In high school, I was friends with a girl named Denise. She and I were both free-spirited creative types who liked to write. For a time, we served as co-presidents of the formed-by-us creative writing club, and we even went on a date (that didn’t work out too well).
Denise was and is a no-bullshit person, and I valued her friendship as a high schooler because what you saw was what you got. Denise wasn’t going to tell you what you wanted to hear. She was going to tell you the truth. Perhaps not surprisingly, Denise wasn’t a big fan of people. I will always remember one lunch time when we were outside of The Commons on a warm just-before-school-let-out-for-the-summer day and she said, “I don’t like people. I like rocks.”
We made fun of her for that. Playfully, of course. I was a social butterfly back then, a guy who, in the middle of a nasty, cliquish high school, floated between groups, generally being on good terms with everyone except Joey Sementelli, my middle school bully, someone whom I still loathe on principle though I haven’t seen him in 30 years.
Anyway, as time has gone on, I’ve become less of the butterfly and more of the lone wolf — or maybe it’s the stinky skunk. Whatever animal analogy you want to make, I have few people who actually know me. I don’t like this. I didn’t intend to do this. It just sort of happened. The older I got, the more I couldn’t make sense of people, of their motivations for doing the things they do, of their propensity to be assholes. People tend to tire me out these days, outside of the few who remain in whatever constitutes my inner circle. I have times where the ugliness of the world just smacks me in the face, where I see people do shitty things to others and to me, where the driver of the car behind me flashes her lights and gives me the finger instead of using either the lane to the left or the lane to the right to pass a 10-mph-over-the-speed-limit me on I-70.
Today was one of those days. I am working really, really hard at the end of a sprint that came at the end of a marathon. Ever since November, life has been absolutely insane. COVID, Longhaul COVID, the death of my father-in-law, the presence of a tiny African for six months, fighting to get paid my value at my old job, getting my house ready to sell, selling my house, starting a new job and moving. I. Am. Tired. There’s no doubt about that. So when a new co-worker does something that I considered pretty shitty, well, I’m just sad tonight. I’m sad people don’t treat each other better. I’m sad people aren’t who they show themselves to be. I’m sad communication is so easily interrupted by misunderstandings. I’m sad that people don’t more often talk to each other instead of about each other. I’m sad that things are the way they actually are in this country instead of the way I wish they would be.
In the end, I’ll be fine. I’m sprinting toward the finish line of this crazy race. We close on Old House in 10 days. New House is feeling more like New Home every day. My co-worker and I are already fine and moving forward as if nothing happened, as far as I’m concerned. Wifey Poo booked a cabin at the Lake for me to go to in early October to have a writing weekend. My boys are awesome. Life is good.
But sometimes I think Denise had it right. My thing isn’t rocks. It might be cigars, a good glass of dry red wine, the comfort of the blanket Wifey Poo made for me or music that makes me feel. People, though? People have the tendency to make my life infinitely more painful and confusing.
On a much brighter note, I had a date with Wifey Poo before work this morning. We intended to grab coffee and tea at Bread Co., or, as everyone else not from St. Louis knows it, Panera. Alas, the lobby was closed, I’m sure for lack of workers. So we went to Starbucks, which proceeded to take 25 minutes to make a cappuccino and a tea. Again, I blame the worker shortage. Get on that, Biden, would ya?
It was nice sitting outside in the morning sun and talking with Wifey Poo about random little things. We’ve had so much not-random-not-little lately that it was a good change to talk about stuff that really doesn’t matter much at all.
The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day
“Hindsight is always 20/20.”
“Monday morning quarterbacking.”
“With the benefit of hindsight…”
These phrases (and others) are used to dismiss people who look back at a situation to critique what was done. And yes, it’s fair to give less weight to people’s opinions when they are shaped by everything that eventually unfolded instead of what was known at the time.
But this shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not look at how things actually unfolded. History can be very instructive to the present to help us shape a better future.
Rep. Barbara Lee serves California’s 13th District. Twenty years ago this week, she cast the lone dissenting vote against authorizing the use of military force in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
Rep. Lee was not an unwavering pacifist. She wasn’t, as some of the voluminous hate mail she received accused, a secret member of the Taliban. She wasn’t even being partisan. Rather, she had a problem with the 60 words that made up the resolution, fearing that they empowered the presidency — not the specific president — to wage an unending war against unspecified enemies using never-before-used tactics on a new-concept battlefield.
The resolution she voted against read:
“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
Since our nation rightfully went after the organization from which the horrendous acts of 9/11 sprung forth, the president at the time and the men who followed him have used those words to justify deadly strikes against organizations and in countries that had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks on New York and D.C. Were they against people who perhaps shared some ideals with the 9/11 attackers? Certainly. Were they against people who oppose the “American way of life” (whatever that is) and our style of international diplomacy? Most definitely. Did these strikes prevent future acts of international terrorism against our country? Yeah, prolly.
Was Rep. Lee’s vote unAmerican?
Hindsight gives us the benefit of clarity. With a populace more interested in Kardashian fashion and eating Tide Pods, successive administrations from both parties took those 60 words and lit the fuse under our mighty military, using it as a bullwhip across the Middle East and Africa (and killing more innocent civilians than were killed here on 9/11 by multiples). Those words created the justification for torture and perpetual imprisonment of hundreds of human beings, some of whom were later proven to have absolutely no affiliation with any terrorist organization whatsoever. The list of organizations on the approved strike list grew and grew and grew but was kept secret even from Congress, giving the presidency free reign to annihilate those with differing religious and political persuasions and no connection to the events that unfolded on 9/11.
On the day of the vote that would make Rep. Lee a pariah, there was a memorial service in Washington, D.C., for the victims. A member of clergy urged the gathered, which included just about every senator and congressperson:
“As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.”
Guantanamo Bay. Torture. Drone strikes that killed innocent civilians.
We became that evil. Patriotism turns out to be not much better than many of the other “isms” out there.
But hey. Hindsight is always 20/20.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- My new boss is pretty bad-ass and doesn’t let problems fester. She tackles them head-on, without politics, and I appreciate that.
- Coming home to the country after a day like this. I can literally leave the insanity behind and sit out in the darkness listening to the nighttime bugs sing their songs.
- A good cigar.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racist Billboard🐲Roe Silence😶Guest Bulldog🐶 Driving out of rural northern Arkansas today to return home after several days in a cabin in the boonies, I passed a billboard that was startling, to say the least. It starts off innocently enough with a very true statement: “It’s not racist to 💗 people.” I […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Uranus Sleeper🔭Cabin Rules🩲Taco Seasoning🌮 What does Cuba, Uranus, Sleeper, Doolittle and a billboard saying “If we don’t return to 2 Chronicles, than were finished” have in common? They all were on the route from my Humble Rural Missourah Home to the cabin in the boonies of Arkansas that is my home […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Check Engine 🚗Declined 🥡Murder Suspect 🔪 Every once in awhile, life throws you a pleasant surprise that seems to even the score a bit. Wifey Poo’s car is up for an emissions inspection this year. Her “check engine” light has been going on and off for a year or so, and […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩River Thoughts 🛶Little Annoyances 😠Birthday Boy 🎂 I didn’t know what a float trip was until I met Wifey Poo. I’m not even sure today that the term “float trip” is used outside Missourah. But if you’re a Missourahn, when someone says, “Wanna go on a float trip?” you know a […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Boys 👨👦👦Work Drinking🥃Feeling Good 😎 I’ve understood since seventh-grade science class how a child is a somewhat random and yet somewhat traceable mish-mash of his parents and their parents and their parents ad infinitum. It’s so cool to see that play out with my own boys. Boy The Elder is […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Stinger 🦂Inflation 🎈Housing Costs 🏘️ There’s something quite amazing about witnessing a human dinosaur be thrown through a stack of four tables. That was just one of the scenes from last night as Boys The Elder & Younger and I attended AEW Dynamite and Rampage. The biggest news from the […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shitty Goodbye 💩Bald Is Beautiful 👨🦲Housing Market 🏘️ It’s official: My duty ensuring the continued breathing of roughly 20 chickens for Wifey Poo’s and Boy The Younger’s vacationing friends is over. Success! All birds were present and accounted for this morning, as I said goodbye to my new friends — Gertrude, […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CrytpoStupidity ₿Coffee Seltzer ☕Chicken Update🐓 I like to make fun of Matt Damon. I know this comes from a place of deep-seated insecurity because Matt Damon is, well, Matt Damon and I am not. Yet it’s fun to make fun of Matt Damon, precisely because he is Matt Damon — all […]
🧩 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 […]