🧩 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). firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 🧩Oil Change 👨🔧Goose Lover🛦Church & State⛪ Based on my history, the last place anyone should ever look for me is underneath a car. Yet that’s where I found myself late this morning, side-by-side with Boy The Elder as he showed me exactly how stupid I’ve been all my life. I’m not…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Media Bias 📰Rudy’s Sandals 🩴Lack of Faith ⚖️ I’ve watched with interest the blowback against newspaper tyrant Gannett following its reminder to its journalists in the wake of the Supreme Court’s undoing of Roe v. Wade that they are not to take sides on social media. “You cannot use social media…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Censorship 🍈🍈Newspaper Talk 📰Toothbrush 🦷 I did my first actual “work” thing at my new job yesterday. The first two-plus days have been filled with meeting new people and learning about the kazillion awesome products we sell so I can talk somewhat intelligently about what we do. But then Nu Bossman…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Fullback 🚑Sicky Poo 🤒Helium Shortage 🎈 I don’t get paid anywhere close to enough to deal with St. Louis traffic when it rains. Not that St. Louis drivers are uniquely bad. I would imagine large swaths of drivers in other cities react just as poorly to the presence of moisture…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Taking Toys Away 🔫Checked Out ✈️Windsurfing Kid 🌬️ Many moons ago, I had a toy rubber snake. That my parents would have allowed such a purchase is shocking, given that Mother Dearest was terrified of anything remotely reptilian and Sister wasn’t that far behind. Yet there, in the depths of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shut Up🤫Waffle House 🧇Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes🤗 So here’s something I don’t quite understand: Why is anyone, especially our political leaders, expressing “shock” over what happened in Texas yesterday. Dude … the sun rose yesterday. The sun has risen every single freaking day for the course of humanity. The sun will rise tomorrow. That’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Subway Obsession😞Guard Dog 🐶Chainsaw John🪓 Every child is peculiar in his or her own way. It’s an early indication we all should recognize that none of us is normal. We’re all weird. And that’s OK. Boy The Younger has always had his peculiarities. As a small child, he was fascinated with…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Musical History🎹Why Write? 🖊️Loser Level😔 We finally have only one piano in our house! Now, don’t get to thinking we’re this uber-musical family. We’re not. Wifey Poo, from what I hear, was a helluva clarinetist back in her day and did, indeed, take piano lessons. Boy The Elder is really good…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beyond Tired😫Busting Ass 🐝Covid Sadness😔 Everything is knowable. When I look back at the pace of change in my life, I think that’s the biggest difference between my life as a child and my life as an adult. Back then, if you wondered something, you just … wondered it. I mean,…Keep reading
🧩 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 on…Keep reading
🧩 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 and…Keep reading
🧩 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 hear…Keep reading
🧩 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 has…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Friends😔What To Do?🙋Creepy Dolls 🎎 Yesterday was a rough day. It’s one thing to be a person with essentially no friends. It’s another thing altogether to not be friends with yourself. That’s where I was yesterday — all up in my head and imagining the worst was about to happen in…Keep reading
🧩 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 what…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩One Long Sentence 🖊️Birthday Boy🎂Wine & Chocolate 🍷🍫 I remember being a kid and wanting to be an adult. I wanted to drive and have a girlfriend and be able to do whatever it was that I wanted to do, not what someone else said I should do. And now, here…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ink Stain 🖊️Big Week 🎂Gas Pumps 😂 If getting a link of ink right across the front of your shirt while trying to catch a falling pen isn’t one of the Mondayest of Monday things that can happen to a dude, I’m sure there aren’t too many things that can beat…Keep reading