The toughest thing about writing isn’t the actual writing. Give me a topic and tell me to bang out 500 words and you’ll have something passable in the next 30 to 60 minutes.
No, the toughest thing about writing — these days, at least — is the reality that I have only so many words during a given day that my brain is able to put together into something approaching good, and I’m expending an awful lot of time as of late doing that for money.
That means the few folks who find this site of some value have been short-changed on John’s Deep & Insightful Witticisms For Better Living, such as they have been over the past year-and-a-half. That makes me sad, to a degree, because though you are few in number, you are great in positive affirmation, and that’s something I apparently feed on as a 47-year-old manchild of sorts.
What I have been doing these days — when I’m not doing my day job marketing the Best Damn Real Estate Team This Side of the Mighty Mississip’, putting together porch and bedroom furniture (Side note: FUCK YOU, inventor of the allen wrench) and generally being an awesome dad and husband — is writing for Northwestern University’s publications to help them attract more students to their various masters programs.
It’s been a fun and comparably lucrative side gig compared to, say, delivering pizzas or slinging coffee. It’s also been informative and enlightening. I’ve written things on the future of computing, gene therapies, supply chain automation, blockchain and a whole host of other topics that show me I really have misspent my time on earth compared to some of the high achievers who get the thick envelop in their mailbox from such a prestigious university.
The gig came about because of a 21-year-old kid I hired while I was a newspaper editor in Faribault, Minnesota. Marc was an obvious hire, and the only reason I didn’t just give him the job on the spot is because others don’t seem to have the intuition I have when it comes to interviewing applicants. Marc was so far above and beyond any other candidate, even at that age, that everyone else looked like clowns. Marc had “it,” and he proved me right when he rose to be sports editor, like, three months after I hired him.
Of course, the newspaper world was a lesser version then of the still lesser iteration it is today, which is to say “not good,” and soon after I left, Marc left. He now does important stuff marketing Northwestern and was in need of someone to help him write articles based on interviews he’d already done.
I can do that kind of thing in my sleep.
To have my stuff now edited by Marc is altogether fair and right. For months and months and months, he walked into the newsroom to start his afternoon/night shift as a sports dude to find a marked-up copy of the previous day’s sports pages on his desk, and let me tell you, I am free with my use of a red pen.
Marc always took those edits and suggestions in the spirit they were intended, which is to say as a roadmap for improvement. Now, that’s how I’m taking the edits Marc gives me — though times have changed. He doesn’t send me marked-up copies of my work that look like they have been through a pig slaughterhouse. He sends me nifty little Loom videos to tell me what he changed and why. In just about every instance, I’ve agreed a thousand percent with what he has done. He makes my stuff better, and I appreciate that.
So yeah, I’m spilling out a lot of words into the future of Northwestern University, which I’m not quite sure needs my help being awesome but I have no problem helping them out if they’re going to pay me something for my time. The issue I have is that it doesn’t leave me much in the way of time and creativity to do the things I’d love to do with my writing on here.
And it’s not for wont of stuff to happen. Life as a husband, father, marketing guy, woo-woo creation and observe of the world gives me plenty of fodder to chew on and spit out in words. For example, I’m back in a minor version of Longhaul hell, going for ozone therapy today, as a matter of fact, to have a bag of my blood drained, infused with O3 and then dripped back into my body. The last time, a combination of ozone, an improved diet, regulated sleep apnea, restorative yoga, meditation and a change in mindset helped me get back to the land of the living. It’s not that I’ve left that land with this latest go-around with that thing only one person in China has (second side note: FUCK YOU “president” Trump). It was more or less a recognition that I, in general, was feeling blah after my second battle with Covid. So I’ll be several hundred dollars lighter when these treatments are over, but I’m reasonably confident I’ll feel better.
My job is going great. It truly is rewarding to be able to write month-end reports that show triple digit percentage point increases in the metrics that matter. That kind of growth won’t last forever, but while it does, I’ll enjoy it. I was even named the Kick Ass Team Member of the Month for March. Booyah.
And then there’s the work I’ve been putting in with a therapist. I’m not ashamed to be in counseling. I think the world would be a lot better place if more people found a good counselor and availed them of his or her services on a regular basis. I learned long ago that, for me, I need an outlet to let out Unfiltered John, which, while often ugly, is somewhat of a must-have if I want to stay centered, regulated and not on my family’s last nerve.
What I’ve been doing as of late with my therapist is wading into the dark and murky waters of stuff I’ve never addressed before. Step 1 was admitting that there was, indeed, stuff to address. Once I committed to that process, I realized I’m an idiot. That process is hard, yo, and it’s kicked my ass to the point of exhaustion on more than one occasion. Yet here I am, having times when I truly feel that I don’t just see the light at the end of the tunnel but that I have actually emerged from that tunnel — finally. So as much as I hate having to swim around in these waters, infested with creepy-crawlies and a whole lot of nasty repressed shit as they are, it, like ozone, like having a therapist in the first place, is necessary.
So I do it. Because, really, that’s what I’ve always done. If I see the hard thing that needs to be done and see some semblance of a pathway through it, I’m going to at least try to find my way.
I write for Northwestern. I do my job, at home and at work. I seek out the better in life. I put in the work. I get knocked down. I get back up again.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hitler Talk ⚖️Chicken Postscript 🐣Green Seats ⚾ I wonder when the average German in the 1930s/1940s said something akin to “Oh shit.” There has to be a point when the rational, sane sauerkraut-lover realized that perhaps his or her vote for a certain mustachioed politician was a really bad idea. For […]
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Take Me Away🛀Period Tracker🩸Choose Wisely💒 Arriving for the first day at a new job is kind of like showing up in a new town after throwing away your old identity. It’s a blank slate, and you can be anyone you’d like to be. Want to go by a different name? Go […]
🧩 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 […]