How I Added a Second Bedroom

From the man who wrote the award-winning post “I Built This“…

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Dear Hillary:

I enjoyed building my own Resolute desk a little while back. And although it’s not hand-carved from wood from that mighty ship, I am about 78% sure it’s not particleboard.

Take THAT, IKEA.

I know you hope to sit behind the Resolute desk someday in the Oval Office. It would be a step up from where women kneeled during your husband’s administration.

In reference to the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi and our murdered ambassador and security heroes, you said the following:

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”

Never mind the fact that you and your boss blamed an Egyptian-American filmmaker for putting up a video on YouTube that allegedly “incited violence”.

Never mind the fact that we were assured this wasn’t a terrorist attack, nosiree.

Never mind that Amb. Stevens asked for backup support on repeated occasions until right before the attack.

After all–what difference does it make?

I set out to answer that question.

So, for my next project, I had to do something ambitious. Something groundbreaking. Something that would be a fool’s errand for just a mere *man*.

I decided to add a second bedroom–the kind you’d need when separate beds just aren’t far enough.

Scientists say you spend 1/3 of your life in your bedroom. Well not “you” specifically. Scientists are not following “you” and your dalliances. It’s not all about YOU.

I wanted more room. I wanted to make a DIFFERENCE.

But how, HOW to accomplish this? When you’re a leader, you have to make the tough choices. You can’t just knock through with a wrecking ball haphazardly. You can’t just invade Libya and expect to not have to pick up the pieces!

I looked at my 70s-style mirrored closet doors. They keep sliding off and running over everything on the bottom layer of these narrow closets, because apparently this room was built for an anemic child with a single pair of overalls.

I looked at the wall across from my bed. Bland. No TV. No pictures. Don’t want to hang anything and forfeit some of the security deposit.

I decided to put together peanut butter and chocolate. Like an AMERICAN(TM) would.

*shooes away Shania Twain from singing “Let Freedom Ring”* NOT YET!

I used my prodigious muscles and lifted the closet doors straight off their wheels, carrying them over to the open walls and placing them delicately, like old law documents in a shredder.

I set them side by side (careful to not leave fingerprints or spray an incredible amount of sweat on the clean glass) and slid them together, covering up the wall behind.  There’s nothing quite like a good cover-up.

SUCCESS.

The illusion of a second room. Just like the illusion of security provided to our men on the ground in Benghazi.

But, after all, what difference does it make?

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The Day My Mom Didn’t Come Home

Milestones are a strange reminder we’ve developed as part of our human experience to schedule out when we remember things. For painful memories it’s especially strange—why wait until one of these to notice a difference?

I get uncomfortable when people talk about their parents—more specifically, their mom. Usually they make generic statements about how their mom texts them all the time or how their mom found them on Facebook. I just sort of nod and mumble some sort of agreement in order to not feel so different from them, but my situation is very different.

Ten years ago today my mom suddenly lost consciousness behind the wheel of her truck as she drove out of my middle school where she was volunteering at that day’s book fair. Her vehicle crossed the center divider, amazingly avoided two lanes of oncoming traffic, poles, and trees, and drifted to a stop at a grassy knoll across from the school. Last time I drove by there, the tiremarks were still on the median.

An angel of a woman, Lisa Walker, saw what happened and ran to the window where my mom was slumped over the wheel. Immediately she called paramedics who had to break the back right window of the car—over the seat I had occupied on so many family vacations—and pulled her out of the driver’s seat to resuscitate her. When we got the car back, there was so much broken glass. Until we sold it sold years later—we kept finding broken glass. My mom had bought me a book and a poster at the book fair as a surprise gift. They were in the car as well—scratched up by the glass.

Her black Talbots shoes were still in the backseat too. Small. Suede. Fragile. Macabre.

My dad received a call at around 12:15PM from the sheriff that his wife was in an accident. His first question to the man was: “is she alive”? The sheriff paused, then responded that the paramedics were still trying to get her heart started. He turned his car and sped directly to the scene, with the sheriff pleading for him to go slowly and not get in an accident himself.

My mom received the same call only 8 years earlier when my dad had a heartattack on his airplane and was pronounced DOA as it landed at McCarran airport. Rarely in life do two people get to feel what the other one felt in a nearly identical life-or-death situation.

It was estimated that she had no blood pumping to her brain for at least 10 minutes. Scientists have determined that irreparable damage to the brain happens at that stage—usually sooner. After over three tries, the paramedics finally got a heartbeat and that they were taking her to Saint Agnes hospital.

While this was happening, someone in my Leadership class looked out the window and noticed an ambulance was across the street—alerting my teacher, Mrs. Capshaw. We gathered around the window and looked, but all we saw was the ambulance and a green pickup, the ambulance blocking anything else from view. I said a little prayer to myself hoping that person would be ok.

I don’t know what I would’ve done if I saw it was her. The scenario has run through my head hundreds of times—would I scale the 6-foot retaining wall outside the classes to get over there? Start screaming and crying? Get hit trying to cross the street? I determined it was good I didn’t find out.

At 1:45PM a golf cart came to my geometry class to pick me up. Some scary-looking woman walked up to the door and asked if “Matt Torosian” was there. I was hoping she was asking for Matt Sasaki and not me.

It was for me.

I knew I was in trouble for something. Was it about that fight I got in the other day? I’d never been picked up and sent to the office for anything before. What would my mom say? “Did you punch back?” It was the longest golf cart ride I’ve ever taken as I tried to hyperexamine what I possibly could’ve done wrong the past week.

We got to the office and I went into the principal’s. The secretary, the assistants—all of them had these downcast, troubled expressions. I didn’t know what to make of it. What could’ve possibly happened?

Why was my grandma there in her purple jacket and holding her purse? Why was she shaking?

My dad was on the phone and told me “your mom is in the hospital, she had a heartattack”. This didn’t shock me like it should have. After all—my dad had a heartattack and he was fine. But who would make dinner now?

It’s amazing how selfish your initial thoughts can be. My mom and I had gotten in an argument a couple days before over some girl I liked and how it was making my grades struggle in that class. Damned Allison Berryhill. At least I wouldn’t have to continue that argument with my mom now.

I hugged my grandma for longer than I had ever hugged her. I’d never seen her so upset before. This was not someone who ever this upset—she was just stern and had the occasional laugh to break up her permafrown.

I asked her if she wanted me to drive to the hospital but she said she would. She didn’t look like she was in any shape to drive—but I guess it was better to have a disturbed 82-year-old than a 13-year-old take the wheel. My mind was flooded with images of how happy my mom was from the night before at the Superbowl, from my birthday a week earlier. I desperately tried to piece together how this possibly could have happened to a relatively young, healthy woman.

We got there and everyone was there. All the grandparents. Aunts and uncles. Cousins. Everyone was sad and was trying to comfort me but I wasn’t feeling anything. I just knew my mom was going to come home that night and she’d be a little weak for a day or two but things would be ok.

It was awhile before I was allowed in to see her. Two by two we were allowed to go into the ICU, like this was Noah’s Ark or something. My grandma teared up and I walked in with this little frail old woman, supporting her more than she was supporting me. She had fallen not long ago walking out of our house and my mom broke her fall. I was careful to make sure that didn’t happen again.

I walked by what seemed like miles of ICU rooms—even though there were just 3, I ogled into the glass doors of each to see if she was in there.

We walked in and there she was, on ventilators and heart machines beeping and making that haunting inhale-exhale sound. She wasn’t awake. She wasn’t responsive. I quickly learned what a “coma” was. I didn’t understand. She’s just supposed to wake up, right? Why isn’t she waking up? Can’t she hear us?

The overcast skies grew hauntingly dark as the hours passed. As it approached 6PM they opened up in mourning, unleashing a torrent of rain.

I felt terrible. I couldn’t cry like them. I couldn’t cry like the people in the waiting room. Around 10 they told us it would be best to go home and let her rest, with the hope she’d wake up. My dad and I stopped and got Taco Bell on the way home—I remember looking at the dash of his Expedition and searing the digital time of 10:15 PM into my brain. The food was welcome because we were starving. It also tasted terrible because for the first time ever, it was just my dad and I at the glass dining table.

The other seat was empty.

I don’t remember much of those days, but I remember friends and relatives visiting and just staring at them. I remember my grandma breaking down in the waiting room the next afternoon and being afraid that she’d put herself in one of the hospital beds. I remember her wrinkled fingers clutching onto a tissue as tears flowed down her face and she asked, “what are we going to do without her?!”

My Aunt Sandy brought the family together to pray over my mom in a circle. Music and Bible verses were played over a small stereo because we were told it would help activate her brain function. Messages and notes and calls came in from everywhere. She touched so many lives that it seemed like everyone I had ever met convened at one point and place in time.

Nurses were sweet and wonderful, doctors less so. They burdened my dad to make end-of-life decisions within a matter of hours, helpfully adding that every day the chances grew more slim, at one point surpassing “one in a million”. Her eyes were open. She would occasionally mouth something that looked like words. Her fingers would twitch. We were told those were simply involuntary. No sign of life.

On the 14th, Valentine’s Day, a Saturday, she was up and smiling. Her eyes slowly tracked movements. When my dad and I told her what day it was, she said those three words that changed my life: “I love you.”

We called in all the relatives to go see her and they witnessed it too. The doctors weren’t there to see it. It was a Saturday. My dad and the other adults hoped she’d keep this up until Monday so they wouldn’t have to go back to describing how long it would take for her to die when they took out the ventilator (one hour) or the feeding tube (one day). Luckily nobody told me about this until afterwards. It was a good thing they didn’t—it was another point in time I would have just lost it. Still, my mind is haunted by “what could’ve been’s”—what if they took out either of those? I’d have to sit there for a day and watch my mom die as they starved her. What the hell is wrong with these sick bastards?

She slowly, but surely, began to recover day by day. She graduated out of the ICU and to a hospital room—which felt like the best graduation in the world. And further to a rehab facility, where she slowly learned to walk, talk, and perform small functions again.

A miracle had occurred.

I remember crying the day my grandma told me the story of how she made breadsticks. It was one of the only times while all this happened that everything seemed so real. I just imagined seeing my mom in the kitchen at the rehab center, wearing a chef’s hat and rolling the dough with supervision, happily and innocently making breadsticks how she had cooked every meal for years. It’s shocking when life confronts you with moments when you remember what you previously took for granted. It’s shocking when life reminds you of how fragile strong people can be.

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New Year’s vacation and my birthday, the last photographed events before my mom’s accident

My mom still doesn’t remember what happened or what it was like when she was in the coma. It’s painful to see her get frustrated when she can’t remember events, names, faces or stutter when you know she’s trying to say something quickly in the moment and it overwhelms her system. Her case gives unique insight into how the human brain works. She remembers emotional events like weddings better than meals and everyday events. Certain memories, times, people get supplanted for others. Individuals are still there, but occupy different roles. Her mind can revert to 1978, then to 1993, then to a patched-together version of the present day, and rifle between without warning.

She’s never afraid to ask questions—who is that? What happened to (that relative that passed away)? The hardest thing is to watch her tear up when she realizes that people like her beloved godmother have died in the past few years and she has to experience it all over again, like it just happened. Even hearing that people she disliked pass away still elicits a reaction of profound sadness and loss.

My mom’s an exceptional conversationalist, when engaged. She usually prefers to sit and watch, but it’s amazing what a little scotch can do. Taking care of her has taught all of us the virtues of patience, simplicity, and gratitude.

Most importantly, she taught the value that no life is worthless.

This decade has not happened as I nor anyone imagined. I’ve spent so many hours of it thinking about what it would be like if things went differently—of how my mom with all her faculties would react to current events, or changes in my life or the times.

Most importantly, I’m grateful she’s still with us. I talked to her on the phone this morning, and towards the end of the conversation she said “I’m so glad we got a chance to talk…and probably more glad than you.”

I smiled and told her, “I don’t know about that”.

Here’s what the State of the Union should have been

I wasn’t planning on watching the State of the Union this evening but every year I always do in the same way I don’t plan on drinking 3 sakebombs in a row on my birthday and then wonder how I woke up on the bathroom floor of the sushi bar.

The entire event is theatre. What was intended to be a written address to Congress outlining detailed policy proposals turned into a grand televised and streamed spectacle where you walk in and shake selected hands, the audience rises and falls depending on if they agree, and you’re allowed to bring a few people to point to in the audience next to your wife for maximum political impact. I mean, come on, what other speech could possibly be so important that if a bomb hits the building they leave someone out of the audience on purpose to keep the country going?

yes folks, we left this guy behind tonight.  the President’s got some huge, brass balls

The State of the Union is a speech that’s written for everyone to agree with. As a result, it’s meaningless. It’s not an instruction to Congress—it’s just a note saying “the kids are all right”. And it’s stupid they release it beforehand. If I was President, I’d spring it on people in real time. No teleprompter, one hand-written copy.

Ok maybe typed. I can’t read my own handwriting and I don’t want to embarrass myself on national TV (any more than I already would).

Hmm.

That’s a novel idea.

What’s stopping me from giving a State of the Union address someday?

Why don’t I just get elected President?

Such a speech would probably go just like this:

Good evening America and assembled Congress.

I am proud to report that our country is stable and healthy. While others around the world rise and fall, America remains eternally vibrant and strong.

The fact that we are not in consistent agreement on every matter is a good thing. I won’t take your time tonight to express platitudes that placate. If I wanted to be liked, I’d do stand-up.

Enough about me. This speech is not about me or what I would do. It’s about you. It’s about you contacting your member of Congress and advising them on how this country should run. No matter what happens, the power of this nation resides amongst its people.

I speak to a country that’s at a crossroads tonight.

Many issues face our nation. I’ll begin on the external front.

Our military is stationed around the world to act as a force of good amongst a troubled and dangerous globe. They perform a difficult task—the highest task—and we hold them in the highest gratitude for our service. As we begin to draw down current engagements, we must remind ourselves to engage in the interest of America, our interests, and our allies. And we must ensure our veterans are taken care of upon returning home. I ask that Congress fully funds the appropriate measures to revamp our system of veteran healthcare and transition into civilian life—so no hero is forgotten.

There exist governments around the world on nearly every continent that are in the business of systematically oppressing their people. North Korea. Iran. Venezuela. Zimbabwe. These governments have held onto power for too long. They have blood of innocents on their hands—and they insist on threatening America, our allies, our interests, and their neighbors.

Tonight, I’m announcing that the United States will support any and all legitimate efforts within our interests to begin the process of regime change in these countries. We will not allow countries in the 21st century to deny their citizens the basic rights that we enjoy—as humans and as Americans. To any evil empire that continues to denigrate its people: your days are numbered.

I ask Congress to fund appropriate measures to evaluate the democratic health of the aforementioned countries and any other nation that similarly violates human rights and dignity.

Terrorism is still a real global threat. From Chechnya to Gaza, Nairobi to New Delhi, Islamic extremists and evincers of the worst of humanity continue to wreak havoc and threaten global stability. We cannot—we will not—allow any individual or group—rogue or regime-supported—to snuff out innocent life.

I ask Congress to use all reasonable resource and collaboration to supporting the capture and elimination of these groups. We found and eliminated Osama bin Laden to the benefit of the world. It is not beyond the capability of us or our allies to snuff out any similar harbingers of evil.

The global economy is still reeling from the after-effects of recent events. We have all learned the lesson that we cannot spend money where none exists, borrow money to cover our losses, live outside of our reasonable means, and use government power to enrich corporate wealth. Charity begins at home.

I ask Congress to review the spending of each and every government agency—beginning with congressional and executive staff. I also ask Congress to begin a comprehensive review of every future liability and mandate—starting with Social Security. In a final request on this topic, I ask Congress to support the transition of Social Security and retirement programs for the next generation into private accounts tied directly to individual contribution. There is no reason why Americans should not be allowed to determine the course of their retirement. We cannot tax future generations—our children and grandchildren—into oblivion to fund our current generation. Our young generation should not be a bank—they should be our investment. I will address more reforms for the next generation later in this message. Acts like Medicare and Social Security designed in context decades in the past have run well beyond their intended means—to the point where they now burden and ignore those they are intended to help most.

One of these outdated ideas that has grown well beyond its means or intent is our tax code. Americans—families, small businesses, students, retirees—should be able to prepare their own taxes without outside assistance. We must create a new system of taxation—not based upon penalty, but based upon contribution.

Tonight, I ask Congress to eliminate the existing tax code, deductions included and replace it with a flat tax of 15% for individuals, small businesses, and corporations. Not only will our country receive record revenues, our businesses will be able to operate freely. We can foster a new generation of entrepreneurship, cementing America as the place to take innovative ideas and make them into reality.

Healthcare is a major struggle for many Americans. Our current system provides high-quality care—but at a premium many Americans cannot afford. Many young people don’t want healthcare and won’t pay for it as a result. They especially don’t want to pay for expensive plans that are forced to include conditions that either don’t affect them or they don’t need. Here’s how to lower healthcare costs: instead of restricting a young Californian to the choice of purchasing from just 5 providers in their state—allow them to purchase from across state lines. Knock down state barriers on healthcare and let companies compete. Let insurance providers offer a plan for a 30 year old (catastrophe coverage and yearly physicals), not a 70 year old (hospice care, gout, and dialysis). Give American universities an incentive to develop new, cost-effective treatments to replace expensive, increasingly-common ones.

I ask Congress to eliminate restrictions for all non-military government employees to obtain private insurance. I also ask Congress to allow Americans to purchase a la carte health insurance from the provider of their choice.

Returning to young Americans—we have an education system that is not hitting the mark. It is not the fault of our teachers or our students—it is the fault of onerous requirements and bureaucracy that our education system is not the force it once was. It is not too late. I ask Congress to encourage the Department of Education to decentralize and focus on a state-based education system—eliminating all federal curriculum requirements. We have 50 states in our great Union—50 laboratories for innovation. We want to inspire young people and teach them logic and values—not burden them with tests and reduce them to headcounts. We want to empower good teachers who love to teach—not reward incompetent administrators. Most importantly of all—we shouldn’t allow the government to make educational decisions for our families and young people. I ask Congress to empower families to choose the source of their child’s education—so we can create an educational system that becomes the envy of the world.

We are a nation of immigrants. We are also a nation of law-abiding citizens. We want to encourage the immigration of global citizens who bring hard work, values, and a love for our country to the table. We do not want to empower criminals, terrorists, lawbreakers, or those with a disdain for our country to enter. We also want to ensure that those being persecuted in their homeland have a safe shelter from tyrannical governments.

Therefore, I ask Congress to secure our borders and to overhaul our immigration system—to encourage innovators and the aspirational to come to America and stay—weaving another fiber into our rich American tapestry. I also ask Congress to ensure that those who have attempted to enter and become a part of our country legally take precedence over those who have not. Our modern-day Ellis Island immigrant is not a huddling mass, it is a highly-educated person who wishes to further their education at an American university. Let us not turn these people away from Liberty’s door.

As our hardworking immigrants show, America is a beacon of hope to a turbulent and troubled world. Our two-hundred-thirty-eight-year-old experiment in creating a representative government of the people, by the people, and for the people, ensuring the God-given rights of humanity, has succeeded. It is both humbling and awe-inspiring—and countries around the world continue to look towards our Constitution and system of government as inspiration.

Our strength lies not in the ability of our government to coerce or our physical might. It lies in a family that comes together every evening to share a meal. It lies in a young person taking care of his disabled sibling. It lies in a WWII veteran who travels each year to visit the memorials of his fallen comrades. It lies in a parent praying with their child before bed. It lies in our ability as Americans to meet every challenge, survive every obstacle, and persevere through every hardship.

May God bless you—and may God bless America.

I have to thank President Obama and the nice Republican lady with all the kids for speaking so poorly that they made me take notes on how to make my future State of the Union address that much better.

And time’s running out.  I only have 15 years to practice.

stages of wyatt3

The real meaning of YOLO

I don’t go down easy.

(Ahem…LADIES.)

By that I mean, I don’t get sick that often, and thankfully *knocks on wood table so hard I break knuckle* my bones and everything are unbroken and unscathed.

But this Monday has me rethinking all that.

First, I was driving up to a 6-way stop sign.

City planners who just read this collectively felt a twinge of angina.

the widowmaker

It’s literally the worst idea ever. 4-way stop signs are tough enough as it is, making sure that each side goes in-turn and evenly.

Humans weren’t at all meant to meet at an intersection shaped like an asterisk.

You just kind of have to go when the person next to you goes. Oh yeah, btw, it’s 4 lanes on each side and there’s no defined lane markers (added thrill!)

I didn’t have a buddy vehicle to cross this enormous hexagon with, so I waited until it was my turn and the person across went, checking copiously around me to make sure everyone else stayed put. A pickup truck was ahead of me and had a huge wooden plank coming out of the bed, and the thought of that thing flying through my windshield if I got too close flashed through my head as I anticipated how  I’d have to duck. I normally don’t think about Final-Destination-type of scenarios and got creeped out so I let them go way ahead and kept my distance.

Nearing halfway through what felt like the Atacama Desert, I spot a new BMW 6 speeding at me, leaving its companion vehicle at the intersection. The car was probably going at least 45-50 mph and clearly didn’t stop at the sign whatsoever.

At this point your brain goes into a weird mode of fight or flight. Do I try to speed through and hope that physics saves me? Or do I hit the brakes and hope to GAWD they do too?

I opted for the latter and I was 90% positive we would hit. Things flew off my seats and out of consoles and I mashed my shoe onto the brake pedal. The convertible driver was not slowing down NEARLY fast enough. Despite the speed reduction the front of their car would be destroyed and I’d have severe tire and suspension damage from being hit at a diagonal.

By some miracle, we didn’t hit.

I stared directly at the other driver, some crazy woman in a weave, who just stared. No apology, no sheepish grin, no wave, just a mugshot stare.

I yelled as I laid on the horn but at least there was comfort in knowing I lived to see another day.

It took at least another mile and a half for my blood pressure to return to normal as my chest was pained from whatever chemicals flooded through it to brace for impact.

YOLO comes to mind. I won YOLO because I was still living and wasn’t wheeled away from that intersection in a stretcher.

I hate that YOLO has been appropriated from “taking advantage of every day, getting the most out of it, having more appreciation for friends and family around you because this may be the last time you see them” to “let’s get fucked UPPPPPP”.

In fact, the more often someone says YOLO the less they act like they actually live once. Endangering your life by getting crossfaded on the daily is not living—it’s acting like you live twice or thrice or whatever the title of that James Bond movie was.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing that stuff though. Drink, smoke, do whatever—but don’t spend more of your life in an altered state than not.

The second dice roll today came in the form of dinner.

I walked into Whole Foods craving salmon. I was in a brain food mood and dammit, salmon’s the best.

Unfortunately they were out, so I opted for a pre-made turkey/avocado/bacon/spinach sandwich. If you haven’t tried it, it tastes absolutely freakin’ amazing and I don’t understand how anyone could enjoy a plain ol BLT after having this.

I bought it, starvingly tore it open and began to om-nom as I walked out.

Something didn’t taste right.

It tasted—old. Stale. Musty.

I looked down and noticed the avocado and the turkey had both turned black and splotchy.

GREAT, I thought. I survived a near-accident today only to get severe food poisoning.

Luckily I was close to UCLA Medical so I could crawl there if necessary, vomiting and shitting my way in (which I think is how Mischa Barton gets into clubs these days).

I went back in and they quickly and kindly replaced it with a fresh one.

I wondered: we gamble with our lives so much every day. Getting out of bed. Getting in the shower. Walking out the front door.

But before I descend into an agoraphobic’s fevered anxiety wet dream—it’s worth noticing that yes, anything could happen at any time and we or the people around us could be gone in the blink of a lazy eye (faster than a normal blink!)

We can’t let that concept cripple us. We can only let it empower us.

Yes, you only live once.

So make the most of it. Don’t wait to reconnect with someone tomorrow because they might not have a tomorrow. Don’t wait to apologize to someone later because there might not be a later.

YOLO means “get off your ass and do it now—before it’s too late”.

Start your book. Call your mother. Text your ex-friend. Save for your vacation. Lift a weight.

Or, just sit on your ass and get hammered/stoned/whatever.

Just know you’re not living once.

You’re not living at all.

Something Something New Year

Why can’t every day be like New Year’s Day? There’s no traffic, parking is free, everyone’s optimistic and relaxed, there’s football on TV, and that gentle morning tummy grumble from champagne and snacks.

My resolution this year?

To make all of you better people.

And to start: New Year’s is stupid and so are you.

Why choose one day out of the year to make resolutions to lose weight/save more money/stop killing prostitutes…

…according to an arbitrary calendar?

Every day should be an opportunity to wake up and start fresh. September 18th is no different from January 1 (and in fact, it’s likely a little warmer, so your resolution to shuffle your chub in too-tight shorts to lose a few lbs will be easier).

Every day is an opportunity to start going to the gym.

Or lose weight.

Or reconnect with your parents.

Or be more complimentary.

Or be less negative.

Or start a new hobby.

Or be open to a relationship.

Because you know why?

Every day is one less day you get.

One less day of health.

One less day of family.

One less day of friends.

One less day of a job.

One less day in a home.

One less day of freedom.

Tomorrow could change your life forever.

So why don’t you beat it to the punch?

JoAnn fabrics is my personal hell

Sometimes, you just need one thing you can’t find anywhere else.

Today, this one thing was a zipper.

It’s very simple. I had a zipper that broke off in my hand. Literally, the metal separated and it crumbled apart like a week-old cookie.

“I can fix this!” I thought to myself, the beginning of every horrid imbroglio I get myself into.

I looked up zipper repair kits online. Expensive, hard to find, and the shipping alone cost 176x than the value of this little eyelet of metal.

*shakes fist* damn you YKK and your evil monopoly!

People complain all the time about Big Oil or Big pHARMa (which is supposed to be cute because it has “harm” in it and the whole point of medicine is “do no harm” but some people are too stupid to understand that medicine must operate with a profit motive in order to work in any modern economy so instead they automatically level blame on drug companies who make lifesaving medicines because being stupid and conspiratorial is apparently far easier than even brushing with the truth) and seemingly neglect Big Zipper.

They’ve got us by the teeth.

I sighed heavily as I realized what this meant.

I have to go to a store to get this.

I’m not averse to going to a store to buy something. I prefer it to online shopping because I get to feel it in person and make sure it’s the right one and actually take it home so I can check the box on my list instead of ordering something, sitting around for 2 days, pacing my hallway, cleaning my kitchen for the 3rd time, biting all my nails off, watching Golden Girls reruns, and finally greeting the poor USPS lady at the door in my skivvies to tear apart the enormous box that my tiny item will arrive in and find out it’s the wrong thing.

That having been said, I like going to a store to buy things when I have to buy a LOT of things. There’s nothing sadder than the single, desperate purchase, because who needs to constantly be reminded of their ex?

So, I fired up the family truckster and barreled out the door in search of zipperdom.

First stop was Walgreen’s. They carry multiple sizes of tampons, sewing kits, and clothes that nobody should wear even if they have a gaping wound that requires a tourniquet. But a zipper repair kit they did not have.

Next stop was Home Depot. If you’ve ever been to Home Depot at 9AM on a Saturday morning, you’ll know the feeling of having to avoid playing Plinko with the day laborers physically crowding around every driveway in and out of the place. I happen to be darker than half of them anyway, so they never approach my car in search of brief employment. It’s simultaneously a relief and a disappointment—like finally hooking up with a microwaved bagel.

I like to consolidate my errands, so I thought I’d pick up a plant I was looking for on the same trip.

This turned out to be a grave mistake.

First of all, the garden section was manned by a woman who didn’t know where anything was. I asked where the vines were and she didn’t understand. I pointed at a small one sitting down and mouthed out the word again: “creeping fig”. She told me to find someone else.

Look Svetlana, I know that you’re cozy in your retail job and this capitalist paycheck is the best thing to happen since your home Slavic country Balkanized, but for chrissakes, can they at least give you a basic map of the garden section instead of you telling customers to basically piss off?

I wandered back to where the plants started looking like the ones I was looking for and it was a ghost town. I stood there, alone, on this gray Fall day in this cold, desolate, cement plain surrounded by dying foliage.

Help came in the form of a cropped-gray-hair miniature lesbian (SO much cuter than the full-sized ones!) pushing enough palm trees to rebuild Dubai.

“Excuse me? I’m looking for something,” I patiently asked.

The know-nothing woman up front looked at me from across the yard and gestured wildly towards kd-lang-divided-by-2. “There! There’s help!”

I didn’t think that looking for a vine (not the brief video kind) would turn into something that resembled a Somali rescue mission. I leaned over and asked for help again, a little more loudly and forcefully.

It harumphed at me. I took that as a good sign and that I wasn’t confusing it with a wildly unattractive garden gnome.

I walked back to the vines and asked what would grow and climb up a trellis the fastest.

“It’s winter. Nothing’s gonna grow,” was the incredibly enlightening response I got from the ewok.

This is not the answer I needed.

“So, will bougainvillea or creeping fig work better for this purpose?” I asked, hoping to lead at least to some sort of response.

“Bougainvillea won’t climb,” was the response, meaning that this woman A) didn’t know shit about plants and B) this was yet another fruitless endeavor on L’Affaire d’Zipper.

bitches don’t know bout my bougainvillea

I shrugged my shoulders and walked inside, only to find that no, this was not a place where zippers were sold, that I should go to Michael’s since it’s a craft store.

At this point I realized that I couldn’t just give up now. This ceased being a shopping trip.

This was now a quest.

I drove myself across town to Michael’s, where I was at this point absolutely certain I would find my glorious zipper and cease this seemingly endless journey.

They say LA is a car town, and “they” are full of crap. I pulled into the Michael’s underground garage and found that not a few, but all the spots were Compact. And not the ones they mark as “Compact” yet you could still back an F350 dualie into—I mean “I feel bad for people parked on either side of me because I will have to climb over their cars like a ball pit to escape my vehicle” compact.

With some crossed fingers and careful maneuvering, I lubed myself into the spot and up the escalator to a BRAND NEW Michael’s, which excited me about as much as finding out there was a natural disaster in Bangladesh.

As I walked in, I was immediately taken aback by this gawdawful array of crafting supplies. It’s nauseating to be surrounded by 10ft-high piles of vajazzling rhinestones.

I finally located help in the frame department to ask where the zipper repair material were. I can clearly sew myself a wardrobe here, so this should not be difficult to find.

“We don’t carry zippers,” she flatly said.

What the hell kind of craft store doesn’t carry zippers? Do people not zip anymore? If a jacket zipper breaks, are they supposed to safety pin themselves together like an aspiring hobo?

I asked her where they do have zippers. She offered Joann’s Fabrics, which I thought was the same damn type of store as this, but apparently I’m not in-the-know with the esoteric habits of the crafting community.

“Where is JoAnn’s?” I asked.

“Porter Ranch. Oh, and Riverside!”

To those of you in LA: I’m at the Studio City Michael’s (B). Porter Ranch (A) is a half-hour away. Riverside (C) is an hour and a half away.

If this bitch thinks I’m going to drive that far to get a damned zipper then I may as well squeeze my body between the two cars I parked by and hope my lungs collapse.

I Yelped a Joann’s Fabric a mile away (stupid bitch) and exhaustedly parked my car and trudged in, shoulders slumped.

I looked left and right upon entering. Fabric. Fabricfabricfabric. Reams and rolls and spools of suffocating patterned ugly horrible fabric that isn’t fit to be used as a serial killer’s choking method of choice lined the walls of this coffinous dystopia.

I located a saleslady to ask where they had the zippers. She gestured vaguely behind her and grunted, like a bear warning you it just excreted putrefied salmon bones out of its furry behind.

Finally—this was the Valhalla I was waiting for—ZIPPERLAND!

Relief combined with cold sweat combined with relief combined with confusion over this Byzantine naming and sorting system overcame me like a Filipino tsunami, causing me to unsteadily crouch and hold onto the zipper rack like the last Titanic lifevest. I ran my fingers over the variety of zippers, slightly disgusted that they make this many options for something as simple as a damn zipper.

Behind me, I heard a voice. Not the voice of an angel, more like the voice of an angel’s mother-in-law, hastily explaining to some poor bastard on the other end of a cellphone the need to make sweaters for her dogs immediately otherwise they wouldn’t be ready for Christmas and they don’t want to leave “Pumpkin” out this year because they’re going to “Mom’s House” and I’m just hoping, praying this woman is an assassin calling out a hit and using code words and not seriously planning her day around fondling spools of chartreuse fabric and pondering the right time to sew clothing for canines.

But even the wails of this post-menopausal could not drown out my sheer delight at finally finding a zipper. I decided to buy two, because 1) they were $2.50 (which was helpfully discovered after a solid 20 minutes of trying to decode the pricing system with the correlating code names and numbers, because apparently the Voynich Manuscript isn’t difficult enough) and 2) there was no chance in hell I was ever coming back to this place ever again, even if it was my best friend’s dying wish to (in which case I’d just go ahead and pinch the IV off).

This place is officially my personal hell. Women who sound and look like my evil lunch monitor of childhood (IM ONTO YOU LIZ) milling around decorative buttons, isolating me as the sole testosterone-producer in this island of misfit women whose kids and likely husband have left the nest, leaving them bereft of direction in life and in search of happiness and meaning amongst this leaky-ceilinged, yarn-webbed coven.

I had to get the hell out of here before what’s left of my hormones was sucked out of me, leaving me as nothing more than a dessicated shell caught somewhere between aisles 6 and 7 to be memorialized in taffeta and puff paint.

I threw myself towards the front of the store. Victory was a credit card slot away.

It was also 7 people in front of me away, because having two slow cashiers with tremors was the cherry on this dookie sundae that had been served so graciously to me.

Say what you want about JoAnn’s—they know their target audience well. This checkout line was stocked to the brim with all kinds of candy and chocolates, in quantities enough to give Willy Wonka a coronary—a veritable Diabetic’s Delight (Paula Deen’s new cookbook!)

Nothing could deter the end of my quest. There’s never a story where the hero comes back to fame and fortune after completing the journey and gets hit by a truck along the way, so I’ll be damned if anything will stop me from my promised land of milf’n’honey.

The cashier asks if I have a JoAnn’s card, which qualifies them to be more of a comic relief than any character Eddie Murphy has ever played in a movie.

The last of our interaction was whether or not I wanted a bag. I didn’t know what was more humiliating—being caught walking out of a JoAnn’s Fabrics or being caught walking out of a JoAnn’s Fabrics with a souvenir. I opted for the latter—after all, I have to keep the paparazzi guessing whether or not I got myself a dazzling fall skein of Vanna White yarn or a hot glue gun so I could try laminating my breathing passages shut.

The zipper was gloriously installed after ditching the stupid pliers method and just cutting into each side of the teeth and sliding it on.

Dante said the lowest, most central circle of hell was frozen—making it more terrifying than all others. Clearly, he never visited a JoAnn’s Fabrics.

experience the sheer terror

Who wore it better? (Weave Edition)

^even the world’s most beautiful woman can’t escape weave damage

I don’t like getting haircuts because I don’t like having to wait a week for it to look its best and then watch it slowly decline til it resembles the yard of a Hoarder castmember.

It’s a universal part of the first-world human condition to get a bad haircut from time to time. And it’s not like it’s a surprise when it happens. You can detect that “oh…shit” point in the middle of your haircut where you know they’ve just hacked off the wrong thing.

Also–I don’t know about you, but I’m uncomfortable paying someone more than, say, $8 to cut my hair. Before graduation, I spent $60 and damn near keeled over at the front register–which would have made my diploma-accepting experience the next day a bit more of a Weekend-at-Bernie’s affair.

There’s nothing sadder than having to bid a trusted haircutter adieu because they’ve drifted into the dreaded “comfort zone”–where no matter what you request, how many pictures of Brad Pitt you take with you and feverishly point at, they’ll always give you the same haircut they’ve given you since 1998. You feel like you’re locked in some Faustian bargain with them where you’re compelled to visit them forever. And that you’ve cheated on them if you go to someone else (it doesn’t help when I return a few months later and you ask “where ya been?” with a fake-casual tone).

That feeling after a haircut when your head feels 30 lbs lighter is disturbing. Hair only weighs as much as a curvy Nicole Richie–so why does it feel as if you’ve removed a local river rock distributor from the top of your head?

There’s no stranger feeling than that lightheaded (the good kind) relief and the devil’s itchiness afterwards because little pieces of hair are dusted across your neck and other strange places (how the hell did it travel down to my lower back?) There’s no remedy for this. You could get a haircut in a burka and a wind tunnel and yet still feel like chiggers are doing the Texas two-step across your décolletage.

You know a haircut is good when it looks good two months afterwards and it didn’t have to “grow out” for it to be socially acceptable. My last one is like that and I’ve been hemming and hawing for weeks over shearing it.

Down to brass tacks tho: who wore their weave better?

I eat sick people food…

Somehow, my favorite foods are consistently associated with sickness.

Ginger ale…the airplane staple? Probably one of my favorite drinks, and one used to quell the wretches.

Saltine crackers…the soup consigliore? The perfect snack, and also a staple for stomach flu sufferers.

Chicken noodle soup…the broth of barons? A sublime soup, and also used for every cough, runny nose, itchy throat, and every godawful symptom this side of yellow fever.

So somehow, all these delicious food staples are associated with severe illness. I also find them freaking delicious, and get weird looks from people when I order them.

“oh…are you…SICK?!” they say, accusatorily, as if I was Patient Zero or something.

don’t mind me, just throwin some shade

No…I just happen to love carbonated ginger, carbohydrates & salt, and chicken soup with carb noodles.

Basically, I love carbs.

Suck it, Atkins!

I was Paleo before Paleo was Paleo

I don’t know who these weirdos are who hijacked something called “a healthy diet” and called it Paleo. It’s like a bunch of cult members whose founder got arrested for fondling underage brides needed to find a new hobby.

This is and always has been my diet:

1) Avoid lots of processed foods.
2) Eat fresh stuff like fruits and veggies.
3) Meat is not the enemy. Eat diverse kinds of meats.
4) Sweets are treats.
5) Move around a lot for healthy living.

Simple, right?

As a result, I’ve never been out of shape or overweight or obese or childhood obese or suffered any negative health consequences.

It’s also easy to follow because eating fast foods or crappy foods don’t tend to make your tummy feel too good. A cake may look delicious, but eating half of it is not worth the cramps after.

damn you GLaDOS

Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed the fact that while low-fat, high-fat, high-carb, low-carb, high-protein, and other ridiculous fad diets have come and go, I’ve found the trick to eating right.

Now re-read the five steps above.

Tape it to the fridge you open up too much and stare at, aimlessly, then close.  Tape it to your rearview mirror and run over your neighbor’s kids.  Tape it to the “Congratulations on your bridal shower, you need one, not a husband but a shower!” card you give your niece.  Tape it on your other niece.

Unfortunately, after Atkins died and everyone was all about whole grains and fiber and Jamie Lee Curtis poop yogurt (I feel she’s earning more from that gig than any of her Trading Places co-stars are these days), the environment was ripe for something.

Anything.

A movement.

And after we binged on all that probiotic macrobacterial eat-invisible-organisms crap, we did have a huge movement.

A huge bowel movement.

And Paleo was birthed.

The demographic? Crazy, bored housewives (this is so much better than re-Swiffering the living room for the 18th time today!) combined with Beta-who-desperately-wish-to-be-alpha males (come at me…uhhh…bra?)

Here’s their warped and wholly unscientific logic: our ancestors ate what they could forage for, like wild game and berries and such. Grain was not a staple good because they hadn’t settled down and become agricultural—and as soon as they did, it spelled DOOM. Our bodies were not designed to process gluten and it has caused every major health problem of the last 50 years, global warming, the obesity epidemic, 9/11, and rosacea.

The cult requires that its members eat a high fat, low carb, grain-free diet. It’s like Atkins, but for retards.

And don’t you dare deviate! Deviation will bring about stomach pain, cramps, angry cramps, Midol-untouchable cramps, fatigue, depression, chronic depression, the shits, and widespread condemnation (not necessarily in that order).

Celiac’s disease is a real disease that affects approximately 0.0000001% of the population.  It means you actually can’t process grains.  Not pretend-can’t-process, not “I think my tummy hurts or maybe that’s just gas”, it means you’re literally allergic to gluten.

The enormous majority of Paleodes (Paleo-chodes) are not.  It would be like if a bunch of people ran up to a kid in a wheelchair and claimed their legs hurt and they needed one too.

Like the shittiest transformer ever, this movement combined with two other movements: Crossfit (aerobics for people still stupid enough to buy toe-shoes) and the Gluten-Free diet (a diet originally for those with Celiac’s disease which has since been hijacked by stupid women who get diet advice from Gwyneth Paltrow).

laughing at your poverty!

Quickly, the movement has transformed from diet to lifestyle to cult.  Instead of miracles, there’s weight loss testimonials.  You’re coerced into getting other family members involved.  Any outsider is denigrated.  It even has its own bread and wine sacraments: kale and bacon.

Like with any movement where people with zero medical knowledge pretend to have endless medical knowledge, a lot of people are probably gonna die—which in this case, is a good thing.

Hopefully, like our cavemen ancestors, the weak and the stupid will be killed off, leaving only the strong and intelligent. After all, we need people to start the next fad diet in 5 years when they find out that, indeed, bacon kills you.

Have you tweeted your Congressman today?

*scroll down for hot updates.  I would put them here but if you didn’t read the story yet then it’s a spoiler alert.  P.S. Walter White dies*

You know what you don’t hear anymore?

“Write your Congressman!”

It was always about oil drilling or war bonds or some similarly meaningless issue. Apparently the Capitol consisted of a few representatives and an army of mail sorters, and people from around the country would pen stern and, in exceptional circumstances, congratulatory messages to their congressmen (and that one chick who voted against WWII). These were the days when sexts required a professional photographer and “anthrax” was something just the squares in science knew about.

Then at some point in recent history it became “call your Congressman!” Yeah, like your congressman has nothing better to do than to shoot the shit with you over the goddamn rotary-dial.

Obviously this strategy was short lived–there’s one woman at the Capitol Hill switchboard who has been there since 1953 and her rheumatoid arthritis and early-onset Parkinson’s put a crimp on how fast she can plug you into Representative Grifter’s office.

Now, you can tweet your Congressman. This scares many people and rightfully so–after all, Rep. Tony ViennaSausage could be on the other end and expect you to nipslip your way into conversing with him. “NO DICE”, says this constituent, who is likely tweeting in a tanktop as we speak.

Which brings me to this: I live in LA in Henry Waxman’s district. Outside of having a comical nose, Monseiur Tussaud and I have nothing in common, so I am essentially a valueless constituent to him.

But back in Fresno, I live between two representatives: Jeff Denham and Devin Nunes. They’re a pretty straightforward and straight-shooting tag-team of legislative liberal lambasters and I love them for it.

Which is why my tiny heart sank when my attention was brought to the following comments from Rep. Nunes:

Rep. Devin Nunes had some choice words to describe some of his Republican colleagues on Monday, referring to them as “Lemmings with suicide vests.”
“They have to be more than just a lemming. Because jumping to your death is not enough,” said Nunes.
“You have this group saying somehow if you’re not with them, you’re with Obamcare. If you’re not with their plan — exactly what they want to do, you’re with Obamcare. It’s getting a little old.”

What the hell, Devin? I thought we were cool! Why you gotta go around and talk, for lack of a better term, shit?

I immediately tweeted Rep. Nunes and I’m eagerly awaiting a response. Maybe it was a misquote. Maybe it was explainable frustration.

20131002-024614.jpg

Or maybe it’s indicative of deep-seated feelings that mean we have to look for Rep. Nunes’s replacement.

This is like when you finally visit the girl’s house who you’ve taken on a few dates and invited to your place and know all about her and have completely fallen for and you discover her cat-children–all 17 of them. It’s troubling and there’s little explanation unless they belong to her agoraphobic 70-year-old spinster duplex-mate.

But you see the kitty food bowls in the girl’s bedroom.

The cat hair coating any clothing a shade darker than Navajo white.

The “Have A Meowry Christmas!” photos on the wall.

It all looks dim.

Dimmer than your average congressional representative.

20131002-024638.jpg

 

UPDATE: *bursts into empty room*

It’s been a few days and still no response from no-show Nunes, whom I politely tweeted again to no avail.

He did, however, release this response:

I wanted to share my views with you on the government shutdown. I strongly oppose ObamaCare, and I have voted to repeal or defund it around forty times. I also have argued that the Republicans’ current political strategy would result in a government shutdown but would not succeed in dismantling ObamaCare – essentially the worst of both worlds.

I will be discussing the shutdown today on America’s News HQ around 10:30 am PST and on Justice with Judge Jeanine around 6:25 pm PST – both on Fox News. For more information about my thoughts on this issue, please see the NewsMax article here, the Fresno Bee blogpost here, and my recent appearance on CNN here.

Translation: I fucked up and shouldn’t have called my colleagues “lemmings with suicide vests”.  However, I refuse to man up and admit it and instead choose to hide behind a few articles I vaguely contributed to where I dodge the issue completely so I still get favorable media coverage.  I promise I’m a conservative, now give me money because I’m running for re-election!

Is the Congressman blind to how his comments have been received?  They’re nothing but automatic fodder used by the media to pummel his own side.  They distract completely from Rep. Nunes’s ‘supposed’ stated goal: repealing Obamacare.

A smart man wouldn’t have said them in the first place.  A man with a lapse in judgment would immediately apologize, retract, and explain.

A coward would run, hide, and distract.

Memo to Rep. Nunes:  God hates a coward.