Unusual Occurrence

Just a heads up because I care:

I know that I have been delinquent with my blogging. I do feel bad. I’m just not a great multi-tasker despite what my female gender membership contract promised. I have discovered that when I blog I get precious little else done, which is not good when you’re trying to finish a novel and homeschool a child. And I am. Trying to do both of those things. Because I’m crazy.

So what inspired me to post? Two words: Self promotion.

Anyone who knows me knows that self promotion is something at which I suck. I hate it. But I understand that it is necessary because if no one knows that you’ve created something for public consumption, then no one consumes it and you just have something to stick in a box in your attic for your grandkids to discover when they are sorting through your effects.

I think about things like this–mostly when I’m out of beer and the house needs to be cleaned.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I’ve finally finished my book. That’s right, as much as I’d like to sit on it and tweak that f*cker forever, I realize that at some point I just have to declare it done and release it into the world to be shat upon by internet trolls. It reminds me a little of parenting, except that my book has never asked to borrow my iPad, clogged the toilet or been horrified when I change clothes. So really it’s my favorite child. Please don’t crap on my favorite child.

Fair warning: this is not a book of humorous parenting essays. Why would I want to publish something for which I have already built an audience? Come on, we all know that I’m not ruled by logic. Instead I’ve written a crime story/police procedural and now I will release it in a time of increasing anti-police sentiment.

Timing is my specialty. Seriously, you should see me tap.

However, if you are into crime stories, police procedures, ass-kicking women, ass-kicking men, gangs, developmentally disabled adults, golden retrievers, prostitutes, plane crashes, tacos, strong language and violence check it out! You’ll find all that and more inside!

It’s called Unusual Occurrence, just as the title to this post suggests. Would you like a boring definition of the term? Well here it is!

An Unusual Occurrence is a term used by police departments in reference to an event involving potential or actual personal injury and/or property damage arising from a natural or man-caused incident necessitating the declaration of a tactical alert or mobilization.

Like a plane crash.

I bet you thought that this would be a post about something weird that happened to me, like being attacked by a squirrel inside my car while drinking coffee and driving on the freeway. That would’ve been funny…I’m sincerely sorry. You deserve a good squirrel story.

Anyway, so many of you helped with the book in some way that the acknowledgments page might be nearly as long as the rest of the book and almost as riveting. There’s another reason to check out the book–you might see your name or that of a loved one in print!

It is still a few weeks out from being available but I wanted to give you ample notice because…well I don’t really have a good reason other than I’m really really excited. Really. Excited. Like a Born Again Christian at a Billy Graham revival. Seriously, you have no idea. I’m filled with the spirit, people!

I will leave you on that manic note. You may now return to your previously scheduled business. Thank you.

Summer Lessons For An Absentee Blogger

Hey all!

Look, I know I’ve been away a long time, so I’m not just going to stroll in here all blase and pretend that nothing has happened and everything is fine between us. I don’t want to insult your intelligence. But summer was rough. The kids were on me like fleas every second for a snack or to validate their latest Lego creation. As soon as they heard the keyboard tapping they’d descend. The pressure was incredible.

It had been my plan to send the kids to camp so that I might have a minute or two of productivity, but Hubs and I had a minor bank account fiasco wherein all of our money mysteriously disappeared. We were both baffled as to how this would happen. Coincidentally this occurred right around the same time that Hubs’s jeep was miraculously cured of many of its major ailments. Weird.

At any rate, I had to sacrifice any dreams of childless alone time. These things happen, so I decided to abandon all productivity and commit myself to fully enjoying the summer with my children. After all, time is fleeting and they won’t be this small forever. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth, hide the knives and treasure those little buggers.

You can't hear the kids complaining about the mind numbing amount of pictures Hubs takes but after this Hubs stopped talking to any of us.

Here we are treasuring each other on the highway. Note: Hubs stopped talking to all of us immediately after this picture was taken.

I learned some things in the process–about myself, about life. I’m a better person for it, albeit a better person who desperately needs a hair appointment. For instance:

  • It is physically impossible for me to treasure my children day after day, 24 hours a day without a steady flow of caffeine. Before the summer I had weaned myself off the stuff for health reasons but mid summer I had to weigh the importance of a steady heartbeat against the safety of my prodigies. Heartbeats are overrated.
  • Five year old boys are physically incapable of being quiet. There is a reason that there was never a book called The Diary of Arnie Frank. It would have lasted two pages and then Arnie would have forgotten about the Nazis and gone running down the hall singing at the top of his lungs while beating on a bucket. End of story. Girls know how to tiptoe and use their indoor voices. You could wrap a boy in foam and he would still find a way to shake the walls. It’s what they do.

Note: I sincerely apologize for using the Jewish holocaust with such flippancy. You’d think I was a twenty-something pop sensation.

"By 'mental exhaustion' you mean rehab, right?"

“At least I don’t Twerk.”

  • The more you do with your children, the more they want to do. I can’t emphasize this enough: the key to your child’s happiness is lowered expectations. Providing them with gifts and stimulating activities only gives them unrealistic expectations for the future. Have you ever seen videos of children in third world countries receiving shoes for the first time? They are incredibly happy. My daughter has multiple shoes that she won’t even wear because they aren’t meeting her aesthetic expectations. And for every visit to the trampoline park this summer, I had to listen to ninety additional minutes of “what are we doing that’s exciting today?” and “I want to do something fun,” spoken in a whine and repeated ad nauseam. You know what’s fun? Not working in a sweatshop fifteen hours a day. You’re welcome.
  • The housing market is so filled with foreign investors equipped with psychic premonition and large quantities of cash that a cop and a stay at home mom can’t afford to purchase any single family home this side of Detroit. It’s remarkable really and further proof that House Hunters is a complete sham. I mean come on, a graduate student and an entry-level marketing coordinator are able to buy a beautiful craftsman style home that isn’t tagged with gang graffiti? That’s a fairytale. You want the real story? Follow us as we look at condemned homes filled with garbage and frightened animals, priced just beyond our range.
  • Inability to purchase aside, there is nothing my kids love better (with the exception of an overcrowded theme park) than freely snooping through other people’s homes. Open houses became one of our favorite free activities this summer. If summer had gone on any longer we would probably resort to breaking and entering.
  • The only family vacation we can enjoy without having to sedate Hubs is camping. He is completely relaxed when separated from society and surrounded by dirt, trees and creatures that might carry the Bubonic plague. They are making the ground harder than they used to, which was tough on my delicate frame and after two days of roughing it, my all natural, aluminum free deodorant cashed it in and left me to scare off the bears with my b.o., but other than that, camping was awesome.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. I’ll try not to stay away as long next time.

This picture was taken right after Conor tried to slip under the bar and plummet to his death. Good times.

This picture was taken right after Conor tried to slip under the bar and plummet to his death. You can tell that I’m still mid heart attack.

Wait, I’m Not Dying?

Warning: The following is a snapshot into my psyche. Much like the movie, The Blair Witch Project, it’s mildly frightening with an unsteady focus that may cause motion sickness and/or trigger epileptic seizures.

I’ve done it. I’ve reached another milestone in my nihilistic life schedule: my 44th birthday. Against all of my personal expectations I exited my 43rd year of existence still breathing. Amazing but true.

If you’re scratching your head right now and wondering why this is such an astounding feat, you can step back in time and read this bad boy to catch up to speed. I’ll wait here.

Take your time. No rush. I've got to pick up my son from preschool but he can wait.

Take your time. No rush. I’ve got to pick up my son from preschool but he can wait.

Even before my mother died I was obsessed with dying young, a notion fed perhaps by my fervent belief that I was Martin Luther King Jr. reincarnated as a small white female and my misguided romantic notions of martyrdom. I staged my own death at the tender age of five to gauge my family’s reaction. For the record: their reactions were extremely disappointing and I immediately wrote them out of my will, a slight that moved them even less than my faux-death, despite my impressive collection of tattered stuffed animals. Those people were cold.

Actually I was pretty zen about the whole idea of an early death for most of my life, having adopted a Richard Bach death-is-merely-a-new-adventure attitude. I was fairly certain that after death I’d achieve total enlightenment, a huge welcome party at the pearly gates and a perfect complexion, all of which seemed pretty freaking cool. Then I had kids and my zen went out the window along with my sleep schedule, replaced by the irrational fear that I would leave my children to struggle without a mother in Captain Agro’s Mini Boot Camp for Semi-Orphans.

Despite the uncanny likeness to Castro, Captain Agro believes in a strictly Wipe-Your-Own-Butt policy.

Despite the uncanny likeness to Castro, Captain Agro maintains a strict Wipe-Your-Own-Butt policy.

You would think that after my malignant shoulder tumor turned out to be a sore muscle brought on by advancing middle age and I didn’t suffer a fatal heart attack while training for my 5K, I would’ve been freed from my psychotic burden. Not so. By the end of the year I’d battled Parkinson’s, MS and various forms of cancer all within my own imagination while lying in bed planning my memorial service, which by the way will be way better than the memorial service I planned for myself when I was five.

Anyway, I was expecting to feel relieved and elated about breaking the 43rd barrier, like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I figured I might even throw myself a Dodged That Bullet party or have some sort of wild weekend in Vegas with The Hangover cast. However, when it came right down to it, the thought of outliving my mother didn’t make me want to party. In fact it just made me sad. Just when I think I understand my own psyche. What a buzz kill.

Zach is taking this particularly hard.

Zach is taking this particularly hard. He didn’t know my mother but he was really looking forward to the wild weekend.

And to top it off I was over-scheduled, which made it hard to properly obsess and wallow in my angst. I kept thinking, “Is this how I want to spend potentially the last few months of my life? I should be reaching enlightenment sitting in an ashram in the heart of India or some other deeply meaningful nonsense that will vex my husband.”

Then (BAM!) my birthday came and went and life went on almost as if I wasn’t the center of the universe, which is weird because I’m pretty sure that I am.

Kidding. I was just trying on narcissism as a possible replacement for hypochondria.

So I’ve been wandering around a little aimlessly in these first couple of weeks of my 44th year. I mean, my death is no longer imminent and my memorial service is already planned, what to do with myself? Perhaps I’ll look at these as bonus years and just do whatever the fark I want (within reason–I do still have children to care for). The ashram is probably out…or maybe not. Do ashrams have reliable child care? I could be ashraming next week. Who knows? I’m a wild card.

 

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Photo Credits

Starpulse.com

Awkward Social Situations And Chinoiserie

This year I talked my daughter, Riley, into having a birthday party in an effort to help her manage her social anxiety. I wanted to show her that being the center of attention doesn’t have to be traumatic in a safe, low pressure environment…and also to make up for the fact that the only other party I threw for her sucked.

Okay, I need you all to look past my fragile ego and narcissism and focus on my desire to be a good mother here. Thank you.

Anyway, this party was much better than the last one. Our theme was Awkward Social Situations in a Chinese Setting, and I think we pulled it off. I’ll admit that the whole theme didn’t fully gel until the middle of the party when one of my daughter’s eight year old friends asked me for my full name and if I had a Facebook account. But then it all fell into place.

Awkward social situations are much more pleasant under paper lanterns and balls of tissue.

Awkward social situations go well with paper lanterns and balls of tissue.

This particular friend is a sweet girl, petite like my daughter with an innocent face…exactly the kind of person who turns out to be a sociopathic stalker in a Lifetime movie. And because that’s the way my brain works, an image of this girl boiling our rabbit on the stove a la Fatal Attraction immediately popped into my head, even though we don’t have a rabbit and the girl is really too young to be cooking without an adult’s supervision.

"I won't be ignored, Mrs. Redican."

“I won’t be ignored, Mrs. Redican.”

Since it would be inhospitable to answer “None of your damn business!” to a guest in my home and also highly unlikely that I would be granted a restraining order against a third grader with dimples, I opted for the only reasonable alternative, feigning hearing loss, a language barrier and incontinence.

At that point the other girls were trying to draw and quarter each other in the living room so I figured that she would forget her need for my personal information. Eight year old stalkers have notoriously short attention spans as they are easily distracted by Littlest Pet Shop toys and Justin Bieber. As soon as she was safely in her parent’s car I put it out of my mind.

However, four days later at a school function the same girl approached me and complained that I hadn’t answered her friend request. Having not checked my Facebook page in a couple of days, the complaint caught me off guard. I hadn’t had a chance to carefully craft a casual but responsible response to such a request using my best understanding parent voice.

"Stop stalking me!"

“Get away from me, evil child!”

Instead I said, “You sent me a Facebook request? I haven’t gotten it,” as if I had a friends list full of minors. Then I ran home and checked my account.

Sure enough, there was a friend request from an eight year old waiting for me which triggered a horrifying string of imagined situations: me hosting keg parties for grade schoolers, getting a stripper for my son’s sixth birthday party, taking prepubescent girls on secret runs for birth control. It’s a slippery slope. One day you accept a friend request from an eight year old and the next day you’re on trial for having inappropriate relations with your Middle School student.

I told myself that I was overreacting. I don’t even have a teaching credential.

To which I responded: Of course I’m overreacting. THAT’S WHAT I DO! You cannot expect me to receive a friend request like this and not descend into a downward spiral of parental panic anymore than you can expect me to sprout wings and fly. It’s in my nature.

Point taken.

But to be fair to my psyche, because it’s the only one I’ve got, an eight year old girl friending adults on social media who her parents don’t really know is dangerous. It might be antiquated thinking but I’m not a big fan of kids this age on social media to begin with. I’d like to go back to the days when kids played on the street without having to worry that some pedophile they met in a chat room was going to abduct them or that the suggestive pictures they took on their smart phone and then forwarded to the boy they had a crush on were being circulated across the internet. Thank God there were no smart phones in the 80s or there would be suggestive pictures of me all over cyber space.

lisahartman

Am I right, Lisa?

And even more importantly, where would I spill intimate details about my children and their tiny stalker-like friends or look at inappropriate memes and risqué comments if my Facebook news feed was invaded by young impressionable eyes? Seriously, you can’t expect me to be responsible all of the time and you really can’t expect that of my friends, some of whom are at least as crazy as I am.

So it looks like I’m going to have to have an awkward conversation with somebody’s mother while trying to avoid suggesting that their child is a stalker and/or that they are a bad parent. Am I the only one that doesn’t see this going well?

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Photo Credits:

ecuflicktalk.blogspot.com

freeinfosociety.com

guyism.com

 

Ode To A Masshole

Bostonskyline

Sometimes the world is a giant sh!t storm, isn’t it? I don’t usually write about tragedies such as the Boston Marathon bombing. There are people far more eloquent in their sincerity so I usually leave it to them.

Then I saw Stephen Colbert’s opening monologue regarding the bombing and I thought that he got it exactly right. Check out his brilliance.

I lived 28 miles outside of Boston for three years. I married a man who grew up there. I have friends and a gigantic Irish and Italian family there. And let me tell you something:

Those are the toughest people I’ve ever met.

They are called Massholes by neighboring New England states for a reason. You don’t mess with a Masshole. You don’t mess with a Masshole’s friends and you damn sure don’t mess with a Masshole’s family (and given the popularity of the Catholic church and the procreative prowess of the populace there you can just assume that everyone is family.)

If you’ve ever driven the roads there and been cut off by a guy driving a pickup with a cracked windshield and rusted undercarriage, laying on his horn as he drove in a lane of his own creation after you assumed that you had the right of way simply because that’s what it told you in the driver’s booklet that you got from the registry, you have an inkling of just how tough they are.

whydomassholeshonk

Massholes view driving laws as mere suggestions devised for people who don’t have the balls to make their own rules. They subscribe to a Darwinian driving theory. The right of way goes to whoever has the stones to take it. That person will usually celebrate his/her victory with a festive, “Fahck you!” and a friendly one finger wave.

There is a reason that most of Hubs’s fondest memories involve stunts resulting in some kind of injury and/or fights. Maybe it’s years of chipping ice off of their cars in April, eating cream-filled, starchy foods, getting their @sses chewed for doing something they shouldn’t by the neighbor down the street who then sent them home to get their @sses kicked by their parents, getting all their molars pulled. Maybe those things gave them stones the size of glaciers. That’s just a guess. I don’t know where that toughness originates exactly. I just know that it’s there.

If you doubt me, just walk into a bar in Southie and say, “your mother’s a whore” to no one in particular. Of course you’ll want to make sure that your will is in order first.

southierules

“My mothah is a saint and a virgin.”

These people take the “R”s out of words with an “R” in their spelling and randomly put those “R”s at the end of other words like “Brenda” because they can. These people are not PC. They are not careful. They are not shy with their opinions. They are fiercely loyal. They are always ready to tell you a joke or kick your @ss…depending on the situation and whether or not you are wearing a Yankees hat.

They eat broken glass and road salt for breakfast (topped with a generous helping of Marshmallow Fluff.) You don’t pick on people like that. You can’t break their spirit. The weather has been trying for generations and it can’t be done.

frozenjack

But then again, the type of coward who would leave explosives in an area crowded with families and children and then run to safety before the carnage was unleashed wouldn’t understand that kind of spirit. They wouldn’t understand the Masshole propensity to love and fight and endure. To run toward danger to help those in need. So on behalf of my Masshole friends and family let me just say to those bomb-dropping cowards

fahckyou

FAHCK YOU!

*My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and my most sincere gratitude goes out to the people who ran to help.

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Photo Credits

bostinno.com

metro.us

memegenerator.net

Surgical Fun With Hobos

My son, Conor, had a little “work done” a couple of weeks ago. That’s the Hollywood term for surgery, though in Conor’s case it doesn’t refer to a cosmetic procedure. No Brazilian Butt Lift here. In fact, nothing major at all. Just a little abdominal surgery to repair a hernia. No biggie. I was totally casual about the whole thing. Totally.

On the outside.

On the inside, I was a ball of anxiety because my baby was going under general anesthesia and I worried that he would handle it as well as I do, which is to say not well at all. My body is generally against drugs, especially anything that threatens to relieve pain, and reacts like a tweaker in an imaginary snake pit. It’s charming to watch, just ask Hubs.

My daughter, Riley, was also experiencing some anxiety over Conor’s surgery, saying comforting things like, “when they cut Conor open…” and “if Conor dies…”, so I scheduled a busy day for all of us the day before the surgery to keep our minds off of the whole thing.

Riley has an overactive imagination. I don’t know where she gets it.

This picture is in no way meant to suggest that she gets it from me.

This picture is in no way meant to suggest that she gets it from me. Or that I’ve lost half my teeth.

At the end of the day Conor collapsed into bed, which is when I noticed that he was FILTHY. Evidently at school he’d decided to roll in the sand and climb through a carburetor. Since it was well past bed time and my sweet boy is not known for his sunny morning disposition or ability to retain a great attitude without sleep or food, I let my little hobo fall asleep in the midst of his filth, thinking that I’d clean him up before we left in the morning.

Good plan…

if the giant Coke I had for lunch hadn’t fed my anxiety, which in turn fueled some situational insomnia. I stared at the ceiling most of the night and slipped into a deep sleep right before the alarm went off. At least I assume it went off. I didn’t hear it. I woke up with just enough time to throw on clothes, grab Conor, plop him in the car and make it to the Children’s Hospital by his 6:00 a.m. check in, where I repeatedly apologized to every nurse within earshot for bringing in a stinky, unwashed child for surgery.

Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I was ever that embarrassed over my parental shortcomings. I mean general incompetence is fine but hygiene neglect…that’s just wrong.

"He's cute. It's a shame his mama doesn't wash him."

“Mama doesn’t wash me til the creek thaws and the hogs are slaughtered.”

Three hours of shame and two meltdowns later (Conor found the blood pressure cuff and tiger pajamas traumatizing), he was in surgery and I was staring blankly at a wall in the waiting room.

The elephant tranquilizer is just kicking in [looks like I'm not the only one hallucinating]

Don’t let the drunken joie de vivre fool you, he despises those pajamas.

According to the surgeon, the procedure went off without a hitch. The recovery nurse might have had a different take on the whole experience however, because it seems that Conor also suffers from a tiny sensitivity to general anesthesia, which came in the form of explosive diarrhea and an intense desire to roll around in it. Thank God, Hubs had arrived by that point to help our recovery nurse because I had all but shut down and could only stand there with a box of juice and a popsicle in my hands watching the carnage with mild detachment.

Standing there uselessly I had plenty of time to wonder about things such as why Hubs has absolutely no problem with gay men, but is deeply offended by Vespas, Mazda Miatas and small fluffy white dogs. And also why the nurse didn’t know what the word “defecating” meant which seemed to me like a word that a nurse should know.

The recovery nurse finally shoved Conor into an adult sized diaper and signed his discharge papers before he soiled the entire recovery wing.

At the end of the day Conor had face planted off the recliner and the couch, as well as crapped his way through two gurneys, four diapers, two pairs of pajamas and a new rug. Impressive. But we are fairly certain the hernia is gone.

conoraftersurgery2

And he got to take home a glove balloon and crap-filled adult diaper. Score!

Fathead’s Lice Removal System

Hello all! I hope your President’s Day weekend went well. We had some good times over here which is fairly remarkable considering that Friday we figured out that the neighborhood tree rats had invaded our heating ducts. Riley figured it out first because they were apparently nibbling on the vent in her room while she was trying to sleep so she was fairly freaked out about the whole thing.

I however handled it pretty darn well. I just barricaded the vents, turned off the heat and handed out parkas. It’s brisk in here. It feels like the home of a post menopausal woman, but at least we don’t live in North Dakota.

Riley is demonstrating a hypothermic coma in front of her blocked vent. I don't know where she gets her overdramatic nature.

Riley is demonstrating a hypothermic coma in front of her blocked vent. I don’t know where she gets her over-dramatic nature.

Take a moment to admire my pioneer spirit.

Thanks. Because last night at bedtime, after a full afternoon of Frisbee golf and beer, I received the news that we had been exposed to lice and the pioneer spirit left me. Nothing brings out my inner OCD like small insects in my home. Seriously, my kids apply for the Witness Protection Program every time we have an ant invasion.

However, Hubs and I came up with two separate systems for lice removal and I thought I’d take a moment to document them, so that if you have children or a fondness for Third World Country brothels (ahem, Senator Menendez), you would know what to do.

Fathead’s Lice Removal System

  • Freak the f*ck out! (This first step is important. Skipping this step will unravel the whole system.) Think about all of the things your vermin carrying children have touched. Become overwhelmed. Contemplate your life before children. Remember how happy and pest free you were. Obsessively scratch your head and cry a little.
  • Stick everyone in the shower. Stick your neighbors in the shower. Wash everyone with lice shampoo. Hand out tiny torturous combs to comb out the nits. Obsess over each piece of dandruff that the tiny comb rips from your children’s heads. Comb their hair every day for a week or until they are hairless.
  • Channel Tom Sizemore in Black Hawk Down and deliver inspirational battle speeches to your shell-shocked children while their scalps bleed. They will be especially puzzled when you tell them “everyone’s been shot!” but you will understand the reference and that’s what is important. Throw the towels down the back steps.
"In Mogadishu the lice carry RPGs and work for war lords."

“In Mogadishu the lice carry RPGs and work for war lords. Hair is for the weak!”

  • Strip the beds. Throw all bedding, stuffed animals, kids’ clothes and anything else that isn’t nailed down out the back door with the towels to be washed in hot water. Cover your naked, shivering children with a tarp.
  • Vacuum all of the carpet and upholstery in your home and car. Empty the contents of the vacuum in the outside trash bin. Dismantle your vacuum to wash all of the parts. When you’ve forgotten how to put your vacuum back together, throw it down the back steps. Tear out the carpet. Throw it down the back steps with the vacuum.
  • Change clothes after each task. Throw the clothes you were wearing down the back steps. When you’ve gone through all of your machine washable clothes, borrow your husband’s clothes. Throw those down the back steps. Finish your tasks naked.
  • Throw everything that can’t go in the washer in plastic garbage bags and seal. Leave in the airtight bags for a couple of weeks or until you and your children have forgotten what are in the bags. Throw the bags away.
  • Lose your keys. Have a tantrum about losing your keys. Tear your house apart. Realize that your keys are in the bottom of one of the airtight garbage bags. Abandon driving.
  • Eat a bucket of Red Vines.
  • Repeat this process in ten days.

Hubs’ Lice Removal System

  • Go to bed.
  • Avoid your wife for two to three days.

Note: this post was written in a sanitized area while wearing a winter jacket. I hope it has been helpful.

jacketatcomputer

 

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Photo Credits

Rocknrollghost.com