🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
There are moments in a dad’s life in which he can see the growth of his sons quite clearly.
Sometimes that growth is physical. One day, Boy The Elder was a short, stocky little boy and then, boom, he came home from his high school job at Chick-fil-A one day and was as tall as his mother. Now he’s as tall as I am — OK, fine … maybe a smidge taller — and extremely fit and strong.
Sometimes that growth is less obvious to the eye of a casual observer and more apparent to one who has been around these creatures their entire lives. This was the case Sunday.
BTE has an interesting assembly of friends gleaned from a variety of different places — the aforementioned Chick-Fil-A, various homeschool things, college and church. Together, they are the definition of a motley crew, not to be confused with Motley Crue, though BTE plays a mean lead guitar.
In the past year, BTE has grown interested in becoming a Car Guy, and his collection of buddies enables this. Greg is a nice kid, extremely talkative and opinionated, and (not but) handy with all things automotive. He’s been instructing BTE on how to do things such as change his oil and know when a spark plug needs to be replaced. Yesterday, the focus was on BTY’s 2011 Dodge Avenger’s brakes.
That BTE would even attempt this is impressive to me. There he was, with Greg and a few other CFA pals, the car up on jack stands in my garage.
Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned.
To be fair, the first problem wasn’t their fault. The company they ordered the new brakes from sent the wrong part, a thing recognized belatedly after a helpful hint from dear old Dad, who said amidst the growing frustrations, “Have you checked the part number?”
The second was more of an oopsie than a “What the hell were you thinking!?” They stripped a lug nut that remains tightly fastened on one wheel.
Previous iterations of BTE would have catastrophically melted down at these things. Wifey Poo would likely (correctly) assert that would have been Dad’s reaction as well. Yet he largely kept his cool, which, to me, was impressive.
During this entire eight-hour-plus ordeal, Boy The Younger was showing his own skills as a tinkerer. Wifey Poo asked him if he needed the shoebox to his new shoes, and he at first said “No.” This was quickly followed by “Wait wait wait wait!” and a two-hour project in which he turned it and some other stray cardboard into a half-pipe for his Tech Decks, which, if you haven’t seen them, are tiny skateboards you maneuver with your fingers that are designed to drive parents insane with the constant “click click click click” as they are used.
That both boys would tackle their own hands-on projects belies their upbringing by their dad, who is hands-on only insofar as his writing is done on a keyboard that needs finger input to translate his weird brain into words and sentences. In their Sunday projects, I see how much my boys have grown.
BTE’s car remains on jack stands in my garage. The new and hopefully correctly sized brakes should be here Wednesday, and even in that there’s tremendous growth in my son. He and his buds handled customer service with the company firmly and effectively.
BTY’s half-pipe is done and ready for his next video that he’ll post on his YouTube channel at some point. Or maybe he won’t. For BTY, it’s so much more about the journey than the destination.
These are the moments in which all the trials and toughness of being a dad seem exceedingly worth it.
I am fascinated by dreams. I mean, here we are, walking around in our day-to-day lives, doing things. Then, we get tired of doing all that stuff, our eyes close, and suddenly we’re experiencing a different world.
If you want to get really trippy, let’s challenge our definition of what’s “real life” and what’s “just a dream.” What if what’s real are the things we’re doing in our dreams and then we “get tired” of doing that and “wake up” into what really is the alternative reality? What exactly is reality, anyway? Woo-wee. That’s a topic for another day.
I have long had two types of dreams. There are the dreams that are essentially day residue. You have an experience in your waking life, and then your brain, in the process of trying to make sense of it before filing it away, shoves some part of it together with some other stuff, and suddenly you’re trying to run away from King Kong while your mother tells you that you can’t leave until you grab a sweater.
What? Just me?
Anywhooooo, then there are the types of dreams that I’ve come to realize are giving me a glimpse into what I can only describe as Higher Truth. I started having these dreams around the seventh grade, and when I or someone else would try to pass them off as “just a dream,” I would know that wasn’t true.
What those dreams actually are is a matter of opinion, and, as with all matters of faith, there’s no way of knowing if you’re defining the word “knowing” in earthly terms. My personal opinion on my own “next level” dreams are that they are glimpses of whatever comes next that seep into this world and on the brain, otherwise occupied, trips up in its role as goalie and lets by. That is a woefully inadequate definition of what I feel these “dreams” truly are, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t words for it anyway, so I’m going to leave it there.
Here’s what I do know, or at least, what I truly believe: The brain is not always our friend and is entirely separate from consciousness. The brain’s mission is survival, and to do that, it blocks out stuff that doesn’t make sense and that focuses us on things besides what’s Here. What’s There is of no importance to our brains, because when we go There, our brains are dead.
Our consciousness is not.
I can tell you that I “dreamed” of what comes next on one night in April of 2021, but I also firmly believe that was as far from a dream as chocolate is from vanilla. I am quite certain I saw There, that I was There. When I came back from that amazing, glorious, comforting place of ultimate contentment — which, I might add, had absolutely no streets paved with gold, billowing clouds, pearly gates and signs that read “Christians Only (or Muslims, Jews, etc.) All Other Burn In Hell,” — I knew that was most definitely not “just a dream.”
And yes, I fully understand that this makes me sound like a nutcase. I’m OK with that. I think we all are, to some degree or another.
Last night, I had a dream about being in the middle of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. I have been to Vegas once, for a work conference Wifey Poo accompanied me on in 2018, I believe. I am most assuredly not saying that anyone in Las Vegas should be wary because I’m some sort of future-seer. I’m not. This wasn’t one of those dreams.
It was, however, a sign that the tensions of this world are seeping into my brain and leaving it unsettled. I have never before dreamed of a mass shooting, yet in this one, there was most definitely the thought that this was part of societal breakdown and that these things are going to occur and occur and occur and occur, to the point where we start dramatically altering where we go, when we go and how we go.
The dream was horrendous, starting first with a bird’s-eye view of people running chaotically in all directions while the sounds of gunfire echoed from here, there and everywhere. I watched as people were shot … in the stomach, in the head, sometimes multiple times.
It then plopped me and BTY right in the middle of the terror in search of a place to hide, and, failing to find one, I simply wrapped him up in my arms and tried to cover as much of him as I could with my own body. It’s what I’d like to think I would do if this happened in real life.
I awoke to news of a shooting in Indiana that likely would have been far worse, were it not for a 22-year-old with a concealed carry permit.
There is absolutely no connection between my dream and the event that happened Sunday afternoon, well before I went to sleep. What there is, though, is a whole lot of creeping dread about what is going on in our country … at least, there is with me.
I spent a good chunk of Sunday morning reorganizing and decorating my Mancave. Whether it truly is a mancave or not is up for debate. I’m fine if you want to call it a home office used almost exclusively by me but available to Wifey Poo especially considering I’m no longer WFH.
Whatever it is, I moved what was over here over there and what was over there over here. I hung up my paltry but hopefully growing collection of weird and cool signs up on one wall, leaving room for new ones to be placed leftward as I find them/buy them. I ordered what I needed for what one day soon will be an entire wall of baseball cards. I explored options for a new floor lamp to replace the ugly one I inherited. I created a better spot to do my meditation thang.
Now, it feels good … somehow more right.
In Other Writing
🔻 What’s Below 🔻What shows our vulnerability 👨🏼🦳👨🏾🦳What step we’re currently on 🎈What the spark would be 💥 Ahhh, Dystopia, that imagined land where we watch zombies and Katniss and Mark Zuckerberg dance a creepy new form of the tango while asking ourselves, “If that’s what things are going to be like after The Fall,…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- BTY has two more baseball tryouts this week. I can’t wait to learn what the future holds for him.
- Gotta see how the saga of BTE’s car brakes ends.
- We’re heading to Silver Dollar City this weekend.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Wound Treatment 🧂Phillies Bring Doom ⚾Meetings Suck 👎🏽 Apparently, I’ll take medical advice from waitresses and allow myself to receive medical treatment from busboys. This, I learned last night. I have a tendency to get hurt in really interesting ways. When I tell you that I once got a concussion…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 8 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to email@example.com. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Football Picking God 🏈Fish Story 🐟Free Floating ☁️ A few months before Boy The Elder was born, I had about $100 set aside to buy Wifey Poo a gift that I intended to give her after she ushered our child into the world. It was the least I could do for,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 7 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨👦👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕Shinedown 🎸Sleepy 😴 The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…Keep reading