Ben’s Diary: I Made A Huge Mess In The Kitchen But I Can’t Clean It Up

nopapertowels

Dear Diary,

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

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Traversing Small Town Iowa And The What Cheer Flea Market

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.

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The What Cheer fairgrounds.

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!”

whatcheerscrap
A pile of rusted scrap at the What Cheer flea market.

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!

Anyway, enough poetic waxing, here’s the awards for Best and the Worst in Show: Continue reading Traversing Small Town Iowa And The What Cheer Flea Market

Ben’s Diary: Siya Stole My Diary But I’m Not Going To Do Anything About It. Not Yet.

Dear Diary,

Siya stole my diary but I’m not going to do anything about it. Not yet.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Diary, but it’s been a while. Did you miss me? I missed you. Fist bump, bro. I’m sorry about how long it’s been. I couldn’t find you! I was looking all over for you in a frantic haze. I couldn’t fathom how I’d misplaced you. You’re an electronic entity after all, a page in cyberspace. My mind was apace with lighting strikes of horrid uncertainty. Did you set off on your own, sailing away into the electronic ocean, forging ahead to colonize new blogs? Did you stumble off in drunken defragmentation, bumbling into a digital brothel, catching a terminal virus? Or did you simply forget about me, my memory archived along with your location, hidden, set aside indefinitely? Continue reading Ben’s Diary: Siya Stole My Diary But I’m Not Going To Do Anything About It. Not Yet.

Ben’s Diary: I’m Going On Vacation And Leaving Siya In Charge Of Our Fledgling Blog But I’m Not Worried About It. I Think.

vacationdiary

Dear Diary,

I’m going on vacation this week, leaving our fledgling blog in Siya’s hands, but I’m not worried about it. I think.

Well my long overdue vacation that I definitely should have learned more German for finally starts tomorrow. Long overdue? Yeah. I mean… I work hard. Sometimes. Don’t look at me that way. You don’t know! Oh sure, I don’t ever type a single word for Morning Commutes, but that’s just me letting art speak for itself. Or whatever. [Insert other argument about my productivity here.] (Shit, I should have gone back and edited this. It looks pretty damn lazy when you leave liner notes in the middle of a paragraph.) Okay yeah, perhaps I’m resting on the laurels of a little more than 100 posts. BUT I STILL EARNED THIS, DAMNIT! I HAVE A JOB OUTSIDE OF BLOGGING WHERE I FART SOMETIMES. Are we done with the link dumping yet? Nope! Fuck, it’s exhausting to write like Siya. Continue reading Ben’s Diary: I’m Going On Vacation And Leaving Siya In Charge Of Our Fledgling Blog But I’m Not Worried About It. I Think.

Ben’s Diary: I Tried To Squeak Out A Fart At Work But It Was NOT Silent

workfart

Dear Diary,

I tried to squeak out a fart at work but it was NOT silent.

Okay little background here, Diary. My office recently relocated to a new building which meant we had to help move a bunch of office crap into our new space. Moving always BLOWS. There’s never a time when moving is fun. This past weekend I helped my dad finish moving out of our old house. I’ve moved around a lot in my life, living in twenty some houses, but this was the house I’d lived in the longest. It bounced back and forth in possession between my mom and my dad, but it was always in the family for the past 16 or so year. You’d think this would have been an emotional moment in my life, a heartfelt goodbye to childhood. No.  You’d think wrong. It was the absolute worst because MOVING ALWAYS BLOWS. Continue reading Ben’s Diary: I Tried To Squeak Out A Fart At Work But It Was NOT Silent

Ben’s Diary: Yesterday Was My Birthday But I Didn’t Celebrate It

birthdaynope

Dear Diary,

Yesterday was my birthday but I didn’t celebrate it.

Let me start this off by saying I normally love my birthday.  It’s a great day for pot heads, fans of historical baseball architecture, and the stock price of torture in Hell. There’s a lot of wonderful and a lot of terrible shit that has happened on April the 20th.  But also, sometimes it’s Easter, which isn’t cool.  Easter is dumb.  Rabbits don’t have thumbs.  How the hell are they supposed to paint eggs and carry baskets? What an idiotic day.  It’s an Albert Hoffman meets Lewis Carroll hallucinatory holiday, a siphoning swirl of tie dyed eggshells and plastic pastel confetti broken up by the nightmare of Jesus’s bloody palms and headless chocolate house pets. Continue reading Ben’s Diary: Yesterday Was My Birthday But I Didn’t Celebrate It

Ben’s Diary: I Had To Go To Two Wedding Showers On The Same Day And Thought I Was Going To Have A Panic Attack But I Didn’t

Anxietyparty

Dear Diary,

This past weekend I had to go to two wedding showers on the same day and thought I was going to have a panic attack, but I didn’t.

In an effort to step up my dickish wedding game, I agreed to go to two wedding showers [Siya note: What the PHUCK is a wedding shower? I thought that was a bridal shower. For women.][Ben note: 1.) Siya, what the actual fuck? How did you get into my diary?  2.) It’s the same thing, only it’s all-inclusive, but not like resorts are all-inclusive, instead like how unisex bathrooms are all-inclusive.] on the same day, for the same couple.  It’s important to mention that I’m really happy for the couple and excited to share in their love and blah blah blah, this isn’t about them.  It’s about me.  THOUGH… indulge me on one important tangent on the groom-to-be who I’ve known for many years: THIS DUDE PUTS SALT ON SOUR PATCH KIDS.  I don’t care who you are, that’s weird as shit.

For most of my adult life I’ve had severe social anxiety which often results in crippling panic attacks.  This can make going to things like wedding showers a huge fucking ordeal for me.  Never had a panic attack before?  1.) Fuck you, you lucky bastard.  2.) Let me describe one for you.

A panic attack is basically like a fine dining experience with a chef’s special menu, only everything being served is pain.  Picture it like such: Continue reading Ben’s Diary: I Had To Go To Two Wedding Showers On The Same Day And Thought I Was Going To Have A Panic Attack But I Didn’t