Actually, it IS Rocket Science

Voice of unreason

I have a tendency to make unruly assumptions about highly… … …ruly things.  Like how I realized once around 5 years old that I had failed to return a copy of Harold and The Purple Crayon to the North Philadelphia Public Library on time that I was without a doubt going to jail as soon as they tracked me down (which they were no doubt doing on a scale comparable of a manhunt which one could relate to that of  the movie The Fugitive).  Or how I thought that by taking your hands off the wheel of a car you were driving meant immediate death (you guys, my mom tortured me on that one.  I should really donate a blog entry to that alone just to get her back).  Or the time I found a spot on my thigh that was absolutely, certainly cancer which I estimated gave myself two months to live before ever getting it checked out.

Oh wait, I didn’t discuss that part yet? I prepare myself for the worst-case scenario.  Always.  By my twisted logic, by doing so I can’t be let down.  If you start from rock bottom, there is no “downhill from there.”  Get it?  Brilliant.

The only drawbacks are the ulcers and constant indigestion.

One time, around 7, my granddad underwent a relatively minor surgery when I overheard my mom and aunt talking about the bill, only I didn’t pick up on the fact that they were talking about said bill.  My aunt took a look at the paperwork, looked over at my mom, and begrudgingly admitted, “Oh man, Dad’s gonna die.”

This is how fast my brain shuffles through Kübler-Ross’ stages of grief and loss:  within 5 seconds I was fully ready to get my family through the loss of their father.  I didn’t want to believe that I was losing a grandfather to outpatient surgery, but I was so fired up about it that I was sure I was going to single-handedly keep this family from falling apart.  I’d deal with bargaining and depression later.  It was time to be strong and take up the family ax.  Because there’s a time of change, and when that comes, dying is a piece of all dyin’, and bearin’ is a piece of all bearin’, an’ bearin’ an’ dyin’ is two pieces of the same thing. An’ then things ain’t so lonely anymore. An’ then a hurt don’t hurt so bad.

And then someone rolls their eyes at the terrible Steinbeck reference.

My brain coarsely evaluated the statement my aunt had just made.  “Dad’s gonna die.”  Did you catch that??  GONNA.  Meaning it hadn’t happened yet!  There was still a shot at redemption and miraculous recovery!   We still had a chance of saving the family patriarch.  Was it too late to pound on his chest and loudly will him to live, dammit?  Because that shit totally works.  I’m pretty sure I saw it on L.A. Law once and maybeeeeee a MacGyver here and there. America.

I interjected and in my most somber yet courageous effort became the rock I needed to be for my soon-to-be-orphaned family members.  And I could do this.  I was doing this.  This is being done.  By me.  This was the mantra I used to tell myself before I realized how stupid it is (side note:  I actually still use it quite frequently.  It’s my own personal Rocky theme, and shit works, yo).

I physically pushed myself directly in front of my family and said in my “strong voice” (the voice you use to tell a stranger you will NOT go with them) “Now, wait.  Just hold on.  We don’t know that for certain yet.  He might make it through.  We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Can you just stop for a moment and imagine your 7-year-old daughter trying desperately to be the voice of reason in a convoluted world?  Wait.  A 7-year-old daughter who has gotten her best phrases from primetime 80’s drama series?

The outcome, which I suspected would range anywhere from changes of heart and shielded tears of a new hope, surprised me.  I didn’t get the dramatic outpouring of emotional breakdown I was expecting.  Instead I got two women who immediately stopped what they were doing and looked down over at me with a look of absolute surprise and startled silence.

And then they began laughing.

Am I seeing a pattern here?

My mom immediately kneeled down so we were facing each other on the same playing field.  She pushed my hair back behind my ear (total mom thing to do.  But I still love it) and said gently:

“Aaaashlin.  Grandaddy’s not going to actually die.  I’m so sorry you thought that.   We’re speaking figuratively.  He’s going to ‘die’ when he sees the bill.  …Because Grandaddy hates money.”

Which was when I felt like a completely stupid dipshit.  Because I was ready to quit school and work full time to support this family, however necessary.  And now I realized I had magnified the issue to a disproportionate scale.

But to her credit, I think my mom saw my look of dejected sadness and proceeded to note:

“Geez.  You really thought Grandaddy was going to die??  You really handled that well.  I’m proud of you.”

Which was when I realized that I could do this.  I was doing this.  This had been done.  By me.

So there.


What I observed on my summer vacation

So yeah, you may have noticed I’ve been shirking my responsibilities here for the past several weeks.  I’ve been shirking a lot of things around here lately.  The dishes haven’t been washed, the baby severely needs changing, and there’s a smell so god-awful coming from the trash can that I’m contemplating just throwing a lit peach-mango-formaldehyde scented candle into the thing and starting fresh with a new receptacle.  But I’ve got a good reason for it.

I only had three and a half weeks off between the end of one grueling semester and the beginning of a new one.  And I thought I’d use that time by doing what my father lovingly refers to as “fiddle-farting around,” especially anywhere but somewhere that kept me on the computer for longer than an hour at a time.

It’s been tough on you guys, I know.  It’s been tough on all of us.  We’re gonna make it through this together, though.

Oh no.  You’re doing that thing.  You’re giving me that look our family cat always gave us when we came home from our annual summer trip to North Carolina.  That contemptuous fuck-off-if-you-think-I’m-going-to-let-you-back-into-my-life look.  Please don’t take a crap on the new carpet just to prove a point.  I get it.  I do.  I’m going to try not to leave you again.

You’re just lucky I didn’t board your ass.  Think about that.

While I was off I got into a couple of really great things.  But I feel that if I try explaining them to you it will turn into a stuffy slide show hour wherein you all contemplate how long it will be before your highballs get refilled and how this Long Island could use a bit (read: a LOT) more gin and goddammit what is with the maraschino cherry?  We’re not really in the 50’s anymore; booze alone would suffice.

What I will share with you is the absolute alterna-universe that I have discovered and you may have also had the opportunity to stumble upon in your life travels.  I’m speaking, of course, about the world devoid of logic that you enter into once you pass through the sliding doors of an airport.

This is a picture of the Wall Street Floor. This is not a mistake. It's actually quite fairly comparable.

This is in no way intended as a dig to airports themselves or their employees therein, I’d just like to make that clear.  Those people deserve a medal, because they have to live their professional lives knowing that they are about to encounter asshole after deranged lunatic all. damn. day.  Because something happens to people when they enter airports.  A sociological virus capable of mind control enters each traveler’s brain and changes them from a contributing member of society to a drooling Jersey Shore cast member hell-bent on jockeying for front-of-the-line status, and goddammit if they’re not going to let the world know about their most recent plight in their battle against healthcare, the stock market drop, whathaveyou in attempt to either A) make you commiserate with them about their poor, terrible lives (even if they can afford the extra couple hundred bucks to soar through the sky), or B) knock you into such annoyance-driven oblivion that you don’t even notice that they’ve rolled their oversized carry-on right past your own luggage.

Once you’ve passed through the gates of Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here security, you are ushered into a world of maniacal nonsense, driven by the multiple ass-hats behind you who are suddenly super-pissed that you have somehow managed to waste their previous 5 seconds while you try to jam your laptop back into your bag and shove your shoes back on in a fevered pace.

Once you’re out in the wilds of the various gates that you must navigate through to find where you’re going, you may be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief that the worst is behind you.  DON’T!  It’s a trap!!  Because (and this is very important, friends) as soon as you let your guard down, someone will inevitably walk right into you because they weren’t paying attention while tweeting how excited they are to finally be on their way to Can-Koooooooon!  Hollaaaaaa!  Vigilance is key.  Even if you are lucky enough to evade the beast with no eyes, you could still find yourself in the direct trajectory of the most helpful/dangerous device employed by select airport employees.  I’m talking about “The Cart.”  As in:

“…cart, please.  excuse …cart.  excuse … Please.  Please Excuse…


By the time you hear the full statement, it’s already too late.  Those are silent vectors of evil, and they’re filled with malicious knife-wielding clowns of death.  With flame-throwers.  And they all have PMDD …And ‘roid rage.  In fact, if left to their own devices, they’d go all Grand Theft Auto on you without a second thought.  Just another reason why the dutiful employees of the universal airport should have a plaque made in their honor.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, what I’m breaking this down to is the fact that once you’ve entered the lower intestines of the beast, that’s it.  You’re on your own, friend. And when you thought you had made it through the fun part of security, then you get shoved into an area that is a hyperbolic rendition of Lord of the Flies.  And you’re Piggy.

Here’s something: when I was about 10 years old I was sitting at my gate when I looked up from my Gameboy to see an old man who was casually making his way to his respective destination walk right under a fluorescent light cover that just *ploom* fell on his head.  Fell right the shit on his head.  Like, the kind of crap you watched Bob Saget make silly sounds to on America’s Funniest Home Videos to direct your attention away from the fact that he truly just experienced a possibly severe head injury.  What’s worse is that I proceeded to watch multiple people walk right past him; people who had been walking behind him and watched it happen, yet chose to ignore the event.  Some even acted pissed off that he was getting in their way.

No?  Not enough?  Okay.  Since we’re being honest.  Somehow, somewhere in my twenties, I have become a pretty big asshole.  I have.  Which means that everything I’m talking about right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have been that person before, myself.  Like I explained earlier; it’s a virus.  You can’t help getting sick from time to time.  A couple of years ago it happened when I woke up at around 4am to catch a flight and all I wanted was a goddam cup of coffee.  Just a fucking. cup. of. jesus-licking. coffee. And I stood in line, like a decent line-stander-inner.  Which was when some dumb girl totally pulled the I’m-on-the-phone-too-super-busy-Oh!-did-I-just-completely-cut-in-front-of-you?-My-bad-I’ve-got-kids-that-want-rice-krispies move.  And the expert that she was stayed on the phone so that I couldn’t point out to her that she had in fact completely thrown herself in front of me.  How convenient.

But I, too, was in the middle of something at the time.  The middle of something I was in was placing my gum into a napkin so that my coffee wouldn’t taste mentholated.  And she was obviously distracted by the riveting phone conversation she seemed to be having at 6:30 am (which was about clothing.  Let me repeat that:  a conversation at 6:30 am about CLOTHING).  And it just so happened that one of her carry-on’s was a giant open purse.  And, you know, it was within arm’s reach.

So I made sure not to discard my trash on the ground.

Oh, cut it.  It was wrapped in a napkin.  Like a little Christmas present in July.  The weird thing was I felt more upset about it than anything because I realized she would probably blame it on the kids after she finally discovered it.


People on standby don’t really get that they’re on standby a lot of times.  They’re like what I would imagine people who have died and refuse to admit it and become ghosts do like in Beetlejuice.  They think it’s a sure thing.  And they looooove to check in with the announcers.  Every 10 minutes.  I have a family that is so awesomely wired in that they know when I’m on standby and when I’ve gotten a seat- even before I board.  They gave me a crash course in patience when I was going up to visit them on standby most recently:

“Just wait.”

That’s it.  See how simple that is??  Just… you know… wait.  Don’t get bent outta shape or demand reparations.  Just chill the hell out and see what happens.  Worst case scenario, you book a hotel.  You get a free breakfast better than whatever you’d probably make for yourself and you don’t have to worry about making your bed the next morning.  AND EVERYBODY WINS.


My word count is getting dangerously close to that magic number that tells me I’m bordering on TL;DR.  If you’ve made it this far, good job; you’ve beat the system of 140 character limits and Facebook updates which limit you to about three simplistic sentences.

I’m back.  Grad school year 2; I’m all in.

S’Dill life

A couple of weeks ago a new restaurant opened near my apartment.  They say they specialize in Memphis-style barbeque, but I get pretty leery around locations that limit themselves to food that originated thousands of miles away.  Side note: this is also why I will never go anywhere that says they specialize in Cajun food if they aren’t located in Louisiana or any of its immediate surrounding states (and Texas is even pushing it at that point).

However, admittedly I am a straight up sucker for smoke-pit slow roasted anything, so before long I was looking up their menu online.  Which is when I saw it.  And believe it or not, it wasn’t even of the smoked variety.

Fried. Motherfucking. Pickles.

Holy hell, I fucking love fried pickles. Which is odd, because I really don’t like most deep-fried anything.  Fried stuff usually grosses me out, actually.  Because almost every time I eat deep-fried stuff, I think of something that can be pretty much summed up like this:

Hey guys, did you notice that around 40 seconds in the guy explains that people have a severe misinterpretation of the idea because they think it’s going to mean butter “runnin’ down their face” but then the first entire TWENTY seconds after the minute mark completely disproves his theory?

Whatever.  Fried pickles.  Love’em.  They first took off in the southern states, so it’s not surprising that I first tried them when someone brought them into the bar that we used to hold band practice above late one afternoon in Louisiana.  It was like falling into the rabbit hole of gastronomic heaven.  Fireworks.  If it’s possible to fall in love with a food, I would have gotten down on one knee right then and there.  Call them what you will; pickle chips, dill dippers, I don’t care, it’s all semantics as far as I’m concerned.  What I was concerned about was that once I moved away from the south, I knew that I would be giving up a lot of the best foods I had ever eaten.  I can make etouffee, gumbo, and a killer jambalaya, but I think I’ve mentioned before that frying is just not my forte.  So long, fried pickles.  I hardly knew ye.

Then, a few years ago, I was at work, recovering from a stupid weather-induced cold when the line-up for the infamous “Taste of Chicago” Festival came out.  If you’re not familiar, it’s just a big spruced up title for many of the greatest Zagat’s rated restaurants and notorious greasy spoon dives to come together in harmony and offer several of their choice menu items for everyone to enjoy.  I was looking through the list when I saw someone had finally gotten a clue and offered fried pickles on their tasting menu and I almost tore down a wall in my office had I not had a stomachache.

A co-worker came in and said:

Co-Worker:  Hey, Ashlin, how’s it going?

Ashlin:  Oh, I’m good, not 100%, but other than that, pretty decent.

CW:  Sick?

Ashlin:  Oh, yeah, you know, probably just a cold.  Weather.  Hey!  Did you see the line up for Taste?

CW:  No.  Haven’t seen it yet.  They have some good stuff this year?

Ashlin:  Yeah!  They finally have fried pickles!

CW:  … uh….

Ashlin:  Have you ever had fried pickles?

CW: …No.

Ashlin:  They’re AMAZING.   I used to eat them all the time.

CW: …

Ashlin:  What’s wrong?

CW:  You sure you’re just sick?

Which was when I realized that I just set myself up for the most epic this-chick-is-totally-pregnant moment for anyone who hadn’t yet experienced the Val Hala that is a fried pickle.  Because for some reason everybody LOVES to be the person who “first called it.”  Especially boys, who must think they’re aficionados on the subject of predicting that kind of thing, because that seems to happen a lot whenever I tell someone I’m not feeling tip top shape.  And what else better to tip the scales than to make verbal a craving for a food item not familiar to midwesterners (even though you guys have NO idea what you’re missing out on) than the stereotypical food item that women throughout the ages have craved and made indicative of being knocked up… apparently.

So what.  I’m not opposed to any accusations whatsoever if it means I can sit happily and eat as many panko-breaded deep-fried sodium-infused cucumber euphoria as I can.  Go ahead and speculate that I’m carrying quints and that I also just acquired MS while recovering from mono… and a reeeeally bad hangnail.  I’ll be over here with my happiness.  I’ll see you in 9 months and you can compliment me on how swift my recovery seemed to go.

Holy crap

Around 5 pm yesterday my toilet began to make incredibly awful sounds.  Sounds like those your emphysemic granddad would make after laughing too hard and choking on his own phlegm in the process.  Yeah.  That bad.  I wish I could say it was something that I did to it (actually, I don’t, ifyoucatchmydrift, otherwise this would turn into a completely different post), but it just started this on its own.   That worries me, because it means it could happen again, at any time, and anything that has to do with a temperamental toilet, one that stands dangerously close to my closet where all my clothes reside, just doesn’t sit well with me.

It was also unsettling because the noise it was making was of the this-is-about-to-turn-into-a-geyser-situation variety, so that only added to my dismay.  Truth be told, I know nothing about plumbing, apart from when to know to turn the water supply off and how to use an auger, plus the occasional plunger and brush every so often.  Fun fact!  Ashlin’s main chore growing up in the Phillips’ household was to clean all the toilets.  I could get away with not sweeping the staircase once every so often, but the toilet chore was my parent’s own little fongu to me for being a 12-year-old curmudgeon, and I wasn’t really allowed to scrimp on it.

So after shutting off the water and checking the upper tank to see no visible sign of foul play, or anything that I could necessarily correct given my limited plumbing skills, I had to bite the bullet and call the front office.  I spoke with a nice woman who listened intently to my issue and responded:

Lady:  Okay.  Let me put in a request for maintenance services to come out there.

Ashlin:  That would be great, thank you.

Lady:  Okay.  Thank you for calling, have a nice day.

Ashlin:  Oh, can I ask for an estimate on when they might be arriving?

Lady: Hmm.  Well.  They’ve left for the day.  Soooo, probably tomorrow morning?


Nooooowww, here’s where the issue is about to be upgraded from threat level annoying to threat level apocalypse.  Because I don’t think I need to explain to you that sometimes certain things happen in certain locations at certain times that certainly cannot be controlled by willpower.  And suddenly my afternoon was transformed into an epic horror story of refusing to eat or drink anything in sheer hope that it might keep certain things from happening in certain locations that might turn a bad situation worse for the next 14+ hours.

This morning, I was awakened by two things.  Luckily, neither one of them was the sonic blast that I was anticipating from my ailing toilet, though.  Instead, I opened my eyes to the feeling of such extreme thirst that it was the only thing my brain was considering.  If I had turned on the news and caught a story about how they cured all types and stages of cancer, I still wouldn’t have been able to concentrate because unless the TV had turned into a water cooler, I wouldn’t be interested.  At the SAME TIME, the pee trolley was coming into the station fast.  Which made me infinitely ticked off at my body.  I’m full of water, but in exactly the wrong place.  Amazing.

So I considered my options.  As near as I could tell, I had two:  I could suck it up and deal with the embarrassment that came when the maintenance guy finally showed up, even though everybody pees, and really the only thing that should be considered embarrassing would be if I peed anywhere but the designated place for it.  But I still would have been mortified had it come to that.  The other option was that I could continue to hold it, which frightened me unendingly because I still remember a story someone told me in the 3rd grade about someone who’s bladder burst on them and they DIED IMMEDIATELY.  Negating the fact that 3rd graders are prone to elaborating stories and what probably happened was someone just got a really bad UTI, drank some cranberry juice, and were back to breakdancing later that evening.

Someone is going to read this and say, “Why didn’t you just pee in the shower? DUH.”  Okay, okay, first of all- NO.  Secondly, unless you have means of accurately directing your stream, guys, you’re pretty much just trying desperately to avoid having splashback on your feet.  Plus, I’ve been around you dudes long enough to know that even though you possess the incredibly amazing ability to be so dexterous in the process that you can write your name in the snow in cursive, you also somehow manage to screw it up… a lot.

Then I had a thought.  There is a public restroom/changing station right outside my apartment’s pool.  It’s always open and although I despise using public bathrooms, at this point my brain was being steered by what I would imagine a 9 month past-due-date pregnant woman with twins would feel like.  I’ve heard about pregnancy brain, and suddenly I think I’ve got a much better understanding of it.  If your every thought was wired around having to go that badly, you’d forget to pick up the dry cleaning too.

So I ran downstairs and surveilled the area.  There were a couple kids playing in the pool with their mom reading a book poolside and a guy weed whacking toward the back.  Not that bad, little chance of public judgment: go for it.  I hadn’t been in there for 10 seconds before I heard someone else come in and take the stall next to me.  Whatever.  Misery loves company and so on and so forth.  But what happened next will haunt me for the rest of my life.

It’s something to pee in a public restroom.  It’s entirely another to take an ex-lax deuce so virulently loud that it makes your pee story seem like you were simply late for tea.

I finished up and exited as soon as I could to avoid eye contact with the bullhorn-ass, also because I was laughing so uncontrollably that I was having a hard time keeping it quiet.  I ran out of there and did what you all know you would do too had you been there; I looked back out to see who out of the four were the guilty party.

But they were all still there.  The kids, still in the pool with their game, the mom reading quietly nearby.  Weird.

And then I saw it.

The weed whacker.  Laying on the ground.  Without its operator.  And a sign on the men’s restroom saying it was out of service.

And goddam, man.  What kind of crazy diet are you on?  Do all guys take massives in public restrooms and we just never knew it before?  I felt like I was let behind the velvet curtain of some disastrous secret I never, EVER wanted to know about.  And just, ugh.  Dear lord. Just… Eeech.  I give up.  I give the fuck up.

Please repeat that

At my last job in Chicago, one of my duties was to monitor a media station which was set up with computers and printers and yawn blah blah.  I never really had any problems with it besides the people who pissed and moaned because we had to charge for access to it and they thought they should be rewarded free internet service for such good behavior.

With the exception of one man who swept in there one slow day and proceeded to be the rudest guy ever.  You know how you can tell someone’s going to give you trouble before they even open their mouth?  Something in their body language just sets off all the alarms that there is an asshole approaching.  This guy was like a guided missile, and I braced for impact.

Firstly, he walked in with such speed it was like an “I-gotta-take-a-shit-right-now-or-there’s-going-to-be-an-emergency” pace.  I understand if a person’s in a rush to get something done, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that tearing through other people’s offices like a tornado is usually something that makes those people less excited to stop whatever it is they’re doing just so they can help you.

Next, he opened his mouth and some sounds came out.  I don’t know what they were, but they weren’t words, and they were spewed at such a high-speed it was like I wasn’t sure if they were meant for human ears.  So I did my very best to smile and say, “I’m sorry, can you say that again?”  And this was his first coherent response:

“I said I need to use the internet.  Do you have a problem with that?”

You guys.  If I had a supernatural talent for being able to spew explosive vomit at will, I’d only use my powers for good, obviously, and that would have been the best time to have done so.  Because these are the types of people I’ve encountered who have completely forgotten what it’s like to work a job that you’re already not that pleased to do and you know it’s getting you nowhere and the pay is just barely enough to keep you from death or worse and they have a heightened, false sense of superiority.  They don’t care if they’re rude to you or to their mothers.  They don’t tip well, if at all, at nice restaurants.  They don’t smile when someone is trying to be nice.  They don’t care to hear your opinion in a conversation at a party.  They give rage faces to parents with crying babies.  They are people with horrible manners who put everyone around them in shitty-ass moods, and I’m of the belief that when they do it to me it’s time to cut the shit or I will gladly cut it for them.

But there’s not much I could do in this situation, obviously, because that’s when these kinds of people know they can get away with it because the customer is always right or some other horseshit of an excuse they make with themselves to get out of feeling any sense of guilt.

So I quietly showed him the computers and informed him of the cost and would have been happy to let it be, because I was at that point so full of anger that my face was actually beginning to scowl uncontrollably.

But for some reason, this dickbag seemed to want to push me into a blind rage, because as he sat with his back to me, he posed another brilliant question to me with the poise and elegance of a rabies-infested boar:

“So can I print from this thing or do I have to pay for that too?”

I’m actually kind of happy his back was turned, because I’m pretty sure I became momentarily possessed by a demonic figure and I was seconds away from answering in tongues. But I composed myself, answered that yes, there was charge, told him how much it cost, and waited for the next gem of a response from him, which wasn’t far behind.

“Geez.  You people are something else.  Is there a charge if I press the enter key?”


And something in my brain burst.  Literally!  There was an audible *ploop!* and everything in my vision suddenly went orange.  And  the world got very quiet, because my brain had just blown up and was dripping out of my ears.  As an individual person, being referred to as “You people” implies that I’m the one in on some type of master conspiracy plot to make sure the world goes around wallowing in misery.  And an enter key joke?  Are you for real?  How goddam original, you human meconium stain.

So I waited.  I waited silently for something to happen- either for him to say something else wise and intelligent, or for my anger to spread to my extremities and poison my bloodstream and for me to die from septic shock.

And sure enough:

“Do you realize this is the most I’ve ever had to pay to use the internet?”

That did it.

And here’s how I responded:

I said nothing.  Because. Like I told you,  I was still waiting.

The guy sat there for about 10 seconds.  Then he says, “Do you?”

Still waiting.  Wait for it.

At this point, the man finally turned in his seat to face me and posed his final question of the day: “Did you hear me??”

And I looked over, feigning surprise, and answered:

“Hmm?  Oh, I’m sorry, sir, you may have noticed earlier, but I’m mostly deaf.”


There were no further questions or comments apart from a frozen face of shock and embarrassment and a hand-written note saying, “I’m truly sorry.”

Karate kid

Even though my summer vacation just started, most kids have been off for a while now, and its effects are starting to show, mostly on their parents faces.  If I open my door or look out my window, I will no doubt see the typical summer vignette, which is as follows:

Any number of children running around acting like goblins and puppies, wailing and screeching at the top of their lungs (you know, that scream that makes you wonder why they ever made vocal chords able to reach that eardrum-rupturing pitch), while one, single, solitary adult looks on in disinterest, possibly on the verge of crying unconsolably.  Because when you think about it, being an adult who has to watch over the neighborhood children is not that far off from being the designated driver at a party and watching all of your friends get stupid and have to play along and act like what Joey just said is, in fact, the funniest shit that was ever said on the entire planet.

Last week I was at the grocery store when I noticed something that made me realize just how bad things have gotten on this road to mindless sadness that parents are forced to detour down every year.

I was searching through the produce aisle, picking up peach after peach to locate the best one and thinking of how bullshit it was that I had to continuously smell and give the pinch test to each one and goddammitwhydoIalwaysgetstucklookinglikeTHATasshole when I finally gave up and moved toward the bakery section when I noticed a kid doing something, I don’t know, something unordinary.  I don’t know how else to describe coming up on someone repeatedly PUNCHING THE SHIT out of loaves of bread.  Just, Kuh-JOOOUUUW!  It merited some type of Batman-type onomatopoeia.

Not kidding.  This kid repeatedly punched the everloving hell out of the loaves of bread in a very educated fashion.  Between multigrain and day old white, this child used these loaves of sliced bread like his own punching bags.  And they reacted as most porous yeast-driven entities would.  They crumbled.  And this kid was relentlessly driving his hands into them at Bruce Lee force to do whatever it took to collapse them as well as their souls.

But it’s not like he was trying to be covert about this process.  Because every time he would strike another loaf of bread, he’d make this sound:

Which is when everybody around them gave the nonverbal message of :  Dude.  Fucking. check. your. kid.

No kidding.  People who had long-since met the age requirements for being grandparents gave the stink-eye to this ninja-in-training’s-mother.  Like, how hard can it be?  HOW HARD CAN IT BEEEEEEE.  Negating the fact that they’ve probably already watched and taken care of multitudes of generations of little badasses like this one.

Then I looked over and I saw her.  The ninja’s mother.  The woman who was receiving the most angsty looks that geriatrics can possibly offer.  And I’ll tell you the truth.  It was at once the saddest as well as the most hilarious thing I think I’ve ever seen.

Think about it this way: Have you ever had to babysit someone who just had their wisdom teeth pulled out yet they were dead set on going to Wal-Mart that afternoon and you agreed to take them because you knew you’d be at their apartment to take care of them but they hadn’t thought to pick up toilet paper before getting on heavy medication and then they became 25-year-old toddlers because you wouldn’t bring them into the subway at the entrance of Wal-Mart simply because they can’t eat solid food and you have to make sure they don’t do anything stupid like that or falling face first into a ravine even though you wouldn’t be totally opposed to that idea right about now?  THAT’S the look this woman had.

Over it.

This woman was so completely over it that she didn’t even mind the condescending looks from those around her.  She took those angry stares and shoved them so far down into her personal psyche that she won’t have to deal with them until she becomes demented in her later years, and by then it will be someone else’s problem.

She looked up and after noticing these douches around her gave a weak, patronizing offer of, “Bobby wait… don’t… don’t do that.”

Because she already knew she was fighting a losing battle.  The hi-yah kid would not be quelled.

And at that moment, when this woman finally gave the fuck up on the fact that her beloved, begotten son was ruining the majority of the baked goods, as well as her morning, and that she was being held responsible for his dipshit actions, I found it to be the most hilarious thing I’d seen in a long time.  Because anyone that is that disillusioned to think that a 5-year-old boy will find logic in anything you’re saying, let alone sit through hearing you out, then you deserve to have all of your sandwich bread karate punched repeatedly against your knowledge.  This is how kids occupy their time.  You can’t find fault with their parents for it; it’s not like the parents are instructing them which items to seek out and demolish in the store.  Kids are the universal assholes.  And we love them for it.  We actually envy them for it.  So suck it up, grab the loaf behind the punched down ones, and stop giving their mom the eat-shit face.  You were an asshole once, too, just don’t make it a repeat performance.


Woke up Thursday morning and poured myself a big ol’ cup of coffee.  I liked that cup so much I made myself another.

Three cups later and a feeling of extreeeeme caffeine jitters, I realized a little too late that I really blew it.  I’ve gotten the jittery-doo’s before, but this was like, coffee-hangover.  My stomach was actually upset.  So I posted a plea to facebook for someone to offer me something, anything of a suggestion to try and get past it.  Unfortunately the resounding answer was what I suspected would be my only option, which would be to down a crapload of water to flush out the caffeine overload.  I literally would have tried anything if I thought it would help.  A couple of friends responded with some inventive thoughts and ideas, but tough luck, you guys, you can pull a lot of shit over on me, but even I know heroin won’t help. …that much.

Then I started noticing some other traits that seemed a little extreeeeme to even make an extreeeeeeme coffee hangover seem odd.  Like, I noticed that I was looking a little… swollen.  Especially around the eyes.  And my a/c had suddenly dipped the apartment temperature down into arctic chill, even though I hadn’t touched the thermostat and I was getting the teeth chatters at 77 degrees.

And I think we all know where this is headed.

But I just kept filling up my glass with water after water until my stomach became distended.  And thought maybe if I ate something with protein I’d feel better.  So I thought, of all things, that a tuna salad would be my best bet.  A stanky, gnarly tuna salad.  Disregarding the fact that as soon as I opened the can, the aroma made my stomach do a full 3-ring circus acrobatic act.

Because this is how stubborn I am.  I actually try to will myself out of getting sick.  I go around acting like everything is fine on the outside when inside something is a’brewin… something evil. And sure enough, before long, the bathroom was where I was headed to spend the duration of my afternoon.  Oh.  And the majority of that night.  Oh yeah, and the majority of Friday. … partially Saturday.

Good lord, you guys.  It’s been so long since I’ve been this sick.  I think I actually forgot how bad it sucks.  And it’s only exasperated by the fact that when it set in, you know, when it was at the most absolute worst time out of “being sick,” I was wired from all the caffeine that was absorbed into my system that even after my stomach voided its contents in the totally opposite direction of where it’s supposed to head, I was incapable of actual sleep.  It was like A Clockwork Orange.  All I wanted to do was hibernate through the period of being sick, but my eyes were being peeled open against my will.  How shitty is that?

So I became a hermit and hid out like a sewer creature in my own apartment.  Because I was too weak and taking a shower would require me to lift the 70+ lbs off of my head and drag my paralyzed and atrophied limbs to the shower.  There’s a huge lip on the shower which is supposed to make the whole thing into some kind of bathtub or some shit, but at that point it was only the equivalent of scaling a glass wall without a harness or even suction cups.  Go pee on a biday, shower.  I’m onto your antics.  I’m gonna chill out here on my nice, sweat-bogged blanket.

But then something… happened.  Something miraculous.  Because at that point I was so far down in the 6th circle of Dante’s hell that I was faaaaaiiiiirrly certain I was doomed for all eternity.  You know that feeling.  You kind of say give up on everything; goodbye to sleeping and waking up, goodbye to hot baths, goodbye to clocks ticking… and Mama’s sunflowers,  goodbye to boomboxes, seatbelts, and unlimited breadsticks and salads. When I woke up and suddenly realized that my body wasn’t shaking anymore and the pedialyte that I had ingested had stayed down overnight.  So I was like, YEAH.  Go have someone piledrive you and read 30 Doosenbury comics,  (No.  Seriously.  Comics were made for children to sit on their parents laps and have their parents read them to them in effort to learn comedic arc and for you to get some kind of solitude from dealing with the rest of the bullshit on E1 or B4).   Hey, Sickness, how bout I fly over you and poop on your directly upturned face from a very high location so that you get splattered with my anger and resentment that you made me delusional enough to legitimately think that I was dead.

Then take a picture of it on my cell phone and send it to all your exes and greatest enemies.  And your boyfriend/girlfriend.

Try turning that into a Foxtrot episode.

So I’m back.  I’m sorry for being MIA.  But you would too if you thought that you were stuck in some kind of hellacious mountain of feverish rage.

meanwhile, in lieu of a Sunday comic, how about this (And if you don’t get it, it only means that you actually HAVE a life.  Congratulations.)

At the movies

And now, another fascinating conversation with The Most Brilliant Person Alive:


MBPA:  We went to see that new movie over the weekend.

Ashlin:  Yeah?  How was it?  I’ve been wanting to check it out.

MBPA:  It was crap.

Ashlin:  Whaaaa?

MBPA:  Crap, crap, crap.

Ashlin:  Aw man.  I was hoping it was gonna be good.

MBPA:  It was so bad, we asked for a refund.

Ashlin:  Seriously?

MBPA:  I’m not gonna pay for a waste of my time.

Ashlin:  You walked out of the movie?

MBPA:  Well, no!  That’s why I said, it was a complete waste of my time!

Ashlin:  Wait.  You asked for a refund…

MBPA:  Yeah!  I told you, it was crap!

Ashlin:  But you asked for it after having watched the movie.

MBPA:  So?

Ashlin:  In its entirety?


Ashlin:  SO, when you eat an entire three course meal at somewhere fancy, do you demand a refund once you’ve finished that because the appetizer was too chewy?

MBPA:  This is completely different.

Ashlin:  How.  You tell me right now how it’s different.

MBPA:  It’s more like buying a tie that doesn’t fit well once you bring it home.  You wear it, it doesn’t look good; you get a refund.

Ashlin:  You consumed.  You can’t return the movie you viewed.

MBPA:  Noooo, no.  It’s different than that.

Ashlin:  You know what?  Agree to disagree.  I’m hearing this going into Seinfeld territory and I don’t feel like going there with you.