She wants the what?!!?

I love my mom. She's kind, generous, and adorably nutty.
She is also the world's worst gift-giver.

But before you crucify me as an ungrateful brat, let me be clear; her gifts aren't terrible within themselves, it's not like she doesn't care... they're hilariously bad because she's so damn thoughtful. Which I have the upmost appreciation for.

Basically, my mother is a pro at coming breathtaking close to giving an amazing present, only to blow it in the fourth quarter. Successfully snatching  defeat from the jaws of victory.

For example, on my birthday last year she got me a bright purple T-shirt with John Wayne's face emblazoned on it. It's tragic, because I completely understand her thought process. She knows I love John Wayne and purple is one of my favorite colors. In mom-theory, it should be awesome! But this is so bad, even a hipster would have trouble wearing it ironically.
Seriously. This is beyond kitsch. 
 However, she outdid  herself a few days ago...

While vacationing in a small town on the coast of Lake Michigan, with my future in-laws no less, she had the very thoughtful idea of getting my sister a gift.

My sister goes to a college in Detroit, their colors are white and green, and my mom knows that my sister has an affinity for Detroit, however, I don't think she quite thought this one through.

Keep in mind, she made this purchase in the company of my future mother-in-law, and left it in a bag for my sister to find with a note that said "Hope it fits!"
Hope. It. Fits.

Yes. This is for real.

Love you, Mom! You adorable nut!


3 things no one tells you about private investigating

I didn't start out with ambitions of becoming a private investigator.

Until recently, I had never given the profession much thought. Except to dismiss it as a quaint second job whose existence had gone the way of zoot suits and switchboard operators.
There's a reason you won't find too many color photos of these guys.
Everything I knew about private investigating had been derived from old movies and 80's TV shows...

Yet despite my ignorance, I knew that a red Ferrari does not a good surveillance vehicle make.
... and it always struck me as kind of a shady occupation. But in one of life's odd little twists I happened to fall into a position at an investigation agency. So now when I'm not dealing with felons, I'm a hired creeper.
Yup, I'm the lurker in the background of all your photos.
In the time that I've been working, I've come to the conclusion that for the average person, private investigating has been either heavily romanticized or viewed with extreme suspicion.
In reality, it's neither. And definitely not all hazy bars and blowsy dames with legs for hours. Bad news written all over her like October of '29...
Because mostly, it's just...

1. A waiting game of epic proportions. 

I have spent upwards of eight hours just sitting in my car. I realize that may not sound so bad. Most of us spend that much time sitting at an office desk every day. Unfortunately, it's an office without a bathroom, so don't even think about drinking coffee to help you stay awake. Or really anything for that matter. Peeing is not an option for you. Unless you get really good at inserting your own catheter...
"Kind of eerie isn't it? Like looking into your future.."
Or are a dude, in which case you'd just pee into that old Mt. Dew bottle anyway.
Because you're gross.
I bet you have some pee bottles hanging out on a shelf somewhere, don't you?
The bathroom was literally ten feet away, but no, this, this is much better.

You will get cranky and desperate while waiting, but god forbid you zone out or get distracted by your phone and miss something.
Please let something happen. Just something.
Yet you can't focus too much on one area either, especially if it's dark out, or else your eyes will start playing some truly horrific tricks on you.
Like zombies and other unpleasant things...
Go ahead, stare for awhile and tell me you don't think the apocalypse is nigh.
Fortunately, in this day and age, there's a lot of portable technology to help stave off boredom. So, as long as you only glance at your phone/tablet/computer for a few seconds at a time, you'll be good to go.
In the meantime, get cozy. You're going to be here for a while.
And are about to discover a whole new level of boredom.
Here's some "Helpful Tips" for things to bring:
-Pack a cooler with water (no diuretics) and snacks to keep your energy up.
-Bug repellent, for when it's hot and you need your window open. The ones that clip on can be attached to your sun visor and work surprisingly well.
-Your camera! "Duh" right? I actually forgot mine once. Thankfully I was able to correct my error with no harm done, but you better believe I've been paranoid about it ever since.
-Invest in a socket converter and some extra batteries and thank me later.
-A flashlight. It's seriously handy.
-Change of clothes, or at least an extra shirt. There's no telling when you may need to "reinvent" your look.

There's about a million other things that you can also bring, but this is a blog post not a book, dammit. Essentials only.

It could always be worse though, like...

2. Hanging out in bars. Definitely not all it's cracked up to be.

You know what's not fun? Following people around during their "night on the town".

See this? This is the worst.
I know, I know. It sounds hard to believe, especially since you get to move around, things are actually happening, and most importantly, there's usually a bathroom nearby.

I promise to never take you for granted.
But in reality, it's pretty damn difficult. You need to blend in, keep constant tabs on your person without staring a hole through their head, and be ready to follow them at a moments notice without looking like you're following them.

And you're probably going to have to enlist a buddy.

The buddy system is necessary for a few reasons; if you're female and working alone, you may be mistaken for a hooker, an easy hook-up, or a weirdo. If you're a guy working alone, you may be mistaken for an easy hook-up, a stalker, or a weirdo.

Some things are just awkward for everyone.
Traveling in pairs lets you blend in and achieve some degree of normalcy. But it's still not all giggles and good times, because, guess what? It's a bar, and you're going to need to get a drink in your hand.
Damn this delicious amber liquid.
Seriously, you do not want to be the only odd duck drinking water, but you've got to keep alert too. Even if you just stick with beer, you'll get tired faster and be less focused.
So what's a professional stalker to do?
Try this: have the bartender give you a short glass of cola or water with a lime in it. You won't get tipsy, and it'll still appear as though you're imbibing like a good little bar fly.

This is my eighth H2O-tini.
My kidneys may explode...
Also, carry cash and TIP YOUR WAITSTAFF! Nobody needs the bartender giving you the side eye and/or calling you out while you're trying to film some nefarious activity. Good tips get most staff on your side, and paying with cash is preferable to anyone seeing your name on a credit card. Or worse, losing the person you're following because they've already left while you're still trying to close out a credit tab.

But no matter how smooth you may be, just remember...

3. You're going to screw up.

It's inevitable. There are far too many variables in play and people are the most un-frickin-predictable creatures on the planet.
Like those who only use turn signals some of the time.
(Yeah, following these guys is a breeze..)
In between that, equipment malfunctions (these bastard cameras just will not focus fast enough in low light), and good old-fashioned fuck-ups, this shit is not as easy as it may look.

During a particularly stupid moment, I was so confident that my video camera was in my bag I didn't even bother checking just to make sure. Got to the location, started rummaging around... No camera.

Then, while just about breaking the sound barrier trying to get home to retrieve said camera, I got a flat tire...
Fortunately I keep a jack, tire iron, and full sized spare in my trunk...
Got back on the road in under five minutes.                                         
Personal best, bitches.
But the nuttiest thing about that entire experience was that none of it mattered. (Thankfully) nothing happened that entire night that was worth filming.

I've had other screw-ups too, I've been burned, my timing has been off, my ghillie suit got caught on some bushes and I would up dragging half the forest into my car with me...
Shockingly, this thing is also not great for blending into all backgrounds.
But hey, shit happens. Learn from it and move on. 

Oh, and check your blind spot.


Don't F with my comfort... food.

Like most people, I love food.

Well, not love love. I'm not trying to have a pudding orgy.

No thank you.
Too messy.
But I think that when you rely on something for your very existence, something that excites all of your senses, you become more than just friends.

You may even go on wacky adventures and have something akin to a religious experience with food.

And speaking of sustenance, is there really any food better than comfort food?

You just drooled a little didn't you?
It's okay, go ahead and take a moment to clean your keyboard.
Okay, it's not the healthiest thing to do, but we can't all be Richard Simmons. So, when the weather is crappy or I'm having a less than stellar day, I like to fill up my face hole with delicious comfort food.

Mmm... tender.
But it pains me to discover, while ordering off ye olde menu, (What? Surely you don't expect me to cook during these strained times?), that some of the local hash slingers and manufacturers of all things unhealthy and butter-laden are tampering with perfection.

Can we all just agree that these comfort foods have reached the apex of culinary greatness? No more work need be done! Just recreate these blessed dishes and stand back while we stuff our faces full of starch and dead animal flesh.

Specifically, things like...


One of the few foods to inspire a singing career, it's such a humble meal, but oh so satisfying in the simplicity of it's construction. You mold ground beef into the shape of a loaf and bake it like bread. It's a loaf of meat. Meatloaf. Impossible to screw up. Just top with ketchup and brown sugar for immediate satisfaction.
"Yeah, baby. Cover me with sugar and I'll be your paradise by the dashboard light.
Oh god... I'm so lonely."
There may be a few small differences, yet the basics remain the same. But dammit, if the local chefs aren't determined to put their own stamp on this homey dish.... with disastrous results.

It's a loaf of dead cow.
Do we really need more protein?
I recently want out to lunch with a co-worker. Meatloaf was on the menu. We ordered some, expecting a slice of moist meaty goodness, but what came out of the kitchen was instead a hunk of ground chuck covered with some weird spicy brown sauce. Nary a dollop of ketchup in sight.

Of course I ate all of it.... because I'm a pig and Jim Gaffigan is my spirit animal, but it was a less than satisfying experience that I felt could have been remedied had the cook simply NOT FUCKED WITH PERFECTION!

But meatloaf isn't the only victim...

Chicken Salad
Mmm.... eat me plain or between some buns.
Granted, chicken salad is one of those "let's throw a bunch of leftovers in with some mayo" type of meals, but I think there are a few items that can safely be banned from this poultry and mayo slathered love fest.

Allow me to relay this horror story: I once was given a chicken salad sandwich that was studded with jalapenos and streaked with mustard.

It was just.... no.

Why?! Why would you ruin something so innocent and pure?!
You monster!

We are no longer on speaking terms...

Mac 'n' Cheese
Cover me with cheese and bacon drippings and let me die happy!
Stomach full. Arteries fuller.
Besides maybe toast, this was probably the first "meal" we learned how to "cook". Courtesy of those sodium-coma-inducing Easy Macs.
The cheesy goodness of mac 'n' cheese is especially forgiving of intrepid chefs in the making.
Want to kick things up a notch by adding bacon? Sure.
Oink oink, bitches.
Care to give your body hope that you'll actually consume something healthy by throwing in some vegetables? No problem!

It almost looks like you tried.

You know what, nevermind. I just realized mac 'n' cheese is perfect. You can't hurt it.
It takes on all comers and wraps them in a warm cheesy embrace.

Shhh.... shhh you're safe now.
Surrender yourself to the cheese.

Yet as happy as all these foods make me, chips... with dip... are my crack.
And are also the one food most likely to be suffering from an identity crisis.

Bet you can't have just one... dozen.
Food that tries to taste like other food bothers me. Because it never tastes like the food it's supposed to emulate. If I wanted chicken and waffles, dammit, I would have gotten chicken and waffles! Not this sad excuse of waffly chicken in chip form.
I believe the word you're looking for is "abomination".
But the chip companies seem to have taken it upon themselves to keeping pushing the envelope, and then tearing it open and lighting it on fire, as they continue to come up with weird ass flavors of chip from atop their thrones of cocaine and weed.

I mean, a cheeseburger chip? Really?
McDonalds is open 24/7.
We don't need you.
Goddammit Doritos, you've already climbed into bed with Taco Bell
and birthed the unholy deliciousness that is Doritos Locos Tacos.
You've gone mad with power!
Sure there's something to be said for taking risks and doing something different. I mean, the first person to try out cow's milk was probably thought to be a whack job at first, but now we have ice cream, so I guess that worked out...
Spectacularly well I might add.

But how many testing stages did this stuff have to go through before it was given the green light?
Who are these people? What were they on?

Words fail me.
I guess what I'm saying is, just please don't mess with our comfort food. And also... who's your dealer?


Stalker for Hire

Savannah, Georgia.

Twelve o’clock in the afternoon.

The sun beat down on the roof of my car, windows only slightly cracked to catch the rare breeze.
I sat low in the driver’s seat, throat parched to the point that my tongue felt welded to the roof of my mouth. Shirt drenched in sweat.
But not nearly this sexy.
I had hired on with an investigation agency back in April for the sole purpose of making some extra money. Troy had given me the idea after he saw me responding to a craigslist ad requesting a cleaning lady.
Investigating definitely beats filling out invoices for more lemon pledge
One online class and several bureaucratic hoops jumped through later, and I was a certified, qualified, licensed and insured private investigator. 

Suitable for all your stalking needs.
Which is how I came to be waiting, camera in hand, in the crowded parking lot of an anonymous apartment complex. Slowly dying of dehydration and boredom, all in the hopes of getting about fifteen seconds of video of a woman leaving the apartment of her current boyfriend-on-the-side.
Because it is NEVER this easy.
Since working for what shall be hereafter known as “The Agency”…
Well excuse me for trying to romanticize a job
for which the primary qualification is being able to hold your bladder.
…I’ve served subpoenas, casually tailed cars, and typed reports. But mostly, I stalk people.
Minus the psycho factor..
There are four military bases within an hour’s drive of Savannah. With so many spouses deployed, adultery cases are my norm.

I try not to concern myself with the moral quandary of who’s cheatin’ who, who’s being true, and who don’t even care anymore.
Thank you Alan Jackson for your succinct prose.
I’m just in the creepin’ business. And business is (maybe not surprisingly) good.

Consequently, I’m using the relationship woes of others to fund my own upcoming nuptials.

And that, Alanis Moirssette, is pretty damn ironic.

Lets not argue about the definition.