Tell Me Why You're Mad: Part II, Screaming at Scrap Metal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

First.  Here's Part I.  It's worth it.      

And now . . .

Yo this is 92.?, TELL ME WHY YOURE MAD!

I'm mad cause I really had a plan for this afternoon.  Not a life-altering min-bending docket of intrinsically rewarding tasks, but . . . you know . . . close! 

First I was going to write at the local bar by my house.  At 3pm they are tapping a special cask beer, the arrival of which has been announced for the past week in large chalk lettering on a board hanging from the wall. It's all *COMING WEDNESDAY!*  And I'm all, "So am I!" 

I also am fairly certain my writing would have been immensely productive when I got to the bar.  Drinking all that sweet sweet cask beer.  Writing like I just discovered the meaning of words.

After that it was going home to clean the kitchen.  I have pots and pans that aren't going to scrub themselves and I don't want my wife to end up doing it. 

But instead I'm in Montague, MA.  And I'm MAD!!!!  Don't get me wrong, Montague's beautiful. Hell, I drove all the way out here to sit by a waterfall and write to the placid white noise of a rushing stream.   But it is a good 40 minutes north of our house to get to Montague.  Middle of nowhere.  Part of its charm.

But it is a super shitty place for your car keys to decide they are just bent enough to no longer send to "ignition code" to the engine that allows my car to FUCKING START!!!!!  So I have stranded myself in the boonies, needing rescuing.  

Art by Tom Byrne

And yah.  My wife awesome. She's going to come get me.  But that means she's now driving 45 minutes home from work, to look for the keys, to drive 40 minutes out to me, to drive 40 minutes home.  

That. Totally. Sucks. Anus-cakes. 

Instead of getting a clean kitchen, I got her a road trip.  And that SUCKS. And I'm pissed.  My car is just sitting there, in perfect working order, another 1000 miles til its next oil change, and one of the two keys that makes it go is in my pocket.  With me.  And I'm still totally fucking stuck.  

Where Have All The Good Socks Gone

Friday, March 21, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

So, I'm behind on laundry.  Way behind.  That said, I'm pretty much always behind on laundry.  I'm horrible at it.  Well, horribly lazy about it is probably a lot more accurate.  But, as I look back on the past few months, it is impossible to escape a simple truth: I have had to search for a pair of socks, really search for them, every single morning.

And, once again, to clarify, I'm not even looking for two of the same exact sock.  When I say a pair of socks, all I'm looking for is two socks of approximately the same length and thickness.  Wearing different color socks has never been a problem for me.  I can still remember rolling into high school, deep into autumn, rocking knee-high wool sockings (half socks, half stockings), one a mixture of purple and black with light green stripes, the other dark green and blue with black stripes.  Under sandals.  

I've always been kinda weird.  Anyway, the point here is that colors be damned, I just don't like to wear one ankle-length sock with another calf length one.  It throws off my equilibrium.  Similarly, I'm no fan of one big wool sock with one athletic sock.  Nothing stranger than the sensation of one foot sweating.  

And lately, it's become harder and harder to meet these very minimal foot coverage requirements.  To the point that I'm actually wearing those pairs of socks that get hidden in the back of the drawer, banished for being way too tight to wear but still entirely too new just to throw away.  My shame socks.  I'm wearing them right now.  Literally and figuratively.

But yesterday evening, my phone rang and I excused myself to go upstairs to our bedroom to talk, so as not to be rude to my wife and her Castle addiction.  As I was hopping onto the bed, I spotted three socks on the floor, stragglers, strewn like fallen soldiers grasping for daylight before the carnivorous dust bunnies that live underneath our bed enveloped them.  There was something about that third sock, the way it was half occluded from my view by the bedskirt (hells yah we have a bedskirt on our bed), that prompted me to investigate further.  

Now on all fours, I swept up the bedskirt like a heavy velvet curtain synched to the wings as the play begins.  In this case, however, no actors graced the stage, but rather a virtual Smurf-village of socks.  The architectural magnitude of which would lead you to believe that some subspecies of Doozers that worked only with socks (instead of the traditional radish based candy sticks), had made camp in the shade of our bed frame. 

Down in Fraggle Rock!
The mother load.  A stream of socks trickling from the far leg of the queen-sized bed down to the impressive delta branching out in front of me.  And so I began harvesting my long lost footwear, the scythe of my arm reaping bundles of 4 or 5 socks with each horizontal slash.  Then I walked around to the other side of the bed to retrieve those socks whose jailbreak almost led them to the promised land of my wife's bedside table. 

Put in a pile, I had gathered about a half load of laundry, consisting solely of socks and a stray pair of boxers.  I had also decimated much of the fluffy white carnivorous warren.  In order to maximize the comedic value of the discovery of this hidden treasure, I foolishly bent down and gathered the pile in my hugging arms in order to show out my bounty to my loving wife.

That's when the man-eating dust bunnies attacked.  They dissolved themselves into the air I was inhaling and I began instantly dry heaving -- the socks being re-scattered across the bedroom floor.

So much for surprising my wife like a Pirate King.  Instead, I had her calling up the stairs to make sure her fearless captain wasn't accidentally asphyxiating himself.  Very bold.  Very courageous.

Oxygen once again flowing to my brain, I removed any remaining rapid rabbits from the sock pile, and more cautiously picked up the beach ball of orphaned socks.  I brought them to the downstairs landing, looked my wife in the eye, and deadpanned, "Honey, I found my socks.  They were under the bed.  All of them."

"Holy Crap! You sure did," she responded.  Herself a bedroom collector of water glasses, she could appreciate the magnitude of both this discovery and its reveal. "How did that . . . happen?"

"A VERY good question," I responded.  The quality of the question due mostly to the fact that I had spent the majority of the past 15 minutes working out its answer.

"Every night, when you are in bed asleep, I tuck the dogs into their bed, and then I attempt to slide into our bed next to you, without waking you up.  In order for this plan to have any chance at all," I continue, "I need to take care of all of my own bedtime needs in the dressing room, before opening the bedroom door.  Which I do.  The puppies patiently wait until I have undressed and then we all go forth together into the darkness of the bedroom.  But the floor is just so damn cold!  I just can't bear to remove the warm cushion between the icy floor and my tender footpad.  So I wait.  I put the dogs in their bed, and then I sit on the edge of ours.  I set my alarm, remove my socks, and then it is 'quick-under-the-covers'."  
"Please throw the blanket over us Dad!"
"Of course, by the time I get out of bed the next morning, that same strip of floor has already seen a few comings and goings of both human and doggie traffic.  The result of which, it now appears, is that my socks get pushed just far enough to tuck themselves under the near corner of bed.  Over time, the socks formed an organic Coin Pusher-like carnival game, where each new discarded pair of socks nudged the growing pile in an inward migration towards inaccessibility."

Like this, but with socks . . .
So yah, now it's laundry time fo reals.

What I Learned from Katie Fisher Day: A Story with a Moral

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | 2 Comment(s)

Today is Katie Fisher Day!  Check it out here!  Get into it.

Cliff notes: It's about kindness, cookies, and friendship.  In summary: Bake. Send. Love.

I must admit that even while I write those words my inner monologue is singing, "These are a few of my favorite things!"  (The Julie Andrews' version, not Carrie Underwood's, just to be clear.)

And I'm here to tell you that even at the brisk pace of oncoming events, Katie Fisher Day, and by extension Katie herself, taught me a life lesson yesterday.  In celebrating her life, she gave me a story with a moral.  And since today is, at its essence, her day, I felt it only appropriate to pass on that life lesson to all of you.  Cause it's a good one.

See.  Here's the thing.  My wife made the first four boxes Katie Fisher Day cookies, then packaged them up and got them ready for delivery.  She even was accommodating enough to stack the boxes neatly on the table nearest the front door.

"Pretty boxes, on the table side. Pretty boxes filled with cookie cookies!"
When I woke up a few hours later, I began into my daily routine of walking and then settling our two dogs on their corresponding bed/crate.  With the dogs bribed with treats and laying down, I then sneak out the front door and embark on my day.

Sitting at lunch a few hours later, I make a mental note to remember to swing by the Post Office on the way home.  And then I realize that I don't have the cookies.  Crap.  I need go get those cookies.

And then . . .


The delicious chocolate chip goodies that my amazing wife baked, tupper-wared, wrapped, and packaged are at the mercy of my admitted flour-loving addict of a pup.  And then, there is the problem that the cookies are chocked full of chocolate chips, which is horrifically poisonous for dogs.  DEFCON 1! DEFCON 1!

As this bowling ball of growing anxious worry hurdled towards pins full of multiplying problems, I am settling the check and one foot out the door.  I sped home.  I figured if I did get pulled over that A) it would make a fantastic story and B) If the cop was a dog lover I could potentially get a short police escort the rest of the way home.

As I burst through the front door, our smaller dog looked up excitedly from inside his crate.  Our older dog, Grover, was nowhere to be found.

On the table by the door lay the four boxes.  Untouched and angelic.

Grover had somehow gotten out of the living room and into the main part of the house that is supposed to remain blocked off by baby gates.  As the prestige to this Houdini maneuver, Grover had chewed the edges off his food bin awaiting his arrival on the opposite side of the barricade. The bin, a heavy duty plastic Tupperware container large enough to comfortably fit a small child inside, had additionally been heaved around the room as if it were a beach ball.  Miraculously, The handle locks remained un-popped, and the bad dog hadn't actually gotten into his food supply.

As a husband and as a dog owner, this was HUGE double victory.  The probability of the scene I arrived home to only requiring the  basic "scold and sweep up," was as thin as a slice of a rich double-chocolate torte.


You really shouldn't admonish your dog that he's "bad" with a huge smile smacked across your face, but I couldn't hide the giddiness of narrowly avoiding a true disaster.  I didn't even sweep up the plastic bits strewn about until later that evening.  I did bring those white boxes of kindness and carbohydrates carefully to the back seat of my car.  I then drove directly to the United States Post Office closest my home location.  No stops.  The cookies are officially "in the mail."

Did you catch the lesson?  I admit it's not one of those morals that jumps right out at you.  In all honesty, most of the best one's don't, as they require a bit of introspection.  Here it is:

Whatever you are afraid of, worrying about, stressing over, overanalyzing . . . probably isn't worth all that perseverating. So relax. Not because there isn't anything out there to be concerned about.  It is just that the calamity that will actually befall you, could almost never have been seen coming.

Thanks Katie, I really needed that reminder.  #KatieFisherDay

Walmart Parenting

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 | 1 Comment(s)

I went to Walmart yesterday for the first time in idontknowhowlong.

I didn't even get greeted upon arrival.  All their signs are blue and yellow now. Things really have changed.

I went to Walmart yesterday because I needed one specific item: Semi-sweet chocolate chips, so that my wife and I could make more cookies for Katie Fisher Day!  (Take a moment to familiarize yourself with this recent holiday before moving on.) Since no "normal" supermarket existed between my vehicle and its homeward trajectory, I took the path of least resistance and stopped into the mega-chain in order not to have to drive a bit out of my way.  In short, laziness.

But this isn't really a piece about Walmart.  Cause seriously ya'll, who gives a crap about Walmart.

As a final parting shot, however,  I will say that Walmart was completely out of the *one item I was looking for* and I was forced to slum it with a combination of milk chocolate chips and Reese's Pieces.  I'm nothing if not resourceful.

As I was browsing the food related isles for my Walmart target (hehe, couldn't resist), I meandered across a mother and her two children.  The son, the younger of the two children at about 8-years-old, seemed perfectly content going from food bin to food bin checking out each new package like a dog sniffing every nook and cranny of a new room.

The woman's daughter was older, 12 or 13, and appeared to be having a more interactive relationship with this aisle full of temptation.  As I physically passed by the family,  the daughter opened a "negotiation" with her mom. Her tone was in an octave that only 13-year-olds are privy too, despite the fact that hearing it the vocal equivalent of having a shiv slid up through your neck and into the base of your brain.  Except you don't die. In this case, the daughter was a mixture of pleading with her mom, asking her mom politely, and demanding this thing from her mom, as her request is so obviously reasonable.

Daughter: Can I paleeeeeeeeeease get a Granola snack bar???!

The Mom replies instantaneously, as if the answer were about to come out of her mouth anyway, and her daughter just happened to get in a few words ahead of time.  Her tone exactly mirrors that of her daughters.

Mom: Can you paleeeeeeeeeeeeease get a job?!

I can't even pretend that the exchange isn't the funniest thing I've heard all day.  I guffaw.  Not laugh.  Guffaw.  A huge exhalation of breath combined with the vocal bass of a Muppet Monster's full body cackling. My expression of glee was entirely too boisterous to pretend as if it didn't happen, especially considered the mom and daughter are both now staring at me, beginning their own growing giggle-fest.

I stopped, turned, looked back at them.

"Best. Mom. Ever.," I say, and keep on walking.

They broke into hysterics.  I moved through the next aisle.

Three minutes later I could still hear them doubled over two aisle down, laughing at a  perfect comedic moment shared with a perfect passing stranger.

TBRARUMUD All-Stars: Black Harvey

Monday, March 10, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

One of the best first posts I did -- to cheer up your Monday.  (Originally published: 10.27.09)

If you're reading this, and you don't have a hat on, put one on. I'll wait. Because i am about to BLOW YOUR MIND, and i wouldn't want little pieces of brain getting all over the place.

My father, Harvey, is the shiz, the poo, the bee's knees. Say it however you want, but he is like a father to me and I love him. Here he is from a picture I pulled off the internet. Now if I were to describe my dad here are some ways i would do it. A) My dad is white. I know this because I am white and he pulls his socks all the way up when he wears shorts. B) My dad is liberal (politically speaking). While he may get stuck in some of those "the changing of the times" discussions, he always knows he's wrong. And, for the sake of clarification, he would never think to not let gays marry or put to a Nazi mustache on Obama (I'd be floored if he didn't vote for him). Let me go about this a different way. My dad bought me a t-shirt that said "Meet the Fuckers" (a take off on the "Meet the Focker's" movie series, and pictured are George W. and The Dick Cheney.

So, at this point I will ask you a question. Have you ever wondered what you would look like if you were a different race? Well, my dad doesn't have to wonder. In a turn of events that can only be described as unbelievably world shockingly ground shatteringly crazy, a black Harvey already exists. And you may even know him.

So, I think to myself, where to find a black Harvey. And then, as if answering my question, FOX "news" broadcasts the new GOP Republican Party leader Michael Steele. Now, I no social psychologist (wait a minute, i am!) but having a black head of the Republican party is about as random as Senor Pope being Catholic. A black leader of the GOP as a response to the new black leader of the USA--genius. I mean, not transparent at all. Now I want to be clear in saying that I dislike everything about Mr. Steele with the exception of how he looks. Example why, "Steele compared stem cell research to Nazi experiments during the Holocaust."

He seems to be going out of his way to promote black stereotypes under the idea that he is bringing more black voters to the Republican Party. He calls George W. his "homeboy" and here are some videos for further enjoyment: here and here and who can resist here. All this is to say he's a douche. Butttttttt . . . here is what he looks like:
My dad's reaction? "Good looking guy.

This is improbable.
This is crazy.
This is a game changer.
My black dad is the head of the GOP.

I put it to you. What the hell am I supposed to do about this!?!?!

And now, for the finale, the side to side view:

One out of a Hundred

Monday, March 3, 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

I made a math error.

That is not an easy thing for me to admit.  I mean, I have a Ph.D. with a concentration in Statistical Analysis.  I can construct both structural equation models as well as hierarchical linear models (both skills that have been coming up less and less in my day to day.)  Somehow, I still got the numbers all wrong.

No.  Not taxes.  I'm not that ahead of the game.

1 in 3 people will develop a form of cancer during their lifetime.
1 out of 5000 people will die of electrocution.
And the odds of dying from eating the 'poisonous if prepared incorrectly" Japanese delicacy of Fugu (a blowfish) is 1 in 3 million.

It should go without saying that this is a woefully incomplete list of potentially untimely debilitations or demises.  Stay with me.

For a long time, whenever confronted with these 'X out of X' statistics, I would always picture a big auditorium filled with all the kids I remember from my high school, and then, as the tragic consequence is revealed, one of those unsuspecting classmates, usually this kid, fall lifeless against the unforgiving gymnasium floor.  And that was that.  The odds were ever in my favor.

And the way I internalized this litany of iterative drawings of lots to decide whether or not a horrible hardship would befall me in my lifetime, was to believe that I had a 99 in a 100 chance of everything being a-ok.  That's 99% I figured.  That ain't bad.

But there were more than just math errors in this philosophy.  My first mistake was believing that everything will be a-ok for anyone.  And I'm not trying to sound grim, though I realize it comes off that way.  What I'm failing to parse out is best illustrated as the difference between the all or nothing outcomes of a poisonous blowfish infecting your stomach, and the fallacy of a life without horrible hardship.

If there are a hundred ways to leave your lover, there are trillions of additional ways for the heavy hand of heart-wrenching hardship to befall you.  What is missing from original equation is the simple truth that life is difficult . . . hard even.  It is naive to suppose, therefore, that life will somehow never be challenging for you.  Though, when the inevitable crashing wave of life does burst through the unprepared domicile of a person who really thought themselves that special, the receding wake of those typhoons always seem the most spectacular (e.g. "Justin Bieber" and the self-destruction already in progress).

This isn't a cry for help.  While it can be a slog-fest at times, life is simultaneously the closest thing to a miracle that you can in our universe.  Some people worry that in admitting, god forbid out loud, that they find life to be a struggle; that feeling that notion is somehow akin to being weak or taking existence for granted. To the contrary, it is often in turning to face life head on that we run headlong into the oncoming resistance.  Taken to the extreme, there are some individuals (hi, I'm Matt, have we met?) who fear death with a panicked vigor as an (in)direct result of their lust and enjoyment for life.

I mean if Jay-Z's got 99 problems, and he's sitting on a talented self-sufficient wife, healthy baby, huge rap career, and partial ownership of an NBA basketball team, how are any of us supposed to somehow get through the gauntlet of life without even a raindrop.

OK.  Back on topic. Back to my bad math.  1 out of 100: Avoiding the fatal bullets of terminal disease and vending-machine related fatalities.  Let's head back to my gymnasium full of high school classmates to illustrate the mistake I was making.

So, if you'll recall, when we last left our auditorium/basketball court, I had just pulled the lottery ticket for liver failure, and Mike is still lying on the ground.  He almost looks cute, a bundle of legs and arms. But the stick in the metaphoric mud, is that lung cancer goes next, and that's gonna be 8 more people, and Mike's already gone.  You hear coughs scattered around the gym, followed by *thumps*.  Heart disease. Thump.  Breast Cancer.  Thump.  Mauled by a tiger while on safari . . . No thump!!!  Car accidents.  Thump.     Crap.

And now I'm looking around the room and it's no longer crowded by the faces of people I kinda knew. Now, because it's my dreamscape analogy we're inside of.  Now, I recognize all the faces still standing as those of friends of mine.  People I liked and loved.  And yet the list of maladies is still only 3/4th completed.  And I don't want to keep reading the list anymore.  And life doesn't care what I want.

Because the numbers don't lie, but I made what turns out to be a major math error.