Garbage Day!

Home ownership is, for the most part, cool. So is Garbage Day.

It might sound weird, but I kinda like Garbage Day. First off, my anxiety surrounding all things Cleanliness is quelled as a week’s worth of detritus is purged from my bins. There’s also considerably more dog shit in said bins as there was before we owned a dog, so the quicker it can get to the end of my driveway, the better.

I remember watching an episode of Obsessed on the Discovery Channel, where they profiled people suffering from various types of OCD-related behavior and Anxiety. There was this one dude who refused to sleep in his bed, because he made it so perfectly that he didn’t want to disrupt it (to be fair, it was a perfectly-made bed). He also threw every piece of garbage directly into the dumpster, so nothing sat in his (in-house) garbage cans.

Damn,” I said to myself while watching this guy tiptoe around his house, “this is exactly what I do.” I never watched Obsessed after that episode, but I still take most of my stuff straight to the dumpster instead of throwing it into the kitchen trash. It’s like, 10 feet away. It’s all good. Don’t worry about me.

The second reason I like Garbage Day is more ego-driven. Makes me feel good. I like dragging my garbage to the end of my driveway. It reminds me that I own a house, live in a cul-de-sac, and I’m living the American Dream to the best of my fiscal and intelligence-based abilities. It’s one of those little moments that remind me that I might be doing this Life thing right after all. I’m on the grid, homie! I pay city taxes!

One time I saw the garbage truck drive down my street, pick up each individual bin, and toss it entirely- bin and all– into the back of the truck. He collected every bin on the street, compacted them, and drove off. Must have been a new guy. I can only imagine the conversation when they got back to the dump. I laughed for nearly an hour straight. It was one of the most beautifully comedic examples of workplace incompetence I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, let’s get to the story, here. A few days ago, I had the day off of work, and I was sort of false-starting my way out of the bedroom. I knew I had to get up for some reason, but I kept forgetting and falling back asleep. Then I heard the garbage truck turn onto my block, and I realized that I hadn’t taken the bin out yet.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. The Missus and I don’t generate that much trash over the course of a week, and if push came to shove, it could wait until next week. But not this week’s garbage.

It was a special blend of early-Spring Cleaning trash that contained no less than 10 pounds of dog feces collected from the lawn and deck following an early snow melt. It was unfathomably repugnant, and the mere thought of leaving it in my garage for another week was simply not an option. It would have probably violated the lease on my car. I knew that I had less than 30 seconds to get dressed, sprint downstairs, open the garage door and drag this bin to the street. I’d dump it into the back of the truck myself if I had to; anything to ensure that it was emptied today.

Important sidebar: I don’t have a set routine as to what I wear to bed. Sometimes I sleep in only boxer shorts. Sometimes pajama bottoms. I even wear socks if it’s cold enough. Once I wore a hoodie, and goddamn was that luxurious. Anyway, today I just had boxers and a t-shirt on, and with the garbage truck only a few houses away, I knew I didn’t have time to put anything else on.

This presented me with a quandary, specifically regarding the Social Contract between me and the fellow residents of the Wyndham Hills neighborhood in Sun Prairie. I’m not that kind of a neighbor. I’m extremely low-key. I’ve only ventured outside of the house twice in eight years wearing something other than jeans, and both times it was pajama bottoms in a bleary-eyed attempt to get the mail. And even that felt akin to treason for yours truly. There was no way in Hell that I was going to drag this bin to the curb in nothing but boxer shorts.

The truck was one house away. Son of a bitch.

There was no time for Social Contract. No time for shame, no time for modesty. I would deal with the repercussions later. For the time being, I had a dumpster full of feces that needed- beyond a shadow of a doubt- to vacate the premises post-haste. I was not proud of what I was about to do, but I knew that such sacrifices came with being a responsible homeowner and husband.

I bit down on my lip and started running for the door.

I skidded down the steps, slipped my shoes on in the garage while hitting the button for the door. Shoes, no socks, boxers and a ratty shirt. There was the truck; I was going to make it if I hurried. The bin was heavy; heavier than usual because of all the turds. I struggled and strained to get it onto its wheels to push it down the driveway. I stumbled around a bit, but I did what I needed to do. I got the bin to the end of the street in just enough time to watch it get emptied…and drag it directly back inside. It was touch-and-go, but I pulled it off and nobody was the wiser. I nailed it. I was proud.

Until I saw my neighbor. Standing in his driveway no more than a few feet from me, walking his dog. He saw the whole thing. I stood up straight, flattened down my hair and attempted to look presentable as I swaggered back into the garage. “Good morning,” I said with all the dignity of a man who looked like he just yanked out his IV and leapt out the window of a mental institution. He did not say hello back to me, instead turning away quickly and fleeing with his dog.

Jeez. I knew what I did wasn’t optimal, but I mean, it wasn’t that bad, right? Okay, so I was in my boxers, but big deal. I had a shirt on. And shoes! I was overthinking this; it’s not even in the Top 100 of egregious errors a neighbor can make. I think my unblemished eight years of quality neighboring would have allowed me a mulligan on the whole ordeal, right? I mean, surely I wasn’t the first person in history to hastily drag his garbage out while wearing night clothes, right? Right?

Then I looked down at my boxers.

And saw my penis.

It was out. It had been out the whole time.

Neighbor saw it. Neighbor’s dog saw it. When the garbage truck drove away, I gave the man a wave with my hand on my hip, quietly basking in the glory of a job well done. In reality, I was standing on the sidewalk of a residential area, exposing my batch like a lunatic to all passerby.

Home ownership is, for the most part, cool. But I’ll be laying low for a while, especially on Garbage Day.

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Top CDP Essays (2015-2016).

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Here are the Top 10 CDP Essays from 2015 to 2016, in bite-sized form. Click at will and enjoy in moderation.

10. Please Don’t Let Me Forget How To Read And Write. (2/1/16)

9. 2015-2016 Fall TV Preview. (8/31/15)

8. 2016-2017 Fall TV Preview. (9/5/16)

7. The 11 Most Popular CDP Posts Of All-Time. (9/12/16)

6. I Got A Dog! (2/15/16)

5. I’m The Best In The World At What I Do. (2/29/16)

4. My Anxiety Year. (2/8/16)

3. I Lost Over $500 By Joining Draft Kings! (3/7/16)

2. Fuller House – Season 1. (3/4/16-4/1/16)
Episode 1
Episode 2/3
Episode 4/5
Episode 6/7
Episode 8/9
Episode 10/11
Episode 12/13

1. TV Month 2016. (5/2/16-5/31/16)
Channel 0 – The Series Primer
Channel 1 – The Series Premiere
Channel 2 – The Big Ugly Dish
Channel 3 – The Premium
Channel 4 – The UHF Dial
Channel 5 – The Programming Block
Channel 6 – The Skeptic
Channel 7 – The Obscurity
Channel 8 – The Commercials
Channel 9 – The Doomsday
Channel 10 – The Unsolved
Channel 11 – The 100 Greatest (100-76)
Channel 12 – The 100 Greatest (75-51)
Channel 13 – The 100 Greatest (50-31)
Channel 14 – The 100 Greatest (30-11)
Channel 15 – The 100 Greatest (10-1)
Channel 16 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 1)
Channel 17 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 2)
Channel 18 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 3)
Channel 19 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 4)
Channel 20 – The Nuclear Nielsen Family (Part 5)
Channel 21 – The Series Finale
Channel 22 – The Sign Off

Thank you. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your week.

The Berenstain Bears Ruined My Life.

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There was a point in my life when I wanted nothing more than to be an Internet Phenomenon. Time has proven this to be somewhat antithetical to the way I go about my business; I don’t even like taking the garbage out in the same 15-second window as my neighbor in the event I will be forced to make small talk.

Over the years, I never wrote essays to strictly capitalize on traffic (or tried particularly hard to bolster my popularity), but I do admit that I silently wondered what it would be like to write something, someday, that resonated with a million people at once. As a writer, you want to maintain some sort of control over your words and their intent, but it’s also silly to never want something you write to explode and essentially venture into the Public Domain. To create something so universal that it no longer has an author. It…just sort of belongs to the Internet. That seemed like a fun thing to aspire toward.

I now know what that feels like, and I’ll tell you all about it.

In July of 2011, I wrote an essay titled ‘Somebody Must Have Stepped On A Butterfly.‘ It was about the Berenstain Bears and their popular series of books, specifically about how almost everyone from a certain generation remembered them as the ‘Berenstein’ Bears, and how that false remembrance may cause us to rethink everything we know about Time Travel and Alternate Realities. I also touched upon how this may be the first ‘Glitch in the Matrix’ that we’ve noticed so far, and we may discover more as blah BLAH BLOO BLEE BLAH…you get it. Read it if you want to.

You heard about this. You probably read about this sometime last year on some other website or message board. You sure as shit didn’t read about it when I originally wrote it in 2011, because nobody read that essay at the time. I thought it was interesting and funny, and I workshopped it to nearly everyone I knew at the time, but nobody seemed to be as interested in the theory as I was. Eventually I gave up on it. I walked away from the 2011 essay and decided that it was just another of the thousand dumb things I’ve said on the Internet that more or less amount to nothing. I’ve been blogging for 13 years as of this very day; I can tell you that most stuff on the Internet is read by no one. That’s how this works more often than not.

Then, a few years later…something happened.

It was slow at first. A few sci-fi and Physics-based websites took the (spooky) skeleton of my idea and reshaped it into new theories. Parallel Dimensions were discussed. People started making YouTube clips discussing the false memory (or nefarious explanation thereof). Mostly, a lot of people at once began to realize that, heeeeyyyyy….I remembered it as ‘Berenstein’ too! Weird! I personally noticed the slight spike in interest, and quietly fistpumped over a job well done. I managed to get a little satisfaction and redemption over something I had relegated to the mothballs years ago. It was all good.

Then all hell broke loose.

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It literally happened overnight. An editor at Vice wrote about it, and was kind enough to link back to my 2011 essay. It became one of the most popular posts in the history of the page. Reddit then followed suit in conversation. MTV, Yahoo! and The AV Club wrote articles about the theory. Nerdist devoted a podcast episode to it. The idea hit a bunch of mainstream pages within hours of each other, and that was all she wrote. A bazillion minds were blown in unison. Even Seventeen Magazine wrote about it, which bizarrely fulfilled my lifelong fantasy of being mentioned in Seventeen Magazine, although not in a heartthrob-related fashion as I had hoped.

By the end of the week, it had invaded every aspect of online discussion. There were Facebook groups devoted to the theory. Subreddits such as The Mandella Effect and Glitch In The Matrix exploded. There was a Kickstarter page for a documentary someone wanted to make. T-shirts were printed. Twitter was fragmented into #TeamBerenstain and #TeamBerenstein. It was a theory that had legs and enough vagueness for people to pick it up and turn it into whatever they wanted. The result of the Presidential Election played into it, too, in that we wanted more than ever to believe there was a better version of Earth somewhere out there, and perhaps we could visit if we found a way to wormhole ourselves over to the opposite side of the mirror.

Let me know if you figure it out, by the way. My bags are already packed.

Over the last year, I’ve completely and utterly lost track of where the story has gone. The Angry Video Game Nerd did an episode inspired by the theory. Some of my favorite podcasts such as How Stuff Works have taken the time to discuss it. There’s even a reference to a ‘Project Berenstain‘ on Mr Robot, for Christ’s sake. And these are just the things I’ve noticed without trying. Just a cursory Internet search went from a handful of hits in 2011 (prior to my essay), to millions in 2017.

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Something very important I want to articulate, here. The Berenstain Bears Theory of Everything is not, in my opinion, a CDP essay or Ryan Zeinert brainchild. It’s an idea that took root thanks (only in part) to something funny I wrote a long time ago and bloomed in a million different directions. I’m extremely happy as a writer to be part of something that entered any semblance of mainstream discussion, but I’m also glad my name isn’t attached to it all that much. I don’t really want to be known as ‘The Time Travel Guy,’ I just like writing stuff, and the fact that I got to see the story evolve through the web without being hitched to it was the perfect outcome for me. It’s kind of a goofy thing to be proud of; it’s just been fun to watch.

People are probably making money off of it. I am not. I do not care (my wife absolutely cares). This worked out exactly how I wanted it to, but couldn’t have ever predicted. Furthermore, there are hundreds of people who put far more work into this theory than I have. Watch some YouTube clips; it’s friggin’ insanity out there. I’m perfectly content peering through the boarded-up windows of my tar paper shack and pissing into old soup cans. Don’t tell them where I am!

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As it stands, the original essay from 2011 brings in over 20,000 unique hits a month. It has been viewed well over a million times, all stats considered. There’s a personal beauty for me in having the Berenstain bears, such a huge reading influence for me as a kid, be the reason so many people read something I wrote almost 30 years later. Even if my theory is false (and it definitely is), they definitely changed the future for me in one way or another. And if this also means that someone new shows up to the CDP and sticks around because they like my other stuff, then hey, all the better.

Today is the 13th Anniversary of the Communist Dance Party, today is our first post on WordPress and today represents the finale of the ‘Most Popular Posts In CDP History‘ list started way back in September of 2016 (sorry it took so long). If there’s anything valuable I can take away from this experience, it’s that humorous personal essays are all fine and good, but if you want to hit that next-level traffic, you gotta get clickbaity with a list or keyword. Or you just gotta stumble upon some dumb luck and propose an idea so ridiculous that the Internet explodes for an entire week. I prefer the latter to the former.

I’m also being cynical and obviously joking. I will continue to write stupid shit that amuses me, probably for another 13 years, with no endgame or logical goal in site. It’s what I do.

Two quick things before we’re done. First, I recorded my first (and so far, only) podcast with the wonderful folks over at the Mark & Toddcast a few months ago. We talked about this very Berenstain/Berenstein phenomenon, and I strongly encourage you to check it out and comment on my buttery-smooth voice. This ain’t no Skype shit, either; I literally flew out to Portland and sat down with them. It was dope; check it out!

Finally, I wanted to do something I’ve never done before and dedicate today’s post to Bruce Daniel Kiesling, AKA Wallrock, who passed away on February 10 following a battle with pneumonia. Wallrock was a frequent CDP commenter and Mix-Tape Trade participant over the years (you may have received a Mix from him at some point in the last decade), and I was lucky enough to share a beer and good conversation with him in person on a few occasions. He will be missed, and I offer my sincere condolences to his friends and family.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your week.