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 🧩Pizza Visit 🍕French Fry Vodka 🍟🥃Let’s All Move to Portugal ✈️ We were surprised at dinner time last night with the sight of a kid who’s really no longer much of a kid. Matthew, who’s been Boy The Elder’s friend since the two weren’t even toddling, stopped by, pizzas in hand.Continue reading “Absolut Curly? — Nov. 10, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Death List ☠️Doctor Day 🩺Stay Calm, Be Confident 🧘 Sometimes the internet does something useful. For example, in the early days, there was the site that was nothing but The Hamster Dance. I’m not making that up, kiddos. The only thing this website had was The Hamster Dance. Don’t believe me?Continue reading “Inventor Regret — Nov. 9, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What Makes a Sloth a Sloth? 🦥Launch Day is Nigh 🚀Talkin’ Free Speech 🎙️ I find myself going down some interesting rabbit holes lately. For example, tonight I wondered why exactly sloths are so slow and how exactly such a creature could survive in a survival-of-the-fittest world, especially when they liveContinue reading “Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Good Morning, Bank of America, How Are Ya? 🎮Woods Walk 🌲🌲🌲Big Bird’s a Commie ☭ I awoke this morning to a text from Bank of America about potentially fraudulent charges on my debit card. “Pshaw,” thought I. “Probably just a scam.” So I stumbled into the kitchen, made my coffee andContinue reading “Early Morning Gaming? — Nov. 7, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cute Pic, Dumb Response 📷A Musical Connection 🎵A Time-Change Analogy ⌚ My first solo venture into Costco today did not end up in familial bankruptcy, surprisingly. Oh, it could have. It just didn’t. I walked right past the $40 slabs of ribs and steered clear of the $2,000 monster TV thatContinue reading “Adventures in Costco – Nov. 6, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wrasslin’ 🤼♂️Wifey Poo 🦶Costco 🛒 Boy The Younger and I found ourselves this evening in the most difficult-to-spell-without-looking-it-up building in the Midwest, Chaifetz Arena, home of the Midwest’s most-weirdly named college basketball team, the St. Louis University Billikens. But we weren’t there for hoops. We were there to watch the oddContinue reading “Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Role Reversal ◀️Work From Wherever ⌚People Talk Funny 📣 Today was Part I of Operation “Return Wifey Poo’s Ability to Walk Not Like An Old Lady.” We arrived at Barnes Jewish Hospital West, which graciously allowed us entry despite us not being members of the tribe, just before 10 a.m. toContinue reading “Wounded Wifey Poo — Nov. 4, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 📺 A Broadcast to Watch 📰 An eNewsletter to Read 📽️ A Documentary to Skip Here are two things that receive the official John The Storyteller-in-Chief’s Seal of Approval — and one that doesn’t. ✅ Peyton and Eli Do Monday Night Football I have been alive for many variations of theContinue reading “John’s Seal of Approval — Nov. 3, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Good Journalism 📰Fish Farts 🐟💨Dystopia 🧟 I’m officially old. I say that not because of a birthday or a sudden recognition that I am, indeed, 47. Rather, I say it because I’m increasingly pining for “the good-old days.” Now, I get it, Billy Joel. The good-old days weren’t always good, andContinue reading “Get Off My Lawn! — Nov. 1, 2021”
🔻 What’s Below 🔻My Red Wagon 😊F’n Nightmares 💤I Hate Facebook 😠 I greeted the Halloween morning sunrise while taking every last thing out of the garage of my little country home and putting it in one of four sections on the driveway: Stuff to throw away. Stuff to give to Wifey Poo to tryContinue reading “Cleaning Out Memories — Oct. 31, 2021”
👎 What’s Below 👎Boy The Medalist 🏅Ricky The Trash Eater 🗑️Sweating It Out 🥵 Waiting for Boy The Younger’s blue-haired head to pop over the rolling southern Missouri countryside for the final sprint to the finish line this morning was torturous. He was running in his final cross-country meet of this, his first season, oneContinue reading “My Blue-Haired Medalist — Oct. 30, 2021”
What’s BelowShoulder Ouchies 😧Chris the TigWaBaFatu 💁♂️Murder Pods 🔪 I’d love to know what idiot thought it was a good idea to get a COVID booster shot in one arm and a flu shot in the other less than a minute apart yesterday. Oh, that would be me. I spent much of the night sleepilyContinue reading “Make Mine a Double — Oct. 29, 2021”
👇🏻 What’s Below 👇🏻🚦 Red Means Stop 💉 Vaccination Ethics ✍️ The Many Voices in My Head I’m convinced that people in every state think their state’s drivers are the worst, and never do they count themselves among them. I learned to operate a motor vehicle in New York, whose drivers have a particularly bad reputation, butContinue reading “The Idiot Driver? Tis I — Oct. 28, 2021”
🔻 What’s Below 🔻Heading South for the Winter 🥶Laughing With Wifey Poo 🤣👩Americans Suck at Math 🧮Therapy 🧠 I love my role as the family’s vacation planner. I’m not sure exactly when I put on this hat, but I think it’s a generally recognized Family Truth that it’s something at which I’m good. I’ve planned everythingContinue reading “Christmas Road Trippin’ — Oct. 27, 2021”
👇🏾 What’s Below 👇🏾In the dugout ⚾What if I’m … wrong? 😢Angry face 😡 I spent part of the morning in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout. The fam took a trip downtown to tour Busch Stadium. It was a good visit. We saw the owner’s suite (posh), the Champions Club (pricey) and peeked in on the battingContinue reading “Sitting on the Bench — Oct. 22, 2021”
👇 What’s Below 👇On Men and Crying 😭 Why I write ✍🏻Back Crackin’ 👨⚕️ So here’s a thing I sometimes hate about myself: I cry. Like, easily. And often. Or at least it’s “often” in comparison to how often men normally cry. At least, I think it’s often in comparison to the frequency men normally cry. IContinue reading “So Many Damn Feelings — Oct. 22, 2021”
What’s Below 👇🏼Nazis and Mongols ⚾Hippie writing ☮️Inside marriage 💍 The Astros playing the Red Sox to see who advances to the World Series is, to me, akin to the Nazis fighting the Mongols to determine who gets control of the planet — and if you haven’t heard about how the Mongols killed their prisoners,Continue reading “Baseball is Broken — Oct. 20, 2021”
What’s Below 👇On being self-taught 📷The Bee Battle 🐝Ahhh, Ben Platt 🎶 I set up a little makeshift portrait studio today in a training room at my office. Lights, a backdrop — the color of which matches our new brand hue — and a tripod with my Nikon Z6. It all looked very fancy-shmancy. Here’sContinue reading “Say ‘Cheese’ — Oct. 19, 2021”
Human beings of the modern age like to think of themselves as the pinnacle of all creation. Of course, this is not necessarily new to the modern age. It wasn’t all that long ago that some of the brightest minds of their modern age — guys like Sir Isaac Newton — thought women got pregnantContinue reading “Technology Sucks — Oct. 18, 2021”
Being a bald man, I don’t have many reasons to be in a barbershop. And I miss barbershops. They are one of the few remaining oases for guys, and barbershop talk is fun. I took Boy The Younger to have his mop managed Saturday morning. Boy The Elder found Walt’s Barbershop a few years ago.Continue reading “Even a Bald Man Needs a Barbershop — Oct. 17, 2021”
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, and even almost 21 years later, I’m not sure how I feel about it. So much of time is arbitrary. We screw it up so badly that we have to add a whole day every four years. So for me, today is just like any other dayContinue reading “Infant Loss Awareness — Oct. 15, 2021”
There’s this state of being that’s not quite asleep, not quite dreaming but definitely not awake. That’s where I found myself Thursday evening at Livin’ Sublime Wellness, my little yoga studio in Wentzville. Restorative yoga is a lifesaver for me. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Not to sound all Hippie-Dippy or anything, butContinue reading “Fourth State of Being — Oct. 14, 2021”
A vegan, a person on a gluten-free diet, and a person who does Crossfit walk into a bar. How do I know? Because none of them would shut up about it. If you haven’t heard this joke before, you can probably relate. I know I can. I remember meeting Sarah on Day 1 at aContinue reading “Losing Weight Wasn’t the Goal — Oct. 13, 2021”
The one thing I know how to do better than anything else is write. I love it. But it’s also sometimes very difficult. Because I know how to tell a story, I’m tapped to do so in trying times. I did so when my father-in-law died in January, writing his obituary and helping my beautifulContinue reading “The Family Writer — October 9, 2021”
I found it funny this morning to be walking through Kohl’s with a meat thermometer in my right hand and two toilet seats tucked under my left arm. There are some moments in life that are just serendipitous. Boy The Elder and Wifey Poo are indirectly responsible for this little portrait you now have inContinue reading “On Toilet Seats and Meat Thermometers — Oct. 8, 2021”
I’ve been a Yankees fan since I was a small boy. Some of my best memories were born in the old Yankee Stadium. It’s in my DNA to not like the Red Sox. I can think of no good reason to despise the Sawx or their fans, but I still am repulsed by their logo,Continue reading “Painful Playoff Baseball — Oct. 5, 2021”
I once played in a baseball game in which it was raining so hard that, when I picked up a ball stuck in the mud in the middle of a puddle in a centerfield that resembled a shallow lake, it felt like I was throwing a shot-put to the second baseman 15 feet away. Today,Continue reading “An All-Sports Weekend – Oct. 3, 2021”
Life sucks when you’re tired. I know this. I’ve lived this. A lot of people like to say they have insomnia. I used to say I had insomnia. Then I actually got insomnia. There’s a difference between a few nights of poor sleep and insomnia. Which isn’t to diminish a few nights of poor sleep.Continue reading “So. Damn. Tired — Sept. 28, 2021”