Something in the Way We Move

Posted in Family, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2015 by Mike

This week is the culmination of a year and half of effort to move our family a few counties away. While the entire timeline is hard work, endless prep, semesters worth of research and study, and the coordination and cooperation of dozens of individuals, things don’t really get crazy until the end. The month before you move will affect your long-term mental state. Here are some milestones and things to consider if you’re planning to move in the near future.

30 days left – Once the contract is signed, your old house and its attendant issues are someone else’s problem. But fear of bad Karma and crapping on your buyers motivate you to weed your yard by hand since the lawn service was dropped weeks earlier and the grass is being overrun by countless alien sprouts.

24 days left – You start to look at your spouse as a co-worker at a moving company. All of your time is spent planning logistics, stacking, and restacking columns of boxes. You have detailed directions on where every item in every box will go in the new home and you wonder, since every other waking moment is occupied by another task, if your wife is nesting in her sleep.moving1

20 days left – You invent creative recipes to thin food from the pantry. I suggest crock-potting all of the cans of beans you have with the freezer-burned Boca Crumbles sitting on the Antarctic top shelf of the freezer, topped with fried onion straws, and maybe a handful of petrified Bac-O’s for zest.

17 days left – You are on a constant quest for boxes, sometimes driving miles into the country working from a tip given by another gas station (“Mary’s Market may have boxes”) You score a box from Mary and it somehow seems worth the time and gas money. Though infinite in their supply, you find that boxes from the liquor store are small and you’re lucky to pack a single, newspapered shoe in one of them.

14 days left – The house that you’re moving into sits out there like a faint, not quite affordable, mirage. You pull the address up on Google maps often and study every curve in your new road and squint at the satellite images of the houses of your new neighbors to see what clues you can deduce.

12 days left – You survey what’s left to do in your house and see things in 15 minute increments of time and amount of boxes each space represents (e.g., Alice’s closet will take 45 minutes and 4 boxes to pack.) At this point you realize there’s not enough time to do it all so you start the wholesale trashing of irreplaceable family possessions.moving2

10 days left – It’s amazing how well beer helps the packing process, so amazing that your belly sloshes at all times. Three beers is the magic number, anything beyond that slows you down and makes you spend the majority of your time retrieving lost items that you set down somewhere, especially the black Sharpie and the packing tape, which should be secured to your body at all times during the two weeks leading up to the move.

8 days left – To avoid yet another logistical task or phone call to a service provider, you wonder if you can manage okay without cable, trash pick-up, or electricity at your new home.

7 days left – Weird moving logic peaks when you consider buying a fifth of gin to make martinis so you don’t have to move or pour out the half bottle of vermouth still left on the liquor shelf.

5 days left – Due to the numerous idiosyncrasies of your old home, you realize the rest of your time should be spent on drafting an Instruction Manual for the new owners. Article 4, Section 2: Handle of kitchen faucet must be returned to the 12 o’clock position to stop leak; Addendum 2b, Appendix XII: Do not stand fully upright in the attic or you will puncture your head on roofing nails driven from the other side.

2 days left – Since you’re taking your kids to the grandparents while you and the wife suffer through the last grueling days, their countdown is on a faster track that yours. Even though they’re young, you feel the need to tell them it’s their last day and to take it all in while they can. It’s your own nostalgia forcing the issue but you can’t stop yourself. Once you’ve driven them from the old house for the last time, dropped them off, and are alone in the car, you put on your shades and finally play Patty Griffin’s Useless Desires and Jackson Browne’s Looking Into You (songs you’ve been purposefully avoiding until you were ready) and let that nostalgia really stretch its legs.moving3

The End – There’s no reason to divide the last two days into separate units since they run together and are a blur of backbreaking toil, military maneuver-like logistics, and misplacing more stuff. This is the period of time when you count on family and friends to voluntarily agree to haul all of your earthly belongings from one roofed compartment to another. This is when you sweat in brand new places and reek like someone from a life raft but still find yourself in clean, sterile law offices signing documents. Your sense of place is turned upside down and memories and new worries come tumbling out. You wander through your old empty home one last time and recollections fly past like a DVD rewinding on 4x speed; meanwhile, entering your new house as homeowner brings out many large and small imperfections – like the last owner was a hardcore smoker which will require priming, painting, and recarpeting so your young daughter doesn’t get lung cancer the moment she enters her new room – but it’s just Day One of a brand new timeline. And you can hardly wait to get started.

A Tale of Two Pillows

Posted in Family, Gags with tags , , , , , on June 3, 2015 by Mike

pillows

This You and the Soap Checker

Posted in Family, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2015 by Mike

Son, you’re six right now. These phases and years are passing quickly and it’s become important to note each stage, like black marks on the wall, before it’s surpassed and made archival by the next one.

You’re now independent enough to shower on your own. You don’t want to sit in the bathtub with your little sister and pop bubbles anymore. You want to be a big boy and wash your own hair and body, so we’re letting you.

We’re also timing you. You get 5 minutes for a regular shower, 7 minutes if you need to wash your hair and get the full detail. Timed showers and water rations may be a part of your future so why not learn early. Sorry for the countdown updates I yell over the roar of the showerhead—“2 minutes left!”—but we want you to be mindful of precious time and resources.

After your shower, I’ve introduced a new instrument to test whether you’re using soap or not. You don’t know this now but the instrument is a useless fake. It’s actually a wadded up strand of speaker wire that I pulled from a random upstairs drawer.  I unravel the bundle and open up the two wires at the end and put them against your body. It’s not plugged into anything but somehow tests for traces of soap on your skin or in your wet hair. And you believe it. You ask how it works and I tell you that it’s too complicated to read or explain.

Your mind is still gullible and ripe for pranking though your body is growing, young and lean, baby fat long gone.

You’re a boy but it’s just a gender for now—you are basically asexual. The thing that dangles from your middle is a meaningless growth. You know it makes you different from girls but have no idea what it’s for other than a pee-maker. Your self-image is a new delivery, just showed up on the front porch of your personality, and you’re opening the box to see what it is, trying it on for size–any insecurities and self-consciousness that comes with it are coming later, like separate shipments, and I’m not sure how to return those items unopened.

On shower nights I stand outside the bathroom door looking at the stopwatch on my phone. I watch the time fly by and wonder if I need to shave off another sixty seconds so I can hang out with this you just a minute longer.

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Ten Lame, Hardly-Helpful Life Hacks Inspired by My Own Laziness and Stupidity

Posted in Gags, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2015 by Mike

1. Split your everything bagel in half in the bag to avoid getting spices all over the kitchen. If you look at an everything bagel the wrong way, poppy seeds will fly off it and roll into kitchen grooves never to be seen again.

bagel

2. After a shower, dry your body from the head down so drops of water don’t run down and rewet what you’ve already dried. Who has 15 minutes to dry himself?
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 3. Wrap a big yard leaf around dog poo (I like to think of it as poo-shi) to pick it up and toss it in the woods when you don’t want to retrieve the scooper. A leaf also works well to cover up turds your dog leaves in the neighbor’s yard when you’ve forgotten a baggie.

scoop

4. Put items in your backpack before strapping it onto your back to avoid contorting and pulling arm muscles as you try to stuff the bag while it’s on you. This also prevents you from putting on your backpack and taking it right back off, which is something a moron would do.

backpack200-BB

5. If your workplace has a one-person shower and only a curtain separates you from the rest of the bathroom, give a courtesy cough or five to keep people from walking in on you. They will know that it’s occupied, and maybe even occupied by someone with emphysema. This also works well in toilet stalls with no locks.

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6. Take your medications one at a time rather than in a giant Pill Gulp to avoid having them lodge in your throat, dam-like, forcing you to chug water and choke down bread to unclog your own gullet.

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7. Crawl up stairs like a chimpanzee to spread out your body weight and to minimize strain on your aging knees. You did it when you were two, why should adulthood be any different?

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8. Stop fighting back with your wife. Even if you’re right and she’s being illogical, crazy, moody, temperamental, or hormonal – stop defending yourself. It will only make things worse.

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9. Keep your windshield wipers on at fast speed all of the time so you’re prepared for any sudden rain showers. Even if it doesn’t rain, the whipping metronome effect will put you in a state of deep hypnosis which is useful while you drive.

Working%20Wipers

10. Resist holding your phone near an open toilet because the phone may jump out of your hand like a slippery fish and into the disgusting toilet water. Though you may dry it and pretend that you didn’t just drop your phone into the toilet (you did, twice), the phone will never work right again.

iPhone in a Toilet 2

 

In Case You Missed It

Posted in Gags, Verse, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2015 by Mike

Over the past few months I’ve published and posted a number of pieces outside of this blog. I’ve experimented with audio and been lucky to share some of my work through The Good Men Project.

Please click The Good Men Project logo below to find my personal archives, including pieces on running at the local high school, the randomness of having a boring name, and how listlicles capture our interest (and sound like testicles).

And click on the Soundcloud icon to access my menu of audio tracks. There you will find a parody car commercial, lullaby, a number of poems, and a fake stand-up comedy set.

good men project

soundcloud

Come on Down to Johnson Suzuki

Posted in Gags, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 24, 2015 by Mike

What if a cheesy radio car commercial focused on one piece of crap car and ran for a few minutes, covering all the junky elements and pitched them like features?

j suzuki ad-01

 

Click here for audio file on SoundCloud

 

***

Come on down to Johnson’s Suzuki! It’s parked in the driveway of our house in Leland, North Carolina. It’s a 2005 Suzuki Forenza, wagon. Faded black, now with a fresh coat of pollen. Hey! But it’s a good car! It will get you from Point A to Point B and even gives you the option of taking the shortcut at Point C and bypassing Point D altogether. And if you drive around a beat-up car that you don’t tend to at all, you have the right of way wherever you go. Other cars know that you ain’t gonna stop ‘cause you don’t care that much about the upkeep of your vehicle.

Some of the features include:

A check engine light that stays on all the time. It will keep you alert. Also, the light for the passenger seat airbag is always on. Does the light mean it’s on or does the light mean it’s off? You may never know. Only a crash will answer the question. So you have those two extra lights coming out of your dashboard, and the glow is remarkable. Those two lights are like friends after a while. They’re always there for you.

Additional features include:

Smeared and dirty windows add privacy and value – you will never need to pay top dollar for a tint job.

There is an ice scraper on the floorboard on the passenger side. It’s still in the car even though it’s almost Summer. You will not need it but it is there just in case you decide to drive far north into the icy tundra and your…glass…gets icy and needs scraping. It’s there in case that happens.

Listen to the steady sound of cassette tapes bouncing together with every turn of the wheel. Yes, cassette tapes! Though you may never play them, they are still in the door compartments and bang against each other all of the time. Cassettes include such classics as The Temptations Give Love at Christmas and Peter Gabriel’s Security album, which came out in 1982, and you dubbed it on tape so long ago that you don’t even remember doing it.

There are two, yes two, kids seats in the back. Underneath those seats you will find old food – Cheetohs, Goldfish, countless mystery crumbs. If you wreck your car on a remote road and end up in the woods and need to wait for rescue, you will be able to survive on crumbs. And you will find toys. There is always something to play with in the Johnson Suzuki. You’ve got dolls, action figures, books, you’ve got untold treasure under the seats. In that wreck scenario, you will have dolls to talk to and eat crumbs with while you listen for the helicopters and search party.

Come down to the Johnson Suzuki TODAY!

Johnson Suzuki is a subsidiary of Johnson Mazda. FDIC-approved. Not to be combined with other offers or coupons. Shirt and shoes required. No need to play to win. Odds of winning are zero. Call the help line at 910-703-7636 if you need counseling.

Where Does the Thyme Go?

Posted in Toons with tags , , , on April 20, 2015 by Mike

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