Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hear, Hear

As of this week, I am no longer listening to music through headphones. After going to the doctor on Tuesday and hearing from him that I have "noise induced hearing loss", I decided I should try limit the daily beating I bestow upon my eardrums. The way that "NIHL" occurs is through damage to the chochlea by repeated exposure to high intensity sounds. Last night, my right ear was ringing from a show I went to the night before. And yesterday, I could hear the high sqeal in my eardrums during driving school, competing with the hum of three fans, as well as a video about the "5 Keys to Collision Prevention".

About fifty percent of the time my right ear rings anyway. I usually don't notice this until I finally get to bed every night, when every noise and rattle is silenced. Except the constant buzzing in my eardrum, which by now can be considered as permanent. Though cutting out headphone usage will be easy, I don't think I'll be able to pull through when it comes to concerts.

Ear plugs, worn with no shame by the artists themselves, are hardly seen among the crowd in the audience. Mostly they're used by performers and security, standing guard near the stage. To the majority of concert goers, sticking little yellow foam balls in your ears would be considered unecessary, or simply lame. But with my newly discovered diagnosis, and my slight but determined will to get better, I decided to go ahead and maybe try them out at the next show. So I picked some up at a music shop on my way back from driving school.

To test them out, I stuck them in when vacuuming this morning. This was, after cleaning my ears of course, not wanting to remove the plugs to see a smear of ear wax on the yellow surface (now that I think about it, could the purpose of the yellow color of the plugs be to camouflage the ear wax?) When you have an object obstructing the passages in your ear, you can hear every little noise going on inside your head. Every cough, gulp, and chew is amplified. I could hear every little sniffle or clatter of teeth, and of course, that everpresent ringing. And as always, there is that booming noise that comes every time you plug your ears with your hands. To me it sounds like that very low space ship lift-off sound. Or also, like holding up a shell to your ear, except this time the noise is coming from within your head.

So even though most of driving class yesterday was spent worrying about my hearing problem, I did get some bits of valuable information. One of these having to do with how to deal with animals on the road in rural areas. "There is a proper way to hit a deer," my driving instructor said, and everybody laughed, not sure if he was joking or not. He followed by explaining that when you see a deer, the best solution is not to stop or swerve, but to keep going at regular speed. That way, when the deer is hit, it will fly over your car, preventing damage to your windshield. The common reaction is for people to slam on the brakes before hitting the deer, which is then catapulted into the windshield piercing the glass with its antlers (which have killed people by the way). At first I was taken aback by the idea, but after picturing myself on a curvy country road, with oncoming traffic and a semi-truck behind me, I realized that in a "human life vs. nature" scenario, I wouldn't mind knocking a deer over.

And as with every lesson, we had our bit of crazy driving videos. So far, I've seen a man thrown out of a car into an oncoming lane and then run over. I've seen a vicious shopper push a mini-van with her sedan from a parking spot at a mall. And I've seen an angry driver body slam his victim's car hood after a fight, falling off, and then being run over. This week we saw some of the usual mishaps often found on shows like "Most Outrageous Videos", as well as some more than disturbing commercials from overseas.

The last video titled "Russian Woman Parking", reminds me alot of an "accident" I partook in when I was little. My mom, a Russian woman who was attempting to park, scraped the car on a gate once while trying to pull into our driveway at our old house in Mexico. I, being the silly and naive seven year old that I was, immediately jumped out of the car yelling "Accident! Accident!" The car had a pretty significant dent across the passenger's door, with a few metallic gashes along the red surface of our Oldsmobile. The neighbors came out and laughed at the embarassed white lady just learning to drive. The gate remained intact, and the car was eventually sold; dent, humility and all.

With all this talk about crashes and first-time driving collisons, I remembered my first time behind the wheel, or next to it perhaps. It happend at about the same age, and just a few houses down from that cursed gate. As me an my mom approached our house, I asked if I could steer on the last turn onto our street. I was sitting in the passengers seat--a privilege I was rarely granted at that age--and was feeling quite confident pulling up to the intersection. So after my mother instructed me, I put my clumsy seven-year-old hands on the wheel, and made the right turn. Not yet having grasped the concept of steering, I didn't realize that you needed to release the steering wheel to make the car go forward again. So I held on, and kept holding on, until my mom finally slammed on the brakes, meters away from our neighbors gleaming white gate. I don't remember if I was scolded or not for the near collision, but I do know my parents hardly let let me drive so much as a golf cart for the next nine years.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"She asked me why..."

Having grown up in a private Chrisitan school all through elementary and junior high, I know what it's like having strict rules implemented on me in the classroom. Our school motto was "Safety, Respect, and Responsibility", and for violating this code of conduct, we would receive a "BLEEP!" This stood for "Behavior Lapses Erode Educational Performance." These were for the middle school kids. For the elementary students, they had the "OOPS!" I was still a well behaved young lad during those early years though, so I never got to find out what clever set of words that acronym stood for. From what the cooler and unrestrained children at public school told me, I found out that their version was called the refural, which sounded so much more official and threatening to my fourth grade mind.

The way that these worked, was if your got three of either one, you would get a forty-five minute detention, to be carried out either after school or during lunch with the vice principal. These would most likely involve either picking up trash around the school, or cleaning tables in classrooms. If you managed to get yet another "BLEEP!" after the initial three (Oh, you rascal!), you got an hour and a half detention. An hour and a half of roaming the campus with a black garbage bag and gloves, gathering Capri Sun juice packs and Lunchables boxes.

If you intended on completing your detention during school hours, you had to eat your lunch in the office, and sit there all through recess. During these awkward visits I got to know the staff there pretty well, as well as all the hidden nooks and crannies the office building had to offer. Later at home, when I discussed the day's events with my mother, I learned that Patty's (the secretary) mother lived at the apartment buildings a few blocks down from our house, across the police station. These apartments also served as a halfway home for ex-convicts, an agreement our local neighborhood warriors were petitioning against. Before my office visits, Patty was simply known as the "band-aid lady".

The rule that angered us the most was the restriction on hair length: for guys, it couldn't be past your eyes. This made me so ferociously angry that a school would go that far to monitor someone's appearance. Hats and caps, I understood. Ripped jeans? Sure, whatever. But hair? Is it really that necessary?

If a teacher or supervisor noticed a student's hair length was becoming longer than appropriate, they'd send a polite letter to the student's parents notifying them that their son was violating the dress code. So, for the last two years of middle school, I would grow my hair out as long as I could, brushing it out of my eyes to remain unnoticed, and eventually cut it when I was detected.
This would usually be by our vice principal, who greaty resembled Hitler due to his black hair and mustache (which turned into a full beard during track season).

So when I heard about a seven year old Aborginial boy who's shoulder length hair was cut off by a teacher during class, to me it sounded like business as usual. Of course, the teachers at my old middle school wouldn't actually cut the hair themselves (although I bet some would have love to), instead they'd threaten us with suspension until our hair was back to proper standards. If I ever had a teacher that would be willing to do such a thing, it would be my Bible teacher (yes, Bible is a subject at Christian schools). Countless times she had me sent down to the office for having holes in my jeans, and countless times I have recited the Christian pledge of allegiance under her judgmental stare.

In my ideal world, when asked about his remarkable hair length, the native boy would burst out into the opening lines of the title track from Hair, the musical. I wish that I had been clever enough to do that in my vice principal's office, while being questioned about my hair length. But that wasn't the case, since back then I was more focused on being rebellious rather than ironic, and I angrily complied every time.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

Today I finally found my guitar strap and slapped it on my guitar. The holes aren't worn it yet so they're still extremely tight, and make a loud noise when the leather rubs against the strap holders. Whenever I move it about my shoulder, it sounds like someone's skin rubbing against a leather sofa. Like on a hot summer today, when you sit down shirtless on your parents' white leather couch, and then your sweaty back sticks to it and you feel disgusting afterwards. This was something I considered doing after mowing the lawn today, but instead I settled for my bed, which is warmer, and less sticky.

One time at school I sat on a piece of gum in the hallway by my locker. I didn't realize this until getting off a different white fabric sofa after about two hours of Cops and Jerry Springer, and turning around to see a dark green smear where my butt had been. Still confused, I grabbed for my ass to feel the remains of the thick, sticky substance. Someone had chewed on this, spat it out, probably stepped on it, and now it had been evenly divided between the floor, couch, and my posterior. I spend the next hour with an old tooth brush and a bar of soap trying to get the stain off of my pants. Then I walked back to the living room, and flipped the cushion.

This was very similar to the time my mom had jabbed me with her nail polish applier while yelling at me to get out of the bathroom after an arguement. Being the elusive culprit that I am, I managed to swerve out of the way, only sustaining a minor smear of bright pink nail polish across the sleeve of my Guns N' Roses t-shirt. As hard as it was convincing her to help while she was still angry, I managed to get directions to where the nail polish remover was located, and made my way down to the laundry room. And once again, I spent an hour with a tooth brush, scrubbing away at my stained and sabotaged shirt.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What sound does a Mastodon make?

Mastodon's band members Bill Hinds and Troy Sanders (both to the right of Borat) have always dedicated themselves to looking as scraggly and unkempt as possible. While on stage, guitarist Hinds can often be seen stabbing himself in the chest with his lengthy, stiff beard while headbanging. And singer-bassist Sanders refuses to keep his hair in any organizable manner, with rigid, sweaty locks jutting out every which way. But still, they manage to push through to the mainstream, going as far as being nominated for a Grammy, and appearing on Conan O'Brien. Yet not even on their MTV do they tidy up, performing "Colony of Birchmen" alongside Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme, who did vocals on the original track.

To my dissapointment, the performance didn't do the song justice, and the chorus to me sounded more like yawning upon first hearing it, rather than the harmonic and soulful piece I first fell in love with on the original track. And someone should wake up Josh Homme, because nobody could be so passionate about singing for someone else's band, that they would keep their eyes shut the whole time while performing. Especially at an award show they weren't nominated at, and a crowd so unenthusiastic as MTV's.

On the other hand, the music video for the song has become one of my favorites and makes up for whatever crappy performances they could have put on afterwards. The video features masked tribesmen who I assume are the "Birchmen", roaming the woods as their masks smear and blend into the surrounding nature.

Watch more Blood Mountain videos on AOL Video

Now, though growing ridiculously long beards has been a common practice through metal history, Mastodon may actually take influence from a more historical figure rather than just their musical predecesors. While browsing through their merch, I saw a very unique shirt that I would be tempted to buy, but too shy to actually wear. The shirt features a heavily bearded man displayed on the front, with the band name written out in the strands of his facial hair. The description explained that the picture was actually of a "Russian mystic" known as Rasputin.

Epic t-shirt.

Troy Sanders and Rasputin himself. Anyone else see the resemblence?

Being Russian myself, I was shocked that I had never even heard of him, and proceeded to do a quick search on Wikipedia. Upon seeing actual photos, I realized that he actually looked quite familiar, and I had seen these same images on an album cover. The album cover of Type O Negative's Dead Again, to be specific, which also spells the album name in English using Russian letters. This is done in the same style as the Borat logo, which if read by a "Russki", would spell "vordt".

Rasputin, who rose to fame during the early 19th century, was a respected prophet and mystic believed to have healing powers. He served as a great influence to then Czar Nicholas II, and caused major political controversy during his years in St. Petersburg. In 1916, he was poisoned, shot to death, and disposed of in a frozen river by conspirators. His genitals, which were reportedly dismembered from him during the assassination, are now being displayed in a jar at an erotic museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, though skeptics claim them as fake. These days, in addition to being mentioned in Mastodon's newest album Crack the Skye, the Russian legend can be seen in Rasputin: The Mad Monk (portrayed by Christopher Lee, now more commonly known as Saruman) and in Rasputin: Dark Server of Destiny (played by Alan Rickman, aka Severus Snape).

Speaking of erotic museums, a Chinese city is planning to open the country's first erotic theme park. "Love Land", in Chongqing, hopes to get rid of sexual tabboos in the strictly communist country. And in Beijing, the Chinese have opened a "spy museum" exhibiting espionage technology, such as guns concealed as lipstick and other gadgets. The only catch is that foreigners are under no circumstances allowed; only those with a Chinese citizenship are granted access.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pride and Prejudice... And Zombies?

While browsing through, an online blog which compiles lists of strange and unusual events and people, I came across yet another collection of "Insanely Titled Books".With titles such as The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America and Fuckin' Concrete Contemporary Abstract Algebra Introduction, this list made up a pretty good assortment of peculiar books I would have never come across on my own.

A particular one that stood out to me was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance. I have always tried to keep an open mind about what books I read, often delving into "classic" novels well before my time that either my parents or teachers had suggested. Most of these however failed to capture my interest and I would continuosly abandon the tempt after the first few chapters. Having heard of the original Pride and Prejudice and seen it lying around library shelves, I had never considered picking it up and had dismissed it for "one of those books my mother would read."

This new book on the other hand, the zombie version, offered a solution to my problem. Now, instead of going through all four hundred and something pages of uneventful plot, I could read the same novel, except with additional segments featuring zombie action for extra exictement. This would definetaly hold my interest until the end, and I could appreciate this timeless classic with the help of a little bit of gory, violent, zombie chaos.

Why, I'm surprised schools and publishing companies haven't figured this one out yet. By throwing in a bit of the undead into dated and tedious books read in class, they could re-introduce historical novels for younger generations to read. They could begin with Of Mice and Men and Zombies, featuring Dawn of the Dead style zombie shoot-outs throughout rural California farms. Or maybe even an edition of Romeo and Juliet and Zombies, including the two star-cross'd lovers at the brink of a zombie epidemic, eventually turing into the dreadfull creatures themselves. This would revolutionize literature as we know it today, and pave the way for countless of big budget films based on the newly revamped titles.

Among the other bizarre titles found on Oddee are How to Avoid Huge Ships, and Reusing Old Graves. Some of these, such as How to Shit in the Woods, I fail to understand why anyone would actually devote their time to come up with a whole book on the subject. For the equestrian type there is not only Bombproof Your Horse, but also The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, because sometimes, horses on their own just aren't stimulating enough. And for those with artistic intent, behold: The Cunt Coloring Book, for all your clitoral coloration needs. Just be sure to stay within the lines–or should I say in this case–the lips.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


A week ago I had two strange coincidences that occured almost back to back. The first took place the day after I watched the movie Milk, a biography featuring Sean Penn as the first gay man to hold political office. During the film, we see his transition from an orderly insurance worker in New York City, to a bearded, pot-smoking hippie in San Fransisco, and then back to a clean shaven politician looking similar to what we saw at the beginning of the picture, only now more flamboyant and colorful.

One of the main antagonists in the film was Anita Bryant, a singer/Florida Citrus spokesperson turned activist, who campaigned against a local law that prohibited discrimination against homosexuals. During her political crusade she compared gays to "prostitues and people who sleep with St. Bernards," infuriating the gay community in her state. They struck back by boycotting Florida Citrus orange juice, and bars across the nation replaced it with apple juice in their Screwdrivers, dubbing it the "Anita Bryant". In one scene of the film, you can see one of Milk's campaign members wearing a shirt that says "Anita the Hun", a reference to the 4th century tyrant.

Another politician featured in the movie was John Briggs, who pushed Proposition 6, which made it illegal for homosexuals to teach in schools. Briggs and fellow gay-hater Anita thought it unethical that these people should be around their children all day, teaching them and influencing their ways. This is where my coincidence takes place:

The next day I was reading Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris, and the 4th from last short story ("Chicken in the Henhouse") sounded strikingly familiar. In the story, the author watches the news in his hotel room, which broadcast the same topics I earlier discussed. I might as well have been reading from the script of the movie: the same accusations against homosexual teachers are made, and the author, being openly gay himself, gives his own views on the topic. The main plot of the story involved the author helping a young boy carry coffee to his parents room, the whole time imagining how bad it probably looked. This took place i'm guessing in either the '80's or '90's, which shows how decades later the same issues are still being debated upon.

The second coincidence had to do with another David Sedaris story, and a tragic accident involving a lightning strike. A few days ago, my History teacher was telling the class about the 2009 HotDocs Film Festival being held in Toronto April 30th through May 10th. One particular documentary premiering at the event, was Act of God, which profiled lightning-strike victims and their different outlooks on life after the accident. Some believed that their lives had been spared in order to accomplish something great in the future, while others interpreted it as punishment for their sins.

While on the topic of lightning strikes, someone mentioned a freak accident that happend in Fredericson, New Brunswick, where a girl was completely vaporized by lightning during a softball game. Though I still wasn't sure wether I believed it or not, what shocked me the most was the randomness of the accident, and how it could occur to anyone. One minute you're watching your daughter/sister/girlfriend step up to bat, and then after a deafening clash of thunder, she's gone. As everyone recovers from the shock and makes sure they're okay, you're loved one is nowhere to be seen.

A few hours later when I was at home reading, I came across another David Sedaris essay (this time in When You Are Engulfed in Flames) that practicly summarized my thought from earlier that day. The story is called "The Monster Mash", and chronicles a series of visits the author made to a medical examiners office. There he witnesses severed victims from numerous freak accidents, such as random shootings at a hot dog stand, a woman crushed by a car that drove through her living room wall, and old people falling off ladders while replacing light bulbs. Once again, the uncertainty of these events crept into my head, and I experienced the same feeling of danger and insecurity as I did earlier when hearing about the the girl who was vaporized. One particular thought that was running in my mind was captured almost perfectly in this passage:

"No one is safe. The world is not manageable. The trick-or-treater may not be struck down on Halloween, but sooner or later he is going to get it, as am I, and everyone I have cared about."

Though odd and disturbing at times, my favorite aspect of his stories are the little random facts and sighting he mentions throughout his books. These may include a dog with a peg leg, a drug dealer's wife who refers to the remote as "the nigger", and other strange encounters and experiences. Having since finished both books, I hope maybe the next Sedaris book I read may bring forth more strange coincidences to ponder over.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jehovah's Witnesses

Earlier today during lunch, I was walking home from school with my girlfriend, when I noticed two oddly dressed people approching my house. I didn't see any extra cars on the drive way, so I assumed they had walked. We were still a few houses down the street from mine, but I could immediately tell who they were. One woman was fairly old, and was dressed as if going to a funeral. The other lady, who was a lot taller and younger, was pretty much dressed as a nun, except without the cornette.

Though I don't know a lot about their silly religion, I've learned enough over the years to know that Jehovah's Witnesses like to dress up for their evangelistic excursions, going door to door while godless homeowners cower behind their curtains.

Not wanting to interupt the sales pitch they were about to implement on my mother, we waited across the street, as they knocked on my door. Fortunately, no one answered, and we walked across the street and made our way up the driveway. The Jehovah's witnesses sure seemed happy to see us when we met them halfway up my lawn.

The first thing they asked me was if I lived there, and then if there was anybody home, to which I mumbled, "Oh, I don't know. I don't think so. There could be." Immediately after I said that, I looked around to see my two year old brother standing in the window. My mother was probably in the kitchen or on the phone, and was too busy to answer the door. Either that or she saw the two women looming on our front porch, and left the room.

After those awkward few moments, they told us who they were, and presented me with a magazine explaining their beliefs, which I politely declined. They they asked if I would like them to come some other time, to which I also said no as well. Now that I think about it, how funny would it have been if I had said, "Why yes, I would like you to come again some other time. How about at three when my brother is sleeping, and my mother has all the time in the world to hear and discuss your wisdom?" Now this would have been utterly mean, and later I found out that the whole time they were present, my mother was in the living room trying to talk on the phone while the dog was barking, wondering why the hell me and my girlfriend were standing on the opposite side of the street staring at our house.

This incident reminded me of a previous one a few months before, when we were walking home on the same street. We saw two young men in suits walking away from somebody's house: one got into a black BMW, and the other came up to us, and asked if we went to church. We both said yes, although my response was a lie.

"Are you guys brother and sister?"

Shocked and confused as to why he would be asking this, we both said no and gave each other looks that said, What the hell is this moron thinking? The poor guy apologized and handed us flyers with a picture of the Salt Lake City Mormon Temple on the back. The flyer included the site, which promised to answer such questions as, "What is the true nature of God?" and the omnipresent, "Where do we go after this life?"

After this uncomfortable encounter, the guy got back in his car and drove off. We walked away laughing, and now both me and my girlfriend have the flyers pinned to our cork boards. You can't blame the Mormons though, to them anyone could be a brother or sister.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Rain Will Wash It Away

Today was the first of my weekly dog shit pick-up, for which I am gettin paid $10 at the end of the month. Once a week, I have to roam the backyard looking for piles of decomposing fly-covered turds to scoop. Since our backyard isn't fully enclosed, we can't let our dog out without a leash. Therefore, we have a wire running from our back porch, diagonally across the yard, to an opposite corner of the back fence. To this wire, we hook up a leash so Batsy can run along freely back and forth as he chooses.

Unfortunately, I waited for a bad time to start the job. My mother had invited her friend with her two kids, and they were currently sitting in our backyard: the parents drinking wine, and the children playing on the lawn (away from the dog's poop ridden path, of course).

Before going out, I put on some old shoes I didn't mind getting dirty, and planned out my technique. I would stick my hand into a plastic bag, pick up as many piles as I could in my fist, and then use my free hand to turn the bag inside out. Instead of just one, I would use two bags (in case the first had a hole in it). Not having any proper tools, all I had at my disposal were grocery bags. The same grocery bags that we trusted to carry our milk, bread, meat, fruits, and other foods home from the grocery store. The same grocery bags in which we brought home the dog food itself, which is now scattered into digested piles all over the back lawn.

With my plastic bags in hand, I walked out unto the back porch, only to hear, "You're gonna need at least six or seven of those," from my dad. Before I even got to the lawn, I could already see a fresh, steaming heap wating for me. I picked it up using my pre-planned method, but the smell was too much to take, so I immediately inverted the bag and threw it a few meters away. I looked down at the lawn and saw that it had left a brown smear on the grass. The rain will wash it away, I thought, and continued along the rest of the backyard, praying that I didn't step in anything.

Our guests quickly noticed what I was doing, and my mother's friend asked my parents, "How much are you paying him? Maybe I should get on my knees and give him a hand!" Hilarious. Somehow, things just aren't as funny when you've got week-old clumps of excrement in your palms.

And then, as I was tying up the last bag, my dad noticed the smear I had left from the first collection. Thinking someone stepped on it, he asked the kids to check their shoes.

"Oh, don't worry, the dog probably stepped on it himself. The rain will wash it away," I said, hoping to get away clean.

"No, how about you tear out the dirty grass so we don't have worry about it anymore."

Well at least for all the other times after that, I tore out enough of the dirt so that I felt as less of the warmth and soggyness as possible.

On my way back to the house, I wiped my shoes on the (clean) grass, and checked for the twentieth time that they were shit-free. When I got back into the house, I took them off, and then touching absolutely nothing, I walked to the bathroom and washed my hands for five minutes straight.

Mrs. Doubtfire and the Wooden Cow

This morning as I was finishing up my breakfast, I looked out of the kitchen window and saw that our neighbor/landlord was tearing down our chain link fence to put a new wooden one in. This was a regular ocassion: I'd wake up late on a Sunday morning and see him walking around our back yard, mowing the lawn, pulling out weeds, or showing the property to future potential tenants. His fifteen year old son was helping him this time, and I could see him furiously swinging a pick axe at a patch of fresh dirt. The two seemed to be working quite hard, and for a second I thought, "Hmmm, I'm not doing anything important. Maybe I should go out there and help. After all, it is my backyard they're working on." Then I quickly came to my senses, and sat back down on the couch to watch Mrs. Doubtfire, for the 8 or 9th time.

Later in the day, I had to supervise my baby brother while he played in the sandbox in our backyard. I poured myself a cup of tea, got my laptop, and sat outside in the 80 degree weather, watching a two year old roll around in sand. The problem was, it was so sunny that I couldn't see anything on my screen ecxept my own reflection. I bet I looked pretty retarded, waving my laptop in the air, looking for a better angle. I was extremely glad the neighbor and his son were done working for the day, or else they would see me relaxing on my back porch, with my laptop and my drink, while they were hard at work providing me with a new fence.

After captivating all the fun a sandbox could provide, Anton moved onto a patch of dirt next to the house, where he found a wooden cow and started smearing it into the dirt. My mother, trying to prevent a mess, yelled to him: "Take it out on the grass! Take the cow out on the grass!" He later went back to his sandbox, and proceeded to shovel sand unto the lawn.

This is what it's like having a sibling who is 14 years younger than you...

You open up the dishwasher, only to find half of it filled with Thomas the Tank Engine sippy cups and Mickey Mouse themed plates. You lay down to watch an episode of Cops, and five minutes later you get kicked off the TV because Dora the Explorer is starting soon.
When you have friends coming over, you have to tell them to call instead of knocking if its during nap hours. The majority of people that visit your house are under five years of age. Ninety-nine percent of your PVR is filled with recordings of Baby Einstein and Winnie the Pooh. You're approching graduation, and yet you're trapped in the Hundred Acre Woods.

Sitting in my backyard with a laptop, I realized how pathetic I must have looked, talking on Instant Messenger, while my baby brother played by himself in the sand. It's the same at restaurants, where I play Tetris on my cellphone while waiting for my food, rather than socializing with my family. I also can't get through a regular day without reading a fresh batch of FML stories. And now, even in my backyard, outdoor outlets and charger cables prevent my laptop's battery from running out, keeping me wired and entertained as I bask in the sun.