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Friday, June 27, 2014

Bonus Friday post: My advice to a first-time mom

Earlier this week, a friend asked me to jot down some advice to share at a baby shower that I wasn't going to be able to make it to. So I did. And I kind of like what I wrote, and plus it's already written (which is a major advantage) so I decided what the hell, I'll share it here as well.

Everything on this list is a realization that came to me at some point in my own motherhood journey, so hopefully it's not the same tired shit that you've heard a billion times before. Or maybe it is. But there are pictures, so ... that helps?

Patent's Patented Advice to a First-Time Mother:

-- Dress your baby in whatever makes you happy. 
     Maybe that means nothing but pajamas for a year. 
     Maybe that means cutoff jean shorts every day. 
     Or maybe that means color-coordinated fancy outfits with matching bibs and shoes. Don't feel guilty for one single second about whatever you decide to dress your kid in. If hundreds of dollars of gifted clothing goes straight into a storage bin unworn, OH WELL. Don't you dare stress out about it. Don't. You. Dare.

My little peanut wore pajamas almost exclusively until she was 8 months old. Sorry, not sorry.

-- Go to bed at 7PM if you're tired. Hell, go to bed at 6PM. 
Maybe you'll feel lame, like the world is going on without you. But the world will still be there when you're ready for it, and meanwhile you'll actually get a decent night's sleep. 

While I was on maternity leave, Audrey and I often went to bed at 7PM and then didn't get up for the day until 7AM the next morning. (waking up 3x per night to eat, of course). This meant that if she had trouble going back to sleep, I had 4+ hours of cushion in my schedule to not be overly tired the next day.

-- Don't ever let yourself feel like you're falling behind. Even drug-addicted morons manage to raise kids that eventually walk, talk, know the alphabet, count to 100, and eat solid food. Everything will happen in good time.

-- There's no such thing as "too many pictures." Don't apologize for taking them and don't apologize for sharing them. Anyone who is offended by this can just eat your butt.

I mean come on. Babies are cute as f***.

-- If you can't find the time or energy to keep up with your hobbies for a while, don't worry -- the hobbies will still be there when you can. So will the favorite bars, and the favorite restaurants, and the friends you don't have much time for anymore. If "momness" takes you over at first, just let it happen. Don't forget who you are, but don't worry if you can't be that person for a little while. You WILL get a chance to be you again. I promise.

 The best is when your baby is finally old enough to tag along on your hobbies. Beer festival with baby? Check.

So much of the stress of motherhood is stress we put on ourselves for no particular reason. "My baby goes to bed an hour earlier than everyone else's baby!" "My baby doesn't crawl yet!" "One book said it was good to give baby a bath every day, but another book said it was harmful to do that!" "My 10 month old is still eating baby food labelled for 4-6 month olds!" "She still doesn't sleep through the night!" "I didn't go out with my hiking club a single time this summer. WILL THE MOUNTAINS STILL BE THERE NEXT YEAR?"

Uhh ... probably?

STOP ALL OF THIS. Just stop. It's not as easy as that, but in a way, it kind of is as easy as that. Take these thoughts and these stresses and these comparisons and put them on a fire. Remember all the absolute morons who have managed to raise kids through to adulthood without issue. You're smarter than they are. You can do this.

Why does this post end with a picture of my baby at the grocery store? BECAUSE IT'S CUTE STOP QUESTIONING ME.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A collection of first world problems that have plagued me of late

This has been a bit of a tough week for me. So many things have gone wrong. I demand loads of sympathy for my plight. Don't think I deserve sympathy? Well, I think you'll change your tune when you hear about all the struggles I've been facing recently:

-- I overheated my lunch the other day so it was so hot I couldn't safely eat it for several minutes. But I was very hungry, so I kept trying to take bites even though it was boiling lava hot, and it burned my mouth. By the time it was actually cool enough to eat, I had already eaten more than half of it and my mouth was like the zone of devastation after a volcanic eruption. Lunch was ruined.

It wasn't quite as bad as when this happened, but like ... almost.

-- While I was at Target shopping for baby shorts, I also picked up a 5-pack of shitty washcloths that I could use as sweat towels and general house rags. But when I got to the cashier, I realized that the pack I had picked up had no price tag on them. The cashier asked if I remembered how much they cost, and I shrugged and said "maybe five bucks?" and that's what the cashier charged me for them. Turns out they were actually $2.99 though. I shortchanged myself by two whole dollars.

$2 doesn't sound like much until you realize all the great stuff you could buy with it.

-- I was at hot yoga the other night, and as usual, they handed out iced towels at the end of class. That iced towel is the greatest thing in the entire world at that moment -- it is like getting a handy from an angel. An ice angel, when your body temperature is about as high as it's ever been. But on Tuesday night, my ice towel wasn't very icy. It was "cold" at best, and when I placed it on my boiling-hot body, it quickly warmed up to where it provided no relief at all. Like, why the f*** do I even get up in the morning.

-- Some crazy person is fixated on me and follows me around the Internet leaving rude comments on everything I do, like a toddler throwing tantrums for attention. It is mildly infuriating, like when you're trying to enjoy a nice garden party and a wasp keeps following you around everywhere.

"Just wanted to make sure you didn't get to have any fun today! Wheeee!"

-- I packed all my lunches for the week on Sunday, only to realize that I made them a little too small so they're not quite keeping me full. Does this mean I'm supposed to, like, rebuild each lunch with a little more food? That will take minutes. Do I look like someone who has minutes to spare every day? F*** no. So now I just have to top my belly up with Pop Tarts instead and those are unhealthy. Honestly, it's like God hates me and wants me to be fat.

Tee hee I like the S'mores Pop Tarts the best.

-- Flies keep coming into our house. It's summer now, and like most people around these parts, we don't have A/C, which means lots of open windows and open garage and so on. Well these big fat ugly black flies keep finding their way into the house, and then I have to hunt them down with the fly swatter. Sometimes it takes days to finally catch and kill the bastards. How do they not die of natural causes by then? And what are they doing in my house when I'm not home? Probably a bunch of weird shit that I wouldn't approve of.

"I mostly like to touch all your shit and use it without permission."

So as you can see, I've had a lot of setbacks this week. But I will soldier on, because I am strong enough and good enough and I'm worth it.

If you've also found this week to be a struggle, just know that I feel your pain and I know that together, we can pull through this. Buck up, buttercup. We got this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Things I cannot handle: Shorts for babies

As we all know, my baby is, ahem, not exactly slim. Alas, she has outgrown all her 9-month clothes and needed some new larger clothes, which necessitated a weekend trip to Target.

And I almost died in there (as did my credit card). Why, you ask? Because shorts for babies exist.

Let me try my best to explain why shorts for babies are so hysterical:

First off, they look funny even when they're just sitting on the shelf. Target had this whole giant display of their Circo brand shorts, in like a billion different colors. And they were on sale for buy one get one 50% off. So I stood there in front of this SHORTS BONANZA, knowing that they were a great price and I should purchase lots of them ... but they look like this:

The butt region is gigantic. They are high-waisted. They come in insane colors and patterns. And they have the bottoms sewn in a permanent folded-up state.

What I'm trying to say is, they look like grandma shorts.

I was even more enthralled by the jean shorts. Jorts for babies? STOP. IT.

Cherokee® Infant Toddler Girls' Jean Short - Blue 18 M

I was so excited when I saw these on the shelf, I actually made the most Momlike utterance ever in my entire life: "Wow Audrey! Look at these great jean shorts! I hope they have your size!"

I said this to her as she sat in the shopping cart playing with a teething ring. I said it loud enough for other people to hear. And even though Audrey is not quite 9 months old and doesn't talk or particularly know what's going on around her, I'm convinced that she knew enough to be embarrassed.

No one should ever get excited about jean shorts.

Things became even worse when I got all the new shorts home and started trying them on her. The jean shorts made Audrey look like a tourist. 

Literally this but with jean shorts.

And the other shorts? Well ... see for yourself.

Those shorts. THOSE SHORTS.

The whole thing reminds me of that American Dad episode where Roger goes to Ross Dress for Less to try on shorts, and they are universally unflattering because of his body shape. Babies = built like Roger the Alien.

If only a gypsy woman would give Audrey a pair of magic shorts to make her legs look long and muscular :-(

Sc033 0031

And I love it. If you have a baby, please buy it lots and lots of shorts. Babies look great in shorts. Promise.

And she's not fat, okay. She's just ... cultivating mass.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dear Patent: How do I handle small talk with people in the elevator?

Small talk is hard sometimes. You get in an elevator with someone, and instead of riding in comfortable silence, the other person feels the need to flap their mouth at you and create an awkward situation.

How do you handle this??

Well, you could go the usual way and respond to their questions politely, talking about the weather and what day of the week it is until you reach your floor. 


If they say "good morning!", respond with "WHAT'S SO GOOD ABOUT IT"

Make sure you say it in a really aggressive tone. This will throw them off and put them on the defensive, giving you the upper hand.

It's important to establish dominance in all elevator conversations, and this surefire knock-em-on-their-ass response will make you the Elevator Alpha from now until forever. Next time you see this person, they'll pretend they forgot something in their car just to avoid getting into an elevator with you. Success.

If they say anything about the weather, pretend to have no idea what they're talking about

Once again, this will go a long way towards establishing your dominance. The person you're talking to may even question their sanity for a moment.

Of course, in the end it's going to be your sanity that's called into question, but that's neither here nor there. Dominance: you have it.

If they mention your appearance in any way (especially complimentary), act like you think they're being passive aggressive and rude

Really, we should all do this every time coworkers say anything about our appearance, ever. (I've blogged before about how annoying that is)

It might teach them to knock it off.

If they ask "how are you?", launch into a soliloquy about the torture chamber that is your life

The trick is to end the story the instant you arrive at your floor, leaving your conversation partner absolutely bewildered but with no time to respond or ask follow-up questions to the crazy yarn you've woven for them:

Coworker: "Morning! How are you?"

You: "Ugh. Not too hot, honestly. Just found out my sister is pregnant -- again -- and of course this one has a different father than the other three. I'm trying to be happy for her, but really, it's just twisting the knife. You see, the wife and I have been trying to conceive for years now, but with my low sperm count and her hostile womb, it's just been an exercise in futility. And there goes Estelle again, getting knocked up by some guy she met on the internet after like three weeks. It's so unfair. How's a person to believe in God when every day I'm forced to eat a shit sandwich like this? I used to be a practicing Methodist, but nowadays I'm leaning more and more towards atheism. Not that believing or not believing in God is going to suddenly put some swimmers in my testicles. And of course I forgot to bring my lunch this morning, because of course I did, so nothing but the pretzels in the break room for me. Boy, can you believe my luck? Anyway, here's my floor so I'll see you later!"

100% guarantee that that person will never get on an elevator with you again.

And of course, if any of the above ideas don't work, you could always just unapologetically fart in there.

Nobody wants to take the elevator with the farter.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How easily offended are you? Take this quiz to find out!

Have you ever been accused of being "too easily offended"? If so, did that offend you?

If you answered "yes" to both of these, then it's possible you just might, in fact, be too easy to offend. Take this handy quiz I wrote to find out for sure.

You can interpret your results at the bottom.

Question 1:
How often do you either say or type the phrase "I'm incredibly offended ..." in response to something you've heard or read?

A: Once a week, at minimum

B: Closer to once a month

C: Once a year or so

D: I have never done this. Ever

Question 2:
You and your BFF are having a private conversation in her home. During this conversation, she refers to Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage as a "midget." Do you:

A: Interrupt her mid-sentence to declare that the preferred nomenclature is actually "little person," that you're shocked that she would use such hurtful language in your presence, and that you can't possibly be friends with someone who thinks it's okay to talk like that. You then leave her house and never speak to her again

B: Wait until she is finished speaking before haughtily informing your friend that "little person" is the current politically correct terminology

C: Say nothing, but make a point of referring to Peter Dinklage as a "little person" in your next sentence, hoping that your friend takes notice

D: Wait, you can't say "midget" now? When did this happen??

Pictured: 'little person', not 'midget'.

Question 3:
How frequently would you say you've felt "the most offended I've ever been in my life"?

A: Monthly or more

B: Annually

C: A handful of times in your life -- you could easily list them all

D: You have never felt offended before, even when that weird guy at the gas station tried to call you a racial slur

Question 4:
While perusing an online forum, you see that someone has posed a question about beavers that could be interpreted a few different ways. One of the possible ways you can interpret it is very offensive. Do you:

A: Assume the person meant it the offensive way, and leap out with guns blazing to shout them down for being so horrible. Even when the person corrects you, saying they actually meant something completely innocuous, refuse to believe them and insist that they are just "trying to backtrack now that you've been called out."

B: Assume the person meant it the offensive way, but ask for confirmation first before pulling out your guns. Make sure you ask for confirmation in a manner that is snarky and includes at least one sarcastic "wow"

C: Assume the person meant it the inoffensive way, but ask for confirmation first before proceeding. 

D: Assume the person meant it the inoffensive way because duh. Proceed as if the alternate interpretation doesn't even exist.

Question 5:
You are a HUGE fan of Maroon 5 and have posters of Adam Levine all over your house. One of their songs comes on the radio and your friend Phil says "ugh, I hate these guys. Adam Levine looks like what would happen if Napoleon Bonaparte and Ed Hardy had a baby together and then it got too many trophies for participation while growing up." How do you react?

A: Go f***ing bananas. Demand an apology and tell Phil that he has no right to express his opinions because they are hurtful to others. Pull over in a bad neighborhood and tell that asshole Phil to get out of your car. As you drive away, shout "your MOM looks like she had a baby with Ed Hardy" out the window while Phil looks on in confusion. Never speak to him again.

B: Feel deeply butthurt and immediately launch into an argument with Phil about how great Maroon 5 actually is. Pursue this argument well past the point where Phil has agreed to disagree. Bring the argument up whenever possible in the future, saying things like "this is just like the time you said you hated Maroon 5." Clearly Phil's Maroon 5 hatred is evidence that he is a rotten person. Continue to search for more evidence before eventually dumping him as a friend.

C: Spend a minute trying to convince Phil that he's all wrong about Maroon 5, but give up when you realize you're fighting a pointless battle.

D: Laugh and say "I'd rather be a Maroon 5 fan than a Mumford and Sons fan like you, dickbag. Those banjo-playing bearded f**ks belong in a hole in the ground."

This f**kin' guy, amirite?

Question 6:
You are at the grocery store when you overhear two strangers talking to each other. One calls the other one a "big stupid stinky butthole face", which is what your older brother used to call you when you were a kid and it really hurt your feelings. Do you:

A: Turn purple with rage and march up to those strangers to give them what-for! Nobody calls someone a big stupid stinky butthole face and gets away with it. Continue ranting even after the strangers have laughed at you and walked away. Stand there yelling at nothing for at least ten minutes.

B: Give the strangers a very dirty look and shake your head "no" at them, making sure they see you, but otherwise don't get involved. Spend the rest of the day stewing on the situation, lamenting the fact that you didn't say anything in defense of the person who got called such a mean name.

C: Feel momentarily hurt, remembering how mean your older brother was. Then move on with your day.

D: Laugh riotously at that hilarious zinger, and maybe fist-bump the person giving the insult.



Congratulations, you are INSUFFERABLE. You enjoy the thrill of being offended, and you're addicted to the rush that comes from self-righteously shouting people down all the time. You see offense everywhere you look, and you're incapable of keeping quiet about it. As a result, the only people who hang out with you voluntarily are people exactly like you, and the thought of encountering your little group of crusaders gives me worse diarrhea than a shady Indian restaurant ("THAT'S RACIST!!!"). You don't get invited to things, and your family members all groan when they find out you're coming to Christmas dinner. You make everyone around you feel judged and uncomfortable -- even complete strangers -- and it's people like you who give political correctness a bad name. You suck, is basically what I'm getting at here.

You're still pretty insufferable, but there's probably hope for you. I know it feels good to be offended, but maybe you should consider giving your fellow man a little bit more benefit of the doubt? It's not your job to 'fix' everyone around you. Remember that if someone says something rude, they make themselves look stupid and that's it. You don't need to get your hands dirty by getting involved in every single potentially offensive thing that happens in the world. Just take a deep breath and move on.

You're pretty chill and probably not a bad person to hang out with. You try to watch what you say and keep others up to date on the euphemism treadmill, but you do it in a way that isn't likely to make you a bunch of enemies. You try to have empathy for your fellow humans, and it serves you well. Keep up the good work.

You're either the chillest mofo that ever lived, or else -- and this is a very real possibility here so hang with me for a second -- but maybe, just maybe, you're never offended because you're the most offensive person you know. Do you often notice people rolling their eyes, wincing, or looking away when you interact with them? Do you call Asian people "slanty-eyed Orientals"? You meant that question about beavers to be offensive, didn't you?? And here I was giving you the benefit of the doubt, like some kind of naive idiot.

This is why we can't have nice things.

I hope we've all learned something about ourselves today. I know I have! And if you have any ideas for future quiz topics you'd like to see, send them my way if you please. I liked writing this. It felt good. I hope that doesn't offend you.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Poundings: back from San Diego

I spent from Sunday until Wednesday in San Diego for a work conference. Then yesterday I took the day off to get my house/life back in order, and so now I'm behind on this blog. OH NOES.

What do I have to say about the trip? Well, first of all, I like San Diego. 8/10, would recommend to a friend. I have a little tan now. Looks good.

But oh my god, the first hot yoga class after a work trip. No. NO.

I went to hot yoga yesterday, because I knew I had to sweat out some toxins from days of expense account eating and Teamster drinking. I thought "oh man, I bet this class is going to be kind of rough." I should add that I was also fighting a cold, so I felt a little achey and a little sore throat-y.

But I seriously thought I was going to die in there. F***.

I had zero balance -- I could barely stand on two legs, much less one. I had zero flexibility. Zero strength. I was shaking like a leaf and sweating like a pig. Every time we did a back bend, I would have to get out of it after like two seconds and then sit there like an idiot watching everyone else easily do what I was completely incapable of.

By the time class ended, I think I would have paid someone $20 to roll my mat up for me. Do you know how hard it is to roll up your mat at the end of a hot yoga class? You're done, and all you have to do is clean up your area and then you can go out into the lobby where it isn't 105F anymore. And because that yoga mat is the only thing standing between you and comfort, of course it's going to be the biggest dickhead in the entire world.

First it's stuck to the floor. Then it doesn't want you to start rolling it. You finally get it going, but it decides to roll all f***ed up and diagonal. You don't care -- you just want to get out of there. You pick up your diagonally-rolled mat and your towel. As you reach for your water bottle, you drop the mat and it unrolls halfway.

F*** dude.


I need coffee or something. I'm exhausted again just from reliving that yoga class.

Here is a picture I drew. It's a shark centaur. I don't effing know. Happy Friday you pieces of shit.

Monday, June 9, 2014

It happened in China: Volume 1

I'm running out of things to complain about in this blog, which I never thought would happen but here we are. So I can either become a much more easily-irritated person generally (which would probably have some negative side effects on my life), or I can start really branching this blog out into other random territories. I've chosen the latter option.

So, I'm going to start telling a few stories from my life. Specifically, I'm going to tell a few stories from the year that I spent studying abroad in Hong Kong, during which time I traveled to China many times. 

China is a crazy-ass place. Like holy sweet hell is China a crazy place. I have so many stories I hardly even know where to start. I guess I'll open with ...

The Chicken on a Stick Story

Never eat the food sold by street vendors in mainland China.

This is important so let me repeat it: never eat the food sold by street vendors in mainland China.

Western stomachs are delicate little flowers, used to being fed only the freshest most refrigerated and fully-cooked meats, and as such, they have no business getting in contact with street food. 

Chinese street meat is unrefrigerated all day long; it is chopped up on a wooden cutting board that has never seen a dishwasher and has instead been wiped off with the same wet rag every day for fifty years.

What I'm saying is, Chinese street meat will melt a weak Western stomach faster than pouring acid on an orchid.

I learned this the hard way.

So no shit there I was, visiting Guangzhou with some friends. We'd been out barhopping all night and were good and rip-roaring drunk by the time the clock struck midnight. And like all midnight drunks, we were hungry.

Ever the good little capitalists, the Chinese street meat vendors had set up camp outside the bars, ready to pounce on all the hungry drunks looking for something salty to fill the boozy hole in their stomachs. Their sizzling wares smelled amazing to our intoxicated noses -- irresistibly so.

I knew it was a bad idea, but I wanted it so much. The meat sticks smelled like hot barbecued magic and there was just no way I was going to be able to keep walking without trying one. So I walked up to one of the vendors and, in my best Mandarin Chinese, asked him what he had and how much it cost.

He answered in rapid-fire Chinese that I could barely make out, but I did hear enough to know that he was selling chicken and that it was 10 sticks for a dollar. 10 sticks full of delicious chicken for A SINGLE DOLLAR?? I'd be a fool not to take that deal! So I handed over my money and walked back to my friends with a giant handful of chicken skewers, like a boss.

One friend bowed down before my awesomeness and took one of the sticks out of my hand. The other friend shook her head aggressively, noting that she had no interest in sharing our "food poisoning on a stick." Whatever, bitch; all the more food poisoning for us then.

We started to eat the chicken and found it to be quite tough. Oh well; they must have overcooked them a little. No harm there -- just means they killed all the salmonella, right?

Okay maybe they were more than just a little tough, though. They were very, very tough. Mysteriously and unnecessarily so.

The friend who had turned down the sticks spoke better Mandarin than me, so she went back up to the vendor to ask again what the meat on the sticks were. And it turns out that while I was savvy enough to pick up the word "chicken", I had apparently missed the follow-up word: "kidney"

So now here we are, drunk in the middle of Guangzhou China stuffing skewers of botulism chicken kidney down our throats like it's the apocalypse. The meat is so tough we can't even chew it, so instead we just suck on the pieces of kidney for a while and then swallow them whole. Five skewers apiece -- about 40 kidney cutlets into each of our bellies.

And hey, wouldn't you know it -- the next day I had horrible diarrhea in a squatter toilet at a pretty nice breakfast restaurant, threw up into a garbage can and then nearly shit myself on a bus.

Chicken kidney on a stick from a Guangzhou street vendor while drunk at midnight: 
Not even once.

The Forbidden City Beggar Story

There's nothing "forbidden" about Beijing's Forbidden City. It is 100% a tourist trap and nothing else. Not that you shouldn't go see it and take a picture with Mao ...

Like all these fine people on Google

... but don't go there expecting it to be all reverent and meaningful. It's not. There's a Starbucks inside it.

I got a frap there. It was so-so.

Tourist traps attract tourists. Tourists tend to have cash on them. Disabled or disfigured Chinese people tend to not have cash on them. Therefore, the disabled and disfigured Chinese are drawn towards tourist traps to beg money from the soft-hearted Westerners.

You will see some f***ed up shit at these places. There is no government welfare safety net in China -- if you're born with a hoof coming out of your forehead, then too bad; that's your life. There will be no hoof-removal surgery performed pro bono by a slick team of doctors for the national news; there will be no welfare checks coming your way because not even McDonalds wants a hoof-head on the staff. You will have to look out for yourself, and the best way to do that is to either join some kind of circus freak show, or head on down to the Forbidden City to scare the shit out of mild-mannered Canadians with expensive cameras.

I have seen some unfortunate souls down by the entrance to the Forbidden City. I've seen a person with no arms, but rather just a pair of shrimpy little hands growing out of her shoulders; I've seen a person with no legs but rather just a pair of shrimpy little feet growing out of his hips; I've seen blind people; deaf people; people with too many fingers and people with too few.




Could have prepared me for the guy who came up on our group while we waited in line to buy tickets to get inside the City.

He had a woman with him who did all the talking for him. She came up to us first and started the usual broken English script that all the beggars seem to follow: something along the lines of "hello, no money, dis-abled, cannot work, you can help?" 

My friend and I turned to the woman and immediately began our own script -- something along the lines of "sorry, no extra money, good luck to y-- AHHHHGHHGHGHGHGH!!!!"

You guys. You guys

The man with her had no eyes. 

Okay he didn't just not have eyes.

He had no eye sockets.

It was just hairline, forehead, forehead, forehead, forehead, NOSE.

Have you ever watched one of those nature shows where they explore caves and show you animals that have evolved to not have any eyes because they don't need them anymore? HOW CREEPY ARE THOSE ANIMALS.




So any time someone points out a guy with a really big forehead,

... just remember that it could be worse.

Yeah, we gave that guy money. What the f*** else were we gonna do, give him a pair of novelty glasses?

Yes. That is exactly what we should have done.

Ha ha can you imagine wearing a pair of those and they start to slip down your nose like a librarian?

Or maybe you get bumped in the head and they get crooked?

Or you're drunk and you put them on upside down?

I forgot what I was talking about.