Category Archives: Things I Like

Dollar Store Christmas!

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Hot tip ya’ll: Dollar Tree brought its A-Game this year. I stopped in with no expectations and left having spent the greatest four dollars of my life.

Choice Item Number ONE: Nativity Magnet Set!

Wife’s Reaction: Absolutely none, whatsoever. Continued tending to baby blankly.

Why I Had to Have It: I love Nativity scenes. I know I’ve told this story on the blog before, but it’s one of my favorites. Growing up, we had a porcelain Nativity scene. The Joseph figure had long ago taken a spill, and was beheaded. Each year, my mother went to great lengths to re-attach his head. Some years it was krazy glue; some years it was the hyrbid glue/tape method. One year she went all in and rigged something up with a rubber band. She called it The Christmas Miracle every year that his head stayed attached throughout the season. I never went to church a day in my life in childhood, yet my mother’s annual respect and dedication to re-attaching that head taught me everything I needed to know.

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Which, speaking of respect, doesn’t really explain why I had to have a Nativity scene in magnet form. I don’t have any good reasons. It’s perversely tacky and I love it.

Choice Item Number TWO: Wind-Up Train!

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Wife’s Reaction:: Yeah right. That’s not ever going to work.

Why I Had to Have It: Well, duh. I HAD TO see if it would work.

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The results: IT ACTUALLY WORKS. I wound the train up, sat it on the track, and it heartily chugged around the track full circle. This is worth a million dollars.

Choice Item Number THREE: This Mini-Gingerbread House COOKIE

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Wife’s Reaction: Are you actually going to eat that? It probably has lead in it.

Why I Had to Have It: A non-descript, no-brand name, random sketchy cookie in the shape of a house? Ummm, yes please.

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I didn’t know quite where to start, so I just awkwardly bit off the roof. This in itself was deeply satisfying and worth the dollar. Taste-wise, it’s dry, stiff, and floral-tasting. It’s really, really terrible. Someone asked me in the comments on my Sad Christmas Candy post what I do after I taste these things. Do I just throw them out or do I actually continue eating them just because? The answer varies, but I can tell you this “cookie” is going directly in the trash.

Choice Item Number FOUR: This Amazingly Crappy Nativity Scene

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Wife’s Reaction: That looks like something somebody pooped out.

Why I Had To Have it: Because this belongs in a museum. But not because it’s a work of art. More because it’s a curious artifact. Dwindling materials and fuel from our precious, dying planet were to used to create this.

THIS

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It looks like a random glob of amorphous clay that only accidentally resembles the nativity. Which come to think of it, I will proclaim as this year’s Christmas Miracle.

Lying, Cheating, and Parenting

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You know, I thought when I’d have a kid, I’d write about him all of the time. And yet, I just don’t have much to say. He’s teething. He drools. He likes when I hold him sideways in mid-air. When he smiles, his entire face becomes the smile.

So far, parenting seems to be kinesthetic. It’s in the muscles. In the tendons. In the joints. It’s primordial. It’s like sleeping and breathing and eating. I just don’t have much to say about these things, although I love doing them all deeply.

There’s been such a rash of truly terrible things happening in the world. Of course, there always was and always has been. Yet before, I could steel myself off from everything. I could harden myself. I could give a shit for nothing, fuck all, the most extreme degree of nothing.

With this kid around, I can’t do that.

Once I heard a quote about writing and not having the pen or paper to write it down — so you’re desperately turning the words over and over in your head, carrying them all by the arm load, carrying them like you’ve being stabbed in the stomach, trying to carry all your guts, careful not to spill or lose a single thing, or single thought.

At least, I think I heard that. Although now it looks like something I made up. Anyway. Writing is like that. And so is having a kid. It’s like carrying all your guts around, constantly. The vulnerability of it, I mean.

Sometimes, when a metaphor isn’t working, you’ve got to just delete the thing. But I’m leaving it there.

I often find myself telling my son that I’m going to teach him how to stand up for himself. Of course, when I’m saying it, I’m cooing it at him in a sing-song voice. “You gotta be a tough guy,” I coo, “you can’t let other people get to you.”

I’ll teach him how to lie, cheat and steal. I’ll teach him how to hurt people and punch them in the  mouth. The way I figure it is, if you know how to do these things, you’ll be able to see when someone is trying to do them to you.

Of course I’ll teach him to never, ever actually use any of that knowledge.

Except, sometimes you do have to use that knowledge. For instance, in high school, I cheated my way through calculus. The teacher doubled as the wrestling coach, so he was always too busy on the other side of the room talking wrestling and demonstrating headlocks.

There was that. And then there was me. My math skills are so bad that I’ve added two plus two before and actually gotten five.

And then there was Phil, the kid I copied everything from that year. He was ridiculously smart. When he handed his homework over to me, he did it in a patronizing, pitying manner. He’s probably a millionaire now.

So what I’m saying, son, is, it’s never okay to cheat — except when it is okay to cheat. It’s a subtle, subtle line. Wrestling teacher leaves rest of class for dead + idiot math skills + a future millionaire who just feels sorry for you = not really cheating.

Then again, justifying these things to yourself is another skill altogether.

Then again, I won’t be the one teaching my kid any of this stuff. The world will teach him these things. I’ll just be the one mumbling old chestnuts like “honesty is the best policy” and “be true to yourself.”

I bought a sixty-inch television on Black Friday. We’ve been re-doing our house to be more child-friendly, including stuff like getting rid of our eye-gouging, tempered-glass entertainment center, and mounting the television instead. And it wasn’t like I could go ahead and mount our measly forty-six incher with a dead pixel. It only made sense to get the brand new sixty-inch. It was the child-friendly thing to do.

Justifying these things is perhaps, the most important skill of all.

Things At The Bottom of the Ball Pit

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At one point in life, I might have said the ball pit was my happy place. To a kid, a ball pit seems like the funnest thing ever. I mean, there’s Disney World, Space Camp, and then Ball Pits on the hierarchy of FUN THINGS THAT THERE ARE. Not that I ever went to space camp or could even tell you what it’s like. I’m just fairly certain that space camp rules.

However, the ball pit, for all of its colorful plastic glory, has its limits. There is some magical age — a sort of threshold — that we all must cross in life. And once we cross it, we realize the ball pit is a seething, grimy cesspool of germs… and perhaps far worse.

And now I’m here to tell you, based on my own scientific research, just what lies in that “far worse” category. I’ve been to the depths of the ball pit. I’ve been to the edge of the earth. I’ve been where no man, woman, or child have ever ventured before.

These are things at the bottom of the ball pit:

– Dirty diaper
– Hypodermic needles
– Slice of pizza
– Loose coins
– Child on back of milk carton from 1983
– Goldfish, and I don’t mean the crackers
– Magnets
– (Have you ever noticed how menacing magnets seem when they’re not on refrigerators?)
– Stickers laced with drugs
– Holey socks
– Holy socks
– Whole sock
– Wedding ring
– Postcard addressed to someone in 1924
– Cookies and milk
– Amelia Earhart
– The Arc of the Covenant
– One melted Choco Taco
– One frozen Choco Taco, whoa, magic
– Car keys
– Wallet
– Phone
– Meaning of life
– The three minutes of your life spent reading this far down
– Missing glove
– Two useless members of the Jackson 5, not Michael, sorry
– Not Tito, either, damn
– God’s plans for you, He really can be an asshole sometimes
– Plastic pizzas from the Ninja Turtles Pizza Thrower
– Remote control
– Fake dog poo
– Real dog poo
– Something that resembles dog poo but isn’t
– Kombucha
– Five dollar bill
– Hershey bar
– Eric
– The answers to a particularly harrowing episode of Unsolved Mysteries
– Empty beer bottles
– Brie cheese
– One moist Kleenex
– Twenty-seven jelly beans, yes I counted each one
– Tube of lipstick
– Tuba
– Lips
– Stick
– Aged gouda — dude there’s like a whole cheese platter down here
– Fireworks
– Allergy pills
– Laffy Taffy wrappers torn so you can’t read the jokes anymore
– Gold Treasure
– Chex mix
– Fun size candy bars
– Grandma
– The fourteenth president of the US, don’t ask me who, I have no idea
– Spider rings
– Easter grass (it’s been three years and you still find this shit everywhere.)
– Tree tinsel (it’s been three years and you still find this shit everywhere.)
– Soup (clam chowder, I think)
– Lint
– Tiny ornate carving of Buddha
– Knives
– Drugs
– Blooooooooood
– Fingernails
– Toenails
– Nails
– Santa
– Easter Bunny
– Tooth Fairy
– Trix rabbit
– Pluto, the lost planet
– The letter C

And that’s it.

So It’s October

So. It’s October. And you may have noticed I’m not counting down to Halloween as I have in years past on the blog. I guess I’m a little depressed this year, given the one-year anniversary of my mom’s death coming up. I just don’t really feel like counting down to anything.

Last Halloween was shitty. I have to get this off my chest. I haven’t told this story to anyone. I spent the day at the hospital watching my mom on the dialysis machine as she drifted in and out of consciousness. And consciousness wouldn’t even be the word for it. More like in and out of context, whatever that means. I don’t even know what that means.

I had a terrible head cold. I stopped at Big Lots on the way home from the hospital to buy extra candy in case I didn’t have enough for the trick-or-treaters. I bought the world’s WORST EVER GENERIC bag of candy. It was the world’s cheapest, most rock-bottom, gutter crackhead candy. Seriously, it was personally hand-picked by Satan out of the dumpster. It was the only thing that was left.

I was also breaking down in Big Lots. Losing my mind. Fighting back tears, or really, it was beyond that. It was that point where you’re fighting back gigantic gulps of air. I was nearly shaking. I needed to cauterize it IMMEDIATELY. So I did what any reasonable person would do in this situation — I bought a ten-pound gingerbread man cookie.

Whoa. I know. Stay with me folks.

It worked. The fact that ten-pound gingerbread cookies existed shocked my brain enough to get it off the fact that my mom was dying. I just remember standing at the register with my bloodshot eyes, shaking hands, sniffling nose, a ten pound cookie, and Satan’s candy, knowing that I looked like the saddest human being ever that day in Big Lots.

The story gets worse. It rained. We barely got any trick-or-treaters. I did not need that crackhead candy at all. I had tons of candy leftover, like basically, all of it. I kept the chocolates and good stuff for myself, but man, I needed to get rid of that crackhead candy. Pronto. It felt like disposing of a body.

The next day I thought I might give the candy to my mom’s nurses. Except none of the nurses could even look me in the eye. They don’t look you in the eye when your mom is dying. They were all so cold and sterile. They just hope to go about their workday as quickly as possible.

So I pawned it off on my friend, casually, without really mentioning it. Like, hey man, I got all this extra candy. You want it? And he took it happily, until he got home and realized it was filled with ROCK HARD STALE Sugar Daddies and off-brand gum with the wrappers half hanging off. It was a terrible thing to do to a friend.

Then there was still that ten pound gingerbread man cookie, which ended up taunting me straight through December, when I finally worked up the nerve to toss it. Just… just fuck that cookie. I don’t have anything else to say about that.

Phew. That was last Halloween. Ugh. And now you know why I’m not counting down this year. I just can’t. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been hoarding and stocking up on Halloween stuff as usual. In fact, it’s the power of this crap that’s breaking through my depression.

For instance, this:

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Candy Corn Pebbles and TrueMoo Orange Scream. This is easily the most exciting thing to happen to me in months. I mean, after my son being born of course. My life happiness list currently looks like this:

1. Son born
2. Candy corn pebbles
3. Orange flavored milk

People, I don’t even like milk. I hate milk! But orange milk in October is somehow the greatest thing ever to me, enough to bust through my wall of depression. And the verdict? It’s actually very very tasty! And as for Candy Corn Pebbles, well, they taste like a failed cereal idea. DON’T CARE. I LOVE THEM.

So it’s October. And so that’s kind of how it’s going for me.

Dude, Lunchables Makes Breakfast Versions Now

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The label should say Peel Back Plastic, Hate Yourself Forever. Or, Peel Back Plastic, Smell Oddly Like Syrup For Rest of Day. Which is the worst feeling/smell/state of existing that there can possibly be. But before I knew all of this, I was just pretty damn excited. Dude, Lunchables makes breakfast versions now?

DUDE.

Hastily, I snapped up both varieties in the grocer section as though there were about to be a red light special announced on them, and a horde mob was about to descend. As though I were on the game show Supermarket Sweep, and these were worth as much as the big ticket hams. As though I was starving for more than food, but for the very meaning of life itself, which could be found in the tiny plastic compartments within.

Immediately, I decided I would be having them for lunch. And I did.

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First I had the cinnamon rolls. And like ten raisins. It’s the most pathetic little tray of raisins. I also hate raisins, but I ate them anyway for science. And for the slightly desperate hope that the raisins would somehow counteract the rest of the sugary awfulness I was about to put in my body.

The packaging says that you don’t need to heat the cinnamon rolls, but bear in mind that you will be eating cold, rock-hard cinnamon rolls. It’s one of the most unpleasant experiences known to man. Aside from the fact that they were rock-hard and ice-cold, they were also a little stale. They tasted like the generic Pecan Twirls you find in the sad bread aisle of dollar stores.

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The icing situation isn’t much better. It’s almost like a spackle, also rock-hard and ice cold.

Overall, I’d have to give the cinnamon rolls a rating of NEVER AGAIN.

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Next I had the Pancakes and Bacon. As you can see, the bacon is salad bacon bits. I’m pretty sure it’s child neglect in eight states to feed your kid salad bacon bits for breakfast. As a vegetarian, I fed the bacon to the dog.

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Her review of the bacon is:

BESSSSSSST
THING
EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

So there you have it.

As for the pancakes, I actually liked them. I would rate this one as edible, except I’m still starving and felt like I haven’t even had lunch, even though I just ate nearly 600 calories in about two minutes.

Oh god. Raisins, I just hope you’re working your magical healing powers inside of me.