🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
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 to say a final goodbye to Wifey Poo’s second mother. She was the mom of her childhood best friend, Julie. Whenever Wifey Poo relates a story of her youth adventures with Julie, her face lights up and is filled with pure joy. Childhood best friends can do that.
Julie’s mother was a consistent part of Wifey Poo’s youth, even after she and her family moved out to the country and out of the neighborhood where she and Julie grew up. In recent years, Julie’s mom’s memory and health have declined. Her passing is merciful yet remains hard for those left behind. That’s really what death is all about, in many ways.
My own second mother was a positive influence who helped me get through some really tough times in high school. Somehow, I threaded the needle and managed to continue to have a great relationship with my best friend even after I started dating his younger sister. The fact that that whole thing worked is a minor miracle, and I couldn’t have been more blessed by it. Some of my own best childhood memories are filled with the joy of times hanging around people who mattered so much to me — my girlfriend, my best friend and their mother.
My second mother worked in the high school as a guidance counselor’s assistant. Her office and her wisdom and kindness and love became a refuge for me when things were less than stellar inside the walls of my own home. Their home became a safe place for me to go when things were particularly bad, which, toward the end of my time as a New Yorker, was quite frequently. I spent just about every single day after school at their house, doing my homework at their kitchen table, boxing with my best friend in his front yard, going for walks in the rain with my girlfriend, breaking bread with them once their dad came home from another long day in the construction industry.
Things fell apart with that situation after high school. Life is like that sometimes. But I’m grateful for having had what I did at the time I needed it most. My best friend. My girlfriend. My second mother. Life was good, and in those moments, I felt safe.
For a while now, I have had two types of dreams. One is what you think of when you think “dream.” The other is … not.
I completely understand how someone might think what is about to be written is a diversion into the crazy. I would have thought the same thing until it started happening to me. But these “dreams” aren’t dreams at all. They are what I’ve taken to calling Glimmers — a thinly veiled look into whatever it is that comes Next.
These Glimmers range from simple messages about what I need to be doing next in a situation or, in one case, a full-on out-of-body/near-death experience in which I’m pretty confident I was in the process of dying and was in the Next, or what I’ve taken to calling There.
Up until last night, these Glimmers have been hugely positive. The There is absolutely amazing and goes beyond the human ability to use words to describe things. I could go on forever saying “It’s like …” and never find what needs to fill the … to have it make sense. The There is beyond our capacity to accurately describe.
Last night was a different kind of Glimmer. You’ve perhaps heard those who have had near-death experiences talk about how part of the process of entering the There is a reconciliation of your human behavior seen from the perspective of those it affected. Those who have experienced those things have called it humbling and emotional. Last night, I spent what felt like the entire night going through that, seeing how one specific situation I thought I’d come to terms with affected each person, one at a time.
It was not fun.
There was a point in this Glimmer in which I realized I was most definitely not awake, yet I had full awareness of what was going on. I was Me … not Dream Me. So I screamed out, “OK God! I get it! I know what you’re doing! I understand now!” And yet it went on.
Over and over and over again, the same scene would play out. Someone would do this one particular thing to essentially freeze time except for the person whom I had to confront to hear how my actions affected them and only them. Everyone else around us was stopped in place, and I could see how what I did impacted the only non-frozen one personally. In that moment, I was given an opportunity to explain my actions, to explain fully what had happened in that situation. There was an overwhelming feeling of regret and sorrow, a need to apologize and humbly ask for forgiveness for how what I did hurt them.
Wifey Poo. Boy The Elder. Boy The Younger. A co-worker. My sister-in-law. On and on and on it went, and it was torture.
I typically awaken each morning between 5:15 and 5:45. A rare morning sees me return to consciousness at 6 or 6:15. This morning, I woke up at 8:35 a.m., worn out, emotional and sad. Those extra hours were part of the experience, I gather.
“John. It was just a dream,” you say.
“No. It wasn’t,” I reply. I get why it’s hard to believe these types of things actually happen. But they do. At least, to me they do. And I’m pretty sure I’m neither nuts or alone.
What I am is humbled. This situation has been a reoccurring regret for me for a while now. I’ve made peace with the people — most of them, I think — who were affected in the Here. But seeing it in such a way from their perspective last night was an emotional and humbling experience.
It hurt. But I’m glad it happened.
Today is the first-ever Assorted Meat Day in our home. Wifey Poo mentioned a few days ago that we have a bunch of random meat in our freezer. A pork steak. A sirloin. Nothing that would be enough on its own to feed our family, which this weekend includes BTE, home from college this weekend, and his lovely girlfriend. So I suggested “Why not just grill it all, give everyone an equal part of the good meat (the steak), and then let everyone fill up on the other random stuff?”
Thus, Assorted Meat Day was born.
Welcome to Songs of Significance, chronicling the songs that have helped shape me and people across generations. Jeremy, Pearl Jam, from the 1991 album Ten When Jeremy stood at the front of his English classroom on the morning of January 8, 1991, so much had already happened. The 15-year-old was already an accomplished, award-winning artist. He…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Gotta do the grilling for Assorted Meat Day.
- I have a much-needed massage tomorrow.
- Fantasy football draft is tomorrow.
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🧩 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 🧩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…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