My “awake” part of this 24-hour spin on Mother Earth’s axis began in the wee hours of the morning when I came to consciousness screaming — scaring the crap out of Wifey Poo in the process — because evidently calf cramps are a thing for middle aged men.
How Do You Cheer in Cross Country?
Boy The Younger’s first-ever cross country meet was a success. He finished in the top half of his age bracket, crossing the tape in 32nd place at 15:17. I realized while I was watching runners go by in the races that preceded his that I have exactly one cross country cheer: “You’ve got this!” It seemed to me after the sixth time I said it to some random kid who ran by looking like she wanted someone to just shoot her and put her out of her misery that I didn’t quite “get” cross country cheering. In baseball, there are a wide variety of cheers based on the situation. For example: “All right now, two strikes, choke up, put the ball in play!” or “One more strike, just like that one!” I’ve got a few weeks before BTY’s second meet. Any suggestions on how to step up my cheer game?
Conflicted About 9/11
I sit here on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 feeling much the same way as I have for all the previous ones of these things, which is to say, conflicted.
I was shepherding a weekly newspaper toward its print deadline when the first plane smashed into a tower of which, as a small boy, I had stood at the base staring up in amazement. Days before, I learned Wifey Poo was pregnant with Boy The Elder. I remember feeling torn between having an important job to do to chronicle what was happening at the local level while simultaneously wanting to stand constant sentry over my suddenly growing family. I was as patriotic as the next guy in the days and weeks that followed. I remember listening to “God Bless the USA” with the windows down.
I also remember how, by the time we’d all traveled around the sun together again, none of those “good” things that happened at a societal level in the wake of the tragedy remained. And it’s gotten progressively worse with each subsequent trip.
Let me state this clearly: I honor the brave men and women who have stepped up and fought the wars of the previous two decades. I appreciate the sacrifices of those who did not come back alive. I cried tears then and will at some point cry tears again for the victims of religious zealotry gone mad.
But I’ve fallen out of love with America and its institutions. I watched as torture, decades-long imprisonment of innocent people and the creation of a surveillance state became an OK thing as far as a majority of my countrymen were considered. I then sat back and saw the citizenry, including people with whom I share blood, practice its own particular brand of zealotry by electing and — despite Himalayan-sized piles of evidence of his moral, ethical and legal failings — attempting to re-elect the most dangerously unqualified man to ever have sat in the Oval Office. And then I watched as, inflamed by their sore-loser messiah, these zealots coalesced into a mob that conducted a Third World-esque insurrection led by a shirtless moron wearing a Fred Flintstone grand-poobah hat.
With each passing anniversary, I felt more and more uncomfortable with what the dominant narrative said I should feel. It’s one thing to remember the victims of the tragedy, but to feel any sort of patriotism and pride for the country that has gone so significantly off the rails since that one sunny Tuesday in September? I can’t do that.
Which leaves me feeling conflicted. Because I used to be one of those “love-it-or-leave-it” flag-waving patriots. I voted for good-ole’ Dubyah and still think he handled the aftermath of the crisis about as well as any human being ever could. Then again, so did Trumpeteer Rudy Guliani and he somehow ended up with brown goop dripping down his face and as a punchline in a Borat sequel.
I’m conflicted because I know what an American is supposed to feel today, but I don’t feel anything close to it. I mourn for the victims’ families who were broken that day. But I don’t like what America has become in the wake of the tragedy and I can’t seem to make myself feel something that I don’t actually see.
My Facebook newsfeed has fed me the same message from friends and family all day. “Never Forget.” I’ve never forgotten. I dare say no one 25 or older ever has or ever will. But the America I loved isn’t the America that exists, and I’m starting to wonder if it ever will again.
The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day
As I was saying…
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Because I’m sure by reading this today, someone will want to kill me tomorrow and I’d love to give them the honor.
- Breezes that keep a hot day from being disgusting.
- Big tall glasses of iced tea.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Meatloaf🦎Ugly Fish🐟Chicken Update🐓 You can buy insurance for many things. Your car. Your home. Your boat. Your health. Your eyes, teeth or brain (which, for some reason, is separate from your health). And now, according to a Missourah court, you can buy insurance that pays you if you contract a sexually […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Kentucky Fried Idiot 🍗Johnny Boy Marketing✏️Airplanes!🛦🛦🛦🛦🛦 There’s a scene in the 1979 film Rocky II in which the titular character (sorry, I’ve always wanted to write that …) is tasked by his trainer Mickey with chasing a chicken. Rocky was pummeled into oblivion — though somehow managed to eek out a […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rogue Golfers 🐝Nay Voters🐟Chicken Day🥤 Golfers are known as being a genial sort. Whereas a basketball player could maul an opponent driving the lane, leaving him bloody and unconscious, and still complain about the foul called on him, golfers actually call fouls on themselves! Yet the world of professional golf is […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bees Suck 🐝Bees As Fish🐟Cup O’ Pee🥤 I hate bees. Yes, I know they’re somehow the lynchpin on which our species’ survival will turn, but seriously, if we’re so fragile that we’re depending on a stinging invertebrate to keep us going, well, perhaps we’re not really so special after all. My […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poultry Responsibilities 🐔Fine Dining🥩Crappy Year For Music🎵 I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a marketing guy, a storyteller, a jokester, a damn good parallel parker and a guy who played on a basketball team that lost 135-3. What I am not is a farmer. I left my […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩NASCAR President ₿Creepy Coffee☕Chef BTE 🍖 We all know that just about every politician at any level is, in some way, bought and paid for, right? I mean, perhaps your local school board representative isn’t (though she might be owned by her kid), but when you reach the state and national […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dessert, Not Desert 🍨Happy Belated Birthday, McLovin 🎁Men Kissing 🏳️🌈 I started out my career in the news business and quickly learned that people suck. I mean, back in the mid-1990s, the internet was just becoming a thing — we even capitalized it … Internet … and wrote “e-mail” instead of […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Job🧑💼Happy Times🤗Small World ⚾ Buckle up. It’s story time. Today I made a reservation for Ruth’s Chris steakhouse on Sunday for me, Wifey Poo and Boys The Elder and Younger. The Core Four is getting dressed up. Keep in mind, we are not Ruth’s Chris people. It’s not that we […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pants on the Ground👖Pimp Slap✋Pissin’ in the Wind🌬️ I had occasion to wear a suit yesterday. This was notable because I evidently hadn’t worn said suit in about a year. Over those 365 days, I’ve lost roughly 30 pounds. Thus, I showed up to the engagement necessitating a suit looking like […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chainsaws Suck🪓Early Arrival✈️Shrimp on the Barbie🦐 I awoke bright and early this morning, kissed Wifey Poo on the forehead and went outside ready to put chainsaw to felled tree. I live far enough out in the country that crankin’ up a chainsaw at 6:30 a.m. on a holiday morning isn’t a […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racin’🏎️Heat☀️Gorilla Guy🦍 When I was a small boy, the Indianapolis 500 was must-see TV. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but it must have been around 1978 — when I was a 4-year-old boy who loved Matchbox cars and big wrecks. It was around that time that Pops brought home […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Fullback 🚑Sicky Poo 🤒Helium Shortage 🎈 I don’t get paid anywhere close to enough to deal with St. Louis traffic when it rains. Not that St. Louis drivers are uniquely bad. I would imagine large swaths of drivers in other cities react just as poorly to the presence of moisture […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Taking Toys Away 🔫Checked Out ✈️Windsurfing Kid 🌬️ Many moons ago, I had a toy rubber snake. That my parents would have allowed such a purchase is shocking, given that Mother Dearest was terrified of anything remotely reptilian and Sister wasn’t that far behind. Yet there, in the depths of my […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shut Up🤫Waffle House 🧇Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes🤗 So here’s something I don’t quite understand: Why is anyone, especially our political leaders, expressing “shock” over what happened in Texas yesterday. Dude … the sun rose yesterday. The sun has risen every single freaking day for the course of humanity. The sun will rise tomorrow. That’s […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Subway Obsession😞Guard Dog 🐶Chainsaw John🪓 Every child is peculiar in his or her own way. It’s an early indication we all should recognize that none of us is normal. We’re all weird. And that’s OK. Boy The Younger has always had his peculiarities. As a small child, he was fascinated with […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Musical History🎹Why Write? 🖊️Loser Level😔 We finally have only one piano in our house! Now, don’t get to thinking we’re this uber-musical family. We’re not. Wifey Poo, from what I hear, was a helluva clarinetist back in her day and did, indeed, take piano lessons. Boy The Elder is really good […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beyond Tired😫Busting Ass 🐝Covid Sadness😔 Everything is knowable. When I look back at the pace of change in my life, I think that’s the biggest difference between my life as a child and my life as an adult. Back then, if you wondered something, you just … wondered it. I mean, […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours on […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bye-Bye BTE✈️Rival Riot Rumble 🤼♂️Old Man John🤕 In a few hours, Boy The Elder will board a plane headed for Germany. He just completed his sophomore year at Mizzou, and now he’s going overseas for a two-week study-abroad session in which he’ll allegedly learn more about food science and fermentation and […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hear […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heat Wave🥵Lawn Mowing🚜Last Podcast 🎙️ It’s hotter than balls outside in my section of Missourah, and I’m not happy about it. I am not a hot-weather person. I hate heat. I sweat easily. I turn red even easier. Having a bald head does not match well with sun exposure. And has […]