Tag Archives: funny

Metaphor Monday: Imaginary Floods


Metaphor Monday is back on Monday — the planets must be in alignment!

Our washing machine crapped out this weekend.

Well, it seemed like it had crapped out.

One way or another, it looked like it had crapped out, and it gave us a scare for a good hour or so.

It was Sunday, and Sundays are laundry days in our house. So, after the morning shopping run was done and the kids were down for quiet time (they don’t take naps anymore, but we’ve convinced them — mostly — that quiet time is a thing, and thank goodness for it), we took some laundry downstairs, cranked up the machine, and sat back to relax for an episode of Stranger Things. (Sidenote: Now that Stranger Things is over again, what do I do with my life??)

About an hour later, I realized that the washer was still running. Not only was it still running, but there was still water running through the supply lines. You know, that low rush in the walls that’s completely inaudible until it happens when it shouldn’t? Having experienced three pipe blow-outs in our old house, this is a sound that immediately gives me the cold sweats.

So the water is hissing away in the walls, and in the quiet after the episode, suddenly, I hear it. Sweat breaks out all over. I run downstairs expecting to find the entire basement under a couple inches of standing water — but, no. Weird, but welcome. I look at the washer. The dial hasn’t advanced from where I started it an hour ago. Weird. I open the lid. Water is pouring into the machine. Weirder still. I turn off the machine. Water stops. Turn it back on. Water pours. At this rate, it should have flooded long ago, but it hasn’t. I turn the dial to the end of the cycle. The machine spins up, leaves the clothes damp as expected, and all is still.

I start the machine again. It’s an older unit and has some gremlins (occasionally shuts off for no discernible reason, and every few months, like a 99% trained housecat, will leave a gross little puddle in the laundry room), so maybe it just needed a good solid reboot. No dice. The water runs and runs and the cycle won’t advance.

What I’ve learned in my near-decade (help!) of home ownership is that when appliances or plumbing break down, the solution is either really simple or really expensive with not much middle ground, with a decided tendency towards really expensive. So the cold sweat breaks out again. (I was still sweaty. You’re welcome.) I do what any savvy, 21st-century thirty-something homeowner would do and fire up youtube. Within minutes I have twenty browser tabs open describing how to open up my washing machine, how to rewire it, how to drain it, how to rebuild it out of toothpicks, and a third round of cold sweat is starting up (by now I should really have changed my shirt, which wouldn’t be a problem, except that my shirts are in the laundry that is not getting washed). It’s all very involved, very detailed, very time-consuming, and very daunting.

I dive in anyway, take the cover off the machine and expose a nest of wires and motors and dials and tubes. Not much of it looks like what I saw in the videos or the diagrams, which isn’t that big a deal but it starts the panic. I was looking at the wrong video; maybe I’ve got the wrong problem. Maybe this is way out of my league. Maybe I’m making things worse by even tinkering with the machine.

The Howler Monkey of Doubt starts in. You don’t know what you’re doing. Give up. Suck it up and get ready to pay a repair technician. Also, forget about getting laundry done tonight, and start panicking over what your kids are going to wear to school tomorrow. And what you’re going to wear, for that matter. How many days can you last? How much is it gonna cost to get it fixed?  Do you even have a single pair of clean underwear right now? All I want to do is lay down in bed, pull the covers up over my eyelids, and sleep until the problem fixes itself, which is to say, for EVER.

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How I envision every plumbing project I ever undertake

I sit for ten minutes, doing nothing. Then I return to the problem. I refine my google searches. I think about what the real problem is. I search some more. Within about five more minutes, I’ve got a likely solution that doesn’t even require any tools. The cold sweat is back. It can’t be this simple, can it?

Actually, it can.

I lift the drain hose from its pipe. There’s a wicked gurgling, whooshing sound — I half expect water to explode out of the walls and realize my nightmares — but that’s it. The drain hose was a bit too deep in the pipe, the water level got a titch too high, and a siphon was created — whenever water was poured into the machine, the siphon pulled it right out through the drain. The machine could never get to the proper amount of water, so it could never start its cycle. But there was nothing mechanically wrong with it, so it didn’t shut itself down. Likewise, the drain was functioning properly, so it never overflowed. The very next minute, I restart the machine, watch it fill up with water — and then kick over to the wash cycle.

Problem solved.

Phew. That was a lot to tell. So what’s the metaphor?

There are two, actually. One for me and one for the machine.

Let’s start with the machine. There was nothing mechanically wrong with it, as I pointed out before — just a simple user error that caused it to tall into an actually rather interesting physics loop (it’s called “siphoning,” and it works exactly like extracting gas from your car’s tank). Thing is, the user error that caused the physics problem happened several months ago and the problem never happened until now. Which means that I laid the groundwork for this little headache months ago and spent the intervening time dancing on the edge of disaster, never even knowing what might happen. Like an aneurysm in the brain, the drain pipe in the wall was just hanging there, waiting to form a seal and blow up my Sunday. Maybe the machine getting jostled as I loaded the clothes into it caused it to make that seal; maybe the spin cycle on the machine’s last run knocked it over the edge. There’s no telling, except that whatever it was could have gone wrong at any time.

If that ain’t a perfect metaphor for life, I don’t know what is. Everything, all the time, is hanging by a thread, and everybody is running around with multiple pairs of scissors in their hands. Eventually, one way or another, that thread is gonna get cut, and your washing machine is gonna run for a few hours and (at best) run up your water bill or (at worst) flood your basement.

Which brings me to the human element. What I really wanted to do when the washer broke down was hide from the problem. Think about literally anything else. Hope it would work itself out, or (when that didn’t work) just hire somebody to come in and deal with it. But after taking a few minutes to get my head together and assess the problem like a person who has a brain, I was able to not only discern that the problem wasn’t all that bad, but to fix it myself with almost no strain.

Which is to say that sometimes our problems are not all we make them out to be. Sometimes that crippling writer’s block you’re suffering isn’t the end of your writing career, but just a sign that you need to not focus on that particular character in that particular chapter right this second. Just like my particular appliance issue called for a little less soldering iron and voltmeter, a little more flashlight and paper towel, sometimes the writing life is a little less throw-the-laptop-and-all-you’ve-ever-created-into-the-dumpster-and-set-it-ablaze and a little more maybe-just-go-write-a-vignette-with-talking-cats-holding-office-jobs.

In other words, just go work on something else for a while and let it open your brain up.

Now excuse me while I go draft a scene for my new series. It’s basically Milo & Otis meets The Office.

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Metaphor Monday: Carpet Conundrum


The new house has these great wood floors in it. They’re lovely — dark and smooth and soothing. A real upgrade over the carpet we had in the old house, if you like that sort of thing — and, as it turns out, we do.

There’s a problem with them, though. If you have similar floors in your house, probably you already know what I’m about to say: they are a bear to keep clean. With the little kids and the pets running around, our floors get (and pretty much stay) filthy.

It’s all manner of stuff. Crumbs. Dust. Pet dander. Hair. Little pieces of paper. Tiny gobs of this slime stuff the kids are playing with lately (god I hate toy manufacturers). Cat claws. Grass clippings and dirt from the yard. Dried-out bits of Play-Doh (god I hate toy manufacturers). Toenail clippings. Laundry lint. Scraps of candy wrappers. More crumbs.

Yesterday, I swear, we opened the back door and the little breeze stirred up a tiny cyclone of detritus. A tumbleweed rolled through the kitchen. And I’m thinking to myself: “I just swept yesterday!”

Turns out that, though we love the look of the wood over the comfort of the carpet, the carpet was comforting in other ways too: it hid the disgustingness of our existence from us. But now, if we don’t clean it up every day or two, that dust is gonna show out, and there’s no hiding it from anybody.

But here’s the rub: in the old house, with the carpets, sure — we could go a week or so without vacuuming. Most likely, nobody would notice — sometimes, not even we would notice. (“When’s the last time we vacuumed?” “I dunno, March?”) But that doesn’t mean that the gross stuff wasn’t there. It was just disguised. Camouflaged. Trapped in the fibers underfoot. Out of sight and out of mind.

Which seems like where you want it — out of sight — until you consider that the longer it lurks there, the more it piles up. And every step kicks that stuff up into the air, into every room in the house, into your lungs. Where it lurks and festers and crystallizes and congeals into gunk that’s got you coughing and sneezing and feeling cruddy year-round and you don’t even know why.

Not so good after all.

When it’s out on the hardwood, we can see it, so we can clean it — as unpleasant and tedious as that may be — before it has the chance to pile up and do damage. So the floors might look dirtier than ever, but on balance, I know that in reality, they’re cleaner than we’ve had in years.

So I wonder:

How much crap is hiding in the carpet in my headspace?

Well, a lot. Probably an unconquerable mountain of it, if I’m honest. These are troubling times we live in, and unfortunately, a lot of the feelings and thoughts and shock and awe and disgust and sorrow and anger and regret … all of that stuff gets swept under the carpet. Mass shootings. Bigotry out in the open. Injustice and indifference to the common man (and woman). Death and destruction and general bad behavior everywhere you look. (And that’s just the past weekend in Trump’s America.) To say nothing of the everyday stuff in my own neighborhood. Work. Parenting. Neverending effing yard work.

All of it piles up, and unfortunately, it’s got nowhere to go. So it just gets pushed around. Pushed out of sight and … well, in this case, decidedly NOT out of mind. It just sits there, grinding itself deeper into the fibers, suffocating the productive thoughts I want to have and making the air unpalatable for the new thoughts I haven’t had yet. Which probably explains the drought I’m in — have been in — during this terrible, awful, no good, very bad year.

And while I usually like to take a positive tack here in these posts, I’m not sure where it is in this instance. I don’t know how to rip up the carpet inside my own head.

It sure does seem like I could use some hardwood up there. Even if it’s a pain in the butt.


A Week Away


We were away from the homestead for a few days on a much-needed vacation. Missed a metaphor Monday and a couple of other posts I might have made in the meantime. So instead of a deep-dive on a topic, here’s a rapid-fire scatter-shot swipe at a few things I think I’m thinking about the week.

The Orange One continues to have his own personal version of the Midas Touch, which is the same as the fabled king who turned everything he touched into gold, except in the case of the DT, he turns everything he touches to poop. This week he’s poopifying the NFL, getting his poopy little fingers into all its nooks and crannies and ensuring that we can’t even watch a brainless game for a few hours on Sunday without having conversation hijacked and steered into the mountainside that is the poop-in-chief. I’ll leave it to you to figure out that while DT claims he’s having a hissy fit about the flag and by extension the military, it’s interesting that he’s doing so by disparaging a league wherein something like 3/4 of the players are black. Let’s not forget that the taking-a-knee thing started out because of race issues and had to do with visibility, not the flag or the military. You might argue that the national anthem isn’t the place for such protests, and maybe it isn’t, but the point of protest isn’t to make things as comfortable and unobtrusive for bystanders as possible, now, is it? Oh, there was also that kerfuffle with the Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry. (Also mostly black.)

Whatever, the Daily Show and Samantha Bee and other venues have handled this better than I can; if you haven’t watched their clips, you should.

And while I’m on the subject of the DT (sorry, it’s been a while and he’s on a roll — a sharknado-rolls-downhill kind of roll), he’s intimating that our aid efforts to Puerto Rico are in some way concerned with the island’s debt. Never mind that Puerto Ricans are citizens, so it’s kind of like a few major cities are crippled, starving, and barely in communication. They’re people. And he’s worried about their debt in the same breath as talking about their literal survival. If you’re not enraged, you’re not paying attention.

In other eff-you-I’ve-got-mine news, I was sitting beachside with my kids, watching them do their best sandpiper imitations — chasing the waves and foam around, cackling and basically being adorable — and a pair of old ladies comes strolling up the beach. One of them slows down as she nears us. This isn’t totally unusual — grandparents tend to love watching little kids play, and as far as little kids go, mine are particularly adorable — but I glance at her and notice not the usual smile of watching the younger generation at play, but the sneer of the put-upon. Turns out, we were right in her walk path, which I guess I should have known, given that there was only an entire beach around us in literally half of all the available directions. She huffs a little and detours around us as closely as possible, even going so far as to step on my little finger as she resumes her path.

I feel like this may have been her little way of making the beaches great again, but I can’t be totally sure of her political leanings after such a tiny interaction.

While walking to a restaurant to pick up dinner one night, I saw a group of kids (and man, that sentiment crossing my fingers onto the page made me take a good, hard look at myself, because they were certainly college-aged) sitting at a sidewalk table in front of an ice cream shop. Six or seven of them, clearly all there together. In total silence. Not a word being said. Their attention, instead, entirely engrossed in their cell phones. I stopped. I stared. They didn’t notice me. (I’d have taken a picture, but I left my phone charging in the hotel room — it was dead from playing video games while my kids splashed in the pool all afternoon.) I continued to stare, and they continued not to notice, until a full thirty seconds had passed and I became uncomfortable.

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I know, I know. It’s nothing new, these youths and their cell phones. But it shook me. I mean, Panama City Beach (aka the Redneck Riviera) is a haven for college kids having a good time, and here they sat, passively shoveling ice cream into their beaks, staring blankly at their little hypno-boxes. Creepy.

Vacation is great, but it’s terrible for eating. I figure my diet was roughly 60% grease-based, 35% straight-up fried, and maybe 5% green — and that green was only in the form of guacamole smeared on something else deep-fried. I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier to see my own kitchen and my cast-iron murder skillet (come on, that thing is a home-defense system as much as it’s a dream for searing a steak).

And on the six-hour drive back from the beach, I was amused to be barraged with example after example that my theory about the rampant-yet-undiagnosed road disorder, PBV syndrome, is a real thing. Give me a minivan doing 75, and I’ll show you a beat-up old chevy that was doing 65 a minute ago now driving 80. Maybe I’ll mock-up a pamphlet and plant a few of them in doctors’ offices around town.

That feels like a heck of a lot of negativity. Here to right that ship is the sunset from our last night. I’m pretty sure there are at least a hundred shades of crimson in the sky, and I’m almost certain that the blue of the ocean here is described as “cobalt conundrum.”20170927_193132

 

 


Make Sure You’re Wearing Clean Underwear Today in case of Apocalypse


Did you know that the world is ending today?

You could be forgiven for having missed this news, though depending on what circles you travel in, there’s been no avoiding it. Biblical prophecy foretells it, don’tcha know.

What’s that? Biblical prophecy has also foretold the end of the world several times in the last decade?

Well, they were wrong before. This one’s for real. This one’s backed up by science. Planet X. You know? NASA recently discovered a new planet waaaaaay out past Pluto, didn’t they? Yeah, that thing. That’s Planet X. Gonna destroy the world. How? Well… Probably it’s gonna smack into Earth. Yep. Gonna knock us off our orbit and into the sun like the eight-ball, corner pocket. Or maybe it’s gonna fly by and zap us all with interplanetary radiation, you know, turn us into a bunch of crispy human-shaped hot pockets. Or maybe the planet is just loaded down with lizardmen bearing superior technology who will descend upon the Earth and enslave us all. Force us to make them chef salads at every meal of the day and watch nothing but reruns of The Bachelor until our brains turn to mush. (Joke’s on them; my brain has already been mush-ified by two months of teaching after a summer without rest.)

Or maybe not, you know? Maybe Planet X is just an omen and not the cause of our eternal demise. Prophecy is funny that way. Like, it might seem to say that the weather is gonna be 74 degrees and partly cloudy, and in actuality it’s four below and hailing frozen frogs, and you’re all upset at first because you wore shorts that day, but then you go back and re-read the prophecy and then, somehow, it all makes sense. And no, I know what you’re thinking. That’s not post hoc justification. We just didn’t read the prophecies right to begin with. We make the mistakes, not the bible, after all.

So maybe Planet X only tells us the apocalypse is here, and the apocalypse is actually going to come in the form of nuclear war brought on by the two mad boy-kings of the world, or a superbug unleashed on the population when a sheep farmer in New Zealand gets a little too familiar with his livestock, or a global flood or something. What’s that? Well, sure, the flood happened once before, but it worked then, didn’t it? Why fix what ain’t broken?

You say there’s not actually evidence for the global flood? That flood myths are an inevitable byproduct of cultures that spring up around rivers, as nearly all cultures did originally?

Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

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You believe what you want. But the rest of us? Us, over here, with the doomsday bunkers and the year’s supply of food-paste and toilet water?

We know what’s really coming.

And even if it doesn’t come?

We’ll know when the next thing is coming, too, before it happens.

Because if the world doesn’t end pretty soon, we’re all going to look really silly for believing in all these prophecies. Currently, doomsday prophecies are something like 0 to 72,000 against reality. We might have to start questioning our holy books and the people who interpret them for us.

Then again, all it takes is one.

So, brb going to read Revelations again and search for tenuous metaphors suggesting the present day. And I’m going to put on my tuxedo t-shirt in case the rapture does come. You know, so that when I meet Jesus, he’ll see that I wanted to dress it up for him, but keep it casual at the same time.

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Stone-cold classy.

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday.


How *you* doing?


Me? Over here?

Oh, you know, just having one of those weeks where it feels like every single thing I write or do or even think seems to me like a sentient pile of bear poop that is, itself, shaped like a bear. A bear with sharpened poop claws and poop fangs just waiting to slice into me for the crime of bringing its poopy mass into existence.

You know, a week where anything I create just gloms together into a seething, roiling mass of crapness. So much crap that it begins to collapse under its own weight, swirling and coalescing into a crappy black hole in my backyard; a black hole into which I might gladly toss my laptop, my current project, my other previous projects, and any and all potential future projects I might have thought about conceiving of. An entire alternate universe of projects that never had a chance of existing; those can go, too. Reality and possibility themselves bend around the gravity of my ineptitude.

Drive it all into the ocean and drown the world in the tsunami.

Douse it with gasoline and outshine the sun with the fireball.

Bury it underground and dwarf Everest with the displaced earth.

Ahem.

How am I doing?

Fine. Everything is fine.

How about you?


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