Thursday, May 09, 2013

Funny guys don't get depressed

UPDATE: As I write this preface, it's been just a few days shy of a year since I first published this post. I've felt great, and have been off of all prescription medications of any kind since shortly after the original post was written. I wrote this for two reasons. First, it was an outlet and a way for me to finally put to words what I was going through for the benefit of my friends and family. Second, I wrote it in the hopes that someone who goes through depression, whether it's a seemingly situational bout like mine or an ongoing lifelong struggle*, will see themselves somewhere in what I wrote and get the help that they need. There is no shame in needing help, nor in asking for it. Even though I was on the very tail end of this journey when I wrote this, being able to finally put it into words and share it with people felt like a final stamp of closure. Talking (or writing) helps.

*Not that I presume I will never need help of this sort again in my life.

--

I'm rarely at a loss for words. Let's be honest, I'm normally even less at a loss for words when it comes to talking about myself. More than the last year my life, however, has often been beyond my descriptive grasp. Then today numerous people on Twitter, Facebook, and various blogs posted this: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html. This. This, this, this...

Have you ever sat with a group of friends and try to remember the name of an actor in a movie but can't?. Shit... uh, you know, that actor! He was was on that tv show briefly with the chick from you know what. Damn it! Then you all sit around struggling to remember. UGH! It's right there! Perched on the bridge of your nose, taunting you. But none of you can remember. Then a few days later, your friend texts you out of the blue, "DAVID WHATSHISNAME!" Yes!!! Yes, that's the guy! It's like a weight lifted from your neck that you didn't even know was there. The relief of knowing. The relief of being able to articulate what you knew all along. That's what I felt when I read this.

"No, I don't necessarily want to KILL myself... I just want to become dead somehow." I lost count of how many times a similar thought casually danced in front of me. Or in my case, it was "It sure would be easier if I were just dead." I didn't really want to die per se, but the prospect of my consciousness simply ceasing to exist seemed much easier and much more sensible that continuing to trudge through day after pointless day, not giving a shit about anything or anyone, including myself. I could feign joy, feign sadness, but ultimately I could not be bothered to give the slightest fuck, because I was incapable of feeling those things. I just kind of... was there. A relative I had cared for very much passed away, my mother was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, my niece was born, an incredible woman fell in love with me. I didn't possess the tools to deal with any of it, so I continued doing what I had been doing for so long. I woke up in the morning, took my pills out of the day-of-the-week pill organizer, mentally checked off another day, went to bed that night, and repeated until the pill organizer was empty, refilled it, then started anew.

That fucking pill organizer. Mostly it contained vitamins and supplements, but at varying points it also contained cocktails of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. It saved me time by not having to open a half dozen bottles every morning, but mostly it served as a vivid reminder of yet another pointless, worthless day ahead of me and how many equally pointless, worthless days had already passed that week. Every morning. One slot empty. Two slots empty. Three slots... Empty. One pointless week down. Fill it. Another to go. It was like sitting and staring at the hands on a clock. None of this serves any purpose. I don't serve any purpose. Why am I bothering to go to work, make money, then come home to spend it on all of this pointless bullshit? Things. Cable. Internet. Food. Gas. Who cares?

At first, I thought I was ill. God damn it, this virus will not go away! I slept, and slept, and slept but was constantly on the brink of a pervasive exhaustion I had never felt before in my entire life. I was convinced I had a sleep disorder (which wouldn't be surprising, given my lifelong struggles with insomnia). I completed a sleep study in which I was observed overnight. I felt like I laid in bed for hours that night trying to get to sleep, but the doctor said I was out within 15 minutes of going to bed and stayed that way throughout the night. No sleep apnea, no abnormal brainwave patterns, no heart palpitations. Sound and deep sleep, as perfect and as regenerative as can medically be. I was so desperately tired of being tired. Month after month after month. That's when the prospect of just not existing seemed so tantalizing. That's when I knew this was no virus.

"Would you like me to refer you to a psychologist?"

Huh?

"A therapist -- would you like to talk to someone? Sometimes it's very helpful to talk."

My family practice doctor, who wasn't really MY doctor, but some guy I had gone to a few times because my long-time doctor had retired, finally was talking to me instead of just throwing pills down my throat or hunting and pecking in vain on the clinic computer throughout my visit, unable to find anything because he didn't know how to spell.

"Um... yeah, I guess that would be good." I knew better than that. I knew damn well it was what I should have done months ago but was too afraid to ask.

"You should know that our initial consults for mental health services are usually quite backlogged. Sometimes they cannot schedule the first appointment for several months out." He returned to tentative clacking on the computer keyboard.

"Yeah, that's fine. Let's go ahead and do that."

"Ok, I will have the nurse give you a number to call." She did, and I didn't wait. I made the call in the car before leaving the parking lot. I knew myself too well. If I didn't do it now, I would sit on it for weeks or months. Or just never do it. This was too important. Fortunately, they had an opening just 3 weeks later.

Therapy ended up not being anything like I had seen on tv. I expected a pair of big overstuffed leather chairs facing each other with perhaps a coffee table or little potted plant between them. A cozy space where Adrian Monk's doctor would ask me about my childhood. But it was just like a regular doctor's office, except with what can only be described as a "medical grade" couch. I sat there, while the doctor sat in his wheeled office chair, nodding his head and swigging water from a CamelBak. His mannerisms and inflections gave me the strong impression that he was gay. Somehow that comforted me. I would have prefered to have talked to a woman -- I've always communicated better and more openly with women. But if I couldn't have a woman doctor, I would much rather have a gay therapist than a straight one. Women know about feelings. Gay men know about feelings. I can trust this guy. He's gay. In retrospect, that seems such a silly thing with which to concern myself, but in the moment, it helped me open up and talk to him.

After 5 or 6 sessions over the course of a few months, we both agreed we had pretty much covered all of the ground there was to cover. I didn't have a horrible childhood. I didn't suffer through years of abuse and torment. I'd just had a rough handful of years that I still hadn't quite finished processing. There was still work to be done on my end, of course, and talking about it hadn't magically cured me. In the meantime, I was still sorting through medications with a psychiatrist and had finally landed on one that didn't make me want tear my own skin off.

Oddly enough, it was the medication that seemed to be the worst of it. Except I was so numbed by it, I thought I was feeling better. I wasn't. I was just that -- numb. I didn't get angry about much of anything, I wasn't sad, I wasn't worried, and I wasn't overjoyed by much of anything. Then I felt something -- guilt. I knew I SHOULD be feeling something. I should care about other people's problems. I should care about my friend going through a tough time. I should care about my mom's health problems. I should care about this woman in my arms. I couldn't. I was incapable. And the numbness was soon replaced with overwhelming guilt. It was a guilt I had never felt before. I was like grief. I was grieving for my loss of empathy and ability to love or just give two shits about much of anything, really.

A very small number of people in my inner circle were aware of what I was going through. I was too ashamed to talk about it, even though I knew and was told outright, there was nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I knew it would likely relieve some of the growing resentment and anger from a handful of my friends when I abruptly ended my relationship with the woman, who ironically was probably the most understanding of anyone of what I was going through. But I wasn't ready.

I didn't wake up feeling ready today. Under proper medical supervision (with a swift kick in the ass from a friend), I'm just about completely free of "the meds" now, but I'm still in a bit of a void. Slowly, I feel like I'm returning to normal, connecting to people in ways I haven't felt capable of in over a year. Then today I read a comic that said everything I have been unable to express and somehow felt a lot braver. Still not ready, but braver.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Heavy Vending Machine: The knobby pickle

You would think I would apologize for not having written about vending machine food for a great many months, but I won't. I've been focused on reducing the amount of processed, preserved garbage I cram into my schwa hole. It's good for my health, and I've noticed the skidmarks in my Fruit of the Looms are fading each week. Thanks, natural eating and Tide for Poop Stains®! Never fear, however, because I will continue to occasionally be drawn to foods so disgusting, disturbing, or in today's case, merely curious, that I will temporarily set aside my well-being for your brief amusement. A huge, literal pickle spinning in the wheel of death sounds like just the ticket.

Before we get to the technical specifications of this particular pickle, let's meditate upon the concept of a vending company deciding to stock an office vending machine with not just one, but numerous individually packaged pickles.

Interior -- monthly vending machine pitch meeting (because vending machine selections are OBVIOUSLY pitched to a board of directors like sales slogans and liquor billboards):

Sam, an up and coming vending machine product whiz, in snappy slacks and a sharp, colorful dress shirt, no tie, and sleeves rolled up to the elbows: "Ladies and gents, do you know what cubicle dwellers like? Sure, a stale chicken sandwich or discount egg salad sandwich goes down smooth with a Dr Pepper or Rockstar. But what if amid the microwave meals, bean burritos, and single serving Kraft Macaroni and Cheese bowls, we included a fresh breeze, no, a REVOLUTION, in vending machine options. Friends and colleagues, I'm talking, of course, about giant individually packaged pickles. HUGE pickles. Like seriously -- Big. God. Damned. Pickles. Gary Busey couldn't bite the end off without a lateral approach vector. That's how big these fucking pickles are. And we don't whet curiosity with one or two of these bad boys. We devote at least a quarter of the available vending slots to these motherfuckers. Are we putting our eggs in one basket? Yes! Because these are golden eggs laid by a golden cucumber goose. Ladies and gentlemen, I -- shutup, Tom, a cucumber goose is a thing -- I give you, a shitload of pickles in a vending machine!"

Standing ovation, tears wiped away from the eyes of an attractive, bespectacled middle aged female executive in a smart pantsuit, and SCENE!

Oh, you think I'm being over the top with my pickle pitch scenario, but check out this snazzy packaging. With the vibrant green of the illustrated pickle, ejaculating viscous brine at high velocity from every pore of its knobby skin for some reason, can you not see why Sam was whipped into such a frenzy? And as if the all caps "DILL PICKLE" label and drawing of a jizzing cuke wasn't enough, right there, we are told what we're dealing with. "Contents: One Pickle" THAT'S WHAT TIME IT IS, FOLKS! Time for a hearty dill pickle the size of an engorged horse cock floating in vacuum-sealed, vinegary brine! If I had spoken that into a microphone, I would have dropped the fucking thing and walked off stage left, hands in the air because I DO care! About pickles. In bags of vinegar and salt. Smell that sandwich, son?

Before I even opened the pickle at my desk, I was presented with a dilemma. What do I do with the brine? Do I get up, walk back to the break room where the vending machines are, and dump the brine in the sink? Go to the mens room and pour it out into the toilet? What if the pickle slips out with the brine and falls in the shitter? Do I leave that floating there? What kind of dietary questions would someone finding that raise? And I don't think this thing's going to flush without a fight. How do you break up a pickle with a toilet plunger? Because you know what isn't going to get soggy and dissolve eventually in toilet water? A crunchy pickle that's been sitting in a sack of salty piss since Reagan was shot. You either roll up a sleeve and pull that out or get a knife and fork, because this situation isn't resolving itself. Are you going to be that asshole who leaves a green pickle floating in the toilet like a bloated, mossy badger corpse for the cleaning crew? Because I sure as hell am not!

Suffice it to say, I made the wrong decision about where to dispose of the brine. Word to the wise, take it to a sink and don't just dump it into the trash can at your desk. I'm going to be whiffing rank dill for the rest of the day, if not week. Actually that's a terrible word to the wise. Word to the wise, don't eat a pickle out of a vending machine at your desk or anywhere. The 11th Commandment, that one is. "Thou shalt not fellate yon brined cucumber from a mechanized food dispensary... eth"

Really at this point, the review of the pickle is a foregone conclusion, isn't it? It was predictably awful. I managed two bites, and threw the rest in the trash. And I say this as a cat who genuinely digs a good pickle. But get your pickles from your mom's shelves of garden preserves, or failing that, a nice Gedney or deli pickle. If you need me to tell you not to eat a pickle out of a vending machine, I'm of no help to you at all, because I can't show up at your house every morning to help you wipe your ass, put on your clothes, and tie your shoes. You've already been wandering the world unhelmeted long enough for your neighbors to realize you're never going to notice the entire roll of toilet paper you've been dragging around on your shoe for the few weeks. But no worries, a vending machine pickle won't kill you. Your regular smoke breaks by open containers of paint thinner will. Hugs then!

Product: Van Holten's Hearty Dill Flavor Pickle
Price: $1.00
Taste: Briny:
Texture: Refrigerated premie fetus
Party: All night

Thursday, December 13, 2012

This song does not contain the word bong


When I sing you this song
Do you think of King Kong?
And his monster dong?
Bet it's 10 feet long
Tell me if I'm wrong
But that's a lengthy schlong
Good thing he's strong
To drag that thing along
To protect the surging throng
He stuffed it in a thong
Under acres of sarong
His favorite Bluth is Annyong
Think that line got the gong
From Chairman Mao Zedong
Whose name is a dipthong
Now I'm gonna go play pong
With my buddy who is Hmong

Monday, November 19, 2012

Beer, coffee, and tablets

Last week, the fancy schmancy new Google Nexus 10 tablet was released. Usually I take a wait and see stance on new technology these days, but it received such glowing reviews, and I was in the immediate market for a tablet, so I ordered one. As of today, the online order status still gives an estimated shipping date of November 15th. I spoke with them Friday on the phone, and called them again today. This time I spoke to the quietest support rep I've ever dealt with. I had to crank the volume on my phone to "granny's hearing aid." Plus English was clearly not this mousy chap's first language.

Rep: What is the email address you used for your order, sir?

Me: afterglide at [the rest of it]... a-f-t-e-r-g-l-i-d-e

Rep: I'm sorry, sir, can you spell that more slowly.

Me: a... f... t... e... r... g... l... i... d... e at [the rest of it]

Rep: Ok, let me spell that back: a-f-t-e-r-g-l-o-d-e...

Me: No, g-l-*I*-d-e

Rep: Ok... [typing] I'm sorry, sir. I am having trouble finding your information. Let me make sure I have your email right. a-f-t-e-r-g-l-o--

Me: [interrupting] *I*. No 'o' in it. a-f-t-e-r-g-l-*I*-d-e at...






Sunday, November 11, 2012

I bidet a doo to you, sir!

A few weeks ago, I finally pulled the trigger and bought a bidet attachment for my toilet. I had read an article about a skinflint of a woman who didn't buy toilet paper but instead cleaned her mud-caked crack with a squirt bottle full of water. What the hell does she do when she has guests over? Do they share her poo-splashbacked water bottle? Is there a guest squirt bottle? How often does she clean these squirt bottles? Does she wash them in the dishwasher with her eating utensils and muffin pans? These are questions. Questions I actually don't care to have the answer to but that I must ask to appear politely engaged in her life story so I can sneak out the back door before I have to shit and use her repurposed Dawn dish soap bottle pressure washer. Instead, I'll just order an actual bidet and use that.

I've long wanted a bidet, but I had always thought you had to buy one of those crazy $900 electronic Japanese models with scented jets, a fireworks show, and a computerized voice that congratulates you on your "many unsorrowful leaving, Poopy-san" just prior to accidentally electrocuting you. But after more in depth research, I found there were several highly rated models that ran on water pressure alone and cost well under $100. Hello, clean ass!

I ordered my Luxe Bidet MB320 from Amazon, and it arrived a few days later. As promised in the product description on the website, installation was a snap. In fact, the only reason it took me as long as it did was that I had a difficult time installing the hot water connection to the sink valve. I solved that with a new washer and Herculean tightening skills. And no, that is not what she said. It's a lie that she said that. And I don't believe that is the sort of thing that she would say, even under duress. In any case, you read that right -- I said hot water. This baby has heated water. Not only that, it has a special nozzle for hosing out the cooters of my lady visitors. Because they'll probably want to get whatever I put in there out of them as soon as possible. I kind of have that effect on women.



Though the bidet came with instructions, I immediately threw them away because the on-panel directions are very clear:


The second dial in the photo turns on the water pressure and adjusts it. The top knob's top position releases a ghost butt that floats up from the toilet to delicately touch your corporeal flesh butt. The right position instructs the ghost butt to merely peep up the skirt of the woman sitting on the toilet and if possible, to snap a few photos to upload to her Facebook account.

All in all, I have been highly impressed with the effectiveness of the bidet, and at this rate, I expect my reduced use of toilet paper will save me enough money to pay for the bidet in less than a year. Also, ghost butts tickle.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The fleecing of America


The second presidential debate the other night, of the town hall variety, was theater in the round of sorts. Supposedly undecided voters asked candidates Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama various questions, expecting worthwhile, honest answers. How adorable. I noticed one young gent in the audience made a rather interesting wardrobe choice. Frequently visible on Obama's side of the room, he wore a shirt and tie. This was a good start. In fact, one could argue that wearing a simple shirt and tie with slacks, sans jacket, would have been a passable, albeit borderline casual decision for sitting in a highly visible spot on a televised debate.


Oh, but what did he throw on over this presumably snappy shirt and tie? At first I thought it was a hoodie, but after seeing numerous camera angles of this cat, I determined that he was wearing some sort of fleece pullover. So you're getting ready to sit practically front and center mere feet from the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED FUCKING STATES on live national television, shower up, Gold Bond your nethers, comb your hair, carefully put on your crisply pressed dress shirt, meticulously knot your tie, and hop in the car. Halfway there, you realize -- oh dear. It's certainly going to be a little nippy in that studio. They'll have the AC cranked to counteract all of those hot lights. I better stop at Old Navy and buy myself a performance fleece pullover to cover all this sweet-ass shit up. For the love of the blessed virgin taco, if your nips are cold, put on a second undershirt or stop at Goodwill and drop $5 on a lime green golf jacket. You are sitting behind two presidential candidates, one of whom is currently the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED GOD DAMNED STATES. And you're on television! If I wanted to see a fresh-faced, closely shorn white due wearing a shirt, tie, and fleece pullover, I'd pull up in front of a prep school and watch the ne'er-do-wells on detention raking autumn leaves! But I can't do that anymore because of the restraining order. Which is fine. I don't want to do that anyway! Not anymore. Because apparently I'm not free to watch young prep school boys for hours from my car. I thought this was the UNITED MOTHERFUCKING STATES OF GOD FUCKING DAMNED AMERICA. But apparently not. God damn it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First world problems shed light on larger first world economy

Let me preface this story by saying that I've already played out the sarcastic responses of "Yeah, yeah, Jeremy. Sure must be a nice problem to have, especially in this economy" in my head. Just shut your pucker and read. There is a point to all of this. Kind of.

I spent a small part of this summer finally finishing up a few projects related to the aforementioned remodel. This included finally installing baseboard molding in the kitchen, replacing the exterior door between the kitchen and garage, replacing all of my interior doors upstairs, and installing the last four (yes, four) tiles over the tiny bit of subfloor that was left shamefully bare for nearly 3 years. When I walked away from that remodel, I was done. Out. It was dust my hands and move on or paint the ceiling with my brain matter and skull fragments. I took on too much at once back in 2009 and paid the price on many levels.

Reinvigorated by the feeling of finally finishing so many projects, I decided to tackle a few items outdoors. I planted a couple of trees, cleaned up some brush piles that had been sitting next to the garage for a couple of years, and set out to replace a few rotten planks in the wooden deck out back. I knew I couldn't just go out and replace the aged planks with new wood (tee hee!) without it looking weird, so my plan was to swap out the creakiest of planks from the raised portion of the deck with theoretically sturdier planks from a portion lower to the ground. I figured this would buy me a few years to figure out a longer-term plan for replacing the whole works without a hapless guest putting a foot through a board, breaking an ankle, and getting a 2 foot splinter lodged in their scrotum. In other words, no lawsuits for Jeremy, please (and I'm concerned for the safety of my friends and family blah blah fuckity blah no lawsuit). Once I attempted to pull out a few supposedly sturdy boards from the lower portion of the deck, however, it became crystal clear that this structure was one cookout away from castrating a loved one and god forbid, spilling their beer. Nobody spills my guest's beer, god damn it!

Here and there over the next few weeks, I cut, pried, sledgehammered, struggled, strained, lifted, and hauled the entire deck, chopping it down into bite-sized chunks that fit in my regular trash can (construction dumpsters aren't cheap). I contemplated how I would replace it. I considered "repairing" the deck by building an exact replacement. City code requires submitting plans and pulling a permit for building any exterior structure attached to the house, including decks, so this would be kind of a wink, wink, nudge, nudge "repair" in quotes, say no more. But if I was going to go to that effort, I wanted something new and improved and wanted to do it the right way. I frankly didn't foresee having the time or skill to draw up plans, go through the permitting process, and likely spend the rest of the summer and fall building the damn thing myself.

One idea I kept going back to was building a sunroom that took up the exact footprint of the raised portion of the old deck. This has actually been rattling around in my head for many years. One of the reasons I bought this house originally was the screened-in porch behind the garage. Over the years, though, this space has proven itself highly inconvenient to use. To get to it, you either have to traipse outside or through the dirty garage (ew, ew, ew, a SPIDER!). And if it sits unused for more than a couple weeks, which is frequently, since there are only screens and no windows, it quickly gets caked in dust and dirt. So any whim I have to go out there to relax is quickly abandoned when I remember that I'll have to drag around the push broom and dust rags for an hour just to sit for a few minutes. Having a sunroom accessible through the dining room would add a convenient space, be easily accessible, yet easily be kept separate and insulated from the rest of the house if I didn't want to heat or cool it year round. In the warmer months, I could relax with my laptop with all of the windows open, and in the colder months, I could heat it with a small fireplace and have a cozy little cove to curl up in. Also with my laptop. Totally not looking at porn.

Yes, this was a grand idea indeed, but could I afford it? A thorough review of my finances, including preemptively pairing down a handful of unnecessary expenses, made me realize that if I took out a relatively small (again, the key word here is relatively) home equity loan, I could indeed afford it. And there was the first potential snag I spotted. Despite the vast (and I do mean vast) improvements I've made to my home and the resurgence of home prices in the Twin Cities in general, the value of my house has continued to plummet. During that period, within sight through my living room window, at least 2 homes have gone into foreclosure and were sold for bargain basement prices. Regardless, even though I didn't have quite as much home equity as I would have liked, I have other investments, cash, and other assets, the combined value of which would pay off such a loan a number of times over. The only debt I carry is my mortgage. My credit score is north of 800. I make a good salary at a job I've held for over 6 years. I was a fucking shoe-in for a loan. I had a contractor I know come out, draw up plans, and give me an estimate.

Then the bank told me I was not a shoe-in for a loan and gave me a counter-offer of letting me borrow half a ham sandwich and kicking me in the taint. The kick was tempting, but I declined. Another bank I have accounts with declined outright to give me any sort of loan whatsoever. Fuck! Now what? Given my financial situation, I cannot tell you how seriously perplexing this was. I looked online for other options, but they either seemed like shady outfits that would break my kneecaps if my payment was a day late, or they wanted to charge me an outrageous interest rate. Shit, I might as well put it on my credit card at that point. Forget it. I decided to just sock away the cash for a year or two and hope I could still get a smallish loan at that time to make up the difference.

I'm not telling this story to stand on a soapbox in outrage. "I'm a middle class white guy, and I am ENTITLED to build a sunroom with a fireplace so that I may get my toasty snuggle on! Fuck you, banks! And fuck you, people who got snookered into financially ruinous mortgage terms that ruined it for the rest of us! THE HUMANITY!" But I think it illustrates the changing financial world we live in. None of this is new. None of this is shocking. This has been going on for the last several years. Our homes, which were once our meal ticket and guaranteed blockbuster investments, now run the risk of being a more-slowly depreciating luxury SUV. "What do you mean I can't use my Escalade as collateral for a loan for spinning rims? I'M IMPROVING THE VALUE OF MY WHIP!" Me? I've come to realize what it is that I think will improve my life, and that is to get my toasty rim-spinning snuggle on. I'll just had to find a different way to do it.

Jeremy is not a financial expert, but you should totally give him all your money and do whatever he says, even if it involves his penis.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ultra conservative scientists invent "e-penis"


A group of ultra conservative scientists, deemed so radical that even the Tea Party has consistently distanced itself from their views, announced that they have invented a device meant to wean homosexual men from what they have called "the sure hellfire of the gay lifestyle." Craig Jeaenus, president of the non-profit Scientists for Christ and Such, said Thursday, "We've tried literally slapping the dicks out of the mouths of these young men, but their taste for penis -- firm, rigid, throbbing... hoo boy. Sorry, I'm perspiring a bit. Excuse me. Their taste for penis knows no satiation. We believe we have found a solution to cure these muscular, well-oiled sailors -- er, I mean men -- of their sinful lust for the male member. Oh dear! I didn't mean to erection -- gah, I mean drool! I didn't mean to drool."

Jeaenus went on to unveil a large cylinder with a penile appearance, not unlike a sex toy, with the exception of the glowing red base and smoke-like steam billowing from the faux urethra. The device is called the e-penis. Designed to be used for behavior cessation similar to quitting smoking with an e-cigarette, the e-penis is loaded with cartridges full of simulated semen, the essence of which is emitted in the steam into the mouth of the user. Over time, the user loads cartridges with incrementally decreased percentages of artificial semen until finally the e-penis spouts nothing more than water in the steam. 

Scientists for Christ and Such has been distributing free e-penises and semen cartridges to gay bars and clubs in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States since early April. So far, the reviews are as glowing as the end of the electronic phallus itself. Dan Carrington, a 34 year old accountant from Phoenix, has been using the e-penis for over 6 weeks. "I love it," said Carrington. "I haven't taken this darn thing out of my mouth for more than a few minutes in weeks. It's wonderful!" When asked how far along he is in the cessation program, he laughed. "Cessation? Oh, I threw away the watered-down cartridges the very first night. They keep giving away full sets of cartridges everywhere I go, so I've been sucking down the high test stuff the whole time. Full steam ahead!"

When a recording of Carrington's interview was played back for Craig Jeaenus, he appeared agitated. "No, that is not how he's supposed to use it!" He furiously scribbled notes on a legal pad, reached into a desk drawer, pulled out an e-penis, and drew it toward his lips. "Sorry, this helps me think." He loaded in a semen cartridge clearly labeled "100% Strength," mopped sweat from his brow, and inhaled deeply.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Smoking the bowl

Longtime readers will recall the ongoing struggles we've had over the years with inconsiderate poopers dirtying the workplace toilets and environs with assorted human filth. Whether it's somehow managing to make the stall appear as though a fight with ass peanut-filled pillows had taken place or coating the bowl and underside of the seat with high velocity, omnidirectional blowback, walking into the infamous Stall Two can be a literal shit show.

Though our company isn't tiny, it's small enough that through careful observation of coworkers' digestive schedules and dietary habits, ultimately those dirty of ass and devoid of consideration for others are identified. It may take months, perhaps even years, but you will be found, publicly shamed, and permanently barred from using any toilet closer than the truckstop by the freeway.

Today I discovered the identity of the hedgehog who has been littering the toilet seat with a sea of curly ass hair and toasty poop crumbs. Through pure coincidence, I walked into the mens room just as he was exiting the stall. Normally I would never follow someone's opening act and sit on a warm toilet seat, but the other bathrooms in the building were occupied, and I was already crowning. As he washed his hands, I walked into the stall to find the seat looking like the floor of a hamster barber shop. I felt like turning around and yelling, "My God, man! Did you shave a fucking chihuahua in here?" I made a passive aggressive show of spraying the whole mess down with Lysol before I closed the door, wiped the seat down, and caked it with 4 rolls of extra chalky discount warehouse toilet paper before I sat down to unload.

The hedgehog, however, is the least of my worries these days. The particularly vexing mystery shitter has been the anonymous soul who has somehow managed to coat the bowl above the water line, all the way up to and including the inside of the rim, with solid chunks of spattered cake balls that no amount of water alone will wash away (trust me, I've tried urinating these chunks away with all of the pressure I could muster, to no avail). This is not your typical shit-through-a-screen-door cloudy ass water. These are dollups of solid shit ranging in size from pushpin head, all the way up to a smashed Peanut M&M found on the bottom of your shoe.

Though this fecal blunderbussing is disturbing enough, what's more unsettling is the lone quarter-sized wad of poo that intermittently appears on the back of the rim, immediately beneath the seat. How is this even possible? Perhaps he is touching his toes whilst shitting or sitting on the throne backwards, leaning back, and renacting the chair scene from Flashdance. But the most likely theory involves the poor, fiber-starved chap halfway through squeezing out a cheese grater-textured gorilla fist. Suddenly he finally gets three stars on the last level of Angry Birds, drops his phone on the floor admist the excitement, and leans forward to retrieve it. The lever action of his body raises the femur-straight log, rippling with musculature and self-awareness, to kiss the rim gently, leaving a minature unfrosted cupcake clinging to the porcelain with the power of Fixodent and strong nuclear force.

Until we catch this ill-mannered artist-in-residence Bob Rossing the commode with happy little brown trees, we will take shifts surveilling the mens room, lingering far too long after we pee, and stopping random office mates to make desperately contrived conversation in the hallway within view of the bathroom door. Take care out there, people. Wear your vest and keep your safety off.

Friday, January 06, 2012

CES 2012 Preview: Life Alert for Heirs

While most of the buzz around the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas centers around the latest smart phones, touchscreen pads, and 3D televisions, a surprise entrant in this year's fray is Life Alert. Life Alert is most famous for its commercials featuring frail pensioners flailing about on the floor, woodenly wailing "Help! I've fallen, and I can't get up!" For nearly 25 years, the company's bread and butter has been selling products and services geared toward the health and safety of senior citizens. However, jumping into a market apparently spawned by the economic downturn of recent years, Life Alert will soon sell a service aimed toward children and grandchildren of the elderly teetering on the brink of poor health and mobility.

The equipment for the new service, dubbed Life Alert for Heirs, looks identical to the current incarnation, but the system does not contact an ambulance or fire department when the button on the pendant is pressed. Instead, it will play a message previously recorded by one of the ailing elder's heirs. In the promotional video shown to reporters this morning, a thin white-haired senior writhed on her kitchen floor in pain. In response to her button press, the system barked in the tinny, digitized voice of a husky sounding man. "Hello, Grandma. This is David. Sorry to do this, but this system won't contact emergency services until you agree to sign over your power of attorney and assets to me. To approve this, simply press your pendant button three times in a row. Per your contract with Life Alert, this will act as a legally binding electronic signature. Once this signal is received, emergency services will be contacted. Love you, Grandma!" Less expensive versions of the system will simply make passive note of the emergency request and send no help.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Heavy Vending Machine: Cram It Up Your Arizona

Though I've already reviewed and long since shat out a "locally" produced fish sandwich, the colorful packaging and gargantuan size of this offering of compressed whitefish and gluten was too much to resist. The BIG AZ line of vending machine foods comes from our old friends at Pierre Foods. I don't know if the AZ is a reference to a large Arizona or supposed to be pronounced "AZZ," as in, "Damn, that girl got some BIG AZ titties! Ima smack 'em with my cod and squirt tartar sauce on 'em." Either way, your "AZ" will be quite large if you make so much as a semi-regular habit of eating these.



The BIG AZ's mammoth sesame seed-covered bun is dwarfed only by the unwieldy, elongated triangle of breaded Alaskan pollock draped in cheese. The shape and arrangement of the patty and cheese, perhaps by no coincidence, is reminiscient of a somberly folded American flag handed to the grieving family of a soldier, who was killed in action by being forced to eat one of these sandwiches by the enemy. Those sick fucking terrorist bastards!



The sandwich's microwave cooking instructions indicated it should be cooked from a thawed state for 2 minutes. If it's frozen, it should be thawed in a refrigerator overnight. So if you are picking these out of the deep freeze and can patiently await the gentle tug of babbling, non-violent diarrhea (this diarrhea is more about protest songs at Occupy Toilet than turning over cars and lighting them on fire), this is the vending machine fish sandwich for you.



Unlike myriad previous microwaved sandwiches, the bread on the BIG AZ didn't turn completely soggy after 2 minutes of irradiation. In fact, the bread was oddly chewy. It wasn't offputting, but not particularly appetizing either. The fish itself, was surprisingly bland, though it didn't suffer from the dry, gritty texture of the last fish sandwich I reviewed here. This one could have been improved by following the example of its predecessor and including a tartar sauce packet. It still would have been a shitty sandwich out of a vending machine, but it would have been enough of a distraction to stop my crying, even if just for a moment.



Product: BIG AZ fish and cheese sandwich
Price Paid: $2.25
Availability: Inside vending machines and dryer lint traps everywhere
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars (.5 given for the patriotic shape of the fish and Lee Greenwood single that played with each bite)
Harassment Factor: 19.7 on the Cain-Berlusconi scale

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Make way for 5k race day the Illinois way

Last winter I got back on the (relatively) hardcore running horse after a difficult several months of agonizing paint and stiffness directly resulting from a surprisingly horrific tumble I took in February of 2010. The full details of that fall, by the way, are in another story I am long overdue in posting here, but one thing at a time. The fall wrenched my neck at a grisly angle, completely destroying what little poor spinal alignment I had left. At the time, I was more focused on the head injury, and it wasn't until months later that I realized just how badly it had thrown the rest of my body out of whack. Late in the summer, I tried to start running, taking baby steps by starting with the treadmill. It was impossible to make much progress, however, as I would run barely a mile before my legs began to throb, and one of my hips clicked and popped like a music box with the tines broken off. I would walk as much as I could, but after about 20 minutes, I had to give in to the excruciating pain. After a decade of considering myself a runner, this was a frustrating feeling of defeat.

In September, I had picked up a couple of smaller projects leftover from the house remodel, including replacing the closet doors in the master bedroom. Instead of buying cheap, shitty doors at Home Depot, I was inspired by a website selling custom closet doors to build my own. More accurately, the fact that the website was charging about $1,500 per set of doors was an inspiration for me to say, "Fuck that, I can totally build those myself!" Defiantly, I bought the necessary tools and assembled the first set for about $160 in materials. Near the end, however, the constant kneeling, crouching, and bending over to work on the door frames took their toll on my already weakened back, and I completely threw it out while picking up a bolt of canvas. Seriously. My back was completely seized, and I was barely able to walk for a couple of days, forcing me to call in sick to work. Even when I was back on my feet, it took me nearly a week before I could move without pain or near misses in seizing it up anew. I was 34 and felt like I was 64.

When October rolled around, I took a long-planned trip to Chicago to visit Jen and Rich. Unfortunately a weekend of fun and relaxation turned into a slightly less fun weekend when on Saturday morning, I threw my back out even worse than before. My mistake this time? Bending over slightly to adjust the water temperature for the shower. There I was, as naked as a congressman's cock on Twitter, frozen in place by horrid pain. There were a few moments when I thought I was going to have to call poor Rich in to help me out. What he could have done, I don't know. Cry at the sight my hairy bent-over man ass and throw a blanket over me? "Best of luck, Jeremy. My only regret is that I only have this very loosely knit afghan and not a thick wool blanket or blackout curtain. You'll be ok if I turn the light off, won't you? No sense wasting electricity. Oh, and I'll close the door, too. The dogs have your scent, and it looks like you had a difficult time wiping. See you when I get home." Thankfully, it didn't come to that, and I was able to hobble around after a warm bath (incidentally, I now know that a warm bath or heating pad is NOT recommended in that situation - ice that shit down!)

On Sunday, I awoke around 6:30 am and attempted to get out of bed to use the bathroom across the hall. I was staying in the bedroom of Rich's son, who was out of town that weekend. Not helping my back situation was the fact that this bed had a rather poor mattress (which they have since replaced out of mercy for all involved, not the least of whom, Rich's son), and was on a frame that comes up to my ribcage. So I rolled over to get out of bed and threw my back out yet again. This time was a killer. I couldn't so much as roll over without my back completely seizing up or trembling in a manner that threatened to. I was stuck but good. Without exaggeration, I spent the next 45 minutes desperately, yet slowly and gingerly finding a way to maneuver myself out of that bed. Finally I had my feet hanging over the edge and had to bite the bullet and throw myself to the floor. Of course, my back seized up all over again, and it took me another 15 minutes to straighten up enough to hobble to the door. After using the bathroom, I spent the next hour pacing their living room, sitting, standing, stretching (if you could even call it that), and otherwise trying to work out the kinks so I could walk. An acquaintance of Rich who worked for Google had invited us to a tailgating party and the Bears vs Seahawks game at Soldier Field, and I was god damned if I was going to miss out on an opportunity like that (admittedly I was more excited about the prospect of seeing what kind of crazy-ass shindig Google threw than the game, and their giant RV full of booze did not disappoint). In the end, I was able to hobble my way through the rest of the day, but it was crystal clear to me that professional medical intervention was necessary.

For months, seeing me hobble around in various states of discomfort, my coworker Jameson had relentlessly tried to convince me to see his chiropractor. It wasn't that I didn't think it would help, I simply kept procrastinating in calling her. No more. The day after I returned from Chicago, I called and made an appointment. Dr. Nicole, as she goes by, was working temporarily out of a basement in a residential neighborhood in Burnsville. $40 a visit, cash, no insurance. Considering my damned office co-pay is $45, that was fine by me. Now the basement part might sound a little shady, but she came highly recommended, and it was clear from the start that she knew what she was doing. I limped pathetically to the first appointment with my right foot jutting away from my body at a right angle, my lower back sending quivering threats to seize up at any moment, and a neck that I could barely turn more than a few degrees. I filled out some paperwork, including a medical history and questionnaire about my symptoms, and she threw down a back cracky that straightened my leg and had me walking confidently, albeit still slowly and somewhat painfully, back to my car. Over the ensuing weeks and months, the adjustments continued, and I was soon running several miles at a time on the treadmill with no pain.

In February, Dr. Nicole and a partner opened up a practice in Eden Prairie, and I didn't blink an eye in making the trek over there to continue my appointments. Of particular interest, her new office also had a physical therapy area, and I was given a full range of exercises to build my core strength to help maintain my adjustments and reduce the chance of injuring my back again. This is where the real work started. No longer was I going in for a passive back cracky, I was in for a grueling addition to my normal workout routine that included dreadful lunges and crunches. But I continue with them because they clearly are doing the job.

In the spring, once it wasn't snowing in May anymore (what the fuck was that?!?), I started running outside, increasing my distance and pace, and decided to sign up with Jen for a 5k race in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago. I had already been running 4 to 5 miles in a stretch, so I knew I could do it (5k is 3.1 miles), but to me the challenge was getting myself ready to run a set distance on a set course at a date and time set in stone. I had to be prepared, in shape, and rested ahead of time. Sure, it's no marathon, but I had never done anything like this before, so it was a bit of a daunting, but exciting prospect. So, this last Sunday, I awoke at 5:45 am in Chicago, rode in the car with Jen and Rich to Highland Park, and Jen and I ran the shit out of that race. We managed to average a 10:12 mile. Yes, it wasn't so many years ago that I could run 10 miles simply because I felt like it, but especially after a huge setback like my fall, I'm still proud as hell, and I don't feel like I pushed myself to the brink to do it. Next stop? 10k!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Would you like to see where my poop goes? (no, really!)

In order to cut down the amount of waste water being treated, The City of Eagan is requiring all homeowners to have their sewer connections inspected for illegal and improper connection (e.g. sump pumps dumping into the sewer, etc). The choices are have your sewer inspected or start racking up fines. I decided to get it out of the way as soon as possible.

The inspector arrived on time for our 7 am appointment on March 16th and set to work at getting the cover off of the sewer drain pipe. After about a half hour of struggling with the cap, which probably hadn't been removed in over 40 years, he let his fancy camera do the walking. I passed the inspection, but was surprised when they mailed me a DVD of the whole thing. Dear homeowner, in commemoration of looking down your poop hole, we thought you'd enjoy looking down your own poop hole, too. Guess what -- I did! This is the actual video from the inspection, albeit slightly sped up. There are annotations and hints on extended portions that are skippable. But please, I invite you to look in my poop chute.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

U-turn fail

This poor guy found out the hard way that big rigs and muddy shoulders do not get along very well. We spotted this disaster on a frontage road along I-35 in Lakeville near the County Road 70 exit and decided to take a detour to document his shame -- I mean, the scene.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

May I degrade your performance?

Hello there! I hope you are doing well on this fine day. Well, actually that's why I approached you. I noticed that you're performing at a very advanced level. Your level of performance is so great that it exceeds mine, and let me tell you, I've always prided myself as being in the top tier of performers! I have to say, though, that I feel threatened by your superior skill and efficiency. It makes me want to smack you in the face with my rape whistle. Is there anything I can do to degrade your performance to the point that it matches or falls below my own? Would insulting your mother or waving my dick around help? I think if we work together, you and I can come up with mutually agreeable methods with which to fuck up your shit. What do you say, chum?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Heavy Vending Machine: Going Greek



Today we'll discuss by far the most exotic offering I've seen in our vending machine to date. Of course, in this day and age, gyros are about as commonplace as mellifluous-voiced homeless guys and cell phone self-portraits of shirtless teabags on the internet. But in our humble little vending machine? Get the fuck outta here! And just look at that wrapper. Full of delicious meat, tomatoes, and onions -- marvelous! And tzatziki sauce -- I don't know what that is! But I couldn't wait to tuck and roll under that flavor bus. And since the brand is "Grecian Delight," when I'm finished I can color the gray out of my hair and get a firm-gripped wand wave from a hairy potter behind the Falafel King.



Of course, as is the cake, the tomatoes and onions were a lie. Opening the deceptive packaging revealed nothing but a stark pita folded with all the art of a file folder containing neatly stacked tax receipts in the form of thin, greasy strips of... of... uh, well to be honest, now that I think of it, I don't know if it was beef or lamb, and I never bothered to read the package to find out. But does it really matter? It was slices of meat I got out of a vending machine. Pardon me for being distracted at the impending risk of contracting an unstoppably quivering and catastrophically demoralized rectum. While I may not have taken the time to identify the meat's animal of origin, fortunately I did notice the enthusiastic exclaimation on the packaging about the tzatziki sauce prior to cooking these well-organized business documents for the recommended 90 seconds. Had I not, I may have missed the sauce packet secreted away between two of the glistening manimal slabs and ended up with a blistering mouthful of seared plastic and strained sun-temperature yogurt.



The first bite didn't contain much of a surprise. Prior to chowing down, I had tasted the tzatziki sauce (I used my clean finger!) to see if I wanted to put any of it on the paperwork (I thought of it as edible whiteout to correct the mistake of eating it in the first place). It was surprisingly tasty, so I squirted a modest streak of the tangy yogurt onto the meat (hey-ohhhhhh!) and knew what to expect in that department. And, as we have found almost unfailingly in past reviews, the pita bread was made soggy by its brief encounter with microwave radiation. However, as it quickly cooled, it did seem to take on the slightly tougher, more chewy texture one would expect. The meat remained unidentifiable, with the slick feel of Spam or some other potted meat. Its flavor wasn't entirely unpleasant.



Overall, I admit that I expected this barely edible assembly to be much worse than it actually was. There were no reverse blowouts or escapes from beyond Thunderdome, and no undergarments had to be disposed of through ritual burning. At the end of the day, however, it was a gyro out of a vending machine, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone save those for whom I held the utmost disdain.



Product: Grecian Delight Gyros Sandwich
Price Paid: $3.00
Antonymns: stellar, successful, savory, handsome, wistful, choleraless
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (in appreciation of not killing me instantly)
Rating on Cat Anger Scale: Cat in Shoebox