List Items Update: The ‘In-Progress’ Stuff

I saw yesterday a post on Facebook in which the poster asked, “Is it just me or does it seem like the days are getting longer? I’m not sure what’s happening, but it sure seems like it.”

I paused, thinking that it might be a joke before realizing that, no, this poster, a 40-something professional woman, had no clue about the whole equinox thing. So I wrote, “Planetarily speaking, yes.”

The days are, indeed, getting longer, which means we’re moving through January and heading toward the scorching hell that is Missourah summer. It also means I damn well better be making some progress on my “One Hundred Intentions for 2022” list. So after roughly three weeks in this new year that has killed off Betty White, Danny Tanner and any hope I had of not doing Round 2 with Covid, where do things stand?

Giddyup. Let’s go.

#11 See license plates from all 50 states

Living in close proximity to I-70 and frequently using it to get to and from the necessary places in my life affords me the opportunity to see travelers from around the country. Of course, sometimes I’m actually paying attention to my own driving and not others’ licenses plates, so I’m sure I’ve missed the rare gem from Alaska or some state called “Wyoming.” But so far, I’ve seen 13 different states’ license plates without getting into a wreck. Winning!

  1. MIssouri (duh)
  2. Iowa
  3. New Mexico
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Indiana
  6. Arkansas
  7. Colorado
  8. Michigan
  9. North Carolina
  10. Tennessee
  11. Kentucky
  12. Mississippi
  13. Oregon

If you too would like to play this fun little game, might I recommend a free app called “Plate Spot?” Not only can you keep track of the plates you see, you can also learn a little something-something about each one. For example, did you know Mississippi is home to the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale? I did not. And now I do.

#20 Attend a Stand-Up Comedy Event

My adorable wife and I love to go to comedy events. I personally am rarely more happy than when I hear her laugh with such abandon. For Christmas, she made me this really awesome calendar with suggestions for dates for each week in the first quarter of the year. Tim Allen, he of The Man-Grunt, is coming to the STL in March. This past week, I secured us two tickets.

#31 Eat in three new restaurants

In the words of New Jersey icon Bon Jovi, “Wooooah, we’re halfway there!” which, of course, makes no sense because how can you have eaten in half of three new restaurants? Alas, Jon Bon didn’t sing of being a third of the way there, so I had few options for this witty entry.

Wifey Poo and I went to Chez Ali this week. It was part of #1 on this list, “Go on 52 dates with CC.” She and I decided one thing can count for as many list items as we want. That date checked three boxes for her. Show-off.

#36 Read five books

Of all 100 things on my list, this one is the saddest to me. Back when I first did a “100 things” challenge — somewhere in the middle of last decade, if I recall — I’m quite sure I listed and accomplished “Read 30 books.”

Alas, these are trying times. Pre-Longhaul-Covid, I read all… the… time. Wifey Poo and Da Boys would joke about how I always had a book in my hand because, hey, ya never know when you’ll get a free 30 seconds to read.

Longhaul Covid scrambled my brain. I went from being a voracious reader to one who couldn’t complete a book. It’s a difficult thing to explain to someone who hasn’t had brain fog or Covid Brain or whatever you’d like to call it. But reading hurt. Physically. Mentally. I just couldn’t do it, and I sure as hell couldn’t recall what I’d just read. So I stopped reading.

Somewhere in the Longhauler journey, I went to a neuropsychiatrist who helped me understand the areas of my brain that were smooshed by Covid. He prescribed brain therapy, of sorts. Doing brain games like what can be found on Lumosity and reading books would actually help me create new neural pathways and, hopefully, ease the suffering.

So yeah, we’re at five books for 2022. I’m pretty sure I can blow that out of the water, but this goal needed to be one that was fairly easily attainable.

Enter Stephen King. I’ve been a huge fan of his since I was a teen, but it recent years I haven’t read much of his stuff. I figured, as the new year dawned, that if anyone could get me back into reading, he could. So I picked up his book “Blaze” from the local library and loved it. And, ho-ho! I actually finished it and can still discuss it intelligently.

I’m onto a biography of Kurt Cobain, and I’m noticing something wonderful: I now actually want to read when I have a free moment. It’s not something that scares and frustrates me. I’ll take it.

Thanks, Stephen King!

# 37 Play DnD three out of every four times the party plays

It’s not lost on me that several of my goals have to do with recovery from Longhaul Covid. That little fucker robbed me of so much joy, and playing DnD with people I knew in high school was one of them.

Back before Longhaul set in, I’d reconnected with some guys I knew from Back When. These weren’t my friends from the old days. They were just “kids I knew.” But they were friendly and kind and geeky like me, so we played DnD via Zoom and

Then, Covid.

In addition to reading being a problem, another fun Covid Brain thing was that staring at screens for any length of time made my head spin. I mean, again, it’s hard to explain, but I would feel this growing panic and angst inside my head, and if I tried to plow through it, I’d end up mush. So I stopped playing.

I found excuses … I was tired, I was busy, blah blah blah. But I was really just embarrassed. It took awhile before I fessed up to the party that Stitch (my character) needed to go away for awhile.

As the new year dawned, I returned and I brought help with me. Boy The Younger had expressed interest in DnD. So I asked the guys if he could join the party. Our DM’s son also plays and the daughter of another guy was a part of the group before departing for college. They said yes.

BTY gives me accountability. He fell in love with the game, and he’d throat-punch me if I tried to bow out. The cool thing is, I don’t want to bow out. I love it, and my brain can handle it. We just started a new adventure with new characters. I went from being a sneaky rogue to a brutish barbarian who likes to smash thing.

Good times, yo.

#44 Grow the house sale money

So we sold our house at near the peak of the crazy sellers market this past summer. In doing so, I created a little breathing room for our family that had been battered by a Series of Unfortunate Financial Events for more than a half-decade. My job now is to keep that money safe while, dare I dream?, actually growing it.

So at the turn of the year, I invested it in a diverse mix of stocks and mutual funds. Wonderful.

If you’ve been keeping track of the stock market since the new year, it hasn’t been, shall I say, rosy. So the “grow” party hasn’t been there yet, but I like the strategy I’ve taken and I’m hopeful it will lead to actual growth by the end of 2022.

#62 and #63 Digital Detox

The smartphone is the singular best and worst invention during my lifetime. It helps me do my job and stay connected to the very few people who actually care to stay connected with me outside of my own home. It also is the source of much time-wasting and, frankly, addiction. In that, I’m no different that a wide swatch of the U.S. population.

My digital detoxes are going well. I admit, it’s kind of a pain in the ass sometimes, but it’s frankly helped me get back into reading, which is a good thing. I do allow myself access to texts from the Core Fore and a few others, as well as Google Maps and my podcasts, plus Google Keeps so I can take notes to remember things. I dream of one day giving up all electronic communications and going to live totally old-school away from anything to do with the internet. There’s something so alluring about not knowing stuff.

#65 Take care of a pet

Talk about going all-in on a list item…

Introducing the newest member of our family … Luna Athena Agliata.

Back in the national shitshow that was 2020 (not to be confused with the national shitshow of 2021 and the new national shitshow, 2022), it apparently wasn’t enough for me to lose my health and fight a bunch of unethical Lutherans. Both of my dogs had to die, too. After that and the rest of life’s little joys, I was pretty much done getting close to anything non-human that could possibly die.

Alas, time heals some wounds, and I found myself around Christmastime this year feeling “ready” to have a dog in the family. When I put “take care of a pet” on the list, I envisioned being a dog-sitter for my sister-in-law’s poochy or something, not being a Dog Dad to my own pet. Luna has stolen my heart, and I’m about ready to check this one of the list because I do, indeed, take care of her.

#70 Create and keep bags in my car to help the homeless

I have a huge heart for the homeless, if only because I believe any of us could end up there given a series of two or three unfortunate events. I also have a complicated history with my perception of the homeless. I was raised to avert my eyes and walk right by a person who was homeless, and I certainly would never have reached for my wallet to help someone out. After all, they were “just going to use that money to buy drugs.” Which might have been true, but hell, man, have any of you been addicted to something or had such a traumatic experience that escaping to an alternate reality via something you know is basically killing you seems like a good alternative?

So now my approach is to help my fellow human. I have these bags that are filled with some medical supplies, a few gift cards to get some food and random other stuff that might make life such a little bit easier. These were Wifey Poo’s bags she got from a church. I still want to create my own. I gave one out earlier this week at a red light near my office. The dude opened the bag right away, saw what was in there and smiled this big, goofy grin. “Hey, hey, man!” he said. “All-riiiiiiight.”

No one deserves to be homeless, especially in such a supposedly great and prosperous country like ours. I refuse to see homeless people as less-than.

So there you have it: An update on where I am with some of the things on my list. There’s more in the works. Several of those items in #94 to #100 are under way, but, as they are private, mind your own damn business on them, won’t you? Kidding, folks. Kidding.

Grandpa — May 17, 2022

🧩 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 onContinue reading “Grandpa — May 17, 2022”

Study Abroad — May 15, 2022

🧩 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 andContinue reading “Study Abroad — May 15, 2022”

Family — May 13, 2022

🧩 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 hearContinue reading “Family — May 13, 2022”

Heat Wave — May 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heat Wave🥵Lawn Mowing🚜Last Podcast 🎙️ It’s hotter than balls outside in my section of Missourah, and I’m not happy about it. I am not a hot-weather person. I hate heat. I sweat easily. I turn red even easier. Having a bald head does not match well with sun exposure. And hasContinue reading “Heat Wave — May 12, 2022”

Gambling — May 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Losing Money 🥊The Best F’N Mom Ever👩Heat 🥵 Wifey Poo and I took our weekly date Saturday and went to the city made famous in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie: East St. Louis. No, East St. Louis isn’t in Missouri and no, it’s not a popular data destination, but whatContinue reading “Gambling — May 8, 2022”

It’s the End of the World As We Know It — April 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Why We Suck🤡No Finishing Power🔚McReally? 🍔 The world is dumb, and America is the leading idiot. I don’t reach this conclusion with any sort of glee. It’s simply what I see. Societies hold together because of three things. Shared stories Strong institutions Social networks that engender trust. The past 10Continue reading “It’s the End of the World As We Know It — April 19, 2022”

Welcome Back, Swagger

There was a time in my life when I had swagger. I was never the most popular or athletic kid in school, but for a while there, I was a really good baseball player. I could hit. I could field. And, boy, could I pitch. Some of the most “over” kids in high school wouldContinue reading “Welcome Back, Swagger”

Balloons — Dec. 21, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Sad Dad Club 💔A Toast 🥃🥃Done Writing? 🖊️ It took me less than 24 hours as a part of the Dad Whose Child Died Club to learn that membership came with a myriad of uncomfortable situations. It was the day after Jacob (AKA Boy The Eldest) was born and died,Continue reading “Balloons — Dec. 21, 2021”

‘The Plan’ — Dec. 20, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Plague Life 😷The Real Plan 😭A Hilarious Obituary 🤣☠️ Does it ever randomly smack you in the face that we’re living through a historic freaking pandemic? Are you ever going about what you might fool yourself into believing is your Before Times life and then suddenly something jolts you out ofContinue reading “‘The Plan’ — Dec. 20, 2021”

Tornado Sirens — Dec. 10, 2021

🧩 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 trackContinue reading “Tornado Sirens — Dec. 10, 2021”

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”

Tree Haulin’ — Nov. 26, 2021

🧩 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 ofContinue reading “Tree Haulin’ — Nov. 26, 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”

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”

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”

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