The Finish Line — Sept. 27, 2021

The one-and-only competitive footrace I have ever won came during Field Day 1980 at Pound Ridge Elementary School in suburban New York. I was in kindergarten, on the green team, and was a part of the 50-meter dash. I remember being most fascinated that day by the starters’ pistol, wondering if it contained real bullets and, if so, where they might be landing.

Those questions faded when the gun sounded for my race. There’s a freedom to running when you’re a kid. I look at 5-year-olds with the benefit now of more than 40 additional years and think they look funny and awkward and slow. But that day, I felt like I myself had been shot out of the pistol.

I remember being surprised when something started to wrap around my head. I hadn’t been looking up and had burst right through the finish line tape, in first place.

Today, I crossed another finish line and felt that same exhilaration.

Just more than a year ago, I started at a job I loved but that did not pay the bills. So I created a plan that I kept to myself until the race was almost done. I was rebuilding my life — again — after the latest Series of Unfortunate Events, some of which were excruciatingly self-created. I am, no doubt, my own worst enemy.

But this rebuilding was going to be different. It was going to be methodical and have a definitive goal. The plan was simple:

  1. Work my ass off until my current employer recognized my true value or until I made myself marketable to other companies once again.
  2. Professionally ask for a salary increase to a rate that accurately reflected my value in the market.
  3. Absent a salary increase, find a forward-thinking, progressive company that paid for talent.
  4. Find some way to bring in a chunk of change to restore a sense of financial security to my family.

Today, with the closing of the sale of Old House, that plan is done. Three hours after we signed the papers, the proceeds landed in our bank account. Tonight, I paid off some of our remaining debt. Tomorrow, I will pay off the rest. Then I will refill a proper emergency fund, put some money aside for the newer-to-us cars I’d like to buy someday, start a travel fund and send the rest to my investment account.

While the plan might have been simple, its execution was not. It was fraught with political landmines at work and blasted by repeated tragedies and obstacles — everything from the loss of my father-in-law to my own battle with COVID and then Longhaul COVID.

But in the end, I did it. We did it. The race is over.

I’m not naive enough to think more challenges aren’t coming. With every fiber of my being, though, I hope they stay away for maybe just a little while.

The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day

‘Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.’

Robin Sharma

New Home is Old Home For Wifey Poo

To celebrate the day, Wifey Poo and I poured two glasses of wine — her, the sticky-sweet white she loves and me a dry red — and walked down to the end of the driveway. We sat on the concrete and sipped and talked as the last sunlight of the day faded and stars emerged in the darkening sky. I love it out here in the country.

As we walked back toward our home, I said, “This all has to be a bit surreal for you.”

“Just a bit,” she replied.

Wifey Poo spent the second half of her childhood in this home. She grew into the amazing woman she now is inside these property lines. Now, we’re raising Boy The Younger here for the second half of his childhood. I type this in the room I slept in when, as a 19-year-old, I came home with her on spring break. Never in a million years would either of us have thought the winding road that is our collective life would travel past this point.

Things like that are what can make living life so much fun.

Today’s Reasons to Keep Living.

  1. Tomorrow, I’ll be able to pay off the rest of any debt we have.
  2. Good pens. I love the Precise V7, black.
  3. An out-of-the-blue text with photos from a college acquaintance who knows I love nature scenery.

More From ‘A Puzzle Known As Life’

Off — Dec. 6, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Detached 💭Intentions for a New Year 📆Red is Deadly 😷 Today sucked. The problem is, I don’t really know what the hell happened. I woke up just after 6, later than I have been recently, and I felt so significantly off that I truly don’t remember much of the first 45Continue reading “Off — Dec. 6, 2021”

Boy The Singer, Nov. 23, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Self-Teaching 👨‍🏫Beer Flood 🍺🌊Space Mission 🚀 When I left the newspaper industry in 2009, I knew how to write, take decent photos, design pages and copy edit. I landed a job in which the mandate was, “Go make our communications program better,” something I’d assured those who interviewed me I knewContinue reading “Boy The Singer, Nov. 23, 2021”

A Life Devoid of Friends

I remember well the late night and early morning hours following my senior prom. I was with my classmates on a yacht/ferry/boat slowly circling New York City. I and my girlfriend of roughly a year had stepped out of the madness inside for some fresh air and quiet. Even then, I could only do “loud”Continue reading “A Life Devoid of Friends”

Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oh Deer 🦌The Thought Gap 🧠Unplugged 🔌 I was sitting in my as-yet-to-be-named home office this morning when this big boy ☝️☝️☝️ walked out of the woods into my yard. It’s the opening day of deer season in Missourah, a day of significance for many local inhabitants on par with theirContinue reading “Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021”


Insomnia sucks. Period. Full Stop. But… The benefit of sleeping extremely poorly for about four months after Longhaul Covid turned my already bad sleep situation into one that was slowly killing me was that I didn’t dream. I never slept deeply enough or long enough for dreams to happen. And in many ways, that wasContinue reading “Dreams”

Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 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”

Punk! — Nov. 5, 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”

The BM Files – Goodwill/St. Louis Aquarium

Welcome to The Bad Marketing Files, the place where we look at marketing efforts ranging from the slightly off-message to the truly horrendous. The SettingA Goodwill/St. Louis Aquarium billboard on Interstate 70 The ProblemThe billboard sends messages neither entity wants associated with its brand. Today’s BM Rating💩 out of a possible💩💩💩💩💩(Translation: It’s not good, butContinue reading “The BM Files – Goodwill/St. Louis Aquarium”

Work Drinkin’ – Sept. 3, 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”

School Supplies

Ya know what pisses me off? School supplies. So I was walkin’ tru da depahtment store da otter day lookin’ for a birthday caad for my girl Alice. Her birthday is comin’ up dis Satuhday, and I wanted ta get her a nice caad to go wit da present I got her. So I pickContinue reading “School Supplies”

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