🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
My Boys 👨👦👦
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 very much his mother’s child. Wifey Poo was a serious and dedicated academic and is extremely analytical and very process-driven. BTE is maniacally focused on his studies and always has been. He’s a junior-to-be food science major at Mizzou who’s interning at a flavor creation company, doing research and development in a lab putting all sorts of chemicals together for clients who want their products to taste good. He is single-handedly keeping the note card industry afloat with the bajillion flash cards he makes to help him study for each test.
Yet when it comes to music, he’s all mine. BTE feels music. We’re constantly tossing our latest finds in musicians and bands back and forth via text. Today he texted me from his morning workout to tell me to listen to the new Logic album start to finish. He understands that this is the way to listen to music, not as one-off track selections, and he thought I’d dig Logic’s Vinyl Days because it harkens back to some post-Licensed to Ill Beastie Boys. And he’s right. I do like it and it does sound like some Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head.
Boy The Younger? He’s so much me it’s scary. Put him in a baseball uniform and run him out there to the pitcher’s mound, and it’s like I’m looking at myself. In life, he’s a goofball who sees his academics as an interlude between being able to do the fun things he really wants to do, and he and focus have a bad relationship with each other. That was and, to a large extent, is me.
He’s a feeler in every sense of the word. He cannot abide hearing anything about the mistreatment of animals, he’s extremely self-critical and caustically aware of his mistakes. He has a huge heart and instinctively knows what someone is “not right.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been silently screaming as I’ve battled my demons and he is the one who wordlessly comes over to give me a hug. He knows, and I love that about him.
Yet he’s got this side of him that comes out that is intensely organized and structured and methodical. BTY loves processes and structure. He wants steps and lists and detailed instructions. When he was a toddler, he’d line up his monster truck toys in a precise line, all facing the same way. If I turned one around while he wasn’t looking, he’d eventually turn back and immediately notice something was amiss and fix it.
That’s all Wifey Poo.
Whereas BTY’s brother helps feed my need for deep, philosophical discussions — which we’ve been having since BTE was, like, 4 — BTY is too carefree to worry about much of anything and would rather be grounded for a month than have a deep discussion.
Very unlike his brother (and me) and very much like his mother, he gets over slights and disappointments extremely fast. When BTE’s baseball teams would lose, he’d agonize over it with great regret for weeks. BTY? His teams lose 28-3 and he’s 100% fine by the time we’re pulling out of the parking lot to head home. It’s not that he doesn’t care; the kid has the same level of insane hustle I had. It’s just that, when it’s done, whatever the outcome, he’s onto the next thing.
BTY (and Wifey Poo) is very much The Lego Movie; Everything is awesome, and he’s gonna sing about it. And sing he does. He and Wifey Poo are random when-no-one-else-is-looking singers. BTY used to go to the bathroom during the middle of dinner, pee, and then have to be loudly called back to the table because he was giving a concert because “I like how my voice sounds in there.”
I say all of this as a way to reflect upon the fact that I’m pretty damn lucky. I have a 20-year-old son who loves his dad and wants to hang out with him. He’s already told me (kinda sorta) what my Father’s Day gift is. He and I (and his amazeballs girlfriend) are going to the Marcus King Band concert.
And I have an almost 13-year-old son who gets me probably better than just about anyone else in the world. They are fabulous kids.
Life isn’t all sunshine and Christmas cookies. But it’s good.
It’s currently noon on Friday, and today is my last day of work at my soon-to-be old job. I am currently at LIT Cigar Lounge alternately savoring a great cigar and a double Angle’s Envy on the rocks. I wish things would have turned out differently at The Best Damn Real Estate Team on Either Side of the Mississippi, but they didn’t, and when the phone rang, I answered it. It’s hard to turn down a 60% raise, especially when you’re seeing massive cracks in the foundation of your currently employer’s business structure.
So I didn’t.
I now have next week to decompress and enjoy life to the fullest before I start my new gig June 27. Part of that enjoyment is a solo escape to the Ozarks in Northern Arkansas. I’ve rented a cabin out in the boonies and plan to do a lot of writing and relaxing.
I think I’ve earned it.
Regular readers of this space (hello to the three of you! I’m lookin’ at you, Read Between The Lyme!) might have noticed that this space is now being taken up with writing of a different tone of late. Looking back at what my writing has been like over the past few years, there are so many indications of the soul-deep struggle I’ve had with simply existing. One of the main purposes of this site has been to give me a forum to work through my shit, to get all these feelings out (see above about BTY) and to hopefully help others who are going through their own shit.
And folks, a lot of that writing has been about the ugly side of life.
I hesitate to talk about what’s changed because I’ve learned first-hand how vile and hypocritical people can be when it comes to those who openly share their struggles with brain illness. I may or may not have signed a document that may or may not exist with a company that most certainly does exist because of this kind of crap that may or may not have paid me to not pursue any possible or not possible future litigation. Yet any sort of vindication I felt in that is tarnished by the fact that those who may or may not have been responsible for the discrimination still enjoy gainful employment in that very real company and that it social media trumpets its support of mental health awareness.
That said, where I am today is because of a decision I made in August 2021 to wade into the deep water with a new therapist and confront the things I’d never dealt with before. I say that I made the decision, and that’s true, but what’s more true is that I just sorta one day found myself in the deep water with no real option other than to keep swimming (or drown).
The work has been hard. My therapist is a dude in a different part of the lovely state of Missourah whom I talk with via telehealth and who doesn’t take my bullshit. He calls me on my cop-outs and is great at holding me accountable to truth. Patiently, lovingly, professionally, he’s guided me through some nasty stuff. In a roundabout way, he helped me find a somewhat experimental treatment I’ve been in for the past month, and the differences in my heart and head are profound.
I’m not at the point of feeling comfortable talking about this treatment in this space, but I will talk about them with anyone who emails me (well, just about anyone). email@example.com. I’m not saying what I’ve found will work for everyone. It won’t. Brains are fantastically complicated and individual things. I’m not even saying that what I’ve found will work for me in the long term. What I do know is that it’s working for me right now and that I haven’t felt this centered and sound since, well, ever. The differences this is making in my personal and professional lives is beyond belief, and each new morning that I greet feeling regulated and good gives me hope that what I’ve found is going to stick.
It also leads to impromptu concerts in my car in which I’m belting out this song as I cruise down the highway with the windows open.
These are my words
That I’ve never said before
I think I’m doing okay
And this is the smile
That I’ve never shown before
Somebody shake me ’cause I
I must be sleeping
Top 3 questions to ask yourself before going into business with relatives. My wife, Carla, is an amazing woman. She is exceedingly brilliant, the owner of a whole lot more A’s in school growing up than her future husband had. We’ve known each other for nearly three decades now, the past 25 as spouses. And…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Date night tonight!
- A week of no day job awaits!
- I feel good.
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🧩 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 of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Kix 👶Greg 🐟The First iPhone 📱 Life has a way of kicking you in the balls when you least expect it. Wifey Poo and I were cleaning up our lower level today and trying to get all of our crap that was put against the wall in the back by the…Keep reading
🧩 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 🧩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…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