🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Hey There, Dorothy 🌪️
Christmas Hurts 🎄
Bye-Bye, Checks and Balances ✔️⚖️
If you’re ever in need of some entertainment, might I suggest being in a church with a bunch of homeschool parents when tornado sirens go off? That’s where I found myself tonight, accompanied by Boy The Younger at a spring track kickoff meeting. It seems the unseasonably warm air we were having was bitch-slapped by a cold front, and voila! Tornado warnings.
Now I’m not here to stereotype homeschool parents, because they actually are a fairly diverse bunch. But I will allow myself to say that it wasn’t entirely surprising to see a freak-out mode approaching Defcon 1.
I have an unhealthy fascination with tornados. I grew up in New York, where twisters weren’t really a thing — at least back in the 1980s and early ’90s. I went to college in Iowa, where I expected to be seeing one on the regular as I walked to class. In my four years there, I saw none. I’ve bounced around the Midwest since graduation, experiencing nary a tornado. The closest I came was earlier this year, when there was at least a little rotation in the clouds passing overhead.
I’m the guy who, when the tornado sirens start, heads outside with his camera while everyone else is ducking into the basement. I understand this approach is dangerous and not conducive to living should an actual tornado touch down. I’m also quite sure that if I actually saw a tornado up close and personal, I’d never go outside on any day with even the slightest breeze ever again.
But as it stands right now, being herded into a small room in a church basement with a bunch of smelly teen and pre-teen boys along with their overhyped, super vigilant parents wasn’t where I wanted to spend part of my Friday night.
Oh, and track practice begins the last Monday in February, if you were wondering.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here (forgetting the 60-degree day and tornado sirens), as we prepare for in-law family Christmas tomorrow. Wifey Poo and the Judester spent the day cooking and baking and wrapping and cleaning, as a bevy of relatives are set to arrive in the morning.
This whole season is tough for me. My son was born and died on Dec. 20, 2000. I remember the night after his brief life, laying on the pullout bed in Wifey Poo’s hospital room, looking at the Christmas lights blinking on homes around Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown Cincinnati, and wondering if I was ever going to feel any sort of joy again — ever, not just at Christmas time.
Thankfully, I have. Life forces you to go on in the wake of even the most difficult tragedies, and I really didn’t have any choice. I wanted to curl up in my bed and never show my face to anyone ever again. It’s hard to keep your house and buy food if you’re going to take that approach. So when the time was right — well after everyone had put away the Christmas lights — I got back to living. There was a newspaper to run. A Wifey Poo to take care of. A future of some sort.
But Christmas has never been the same. I’ve tried. Really, I have. It’s been 21 years now. Yet every time the decorations start going up, a part of my spirit begins to descend. The four months between August 2000, when we found out something was wrong with our developing baby, and the five or so hours he lived on that snowy December day were hell and changed me in a fundamental way that I haven’t been able to fix in now more than two decades.
I’m proud of the father I became in the wake of Boy The Eldest’s brief life. Everything I promised I would be to him I’ve tried to be to Boy The Elder and BTY. I’ve failed more than I would like to admit, but I’ve succeed enough to be able to look myself in the mirror and say that I’m doing alright by them. I haven’t repeated the mistakes I saw. I learned the hard way that it’s OK to have regrets, that it’s OK to make and admit mistakes to your children, that it’s a good thing to say “I’m sorry” when you’ve done something to hurt your kids — whether you intended to hurt them or not.
I’d like to believe BTE and BTY will have an easier go of it as young men than I did simply because they’ve seen their dad be vulnerable and admit his mistakes and own up to them and try like hell to actually fix them instead of simply sweeping everything under the rug and pretending they didn’t happen and aren’t continuing.
But all of that aside, when the Christmas lights are twinkling and I’m the only one awake, when I pause in the midst of all the preparation to create that perfect holiday memory, I wonder what things would be like — what I myself would be like — had my eldest lived. I prayed for it. We all prayed for it. Literally thousands of us — from all different kinds of faiths and from all across the globe — prayed for it. And it didn’t happen. And I was forced to be OK with that.
The reality, though, is that I’m not OK with it. To say I’m OK with it is to accept that a world in which it’s OK that babies die for supposedly some bigger picture that we’ll never see and I’ll sure as hell never understand makes sense. And it wasn’t just any baby … it was my baby. The baby I played with while he was still inside his mother by poking at his protruding fist in the month leading up to his birth while she slept and I couldn’t. The baby I held.. The baby I had to hand over to a nurse after he’d breathed his last difficult breath, knowing I’d never see him again.
I don’t begrudge others that they have truly merry Christmases. They’re supposed to. Of course… we’re all supposed to. But somewhere between supposed to and today, real life got in the way. So now I experience Christmas as something less than what it used to be, less than what it is for many other people.
Ultimately, that’s OK. I don’t complain much about the hand I was dealt, and the amount I do , well, I think I deserve that freedom. I am extremely blessed and also extremely privileged as a white male born in the good-ole U.S. of A. Everyone has a thing. Losing my son around Christmas is mine.
So I’ll enjoy the hell out of tomorrow. I will. Wifey Poo, BTE and BTY and I will all be together. My in-law family is amazing and filled with people who understand what it means to be family. There’s no drama. No tension. There’s just pure and innocent love. And that… that right there is the Christmas I need. That we all need. This year. Every year.
The ‘What Did You Say?’ of the Day
I don’t give a rip what anyone believes about abortion. I honestly don’t truly know what I believe about abortion. I’m a white male who has never been confronted by an unplanned pregnancy, so even if I did know what I believed on the topic, I might not be the best one to offer a truly educated opinion.
What I do know is that the decision made by the Supreme Court today as I read it is one more domino falling in the now out-of-control descent of our once-great empire. The role of the judicial branch in the system of checks and balances we all learned in elementary school and beyond has been fundamentally changed by this decision, and I’m not sure either party is going to like it in the long run. That is, if we have a long run.
In Other Writing …
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- In-law family Christmas!
- My only niece has a gymnastics tournament tomorrow and I get to see her do her thang.
- Good cigars paired with good bourbon.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Christmas Video 🎥Fighting The Big Boss 🥊Roland The Farter 🍑💨 I spent much of the day making a video for my job with The Allen Brake Team. I shot the footage a few weeks ago, and today was the day to identify the clips to actually use, assemble them, find the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩No-Phone Sunday 🚫📱Creepy Moles 🐀Doc Talk 📽️ Today was sort of a practice day for something I put on my “Hundred Things” list for 2022. It was a Digital Detox Sunday, which is No. 63 on the list. To me, this meant that I wouldn’t have any sort of device in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Trombones are Loud 🎺Birds Aren’t Real 🐦Death to Gymnastic Judges 🤸 Top 5 things that happened at In-Law Family Christmas, held at our humble country home, today. The realization that the mass of youngins has gotten so large now that our little babies have grown up to various new stages that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Car Crash 🚗Video Day 🎞️Five No. 2s!? 💩 The Core 4 is headed out on a winter vacation to Memphis and New Orleans soon. The plan was to rent a vehicle through Turo.com, which is kinda like an Airbnb for cars. I had a quality vehicle picked out and reserved, one…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shirt Stain 👔Score One for the Unabomber💣Oh Canada 🌈🍁 I arrived at work this morning, put my stuff down on my desk and hit the men’s room because evidently a 42-minute drive is too long for a man of 47 years to comfortably hold his bladder. I did what I do,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball God(ess) ⚾Alice in Chains 🎸What About the Golfers!? 🏌🏽♂️ To say that baseball was my life when I was a kid is an understatement. I watched it as much as the scant channels we had at home would allow — the Yankees were on Channel 11 WPIX and the (ugh)…Keep reading
🧩 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 45…Keep reading
Circles are interesting things. They have no beginning and no end. They just keep going around and around and around. And yet we set Jan. 1 as the day to mark the start of our journey around the sun, a journey we measure so incredibly poorly that we have to add an entire extra day…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ice Violence ⛸️Movie Night! 📽️Most Popular Dog Names 🐶 Today was date day for Wifey Poo and I. We’ve been trying to do a date a week since, oh, back in 2018. That was interrupted for awhile by a certain African host child this year, but we’re back at it. Today…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Top Songs of 2021 🎶Where’s the Snow? ❄️Thunder Struck ⛈️🏀 Because I didn’t already feel incredibly old and out of touch, I looked at the list of top 100 songs from 2021. It wasn’t until song No. 65 that I even thought I knew one of the songs, “Go Your Own…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Redemption 😊Spice-Lovin’ Tree Shrew 🌶️Mark The Freaking Elf 🧝 I spent the morning in a hotel conference room down in STL learning from a man named Jeff Glover about 21 ways to get 21 listing of homes to sell. Glover is a big fish in the real estate industry. He runs…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Maria and The Chickens 🐔Strange Cyber Monday Offers 🧪Bloody Gift 🩸🎁 I hate wasting time. I hate it hate it hate it. Everything about my life centers on efficiency — the routes I take when I drive, how I go about getting ready for the day, how I organize my work…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Paul 🧙♂️Slowest Speeder Ever 🐢Another School Shooting 🏫🔫 I found myself tonight in a dark jail cell surrounded by four zombies, some kind of wizard, and my son. This is not what I expected for my Tuesday evening. After a months-long absence, I returned tonight to the Dungeons & Dragons game…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Canadian Oil 🍁Freaking Covid 😷Namaste, Yo 🧘🏿 Monday started out with the news that the Bosslady has Covid. This whole “living through The Great Plague” thing somehow has been incorporated into our lives to the point where we don’t really even realize that thousands of people are dying from it daily.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Disconnected 🔌Worst Mom Ever 🦘Death to Autoplay 💀 Internet outage, Day 2. I’m sending this message via carrier pigeon. Or maybe it’s just some bird I caught with my greasy-fast speed. Things are looking bleak. We’ve been without internet service for more than 24 hours now. The weather outside is cold,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Rituals 👨👩👦👦The Grinch Rocks ❤️Churros and Poke Bowls 🤤 It’s interesting to think about how family rituals actually become family rituals. There are some that are very intentional. You had something done for you as a child, so you do the same thing for your kid. Others just sort of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stable Family 👪Armed America 🔫🦅Good or Nickelback? 🎶 Thanksgiving was a quiet affair for the Core Four — my nickname for the entity that is Wifey Poo, Boys The Elder and Younger, and me. We had no family visit, and none of us left the house until BTE traveled to his…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Coffee With Wifey ☕👱♀️Armadillo Lepers 😳Choice Cigar 🚬 To say Wifey Poo and I have been through some shit is an understatement. When we said “I do” back in March of 1997 as freaking twenty-two-year-olds (!!!!), neither of us had a clue how challenging the “or for worse” part of a…Keep reading
🧩 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 knew…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beard Trim 🧔🏽Grunge Shopping 🛒Funny Animals 🐒 When you find yourself with a straight razor poised a millimeter from your neck, you realize this is probably what was going on when the Almighty said “Be still and know that I am God.” I found myself in this situation this morning, in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wifey Poo’s Laughter 🤣Expensive Turkey 🦃🍗My Boys 👨👦 Walking back to my car last night from The Funny Bone comedy club in St. Charles, I got to thinking. This comes as a surprise to no one who knows me (not many people, as I’ve recently discussed) and no one who reads…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Drinking on the Job 🍷The Land of the Giants 🏀Joseph McCarthy Returns 🏴 It the past week, my job has taken me from a chocolate factory to a wine bar — all in the name of business, of course. Last week, Big Bosslady and I visited Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Itchy Foot 🦶Pay Cuts ❌💰The Best Pen Ever 🖊️ Wifey Poo woke up around 4 a.m. itching, itching, itching her recently repaired foot. Underneath the Ace bandage and the gauze and the padding to keep it safe, she’s got a rash of some sort, and the foot is swollen. Doc says…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Warm November 🌡️The Jaguar People 🐆Squid Game 🦑 I’ll take a 70 degree day in the middle of November, thank you very much. I spent part of my workday on my back deck doing the things I do for my real estate team — social media ads, flyers to promote open…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Year of Hell 😷Where’s Ben? 💔Profiting From Pollution 🏭 Happy Covidaversary to me. On this day one year ago, I had a Q-tip shoved up my nose to confirm what I already knew. Wifey Poo’s sister had been diagnosed with it. Wifey Poo’s mother had been diagnosed with it. Wifey…Keep reading
🧩 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 their…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Picnic in November 🥶Happy Wife 👩Pour-Over Coffee ☕ Scheduling a picnic outside in Missouri in November seemed to me to be a very gutsy call. That’s until I stopped to realize who was scheduling it — Boy The Younger’s cross country team. These folks run everywhere, and, thus, I assume are…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hoops at Twain’s House 🏀Lunch With The Big Bosslady 🥪Breaking Up Is Efficient 💔 After a long week of work, I traveled north this evening with Boy The Younger for his second hoops game of the season. I missed the first because of an early start time, but this one was…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gross Photos 📷Sand? Sand!? ⏳Sleeping With Cheese 🛏️🧀 I had major ankle surgery back in 2008 to essentially reconstruct my left foot, which had a nasty propensity to roll over without the rest of my leg accompanying it on the journey. After a four-hour operation and two weeks, I went back…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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?…Keep reading
🧩 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 live…Keep reading
🧩 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 and…Keep reading
🧩 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 that…Keep reading