A letter to my children from The Elf on the Shelf

Don't judge me, you bastards. I defy ANY of you to do this job and NOT drink.

Dear Zan & Jayna,

I’ve tried to be nice, children. For days now, I’ve sat quietly on the shelf, or hung from the Christmas tree, or peered down upon you from atop the mantle or the cabinets or the china cupboard or whatever other wacky locale your father I could find. And I’ve tried.

I’ve tried, by virtue of my silent presence, to gently coax you into compliance with your parents’ wishes. And they I had hoped that my mere presence alone would be enough to keep you in line … but after the display the two of you put on this morning, it has become clear to me that my pixie-ish grin and my kind, blue eyes aren’t getting the message across … so here’s how it’s gonna be:

You two are going to get with the program right now, because if you don’t, there’s going to be nothing but a fuckload of coal up in this bitch next Sunday, you dig? And, no, this isn’t the booze talking. Don’t let the red pajamas and goofy look plastered on my face fool you, OK? Because I will cut a bitch.

Boy Child: Enough! Enough with the whining and the crying and the moody outbursts and the falling apart about every little thing your sister does. Stop being such a pussy. You think you’ve got it bad? How do you think I feel, huh? I’ve gotta live with you lunatics, sit stock still all day long, then spend every night flying back and forth to the North Pole so I can report your behavior to Santa! I mean, SERIOUSLY? All the technology that fat fuck delivers every Christmas, and he can’t figure out how to text? I’ve gotta fly the message to him? Asshole.

Girl Child: Same goes for you! STOP. IT. You’re cute, but you also are a spectacular ball-buster. Stop provoking your brother, because if you don’t, and he decides to smack you down, I will turn a blind eye. The jolly fat man won’t hear a word of it from me. What he will hear about, however, is your constant “No!”-ing and back-talking and grunting and screaming and crying every time your parents ask you to do something. That shit’s over.

Repeat after me, children: “OK, Mommy. OK, Daddy.”

Good. Now stick to that script and you might actually have a shot at seeing the crap-ton of ridiculously expensive shit your parents put themselves in hock for gifts Santa is planning to give you this year.

Love,

Dusty

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Posted in Jayna, Parenthood, Zan | 25 Responses

UPDATED: Well, this oughta do wonders for my OCD

Well, this oughta do wonders for my OCD
Click the image above to view full-size photo.

In the spring of 1994, I was approaching the end of my sophomore year at Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts, where I was… [read the rest]

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I will write something about this photo as soon as I can stop welling up with tears every time I look at it, m’kay?

will-write-something-photo-soon-can-stop-welling-tears-every-time-look
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This is the face you make when you …… [read the rest]

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The Scratches Family’s Excellent Adventure, Part 3:
Wide Right, motherfucker!

[Click here for Part 1 | Click here for Part 2]

One day. Just one short day. That’s how much time we gave ourselves to tackle Disneyland … a place some folks spend a week exploring.

And because we had just one short day, I decreed well in advance that we would be visiting only one of the two Disney amusement parks that sit side by side in Anaheim. The classic Disneyland Park contains more than enough rides and attractions to fill a day, and it is the quintessential Disney experience, so it was a no-brainer to make that our park of choice. The newer Disney California Adventure complex would just have to wait until our next family trip to California … which, with any luck, will take place some time prior to never.

One park. Not two. Because both parks in a single day? Sheer madness. Utter lunacy. Totally fucking bonkers.

It was a sensible plan. A practical plan. A reasonable plan. Which is exactly why it was destined to fail.

Remember way back in Part 1 (which I’m sure you don’t, thanks to the shitterrific job I’ve done of posting this third installment in anything vaguely resembling a reasonable amount of time) when I said we originally had planned to stay at a so-called “Good Neighbor” hotel but ultimately decided to splurge on an official Disneyland hotel? Well, that splurge spiraled into more splurging, because, Hey! EMH!

“EMH? WTF is EMH?”

Great question! EMH = Extra Magic Hour. You see, when one stays “on property,” one is granted entry into either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure (which I shall henceforth refer to as DCA) one hour prior to the general public … but only one or the other of those two parks offers the Extra Magic Hour on a given day. And would you care to wager a guess as to which park was offering the Extra Magic Hour on the day we were there? (Hint: Not the one we were planning to visit.)

Fortunately, buying special “Park Hopper” passes for a family of four to bounce back and forth between both parks is surprisingly affordable.

[Pause]

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, Christ, I slay me.

But, hey, truth be told, no one was more pleased than I to have a legitimate reason — nay, an indisputable reason — to visit Disneyland Park and DCA. (I’m sure my financial advisor would object to my use of the word “indisputable” to describe this expenditure … that is, if I actually had a financial advisor. Much to the Walt Disney Company’s delight, however, I don’t … which is just as well, really, because I’d have told my financial advisor to go suck it. The Fun Daddy train had already left the station, and its mission was to visit not one, but two Disneyland amusement parks, consequences be damned.)

Of course, being the completely neurotic, obsessive-compulsive, know-before-we-go kind of guy I am, this change of plans meant that I now had to become a board-certified expert on all things DCA … which is how I learned that the park’s newest attraction, Cars Land, features a ride dubbed “Radiator Springs Racers” — a ride experience that, according to the Internet, is not that dissimilar from meeting God.

Now, as you might expect, meeting God is the kind of the thing that attracts a crowd … and the Internet further informed me that the average wait time for “Radiator Springs Racers” is 90 minutes … which was a problem, because the list of things for which I would be willing to stand in a 90-minute line is spectacularly short … and I can assure you with great certainty that not a single thing on that spectacularly short list is even remotely related to family entertainment. So you can fuck that 90-minute-line shit.

Fortunately, as part of my exhaustive online reconnaissance, I discovered a painstakingly detailed messageboard post titled “The Cars Land Wide Right Technique: How to be one of the first 20 people on Radiator Springs Racers.” No, I am not even kidding. And this life-saving post contained the critical information I would need to whisk my family past the throng of less-fortunate families whose members did not include a neurotic, obsessive-compulsive planner capable of finding things like The Cars Land Wide Right Technique.

I studied it. I learned it. I lived it.

An integral part of successfully executing the Wide Right Technique is to arrive at the DCA gates prior to opening … which, thanks to the three-hour time difference between Philly and Cali, was no problem; we were wide awake by 5:30 a.m., and were standing outside the DCA gates well before the 7:00 a.m. early entry.

Daddy, Zan & Jayna @ Disney California Adventure

“Smile children … and pray that you got enough sleep last night, for there shall be no rest until we have fully conquered each and every inch of this here Disneyland.”

Once the gates opened, the half-dozen-or-so lines that had formed began filing through the turnstiles, and I felt confident we were on the verge of living the Wide Right dream, because I knew that the super-convenient e-tickets on my trusty iPhone’s display would allow us to breeze right through the entry checkpoint with far greater ease than the patrons who so foolishly had armed themselves with those antiquated paper passes of yesteryear. My inner geek laughed at them in smug delight. “Ha,” it said.

So you can imagine my inner geek’s horror as the technophobic ticketholders on either side of us continued streaming into the park without incident while the employee manning the turnstile through which we were attempting to pass presided over an epic duel between my super-convenient e-tickets and her demon-spawn-from-hell scanning device.

This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be. All of my planning … all of my smug-inner-geek know-how … all of my strategic superiority … undone in the blink of an eye.

The paper-ticket people were pointing at us and laughing as they flooded into the park unimpeded, high-fiving each other on their way to Cars Land while complimenting themselves for choosing to avoid the e-ticket option. At least, that’s what I imagined them doing while I closed my eyes and focused all of my energy on Force-choking the turnstile attendant in the hopes that her sudden and mysterious death would a.) distract the other employees long enough for us to slip into the park unnoticed, and b.) create enough of a spectacle to draw the crowd’s attention, thereby thinning the ranks of those headed to “Radiator Springs Racers.”

Unfortunately, my Sith powers failed me and we weren’t granted entry until enough time had passed to completely destroy my finely tuned plan of attack … or so I feared. And that’s when my Army training took over.

“Let’s go, people!” I commanded my family as I led them on an impossibly fast-paced power walk. “C’mon now! Pump those arms! Move like you’ve got a purpose!”

But alas, my son could barely keep up, my daughter even less so, and my wife, in a shining display of her out-of-whack priorities, was determined to keep both children in sight.

I was appalled.

“Goddamn you kids and your short, underdeveloped legs!” I said … to myself … because we were at Disneyland … and I only curse them out in private. Nonetheless, this child’s-pace bullshit just wouldn’t do. I had to kick things up a notch.

“Come here,” I instructed my daughter as I scooped her up in my arms and began sort-of-running towards Cars Land … a move I’m sure the parents around me thought was obnoxious and immature.

Fuck them. We had a ride to get on.

“Try to keep up!” I goaded my wife and son as I navigated my way through the opponents — I mean, the other patrons — who also were beating a path toward “Radiator Springs Racers.”

By the time we reached the main street leading to the ride’s entrance, I was pretty sure we’d regained most of the ground we’d lost at Ye Olde Fashioned Turnstile … but was it enough? I couldn’t tell. Rather than let my doubts and fears get the best of me, though, I did what any good soldier does in these circumstances: I stayed focused on the mission.

“Stick to the plan,” I told myself as I guided my family to the far right side of the crowded street in accordance with my Wide Right marching orders.

It seemed to be working. Though the tightly packed crowd now filled the entire roadway, we were part of a mercifully small group of dorks winners skilled in the art of the Wide Right Technique, all of us moving nimbly between the curb and the less-knowledgeable civilians to our left as we advanced on the ride’s entry point.

And suddenly, just as the author of that insanely detailed messageboard post had promised, Red the fire engine pulled out of his station and blocked off three quarters of the roadway, forcing the massive crowd into a single-file line on the far right side of the street, where — TA-DAH! — we already were.

I was in neurotic, obsessive-compulsive, advance-planner heaven as my family and I zipped through the elaborate and delightfully empty maze that soon would hold a line of people who would wait an hour-and-a-half to board the ride. As we reached the loading platform, Wonder Woman and I high-fived each other. “Wide Right!” she exclaimed.

“Wide Right, motherfucker!” I roared … minus the roaring … and the “motherfucker” part … because getting us all kicked out of Disneyland less than 10 minutes after our arrival seemed like not the kind of memory I was looking to create for my children.

A less-than-impressive facsimile of the kind of memories I was looking to create can be glimpsed in the following series of blurry photos and shaky, poorly framed videos that I shot on that magical morning:

Z & J about to board

Smiling mostly because their lunatic father no longer is forcing them to barrel their way through a massive crowd.

Radiator Springs Racers

The windshield-eyes thing confuses me, because I usually think of a car’s headlights as its eyes, but suddenly the windshield has eyes and now I can’t decide where the fuck I’m supposed to look when I’m talking to one of these things,
and so thanks a lot, Pixar!

Eat your heart out, Francis Ford Coppola.

Lightning McQueen & Mater

From my forthcoming coffee-table book, “Galactically Awful Vacation Photos.”

In answer to your two most obvious questions: Yes, I really was that excited to be in Luigi's shop, and, no, I don't get out very often.

As you can (sort of) see, it was an awesome beginning to an awesome day … and, thanks to our masterful execution of the Wide Right Technique, we still had plenty of time to burn. Hell, we were just getting started.

TO BE CONTINUED …

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If you’re a ginormous asshole who regularly demonstrates a total disregard for your co-workers, this post is for you

So that I.T. job I’ve been wasting away at for almost four years now? Well, I still haven’t figured out how to leverage my writing skills in a way that’ll get me the fuck outta there … but I have figured out how to have a little fun with those skills in the meantime. And so, instead of limiting the recipients of my latest masterpieces to the adult-sized toddlers with whom I work, I figured I’d share these two missives with all of you as well. You’re welcome! (Of course, it’s beyond depressing that I work in a place where the following emails are even necessary — particularly the second one —but sending them to every single person in the corporate office felt good.)

To: Home Office
From: Jon
Subject: Office Etiquette 101

Dear Everyone:

If, after obtaining a paper towel from the rack over the kitchen sink, the dispenser looks like this:
 
image001
 
… you have officially used the last paper towel. The one glued to the roll doesn’t count. There’s a new roll under the sink. (I know this because I’ve replaced it for the offending party/parties twice in as many weeks.)
 
Stay tuned for next week’s lesson, in which we tell the fellas about the latest development in toilet-seat technology: Hinges! (Sneak preview: They allow you to tilt the seat up before peeing all over the place!)

Thank you,

Jon
Home Office Etiquette Officer

I had hoped that my little passive-aggressive zinger at the end there would allow me to kill two birds with one stone … but I soon realized that the kind of douchebag who regularly pisses all over the workplace toilet seats isn’t the type of person who knows how to take a passive-aggressive hint … which is why, a couple of weeks later, I felt compelled to address the issue head-on.

To: Home Office
From: Jon
Subject: Office Etiquette 102 – Men’s-Only Edition

Gentlemen:

I apologize for the intrusion, but this is a daily, maddeningly obnoxious, easily avoidable occurrence that I no longer can tolerate: Please stop urinating on the toilet seats. Really. The bathroom is equipped with two perfectly good urinals … but if you’re the shy type and you just can’t bring yourself to use them like a big boy, then you simply must stop splashing your urine all over the toilet seats every single time you use the bathroom. Here’s how:

How To Not Splash Your Urine All Over The Toilet Seat: A Tutorial

Step 1a:

image005

Step 1b:

image006

TA-DAH!! That’s all there is to it! You can even leave the seat up when you’re done! Believe me, those of us who regularly and repeatedly are forced to clean up your liquid human waste every time we have need of a bathroom stall would much rather deal with the inconvenience of lowering the seat.

Thank you in advance for your immediate and total compliance with this outrageously reasonable request.

Jon
Home Office Etiquette Officer

If I ever figure out how to make a living writing wise-ass emails and blog posts, I can assure you that I won’t miss my current gig.

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I’ve narrowly cheated death yet again

My tombstone

There are many downsides to being a hypochondriac … but it does have its benefits. Take yesterday, for example.

Yesterday, I headed to my doctor’s office for the third time in about two weeks … which, for me, is unfuckingprecedented, since my immune system is basically on par with Wolverine’s. And yet, despite my mutant healing powers, I’ve had a persistent cough for, like, a month now.

During my first doctor’s visit, he prescribed an albuterol inhaler and a codeine-based cough suppressant. After a week, the inhaler had accomplished roughly jack shit, and I’m pretty sure I was downing the cough medicine only because the idea of legally ingesting an opiate before bed each night seemed appealing.

In addition to my ongoing cough and blossoming drug habit, I then developed a reddish, dime-sized, welt-like thing on my face, just slightly below and to the right of my nose … which, really, is exactly where you want to develop a reddish, dime-sized, welt-like thing, because at least then it’s not very noticeable.

I literally watched this thing spontaneously appear on my face while washing up after doing some work on our porch, and I tried to convince myself that perhaps I’d been bitten by a spider while tending to that chore … but being bitten on the face by a spider seems like the kind of thing a guy would notice while it was happening, so I wasn’t fully buying my own theory.

Last Thursday, still coughing and sporting my attractive face welt, I returned to the doctor, who subsequently prescribed an antibiotic for the cough and a topical ointment for the face welt, about which he said: “I don’t know what the hell that is.”

Four days into my antibiotic-and-topical-ointment regimen, not only was I was still coughing like a barking seal and sporting my ever-snazzy face welt, but also I was experiencing a chronic headache and some general sensitivity and discomfort on most of the right side of my face, head, neck, throat and right ear. Clearly, it was time to do what any respectable, modern-day hypochondriac does to diagnose what ails him: check the Internet.

A brief Google search later, I reached the conclusion I always reach when I use the Internet to diagnose an unexplained ailment: I had cancer. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, to be exact.

Certain that my children soon would be fatherless and my wife a widow, I decided I should at least let the doctor confirm my imminent death before getting my affairs in order. Thus, I called his office Monday evening, scheduled an appointment for yesterday morning, and spent the interim upsetting myself with thoughts of leaving my kids behind at such a young age, and of not seeing them grow into adulthood.

And I wish I was kidding, believe me … because I know that some people — “the sane,” you might call them — can’t imagine being so unbelievably fucked in the head …. but I am absolutely terrified of disease and death and my own mortality in general … to the point that it is a full-blown phobia. (This dovetails nicely with my hypochondria, which causes me to immediately assume anything more serious than a brief head cold is terminal.)

As I got out of my car and headed into the medical building for my appointment yesterday morning, I heard someone yell “Dead man walking!” Probably it was me who yelled it, but still … not a good sign either way.

“You don’t have non-Hodgkins lymphoma,” my doctor lied while examining me. “The discomfort you’re having is only on one side of your head?”

“Yes.”

“Is your scalp sensitive right here?” he asked while touching a newly sensitive region of scalp on the top-right side of my head.

“Yes,” I replied, impressed that he had predicted that … so much so that I was willing to entertain the possibility he might not be lying about the you-don’t-have-cancer thing after all.

“I know what you have now,” he said. I assumed his next words would be “Terminal [something].” I was wrong. Go figure.

“You have shingles.”

Shingles? Motherfucking shingles? Who the fuck gets shingles? Isn’t shingles something people got in the 1600s after spending a month in a cargo hold while crossing the Atlantic? Or maybe that was scurvy. Either way, I’m pretty sure you have to be a special kind of basket case to contract shingles in 2014.

But anyway … on the one hand, I was all, “Boo! Shingles!” … but, on the other hand, I was all, “Yay! Totally not cancer!”

And so, “Yay! Shingles!” I said.

“You’re probably the first patient I’ve heard say ‘Yay! Shingles!'” replied my doc, who clearly has no idea just how deep my neuroses run.

“So I don’t need chemotherapy?”

“No. I mean, I could give you chemotherapy, but it won’t do anything beneficial for you.”

I decided to skip the unnecessary chemo and instead received a prescription for Valacyclovir HCL 1, which comes in the form of an enormous, blue pill roughly the size of a whitewater raft. With any luck, it will clear up this shingles thing in the next week or two. I hope. Because my fucking head is killing me … which bums me out until I remind myself that I don’t have terminal cancer.

Which brings us to: You non-hypochondriacs are missing out on the incredible flood of headache-minimizing relief you could be feeling every time you learn that you don’t have terminal cancer. And, yes, you might argue that the burden of needlessly worrying that you’re about to die a horrible and premature death offsets the benefits of subsequently finding out you’re OK … but that’s only because you don’t know how great it feels to experience the illusion of getting a second chance at life!

In related news: It’s exhausting to be me.

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