I made a huge mess in the kitchen but I can’t clean it up.
But first, I’m sorry, Diary. I’ve neglected you. Again. Our relationship has stalled out these past few months, hasn’t it? But as you’ll see, it’s not you, it’s me. I know, I know, that’s the type of clichéd bullshit we whisper into the ears of tearful lovers, but Diary, you and I aren’t lovers. You’re a physical object. Well, an… electronic cloud? At the very least, you’re a webpage, which is not a thing you can love in the human relationship sense, but it is a thing you can love in the “hey, I love this thing” sense. So I love you, Diary, you great thing, you. And I’m back! To tell you about how the roommate and I keep forgetting to buy fucking paper towels.
We’re going on several MONTHS since a paper towel has stepped a quilted, papery foot in our house. Yes, months. Yes, that’s absurd. No, it’s not on purpose. No, it’s not an environmentalism thing. No, I’m not mad about. Yes, it has gotten gross. The kitchen that is. We’re in trouble. Like, real bio-hazard trouble. I think the EPA is about to send in their elite corps of Bio-Hazard Bros to sterilize the joint, wrapped in layer after layer of HAZMAT suit, armed to the teeth with Super Soakers filled with bleach and Lysol grenades. And honestly? I wouldn’t blame them. I’d blame Continue reading Ben’s Diary: I Made A Huge Mess In The Kitchen But I Can’t Clean It Up
What Cheer, Iowa is stuck in a constant population decline. In the late 1800s, What Cheer was a booming coal town with a population of over 3,200 people. By 2010, that number fell below 650. But three weekends a year, every year, that population turns back the clock, swelling back up toward its 19th century peak. Why? What Cheer’s Collectors’ Paradise Flea Market, one of the largest flea markets in the Midwest and a triannual celebration of used crap.
Now in its 39th year, What Cheer’s flea market is a sprawling web of second hand merchant shops packed into the local fairgrounds. The market truly is massive. Pop-up stands, tents, RVs, and tables encircle the ground’s dirt track, winding back through the middle of the field, spilling over into the half dozen or so show barns scattered across the grandstand area. At only $45 per dealer space, the market is an affordable place to set up shop, resulting in a juxtaposing mix of local amateurs and seasoned traveling professionals, hawking everything from furniture to action figures. Anything you can dream of you can find, in varying quality, for a negotiable price.
The worst time to go, and the time I’ve gone most often, is the market in early August. At the summit of summer, the Midwestern heat sits on your neck like a despondent child, beating your back with fists caught in the throes of inexhaustible tantrum. The air is thick, palpable with humidity, deep breaths taken with caution less you might drown in nature’s invisible smog.
But it’s also the time that inspires a little Iowan magic, precipitating the allure of small town wanderlust. By August, the market is walled in by a fortress of towering corn, fields stretching out into infinite crop points on the horizon. With the corn high, the market feels sunken in, swallowed low like a hidden valley, an oasis of commerce tucked away in the hillsides of food fields. It’s tempting to allude to the Field of Dreams as the market is a thrift bazar on dirt paths, built and rebuilt every season specifically so they’ll come. They. The masses. The masses that shop. The masses willing to spend. The masses that built this rickety empire on the backs of fluttering George Washingtons and Abe Lincolns.
And yes, the comparison to Dysersville as corny as a lazy crop pun, but it’s also fair. There’s an enduring earnestness to small towns in Iowa, encapsulated bubbles with diluted flows of time, a specific nostalgia that runs through the blood. It’s that feeling tickling up at you when you’re surrounded by a sea of rustic and rusted farm equipment, encompassing everything from needle nose pliers to irreparably broken oil lanterns. It’s that feeling that sits heavier in the pit of your stomach once you see the towering stack of antiquated technology for sale, used Betamax players, VHS cassettes, and working 8-track tapes. It’s that feeling that bursts forth in an audible laugh when the women at the ticket counter shouts out in enthusiastic glee, “Post some photos of the market on our Facebook page!”
If you go in with the wrong mentality, it’s all too easy to get washed into the tinted greys of depression lingering in the air. You’ll find yourself wandering aimlessly, overwhelmed, adrift in the dilapidated fairgrounds of second hand commerce. But if you attack the flea market with a sense of adventure, an opportunistic pride, you’ll find the experience redeeming and worth repeating. You’ll also find some really cool and weird shit!
I don’t know if you’ve realized this yet or not, but celery is basically the MacGyver of the vegetable world. Don’t believe me? Well I hardly think you’ve had enough time to have formed an opinion on the matter, but hear me out regardless, you conclusion jumping jerk. Celery is a jack-of-all-trades, the be all end all, the most adaptable, resilient, and flexible vegetable we have. And it’s not even close.
You feeling a little thirsty, a little dried out, got yourself chapped lip smacking in the summer heat? Bro, celery is NINETY-FIVE percent water according to an I’m Feeling Lucky Google search I just did! THAT’S A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF WATER CONTENT THAN GATORADE (94%). That makes celery a perfectly acceptable celebratory food item to pour out on the next Super Bowl winning coach. Oh what’s that? You’re not dehydrated because you’re too fat and lazy to even scooch your decaying ass to the edge of your seat? WELL EAT SOME CELERY, DUDE. A bunch of pseudo-science reading, bullshit spouting, negative-calorie dieting fools will explain to you that you actually burn more calories chewing celery than you gain digesting it. I HAVE NO IDEA IF THAT’S TRUE, BUT VEGETABLES ARE GOOD FOR YOU AND A HEALTHY DIET CAN LEAD TO WEIGHT LOSS #REALSCIENCE. Oh what’s that? You’re feeling a little Ace Ventura with a bunch of shit in your teeth after eating celery? WELL NO PROBLEMO AMIGO! Celery is nature’s dental floss. Just peel a stringy piece off the stalk, and you’ll be getting celery chunks out of your teeth with other celery chunks in no time!
Seriously, celery is there for you no matter what the problem is. Need a good magic trick for a child’s birthday party? Dump some raisins on your bro, and celery turns those pruned grape fuckers into ANTS. (Fact: kids go apeshit bananas for eating insects.) Need a science project for school? Celery. A Mother’s Day present? Celery. Forgot to bring flowers to a funeral? Celery. Need a raft to float down the Mississippi? CROSS-STITCH A BUNCH OF STALKS TOGETHER AND YOU’VE GOT YOURSELF A BOAT! Dude, I’m telling you, no matter what the situation, celery has your back. For life.
Oh what’s that, you want to sneak out of work during the middle of the day, maybe throw a few dollars down on the ponies, gambling away the excess fluff from your employee contribution to your 401k? Well, fuck it! Throw some celery on your chair and no one will even know you were ever gone! Has anyone seen Karen? Yeah, she’s RIGHT THERE DOING WORK. They don’t even know! Look at that pic! THEY. DON’T. EVEN. KNOW.
Celery, we owe you a salute. You’re the best, dude. The absolute best. Now can you help me fix this flat tire or what? Oh, you happen to moonlight as a tire iron? Why am I not surprised?