into attempting to take up my end of the bargain again and continue to contribute “average” posts to this Blog so that hers, in comparison, seem erudite, hip, and just cool.

If there’s anything I recognize in life, it is my place in it these days.

Plus, she reminded me that the Blog has been in existence for a year now, so in tribute to the two Followers and six Additional Muggles who read my posts, here goes.

It is something of a daily right in our household to not only walk the dog twice a day, but also to determine the state of his intestinal health after the fact.  It is a routine that disgusts Daughter, in particular, which means that her Mother and I enjoy it all the more.  After all, DandyDog is firmly planted in his early elderly years, and we take an abiding interest in everything associated with his health.

Including his poop.  An abiding interest.

So, a typical post-walk debrief might go something like this:

“Did the dog poop?”

“Yes.  Yes, he did.”

“Was it a one-bagger or a two-bagger?”

“Well, he squeezed out an initial perfunctory poop since you (Daughter’s Mom) didn’t come along, but I made him keep walking and he did a second one later on.”

Then the fun starts, because what we’re all really after comes next.

After all, the most important thing next to the quantity of the poop is the quality.

“Was it firm, or was it mushy?”

And, of course, the answer depends on many factors — what Dandy ate for the day; how much cat poop he was able to sneak out of the cat box; whether he raided the kitchen trash can, etc.

But what we’re all after is that which indicates satisfactory canine gastric health:  a firm, well-formed poop.

So it was not without some soul-searching the other night that I began to wonder about dog poop etiquette.

Don’t get me wrong.  The overwhelming majority of dog walkers in our neighborhood are very responsible and conscientious owners.  They walk their charges, armed to the teeth with poop bags, and for the number of dogs that live around here, we have a fairly poop-free environment most of the time.

My own etiquette dilemma concerned just how far into someone’s yard is it acceptable to allow your dog to do his or her business?  I mean, I am going to pick it up anyway but I think the general rule of thumb (for most of the folks around here) is that it’s okay to allow your pooch to use a “leash length” to take care of necessities.

Any more than that seems like some kind of violation of propriety.

It comes as no surprise that our Dog apparently didn’t read the manual, didn’t get the memo, or was otherwise occupied when the information about pooping was passed around amongst his furry pals.

Two nights ago Dandy decided (and I allowed him to) break the rule and scamper up into someone’s yard, well beyond the normally accepted limits.

After a thorough exploration of the smells inhabiting the general vicinity, he decided to deposit his load.

Even though I quickly picked it up and we continued on our way, I couldn’t shake the notion that we had violated a fundamental tenet of Dogdom because we had strayed too far from the sidewalk.

But since it was nighttime, no one else witnessed the transgression.

I suppose it is something I will have to struggle with and eventually come to terms, since I have little else of real substance to occupy my brain these days.

I stopped trying to figure out the String Theory of the Universe years ago.

So it seems only fitting to celebrate one year of TheDailyTripBlog.com by writing about poop.

And if you were wondering, Dandy’s poop in this instance was firm and well-formed — not mushy at all.

- Dad

Impending Birthdays and Immanuel Kant

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Every birthday, I resolve to make the coming year better than the last. But then, sometimes, there are periods of time where I flat out lose my mind and make terrible decisions that fly in the face of my goals and reject all notions of human reason (and decency). Enlightenment thinkers  are probably disgusted by me and my flagrant disregard for objectivity and logical reason.

Kant: "I Kant even look at you."

“I Kant even look at you.”

(Note to self: restrict self from making Philosophy 101 puns after midnight because they are extra horrible.)

Being a certain age is like going on a blind date. Except that you slowly bury your date throughout the year before the next birthday brutally murders it. And this happens up until the day you keel over. This year, 22 will be laid to rest and rising from its ashes, 23 will arrive. It was good enough for Michael Jordan so it’s good enough for me.

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I’m sure 23 is significant if I think of it in terms of what my (hoped for) lifespan of a million years a solid century is: two years from a quarter-century,  seven years from 30… I could go on but math.

Anyway, like I started off saying in the beginning before my brain got sidetracked by Immanuel Kant and Michael Jordan, I like to avoid the stupid things I did the year before. Here are things that happened when I was 22 that were #notsogreat decisions or choices:

  • running (a lot) when I have terrible knees (Me, while running: Wow, this is excruciatingly painful. It feels like an angry mercenary militia is actively waging war inside of my knees. I bet I will be in 1208234o6795422x this much pain in thirty years…. oh well, moar running!!!!)
  • not flossing (Me, while at the dentist: The dentist looks quite disgusted with the state of my gums, I really should floss. Really. No, stop laughing!! Humor is not allowed in my serious inner monologues about flossing. I WILL FLOSS. Maybe. Probably not though, because ugh, it takes forever.)
  • wearing high heels without strategic band-aid placement
  • buying Groupons (Me, when buying said Groupon: I will for sure use this coupon before it expires. I will definitely drive thirty minutes out of my way to get this wax treatment. Why wouldn’t I?)
  • impulse buying (Me, at Target: I only need a new sweater so I can replace the one with hole- IS THAT AN OMBRE DR- OH MY GOD JEWELRY SALE- AND OWLS, OWL EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE!!!)
  • getting upsold at Starbucks without realizing it (Me, at the time: Wow, that lady was just awful nice. Awful nice. I’m paying…. what?! That seems higher th- oh my god. It’s because I just agreed to an extra shot of espresso. I will pick up my coffee from the bar very aggressively while thanking the barista for a job well done and leaving  a tip to show my displeasure and disapproval of her witchcraft.) 
  • whiskey (This seems like a good idea.)
  •  vodka (This seems like a good idea.)
  • drinking alcohol with a phone or communication device in hand (This text seems like a good idea.)
  • getting separated from my friends without a phone, ID, or money (This seems like a terrible idea, too bad I have no device to rectify the situation.)
  • dropping my phone face down on some concrete (Me at the time: Well, now every time I make a call I will get glass splinters in my face – maybe it will work as exfoliation too??!!)

To good decisions!

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- Daughter

No, I Can’t Help You, M’am, My Hands are Full of Broken Glass

I really thought that customers couldn’t reach a new low but they prove time and time again that, yes, they can lower the bar ever lower. There is no limit for debauched customers.

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For example, two days ago, someone pooped on the floor. Actually. Pooped. On. The. Floor. I’m extremely hard to gross out so I got some bleach poured it over the area in question and donned a hazmat-like suit (no, just gloves actually) and cleaned it. It wasn’t the way I wanted to start off my day but you know what, things can’t really get worse after that, can it?

OR SO I THOUGHT.

I’m going about my day, doing my assigned tasks and a coworker tells me that there’s a wine spill. Okay, no problem. Someone breaks a regularly bottle of wine probably once a week. I walk over to the wine department, expecting a small wine puddle but instead see a huge spill and broken glass eeeeverywhere. I saw a couple of customers by the spill but they skittered away once they saw me. Didn’t apologize or anything. That’s fine. Whatever. FOR SHAME, HUMANITY. FOR SHAME.

THEN, as I am very obviously cleaning up a spill (literally, I was in the middle of a sea of wine and glass) and handling broken glass, a customer asked if I could help her. I didn’t even try to veil my absolute disgust at this woman as I turned around and said, “Actually, I can’t help you right now because I’m cleaning up broken glass that I don’t want other people to step on.” She says, “That’s fine, I’ll just ask my question as you work.” She then proceeds to ask an extremely specific, detailed question that I do not have the answer to, so I put down the shattered glass and get a coworker. But really, REALLY? I understand that the customer is important but COME ON, BROKEN/SHATTERED GLASS IS IN MY HANDS, do I really look like I’m in any position to assist you? Unless you are planning on buying broken glass, then I can’t help you.

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Thank goodness for amazing coworkers! They’re all I have in this (retail) world.

- Daughter

Being Sick as a Child vs Being Sick as an Adult

I’m sick and man, it’s not as sweet as it used to be.

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Pros of being sick as a child:

1) The world practically stops to take care of you.

2) Massive amounts of television is watched and nobody can say anything because you’re a  tiny human that feels sick.

3) You skip school.

4) You get to lie in bed all day and not feel guilty.

5) You go back to school and people are so happy that you’re back.

 

Pros of being sick as an adult:

1) You can… drive yourself to the doctor?

Cons of being sick as a child:

1) Can’t think of any.

 

Cons of being sick as an adult:

1) Literally, nobody cares besides passing “How are you feeling” texts that are sent out of social obligations like some sort of Rousseauian social contract.

2) The world does not stop even if you do.

3) You still have to go to work and school if you are not bleeding on people or otherwise outwardly showing signs of near death.

4) You have to cook for yourself when you’re sick and that means thinking.

5) Staying in bed makes you feel guilty.

6) People hate you because they know you are the transporter of sick germs.

Good thing for sleep, there’s always sleep.

- Daughter

Ill-Timed Naps and other First-World Problems

I made the mistake of napping a few days ago and now I’m pretty much sold on the idea that naps are officially the Worst Idea Ever ™.

It all starts with my complicated relationship with food. To be more specific, my body’s dislike of all things other than kale and brown rice. I’m allergic to dairy and gluten – so I almost never go out to eat. Gluten makes me feel like death but dairy is my fickle friend; it’s touch-and-go so sometimes I risk it. You’d think that a few bad reactions from dairy would engender a certain antipathy towards milk products – but, during lapses of logic and reason, I occasionally decide that there is no reason I can’t force my body to break down lactose, it’s just being lazy.

Well, I was out to lunch with a friend and feeling strangely attracted to bad decisions because I had a glass of Malbec with my meal and the world was mine. Suddenly, I was invincible. I usually try to avoid milk because, you know, terrible stomach aches are not my life goal but for some reason, I thought that I could handle it. I could do anything. I was the star of my own Nike commercial. Just do it. Just eat the ice cream. I felt especially compelled to eat it in light of my recent meal of kale “pizza” (quotations because I’m pretty sure it was a cauliflower crust and that’s not real pizza) and salad. The universe was practically begging me to negate the health benefits of my latest consumables. And thus, the decision to eat Haagen-Dazs happened.

And then fifteen minutes later, regret happened.

When I got home, I was in full Regret Mode and decided that in order to avoid the worst effects of the ice cream I would sleep. So I essentially went into a dairy coma and slept for several hours in the afternoon through the early evening.

When I woke up, I immediately felt panic as I realized how much I had actually slept. I decided to abandon all semblance of a circadian rhythm and tried to go back to sleep and stay asleep for the rest of the night. Because clearly the solution to too much sleep is MOAR SLEEP.

No. My attempts at sleeping were pathetic and instead, I spent the next 7 hours not sleeping. 230 am rolled around and I thought to myself, “My, isn’t it grand I have to wake up in three hours for school?”

My alarm went off at 545 am and I said, “LOLNO,” to my first class. And then my alarm went off again an hour later and I said, “ROFL NO,” to my second class. However, the third time my alarm went off, I dragged myself out of bed and threw my hair into an unsightly, bird’s-nest bun (you won’t see this hairstyle on Pinterest), and threw on a weird sweatshirt. And now I have these neat under-eye circles as my daily accessories.

Just say no to naps.

- Daughter

Mercury in Retrograde

You should take this information I’m about to give you, repeat it like scripture from the Bible, turn counter-clockwise three times, and then bow to the planetary overlords: Mercury is in retrograde. And if I want to use my book learnin’ and apply grammatical rules: Mercury is currently retrograde. Why does this matter? Because the planets are screwing up my vibe. And probably yours, too.

BD 3

Mercury, you son of a B- ig Bang.

I don’t aaactually believe in astrology but it’s nice to put the blame for bad things happening on the greater cosmos instead of accepting life as a nihilistic journey in getting money, Instagramming your imagined cool life, buying new Apple products, and then dying and fading from human history forever.

Just remember: you aren’t having a bad day, one of the planets is having a bad day.

BD 1

Government shutdown?

Is it because politicians are selfish, virtue-less gremlins? NO! It’s Mercury in retrograde

People dying?

Is it because that is a natural part of the life process? NO! That retrograde, man.

Getting a horrible quiz grade in a class?

Because I didn’t adequately absorb or study the information?  NOOOO, it’s that rascaly ball of swirling gas, Mercury.

I seriously wish I was in a relationship right now so I could have this conversation:

Me: “So, we need to break up..”

Hypothetical person: “What? Why?”

Me: “It’s not you, it’s ME-rcury.”

HP: “…. what?”

Me: “Mercury, it’s retrograde.”

HP: “Alrighty, then.”

BD 4

BD 2

 

For the record, I have no idea what Mercury in retrograde actually means. I just know that a planet is ruining my life.

- Daughter

To a True BA

I feel compelled to write today despite drowning in a viscous liquid composed of my shriveled brains (ew) which have been liquefied by midterms. I feel compelled because of a death. Wow, buzzkill. Wait. Just wait.

Let me give you a little background first: I went to school for three and a half years on the east coast and to say those years were a festival of struggles only touches on the ridiculously bad luck I had. It was truly the Coachella of fail, the Burning Man of missteps and the Electric Daisy Carnival of disappointment. The problem stemmed from a series of health problems that seemed to occur one after another to a point where I was mostly composed of casts, injuries and illnesses. But there were a few people who really made my experience at school worth all the struggle. One of those people, my major advisor, died today.

Las Meninas, only art historians understand, yo.

Las Meninas, only art historians understand, yo.

I wanted to dedicate this post to her because she was an amazing dame who was as intelligent and sharp as they come. She owned the history of art department at my school. She was a legend. Part myth, part woman and 100% USDA verified badass. She was also the person who was most vested in my personal and educational success at college at a time when I could barely muster the motivation to take care of myself, much less worry about school. Her generosity and warmth touched me and I won’t forget that she was there for me at a time when I needed support.

But enough about me. Let me give you some examples of her badassery:

- She got rejected from Harvard. So, naturally, she got drunk, wrote a letter explaining why Harvard should let her in, and they decided to let her in because her letter was so convincing.

- She was the first woman at her graduate school to wear pants at her mostly male graduate school. PANTS. She set fashion trends like some sort of French revolutionary, sparing NO ONE. She guillotined the hell out of dresses and skirts.

I’m in total shock that she passed away and although she’s gone from this world, I know she’s somewhere around rocking pants with her sunglasses on. Because the sun NEVER sets on a badass.

-Daughter

In loving memory of Gridley McKim-Smith.

I Guess I’m Not Rich

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Yesterday was a quiet Sunday morning, and before I entered the maelstrom of afternoon Men’s League soccer refereeing (it’s a war out there), I treated myself to a quiet cup of expensive foo-foo coffee.  Everyone else in the house was either still sleeping or otherwise occupied and couldn’t be bothered to join me.

Just as well.

I grabbed my cup and retreated to the outside patio, which offered a perfect vantage to watch a local, in-progress 100-mile bike race.  I use the word “race” very loosely, as it was distinctly clear to me that many of the participants very rarely biked or even exercised, for that matter.  More than a few stopped at the intersection in front of me, got off their rides, and pretended that they were adjusting some critical component on their ride.

They weren’t fooling me.  I knew they were exhausted and thinking, “How can I possibly get up another hill?” and “Why am I here?”

Their torment made me feel a bit better about myself, since when I sat down and observed the spectacle before me, my first instinct was to beat myself up thusly:  “I should be out there with them, working hard, breaking a sweat, making myself stronger.”

Then when I saw how many people were barely locomoting their bedraggled asses butts along the route, I figured:  “Actually, I’m pretty happy sitting here in the sun watching these guys kill themselves.”

Thoughts (and dispositions) can be fickle.

I then turned my attention to catching up on things via the latest on-line news articles, and more out of sheer government shutdown fatigue than anything else, I clicked on a link that described the four main habits or characteristics of “wealthy” people.

Hmmm,” I thought.  “Let’s see how bad off I really am.”

There was good news and bad news.

According to the link (I guess I should reference it, but all I can remember is that it was somewhere buried on msn.com), I’m actually in fairly decent shape regarding three of the primary points.  That is to say, Wealthy Muggles:

1)  Tend to stay married/in a relationship with one person for a long period of time.

Check.  Approaching twenty-eight years on this one.

I’m thinking if you marry and divorce a lot (whatever that means), it’s a detriment to one’s overall financial health.

2)  Tend to stay in one house/dwelling for a long period of time.

Check.  Approaching fourteen years in this ramshackle modest suburban box, in which something is always broken and needs fixing.

3)  Tend to not spend a lot on expensive cars and things, while saving approximately 20% of what they earn.

Sort of.  I’m not sure about the percentage we save or the other tendencies, which leads me to the Bad News of Point Number Four.

4)  Compared to most everyone else in this country, tend to dedicate three to four times as much energy and time to budgeting, tracking spending, and knowing exactly where all the money is going each month.

Nope.

Oh, I guess we have a general idea, really.

Most of the money around here seems to go to food, gas, and the kids, and not necessarily in that order.

And I think that’s how we’re going to leave it.

Rather than worry about the Habits of the Wealthy, the article made me think of the definition of Wealth itself.  For instance, there was no discussion about whether these sample people with their sample characteristics were happier than any of us Dog Scientists.  Or if they had pets, or watched Downton Freaking Abbey, or gave up watching Major League Baseball in the 1990s.

As my twelve-year-old would say, “Hmmmmm?”

And at the end of the day, you can’t take any of the money with you anyway.  You can spend it while you’re alive or leave it to others, but as my grandmother supposedly used to say, “There are no pockets in shrouds.”

In fact, I began to reminisce about the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and I thought there was a line in there somewhere about happiness and wealth.

After an exhausting Google search, I found the quote: “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence.” Clarence the Angel wrote that inscription in the book (Tom Sawyer) he gave to George Bailey.

I may not be wealthy but I’m not a failure, at least by the definition above.  At least two of the cats in this house are friendly to me just about dinnertime.

- Dad

Real Housewives of . . . . Nah.

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I had to drive to and through Laguna Beach today.  While there, I saw no fewer than three Lamborghini’s and two Ferrari’s in the span of four blocks.  The other predominant vehicle of choice there is Mercedes-Benz.

Why was I there?  It’s a long, uninteresting story, but it involves ebay, Craigslist, and a complicated sale and swap of various vintage Alfa Romeo interior parts.

First stop:  the OC.

Several aspects of the area made an immediate impression on my jaded Muggle self.

First, it’s sickeningly beautiful.  Wonderful sunny weather, the smell of salt air, and beautiful wind-swept ocean vistas everywhere you care to look.

Both those positives are offset by heavy traffic, stop lights every fifty feet, and what I will simply refer to as moronic behavior everywhere, beginning with the drivers.

According to my observation, these folks come in two basic varieties:  rich jerks who tailgate you, and rich jerks who meander obliviously down the Pacific Coast Highway, with nary a care in the world.

Clearly it was time to activate Zen-me — roll up the windows, turn on the a/c, and crank up some tasty tunes, which I did.

In other words, I wasn’t bothered too much.

As I chilled myself out, I had the opportunity to view some of the folks walking the sidewalks and holding up traffic in the crosswalks.

Basically, they all looked the same to me.  (Note to self:  I love make these kinds of broad generalizations.  Keep it up, self!)

All the women were outfitted by Prada (is that right, or should I be referencing some other designer now?), and the men wore oversized shades and tried to look cool with their smokes.

Oh, right, a lot of the guys weren’t wearing shirts.

At least that part gave me some hope.  It is a fervent desire of mine to live long enough to when I’m perfectly comfortable walking around in nothing more than my brown leathery skin and a two sizes too small pair of red Speedo swim trunks.

Are they even called swim trunks anymore?  Seems very 1950s-ish.

speedoOf course, the above photo in no way, shape or form resembles anything close to me, either in the past, the distant past, or ever.  It’s basically just for reference, folks.

Fortunately, the guy I was meeting lived well off the main thoroughfare, and he seemed normal enough.  Plus, we shared the same (ridiculous) passion for kidding ourselves into thinking we’re actually restoring old Italian sports cars.  For reference, old Italian sports cars are never completely restored.  They always need something, no matter how much money you’ve lost invested in them.

And the Italians are laughing all the way to the bank, but that’s the nature of the business.

After making our parts/money exchange, I returned to the Pacific Coast Highway, waded into the OC traffic going north, and got out of there as quickly and as sanely as I could.

The Garmin directed me to my second and final destination in LA, where I made my last parts deal with a vaguely Middle Eastern guy who had been out of work for a couple of years.

Interestingly enough, we each wished we were doing what the other person was occupied with.  He wanted a steady job with a big company that provided benefits, and I wanted to work out of a scary industrial park in a warehouse space crammed with old Alfas, BMWs, and Mercedes.

He was certainly nice enough, and we spent a good hour examining his cars, his parts, and talking about deals we missed.

Soon enough I was on the way home, hopeful that a wildfire just off the Interstate wasn’t going to close it down.

It didn’t, and I arrived home to my humble San Diego Muggle abode, in our standard, sub-optimal subdivision.

About a block from the house, ambling down the sidewalk, was an older lady wearing snowboots, a hunting cap, and a crazy overcoat — all this on an 80 degree day here.  No Prada here.

Ah, home.

- Dad

The Swedes May Have Invented Hell

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One of my recent posts described how I spent the better part of a Friday night wandering the voluminous yet crammed to the rafters aisles of a local Ikea store.

Well, once again reinforcing one of the main tenets of life — no good deed goes unpunished — I was, of course, obligated to try to assemble our purchases afterwards in the noble effort to save money. 

This aspect of The Daily Trip in my household has proven somewhat interesting over the years.  No, not the saving money part.  Rather, it’s the “what would you do (and spend) if I (Dad) weren’t here” part.

Daughter’s standard retort is that she would seek guidance and direction from her iPhone.  I suspect many children today are of the same disposition.

Thanks, Apple.

My Lovely Spouse’s standard retort is that she would pay someone to do whatever thing that I’m currently doing for free. 

So, it turns out I am actively engaged in planning my own future obsolescence, or so it would seem.

Back to Ikea and the boxes of disassembled furniture items.

It all seems so logical, linear, and straightforward.  All the parts have been neatly engineered to fit “just so” inside their perfectly proportioned, Eurotrash boxes.

And the stuff inside is the same.  Carefully cushioned and separated by exactly the right cardboard spacers and heavy-duty  lining paper.

If you aren’t OCD, it will drive you to become so. 

Many, many years ago, “back in the day” — whatever that means — I remember reading a particular collection of science fiction short stories.  I don’t know if they were by Asimov, or Heinlein, or Bradbury, but one of the tales featured a mysterious, compartmented cylinder that was planted in our solar system.  The thing turned out to be a giant puzzle.  After solving the problem in one compartment, the next would open.  However, the deeper into the cylinder the problem solvers went, the harder each one became to solve.  The early ones took hours; the later ones were taking weeks.  Eventually, the cylinder shut down, and our Dog Scientists figured it was the alien’s way of figuring out how advanced mankind was intellectually.

Clearly the Ikea Mavens ripped a chapter out of this book.

Take the the Assembly Instructions; please.  Anything over 25 pages or so generally requires a degree in Mechanical Engineering in order to put the stupid thing together.  If it’s less, I can envision a completed project somewhere in the range of 2-6 hours. 

I am not a Dog Scientist, it would seem.

I have als found that one of the most important keys to maintaining sanity while putting together Ikea furniture is to be organized.

And celebrate little victories.

I try to ignore the 1,207 separate parts contained in each included plastic bag and focus on placing them somewhere so that I don’t lose any of them, yet they are easily accessible. 

The process goes like this: 

1)  Depression/Feelings of Being Overwhelmed – Gazing upon the plastic bag o’ parts, and opening same;

2)  Elation – Screwing in the first nut; 

3)  Depression – Realizing there are 562 more nuts to screw in;

4)  Elation - Determining that one shelf requires absolutely no assembly whatsoever;

5)  Depression/Feelings of Being Overwhelmed – Undoing your last 30 minutes’ worth of work because you put together two pieces backwards. 

At some point hours later, an object vaguely resembling the one you supposedly bought teeters unsteadily before you. 

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I usually take a break and get some coffee.

The problem is, after going through these same gyrations a few times, you develop a pretty good sense of what’s in front of you the minute you dump everything out of the carefully packed box.

If there are enough parts jammed together in a plastic bag that approximates the size of a rugby ball, you’re in trouble.

It’s only taken me several weeknights over the last several days to almost completely construct everything we bought last Friday night.

I consider that to be some type of accomplishment. 

However, since I am well adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I will not relax my efforts until every Ikea box and book of instructions have disappeared from my sight.

And all that will be left is modern Swedish particle board furniture.

It will be sturdy, edgy, and functional — quite hellish.

I might even celebrate with a jar of Lingonberry jam — if they ever get it back in stock.

- Dad

Moron Etiquette

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In a flurry of pre-Halloween activity, the morons were out in force today.

Typically they clog up the roads and by-ways where I live, but they can be found scurrying around retail establishments, as well.

Now what I consider moronic behavior might differ somewhat from others, of course, but let me provide a typical example.

Depending on the amount of foot traffic involved, entering and exiting the double-glass doors featured at the entrance of many stores can be challenging, especially if you’ve got your hands full of crap junk.

I always try to defer to that little old lady making her way outside, even if it’s not completely clear who really has the right of way.  It’s the gentlemanly, proper thing to do, after all.  I don’t really expect any sort of thank you, but a nod or a quick smile is appreciated.

What I don’t understand is when I’m met with complete and utter obliviousness when I clearly am helping one of these morons folks out.

Of course, that happened today.  Though I had the right of way and was holding some stuff, I duly made way for an older lady and graciously held the door for her.

Nothing.  Nada.

In fact, I thought I whiffed the ever-so-faint sense of entitlement as she walked by.

If I cared any more about it, I might have gotten a tad mad.  But I really didn’t, cause I see it so often.

Thus, she qualifies as a moron in my book.  Maybe not a full-blown Class A Moron, but she’s not that far down the classification list.

Then we have the example of the driving morons.

You’ve seen them.  They’re the ones cutting in and out of traffic, and even though you happen to be exceeding the speed limit by at least ten miles per hour, it’s not good enough for them.  They tail-gate you, try to stare you down, and ultimately zip out and floor it around you for at least fifteen yards until they ride the next guy’s bumper.

My reaction?

It’s probably not the right or righteous thing to do, but if I see this kind of thing going on behind me via my rear view mirror, I will sometimes try to accelerate just enough to make it impossible for them to keep doing the same thing when they pull level with me.

The key to this particular strategy is to feign distraction or at least indifference.  Glance out the side window.  Adjust the radio.

Just never make eye contact and speed up ever so slightly so that it’s practically imperceptible.

Of course, this type of thing is only effective for a few seconds before the pace of the cars around me opens gaps and the guy can pick up again where he left off previously.

And it’s always guys.  Never any women.

I’ll have to think about that some more, I suppose.

Anyway, this delaying tactic provides only momentary mental relief for me, and I have to be sure it doesn’t transition into some kind of road rage affair, for either him or me.

The fact of the matter is that I’m so worn out from commuting these days, I rarely get upset at anything or anyone anymore on the roads.

So as the moron guns his ride off into the horizon, I typically try to busy myself finding some tunes on the radio that are vaguely familiar.  It’s a life.

Finally, I was confronted with a different type of entitled moronic behavior late this afternoon, but with an altogether different result.

As I approached a traffic light just a few blocks from my house, the light turned green and I had no need to brake.  I simply continued to accelerate through the intersection, and not particularly fast, at that.

I could see on my right that someone in a Lexus SUV did not appear to be slowing down for their red light.  This vehicle had all the earmarks of rolling through the light in order to make a right turn immediately in front of me.

Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.  Though I was already in the intersection, she (yes, it was a she) ran the light to make her turn.

But there was a difference with this moron.

She knew she had committed a moving violation sin, and she waved to me and made motions of apology.

What a bummer!  I had already begun concocting a string of vitriol, which was to be accompanied by vigorous hand and arm gestures.

Her demeanor completely threw me off my intended diatribe course.

Instead, I simply shrugged my shoulders, nodded, and carried on my merry way.

If you’re going to be a moron, I suppose that’s the best way to carry it off.

- Dad

Man, Have Friday Nights Changed!

Ikea%20Meatballs-1730376

Well, I just returned from an exhausting night out on the town.  As I glance up at the clock, I see it’s almost gone half past 8:00 p.m. — perilously close to the Witching Hour (formerly midnight, but now closer to 10:00 p.m. since I can rarely stay awake until twelve these days).

Though I would like to think I am capable of some very Big Lebowski-ish nighttime activities (you absolutely must read the linked post for reference), those days seem to have faded into the mists of time, and tonight was a perfect example of same.

Clubbing?  Nope.

Concert?  Nope.

A nice evening featuring a good meal and even better wine?  Nope and nope.

Wandering around Ikea?  Yeppers.

So, allow me to take you through the minimalistic thought processes that now dominate my gray matter when contemplating this sort of Friday Night Activity:

1)  Should we visit Friday night or anytime Saturday?  Hands down, Friday night.  Lots more parking, and the Urban Ranger clientele who normally prowl the store on Saturdays are absent on Fridays because they are out getting drunk at their obscure, trendy hotspots — you know the ones.  Everyone is wearing black – lipstick, nail polish, clothes, teeth – both females and males.  The music, if you can call it that, consists entirely of bass guitar thumping sounds.

Don’t ask me how I know all this.

2)  It’s a great opportunity to eat Swedish meatballs.  Ingesting these meatballs almost makes the effort to wander the three miles in the store it takes to find the café/restaurant worthwhile.  And I also really appreciate the fact that they give you exactly fifteen meatballs in the combo plate.  That somehow makes me whole.

Love those Swedes.

3)  The customers marching their circuitous routes from department to department remind me of my old self.  Well, that is myself thirty years ago, back when I had an open mind, harbored positive visions for the future, and actually cared about what my bookshelves looked like.  As I people-watched tonight, I saw couples (of many, many different varieties) planning their wonderful futures through furniture and unpronounceable accessories.

At the same time, I was trying to determine the shortest way to the exit through the Ikea showroom maze.

4)  There’s always lingonberries to look forward to.  No matter how crappy my day has been, or how little I care about visiting Ikea, no one can take those lingonberries away from me.

Lingonberry juice.  Check.  Wonderful.

Lingonberry jam.  Nope.  Out of stock.  Again.

Just when I thought everything was going to be okay this evening, or at least tolerable, they deny me the simple pleasure of lingonberry jam.

Damn them.  Damn them to hell.

At this point, I suppose I could write some more about Ikea and, by extension, how brutally sad what’s left of my social life has become, but those meatballs are making me sleepy and it is, after all, after 9:00 p.m.

But rather than turn in for the evening while wallowing in a fairly shallow pool of suburban self-pity, I take heart in an invitation my wife and I received earlier this week:  Some friends of ours suggested we join them for dancing lessons.

On the face of it that sounds somewhat interesting, perhaps even enjoyable.  Of course it would require effort, movement, practice, and a modicum of attention and dedication.

I think the decision to join in or not is better made while eating a warm slice of freshly made bread covered in lingonberry jam, don’t you?

In other words, it ain’t happening anytime soon.

Time to go to bed, now.  Thanks.

- Dad

Morning Routine: Expectations v. Reality

Every night before I go to bed, I try to pick out an outfit that has the possibility of being adorable. Usually, it’s dress and often, it is accessorized with strategically-placed jewelry, headbands, etc. However, my optimism the night before is never matched by my morning state.

Grumpy-Cat

I wake up bleary-eyed and scraggly-tailed (the exact opposition of “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed”) and completely throw out the outfit because ultimately, I decide putting on that outfit requires too much of me. I seriously wish I could have someone dress me, Marie Antoinette style where each of my minions have a certain item of clothing they must put on/take off. Life would be easier. I would just try to avoid the end fate of having my head cut off.

Marie-Antoinette-Queen-of-France-1782

I digress.

This reluctance to put together outfits gets worse during the colder seasons because it takes all of my strength to strip off my warm sleeping clothes to change into whatever heinous, ill-conceived outfit I thought up in a fit of delirium the night before.

I wait to get changed until the last second but, eventually, real life dictates that I put on clothes that do not qualify as sleepwear. But I do my damnedest to get as close to I can to pajamas and toe that line like a true rebel. (But not like a French revolutionary because I’m Marie Antoinette.)

Clothes that I do choose in the morning include, but are not limited to:

  • leggings (they may not be pants but my legs can’t tell the difference)
  • scarves (it’s like having a blanket perma-snuggling your neck)
  • worn-in, possibly stained, shirt
  • messy side bun that looks like the vestiges of my parasitic twin I partially absorbed in the womb
  • grandma underwear (because, comfort)
  • shoes that have seen better, shinier days
  • clownish make-up because of the poor lighting in my room that makes the brightest of red lipsticks look natural and right

Also, the earlier in the day I get up, the worse I tend to look, feel, and act. So, Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I unfortunately must get up in the pre-dawn hours, I tend to take the path of least resistance in the morning – aka, lazy dress.

I’m not even sorry.

- Daughter

 

Driving in LA

This past weekend, I helped a friend move into her apartment in LA. I was mentally unprepared for the concentration and sheer determination it took to complete this task. When we loaded up my (Dad’s) truck, I played a dangerous game of furniture Tetris but managed to stuff four chairs, a desk, and two mattresses in the bed of the pick-up. Then I did some magical knots with bungee cords and secured everything down to a reasonable level of stability.

After the road trips to and from Philly, I felt pretty confident in my packing and bungee-ing ability. And, as far as I know, I didn’t kill anybody with errant, flying furniture so mission accomplished on that front.

However, there were various problems with this driving situation despite the successes.

My two other pals each filled her car with what wouldn’t fit in the truck. We planned a route with the lowest amount of ominous red chunks of traffic and since I could not really see to either side of me or out the back window, we decided on a caravan formation where I would be in the middle.

I don’t know if you’ve tried to keep three cars together on the 405, but it is nigh impossible. And futile. And frustrating. And anxiety-inducing.


Seriously though, even going at disgustingly slow speed, it was hard to annoy other drivers enough to leave our little line of cars. I’m pretty sure most drivers didn’t want to drive behind me anyway because I probably looked like a traffic accident waiting to happen but people loved to cut me off in the front. Which is their right as an American citizen. As an American, it is your right – nay – your duty to annoy and harass other drivers as you feel fit.

I think the most terrifying aspect of the entire ordeal was merging because I was relying on other people’s instincts to move out of the way and sheer luck. I basically kept a pleading look on my face the entire time I was on the road and hoped people understood that I couldn’t see anything. I also put my blinker on and looked to the sides for a full thirty seconds before I took the dive into another lane.

But, let’s be real, nobody cares or cared. They were just trying to go on their merry way and far away from what probably looked to them like a roving furniture store.

 

Alas, I did make it to the apartment in one piece. But not before panicking multiple times and having to give myself a pep talk. You can do this. You’re amazing. You’re in a truck, people respect you. Look how high you are compared to everyone else. You are elevated to the status of Queen and nobody – NOBODY – will take your throne. You will guide your people with a gentle hand but a harsh word. You are the Supreme Ruler of All the Land. 

Unrelated: all of LA hates me.

- Daughter

The Last Supper — No, Really

persian food

On very rare occasions, the two older kids become interested in their heritage.  It usually coincides with one of them catching an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?,” and it results in an endless round of parental inquisitions.

Their Mom bears the brunt of it, since she is a real, live immigrant to this country, as is the rest of her family (of course).

And depending on the definition, Yours Truly is either a first or second generation American, as all of my grandparents were immigrants of one kind or another.

I try to get them interested in the bits we know:

“You know your Great Aunt used to pass by the Titanic every day while it was being built?”

Silence.

“Do you know where the Titanic was built?”

“In a shipyard.”

“Where?”

Silence.

“Belfast.”

“I don’t remember that in the movie.”

Since we have a tendency to quickly exhaust the parts of the family tree for which we possess vague facts, we soon turn our attention to those parts for which all connections are somewhat tenuous.

You know.  The bits we don’t know.

Like my father’s side of the family.

The roots from that family tree originated from what used to be called Persia.

It’s a part that of our past that is only revealed when I grow a full beard.

Let me tell all you Muggles that no Mullah’s got anything on me when I sport full facial hair growth.

It’s both wild and exotic.

So it came to pass a couple of years ago that a Persian restaurant opened in our small suburban SoCal enclave.  In the spirit of supporting small businesses and paying tribute to our pseudo-heritage, we decided to make a visit.

The food was good, if not a bit pricey.  I think the bill for three of us was seventy-five or eighty bucks — roughly equivalent to seven trips to In-N-Out or four trips to Rubio’s (fish tacos must be more expensive than ground beef).  Overall, it was a pleasant experience, but I would be lying if I said we were dying to go back again.

After all, heritage is worth only so much, you know, especially when you’re hungry.

Just one shop over from the Persian place is a Vietnamese pho place.  I’ve gone there countless times over the last twenty-four months, and it is usually packed for both lunch and dinner — maybe because you can feed a family of four for about twenty-five dollars or so.

It’s all in the numbers in the restaurant patron game.

I often wondered how the Persian folks felt seeing their Vietnamese neighbors raking in the customers.  I couldn’t help but notice that they were never likewise that crowded.

So it came to pass three weeks ago we decided we needed something different for a meal out, and we hit upon the idea to visit the Persian place again.

Sadly, on a Sunday night the place was empty.  Oh, there was a guy at a table near the front, but I had the impression he was part of an extended family and not a real customer.

On this particular evening it was really, really hot, as well.  We were experiencing the last vestiges of what passes for a summer heat wave around here.  Aside from the lack of paying diners, the restaurant also had no air conditioning or, rather, chose not to have the a/c turned on.  Instead, there was a small oscillating fan swaying back and forth, and the hostess eventually pointed it sort of in our direction, which provided the illusion of ventilation for us.

No matter.  We ordered, and waited, and gazed upon the sea of vacant chairs and tables.

The sense of hopelessness was palpable.  It seemed they had given up.

What had happened, we wondered?  The food was good.  The place nice enough.  What?

We just didn’t know.

After our meal was delivered and consumed, I mentioned to the waitress/hostess that we always had good food here (both times we ate, I didn’t mention).

She thanked me and took my credit card.

Two weeks later as we rolled up for some pho, I noticed the lights were off at the Persian place.  My wife thought they might be closed on Sunday nights.

“It looks like they’re really closed, as in no longer in business,” I replied.

We walked up to the picture glass windows and gazed inside.  The space was barren.  Not a detail of what once had been still remained.

“Well, that must have been one of the last meals they ever served when we were here before,” I said.

“They had an ‘A’ Health Department rating,” my Spouse responded.  The sign was still hanging up.

It didn’t help.

A few days after I saw one of the two ladies that formerly ran the restaurant at a local foo-foo coffee place.  Though she didn’t recognize me, I did her.  She had taken my credit card during our last supper with her.

I overheard bits of her conversation with a friend, and she was celebrating her birthday.

She looked very happy.

- Dad

Playing For Time — It’s Awful.

hospital

I’ve spent a fair chunk of my life the last two weeks visiting either hospitals or medical clinics.

What’s the difference between the two?  Basically, a hospital doesn’t smell as good as a medical clinic, and a medical clinic is always running out of things compared to a real hospital.

No matter.

The hospital where I receive most of my major medical interventions, as they deem necessary, of course, is a bit of an older place, just slightly run down, yet always in some state of renovation.  And the renovators never quite seem to catch up with making the place nice and whole.  As soon as they get one corner squared away, they’re tearing down another.

So I was a bit surprised earlier in the week as I walked up to the main entrance of the place.  Usually there’s a clutter of folks in wheelchairs being shepherded around by family members, and there’s always a few cops loitering around.  I’ve never really seen the security people there do much of anything, except park their vehicles in the handicapped zone out front which makes the real handicapped patients move farther down the curb to unload.

But I’m sure we’re all safer because of the rent-a-cops police presence.

Anyway, as I approached the sliding glass doors at the front, I was met with the sound of keyboard music.

“What’s this?”  I thought to myself.  “They’re now piping Muzak in the lobby to try to make us all feel better than we really do?”

If only that were the case.  As the doors shushed open, a little old lady was planted in the vestibule, sitting in front of an electronic piano, dressed in a shabby caricature of some kind of tuxedo, and banging away on the keys.

She only hit a few wrong notes during the three seconds I walked by.

I guess it was the institution’s attempt to add a little joyousness to the day, but it had the exact opposite effect on me.  For some odd reason, I felt like a prisoner at a concentration camp headed to God Knows Where, receiving a send off from my fellow musician inmates.

I half expected someone in a white lab coat to be waiting ahead, separating the prisoners patients, as appropriate:

“You.  Left.  You.  Left.  You.  Right.”

“Wait a minute.  Why am I going right?  Audiology is to the left.  Please, I want to go to Audiology.  I won’t cause any trouble.”

“You.  Right.  Get the dogs.”

Of course there was no selection, no Sophie’s Choice, but it sure put me in a spooky mood and set the tone for the morning.

Later, after my appointment was finished and I received a relatively clean bill of health, I decided I would take the stairs down from the third floor rather than the elevator.   Might as well get some exercise, I reasoned.

But I vaguely remembered trying the stairs on a previous visit, and I reminded myself they weren’t a straight shot down to the ground floor.  You had to criss-cross a couple of times to different ladderwells before getting spat out at the bottom.

What the heck.  I went for it.  I mean, how lost could I get?

Big mistake.

The next thing I knew I was wandering around the second floor, looking for that elusive express stairwell, when I stumbled into some kind of controlled access area.  Well, it was really more like a holding cell or jail.  There was a pleasant-looking courtyard, except that it was fenced and surrounded by barbed wire.

And then there was the posted sign:  “Danger of Elopement Present.”

What the what?  Where was I?

Wherever I was, it was eerily quiet and deserted.  There were a few lights on in the corridor, but I had a bad feeling I was about to run into an Eloper at any second.

Either an Eloper or Sasquatch.

I tried retracing my steps back while I looked for another stairwell, any stairwell, which I fortunately soon stumbled upon.

Eventually I made it back to the ground floor, and I hurried my little self out of that place as fast as my sore feet would carry me.

The little old lady pianist was still seated in the vestibule, but she was taking a break and talking to one of the inmates patients.

I hopped in my car and departed the parking lot post-hates.

Next stop:  foo-foo coffee.

I figured I deserved some, because even though I really didn’t dodge any sort of bullet that morning, I sure felt like someone was taking aim at me.

Nothing that a little caffeine and a chocolate croissant wouldn’t take care of, however.

- Dad

“We Don’t Have A Dog In That Hunt” and Other Fractured Fairy Tales

pointer

Today I was involved in a very complicated technical discussion at work.  At issue was determining whether we were responsible for a problem that was cropping up regularly with one of our projects and which was subsequently affecting an important customer. 

As the Dog Scientists debated the conditions and parameters that seemed to describe the annoying phenomenon, I listened closely to the details.

Two aspects of the situation quickly became apparent to me. 

First, I had little to no idea what these guys and gals were talking about.  After all, I had difficulty helping my twelve-year-old Daughter (Daughter Number Two) with her “fun” math homework the other night.  I seem to remember giving her advice something along the lines of, “It’s probably better to check with your Mom.”

Second, whatever the real engineering problem at hand today was, it was clearly not due to anything even remotely associated with us.  That much was certain.

After all, I might be dumb, but I’m not stupid.

Thankfully, then, we came to the conclusion it was somebody else’s burden to solve, and we were in the clear.

And to cap off the collective conclusion of non-responsibility, our absolutely awesome project manager (who has bailed me out on countless occasions over the last fifteen months) declared, “We don’t have a dog in that hunt.”

“Yikes!”  I thought to myself.  “Something I actually know something about.  I can make a meaningful contribution to this discussion.  Finally.”

I then commenced to interject my interpretation regarding one of the finer points of Southern colloquialisms. 

“Look.  I feel I have to jump in here and make a correction.  You can’t say, ‘We don’t have a dog in that hunt.’  You can either say, ‘That dog won’t hunt’ or ‘We don’t have a dog in that fight,’ but you can’t mix them up like that.  After all, that would indicate we don’t seem to know what we’re talking about, you know?’

My comment was met by dead silence. 

Oh, well.  I tried.

You see, one of the (many) enduring burdens of my life is that even though I do not possess a Southern Accent or even remotely sound like I hail from below the Mason-Dixon, I did, in fact, spend my formative years in the South, which has (for better or worse) instilled in me something of its sensibility.  

In fact, just this week I was explaining to my new primary care physician, who had just moved here from New Orleans, the Danger Signs I recognized in that area of the country as a young adult and that led me to seeking an “out” before I was sucked into the Black Hole of Comfort there.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, for guys, it was football, nicotine, alcohol, and girls.  And not necessarily in that order.  The average guy in his mid-fifties already looked like he had one foot in the grave.”

“I know,” she responded.  “I definitely saw that there.”

“I guess they thought the short journey was worth the price.  But not for me.  I was determined to leave once I finished school,” I replied.

And leave I did.  

But by sheer happenstance and courtesy of the US Navy, I have spent a good portion of my adult professional life living once again in various locations throughout the South. 

So, I escaped initially but then I returned. 

“Well,” my doctor continued, “You look exactly what I’d imagined a ‘hip’ Southern California guy would look like — you’re wearing shorts and sandals, you look like you’re in shape, and you seem kind of relaxed.”

“Ha,” I thought.  “My family would become catatonic if they heard you describe me like that.”

“I try,” I said. 

And then I headed for the exit and waded into the afternoon Interstate commute home, feeling pretty good about myself.

I guess there’s no real point to this story, other than I realize now I made a fairly large linguistic mistake earlier today.  It turns out that the more I think about it, the better the newly concocted colloquialism sounds to me.

Because the older I get, I find I have fewer dogs involved in any sort of hunt, and for the most part the following accurately describes me today:  I don’t have a dog in most fights; I don’t have a dog that hunts; and, especially, I don’t have a dog in that hunt.

After all.  Look at him.

There's only room for one sheriff in this town.

I don’t fight, and i certainly don’t hunt.  But I do eat cat food and cat poop.

- Dad

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