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 was all about my father-in-law, Marvin. FIL died in November following complications from heart surgery and COVID. Wifey Poo and the sisters-in-law organized an ice cream social and issued an open invitation to the family and FIL’s friends. When we set the date for late September, the thought was that we’d be past theContinue reading “FIL’s Day — Sept. 19, 2021”
The term “hot as balls” definitely applied to today, though I don’t know exactly what it means. It was parents weekend at Mizzou, so we traveled yesterday evening to see Boy The Elder and attend a football game today in which the Tigers took on the mighty Southeast Missouri State Somethingorothers. The game itself wasContinue reading “Lots of Thoughts on Life and Death — Sept. 18, 2021”
Me this morning, in GIF form: Folks, I try. I really do. But I’m worn thin. I got up and decided before starting a work-from-home day that I would attach the TV I just brought over from Old House to the new stand I bought. Easy-peasy. Hooked the wires up and turned it on. AndContinue reading “Hitler, Broken TVs and the DMV — Sept. 17, 2021”
Today was a work-from-home day, filled with the excitement of having my new office location set up. Well, sort of set up. For the past month, I have been relegated to the basement because what is to be my Mancave was jam-packed with the detritus from New Home’s previous occupants, my in-laws. But over theContinue reading “A New Old World – Sept. 13, 2021”
The score was 54-0 when I decided I would coach Boy The Younger’s basketball team the next season. After all, there wasn’t much room for me to do any worse. Still, this was a bold decision, considering the entirety of my team basketball experience came in one 3-4 season as a high school freshman onContinue reading “To Coach, or Not to Coach? – Sept. 12, 2021”
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?Continue reading “Unpopular Reflections on Post-9/11 America – Sept. 11, 2021”
I’m what you call an ambivert. This doesn’t mean I eat both plants and animals, though I do. Rather, it means — among other things — that I’m somewhere in the middle between an introvert and an extrovert. Sometimes I refuel by getting away from people and enjoying my solitude. Sometimes I refuel by soakingContinue reading “Happy Hour Fatigue — Sept. 10, 2021”
I spent a half-hour today renewing my hatred for Robert Gaskins. Don’t know who Robert Gaskins is? I wish I didn’t, too. Robert Gaskins is the principle inventor of PowerPoint. He sold his little tool of the devil to Microsoft in 1987. QAnon Crazies love to point the finger at Bill Gates and say he’sContinue reading “I Hate Robert Gaskins – Sept. 8, 2021”
I stopped at the cleaners on my way home from work to pick up a pair of khaki pants that had an unfortunate run-in with honey a few weeks back. As I stepped through the door, a middle-aged woman named Karen (I’m assuming, anyway) was finishing up berating the lone employee. It had something toContinue reading “Karens at the Cleaners – Sept. 7, 2021”
You’re a Wizard, Harry When the Great Awakening of Societal Selfishness began in 2020, Wifey-Poo, Boy The Younger and I began reading the Harry Potter books out loud to help pass quarantine time in a way that didn’t involve baking bread or killing each other. It took more than a year, but we finished theContinue reading “Tony’s The Man – Sept. 6, 2021”
Kitchen Completed It is laughable even to me that I find myself, at age 47, really good at organizing stuff. I am the grizzled aging man with more salt than pepper in his beard who at a different stage of life had to bulldoze a path through dirty clothes, random school stuff and assorted otherContinue reading “Organization Skillz – Sept. 5, 2021”
Sometimes Things Be That Way There are some days that, when night falls and you take stock of all that happened, you just say — or at least think — “Well good goddamn. What the fuck was that all about?” Today has been such a day. I look back at the waking hours and realizeContinue reading “Why Exactly Am I Here? — Sept. 4, 2021”
I’ll Drink to That Since my departure from newspapers in 2009, I’ve worked for very conservative not-for-profit organizations. An electric cooperative. A Lutheran benefits provider. A pediatric orthopedic hospital. None ever encouraged me to post photos on our social media of employees drinking during the workday. But that happened to me today following our champagne-tastingContinue reading “Work Drinkin’ – Sept. 3, 2021”
An Impressive K Boy the Younger got shelled on the pitcher’s mound last night. As a former pitcher myself, I know these things sometime happen. No one squared up on any pitch he threw. They just hit it where his guys weren’t. And this should happen to him. He’s playing up an age group andContinue reading “Bringing the Heat – Sept. 2, 2021”
I Parent Like China It pleased me a great deal to share with Boy The Younger this morning that the rules he lives under are similar to those imposed on kids by the Chinese government. Our Communist Owners recently banned whippersnappers younger than 18 from playing online video games on school nights and allow themContinue reading “Me and the Chinese Government – Aug. 31, 2021”
Dying Less I think we can all agree that it’s not exactly a good thing to stop breathing more than 53 times an hour while we’re sleeping, yes? OK, good. There’s at least one thing that isn’t divisive in this country right now. When I had my first sleep study in February, I was notContinue reading “Dying Less is Good — Aug. 30, 2021”
Believing in Myself So here’s the thing: I have amazing intuition. Believe what you want about humans having only five senses. We don’t. We have more. And for me, one of my strongest senses is my gut feelings about what to do and not to do. I’ve had this ability since I was a smallContinue reading “An Emotional Day – Aug. 29, 2021”
Road Show Coming to you live from somewhere in the Ozarks, where I’m hoping not to hear banjos and have some inbred redneck hillbilly make me squeal for him. Wifey-Poo and I are in the middle of a weekend getaway. It has been a long while since we’ve had an extended period of time toContinue reading “Squeal For Me, Piggy – Aug. 28, 2021”
And the Thunder Rolls My desk at my new office faces out to a busy street – Manchester Avenue – and has a floor-to-ceiling window. I’m absolutely loving it. At my previous job, my desk was tucked away in a corner behind a cube. I called it “My Hovel.” It was a good place toContinue reading “Storm Brewing – Aug. 27, 2021”
Namaste, yo I found myself tonight in a state somewhere between awake and asleep, lying on a yoga mat with 40 pounds of sandbags on my shoulders and chest in a dimly lit studio as soft music tinged by rain sounds caressed my ears. I love this state, and I’ve only found it through meditationContinue reading “A State of Bliss – Aug. 24, 2021”
Sell This House Our house hit the market today, which is to say the Great Gods of Google allowed for it to be found by Realtors and anyone else who happens to have a larger-than-average nosy bone. Our Realtor said we could share it with our friends and family. I was trying to think ofContinue reading “House For Sale – Aug. 23, 2021”
Stages of Life Over the years, I’ve found tremendous comfort in the stability of my in-law family, especially with my sisters-in-law and, as time has progressed, their husbands. My own family is pocked by constant drama. It took me a long time to recognize exactly how not-typical my own family is and to realize thatContinue reading “Cheers to No-Drama Family – Aug. 21, 2021”
Wakey Wakey My day started off with a bag-full of my blood being drained, filled with ozone and then dripped back into my while I listened to a cancer patient banter about QAnon insanity as if it were gospel with the nurse in charge of my treatment. How was your morning? So Long, Sonny BoyContinue reading “QAnon Crap – Aug. 19, 2021”
Interesting Things You Say to Your Spouse “Please don’t get killed by anyone using a sharp object. I don’t want to go to prison for the rest of my life.” This sentence that I said to Wifey-Poo this morning makes sense if you have a spouse who loves murder podcasts and TV shows. My handsContinue reading “Really Bad Movies – Aug. 17, 2021”
Welcome to the World of Real Estate Starting a new job today was a welcome relief from the drudgery of moving. After getting my ass kicked yesterday in the Great Fridge Swap, I welcomed the opportunity to use my brain instead of whatever physical power I might have left. This is the first time I’mContinue reading “Using My Brain — Aug. 16, 2021”
Perspective Matters I don’t know exactly when I learned it or from whom, but I’ve held “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” as a Truth-capital-T for a long, long time. Today I learned it’s a matter of perspective. Yesterday, I bragged about how I have become Mr. Fix-It. Today, the God of Home Improvement (Tim Allen?) smacked me inContinue reading “Lefty-Loosey, My Ass – Aug. 15, 2021”
Begone, Cabinet! There was a time not long ago when I had zero self-confidence with home repair or renovation projects. It seemed as if every time I tried something, I made the situation worse and often a lot worse. This runs counter to my DNA, as my father is constantly tinkering with things and fixingContinue reading “Mr. Fix-It – Aug. 14, 2021”
Moving Is Fun … … when someone else does it. At just before 9 a.m., movers from Two Men and a Truck arrived at our Wentzville house. There were four men. Within three hours, they’d loaded up all the crap we had boxed and the furniture and other assorted LifeJunk we’ve accumulated through the years.Continue reading “Moving Day – Aug. 13, 2021”
He Got the Shot I took Boy the Younger to get his first COVID vaccine today. He’s 12. I consider this the socially responsible thing to do, and, after struggling for months now with Longhaul COVID, I’m really not all that open to hearing the other side of the vaccine debate. I’ve made up myContinue reading “‘You’re Weird Dad’ – Aug. 12, 2021”