🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕
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 to the kitchen window.
The plan was simple:
- Put a ladder up near the tree.
- Climb a few rungs.
- Start the chainsaw.
- Chop off the limb.
- Hack the limb into fireplace-sized pieces.
- Wait for winter.
Plans are funny, aren’t they?
Now, in reviewing the plan, there was one major flaw: The chainsaw chain was getting pretty dull. It’s not that this would have necessitated a run to a store or anything. I had another chain in the garage, and I was fairly confident I could change it in 15 minutes, tops. Instead, I thought, I’ll change it after this limb.
The less-than-sharp chain failed to cut straight through the limb. It got about halfway through and got stuck. I had to wiggle the saw back and forth to get it free and, in the process, the limb sort of cracked.
No problem. I can handle that. But instead of pausing at that point to take the signs of the chainsaw gods and go change the chain, I kept going.
This was when things went awry. Instead of the saw going straight through the second half of the limb, one part snapped first, which meant that rather than fall straight down, the limb sorta swung.
… Directly into the ladder.
That’s when my brain got super efficient.
There was this moment I realized that I was, in fact, going to fall, and my brain smartly did what it should have done: Send an urgent message to my arm to get the chainsaw as far away from my body as possible. I’m pretty sure I actually chucked it a bit, but I’m not certain of that. What I am certain of is that the revving slowed down and I still have all digits and appendages.
With that problem largely taken care of, my brain switched to the next most urgent thing: The ground and the fact that the falling ladder was between me and it.
“Sorry bud,” said the brain, “But you’re not getting out of this unscathed. Yet remember those karate lessons you took when you were 12 and 13? Now’s a good time to recall what you learned.”
And so it came to pass that, at the moment of really solid contact between my right shin, left knee and the ladder, I tucked my head and executed one boss forward roll.
Better still? Wifey Poo was outside pulling weeds, and though she failed to see the start of the fall, she looked up just in time to see her hot hubby perform this extremely sexy ninja maneuver.
Now, I’d like to think that, were I a few years younger, I could have done what I learned to do back in the day in Sensei Takahashi’s classes, which is to pop up from the roll and prepare to fight. Alas, I’m 48, not 13. So I ended up on my butt and was able to watch first-hand as the swelling on my right shin began, as well as check out the awesome dent in my left knee.
All is well. Ice helped, as did Aleve when my body chose to remind me later in the day that I am, in fact, too old to be falling off of ladders and not paying some sort of price. But when I think about what could have happened vs. what did happen, yeah, I’m OK with the outcome.
There were a few moments while sitting on the ground doing a systems check following my ladder escapade that I wondered if I would be able to make the Shinedown concert that night.
Thankfully, I did.
I absolutely love Shinedown, especially live. This was the fourth time I’ve seen them, all of them with Boy The Elder. This time, Boy The Younger and Wifey Poo came along for their second SD concert. Brent Smith and company give an awesome show. They connect with the crowd as no other musician I’ve ever seen can. The Hollywood Casino Amphitheater was absolutely packed with 18,000 people who rocked out.
I have this mental list going as of late of musicians whose work is something more than mere music but rather a reflection of the thing that is what human life should be all about. Shinedown is at or near the top of that list. Their music sees through the bullshit and speaks to the heart of what life needs to be. Their latest album, Planet Zero, is a commentary on that. But for nearly 20 years now, their work has evolved to become some of the most inspired music I’ve ever heard.
To be there and share that with the rest of the Core Four was epic. To watch my boys totally in it together, singing every word, jumping up and down, was priceless. To be their with Wifey Poo and listen to Daylight performed live … that was everything to me. She very much saved my life. She very much always made sure I saw the daylight. More than once. Hell, more than twice.
For those not in the know, this section of my website is called “A Puzzle Known as Life.” That’s taken directly from a Shinedown lyric, in their song 45.
In a box, high up on a shelf, left for you, no one else/There’s a piece of a puzzle known as life/Wrapped in guilt, sealed up tight.
I have taken that box down over the past year and dealt with what’s in it. It’s been hard. It’s bee ugly. But in the process, I’ve figured out where to place a lot of life’s puzzle pieces.
Yet it’s a big puzzle. There are lots of pieces remaining. And hey … surprise-surprise, I’m still here.
Last night? Last night was amazing.
The morning after a weeknight concert is always challenging, even more so now that my job is a must-work-from-work one and my regular start time is between 7:30 and 8 a.m. No one is checking up on me, but still …
There was a time — and it wasn’t all that long ago — that I would feel incredibly guilty for having a day in which not much work got done. I worked incredibly hard and learned it’s possible to suffer from burnout without working 50, 60 or 70-plus hours a week. I thought by keeping my hours down and working hard, hard, hard for every moment I was there, I was doing the right thing. I suffered because of it. My family suffered because of it.
Nowadays, I know that I’m blessed with the ability to do a full day’s work in less than the hours that make up a full day. So there are days in which I do that. I do what a reasonable person would be expected to complete, and then I slow down. I talk to my co-workers. I do some skill-advancement work. I, dare I say, goof off a little bit and occasionally pay the bills or read an interesting article on the interwebs?
My output and quality remains sky-high, but I have mental capacity and stamina to be more present after work and on weekends.
Oh, if only I could go back in time and talk to Younger Me.
So today, yeah, I’m fallin’ asleep at my desk, metaphorically. But was it 100% worth it to stay to the very last second of the concert last night?
SoS2 — 45, Shinedown
Liner Notes 45Shinedown from the 2003 album ‘Leave a Whisper’ Lyric to remember In a box, high up on the shelf, left for you, no one else/There’s a piece of a puzzle known as life, wrapped in guilt, sealed up tight. Quotable “The box is your memories, the things in your life you’ve kept very…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- That post-concert high ain’t wearing off anytime soon.
- There’s more music out there I haven’t listened to.
- There are more memories to make with the C4.
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Welcome to Issue No. 15 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. So last year, I had a list of 100 intentions for 2022, and I did fairly well,…Keep reading
Vision Board — Dec. 30, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩2023 📅Helping 🧠The Universe 🔭 I’m not much for long-term plans and goals. This isn’t to suggest I don’t think they’re important. I just think that spending a lot of time on them is futile. What’s the saying? Man plans, God laughs. Something like that. Anyway, I’ve learned through experience that…Keep reading
The Point of Suffering — Dec. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chain Links 🔗”Work” 🧑💼Popular Toys 🧸 After my first son died in December 2000, I spent a lot of time wondering why. Why me? Why Wifey Poo? Why Jacob? Why this level of suffering in a world supposedly created and run by an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God? So I did what…Keep reading
Freezing Fans — Dec. 26, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chiefs! 🏈Indy Tickets 🏎️Bank Visit 💰 When I bought the tickets to the Christmas Eve contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks as a gift for Boys The Elder & Younger, it was sometime in September and temps hovered around 90 degrees. The thought that the game might…Keep reading
Jacob at 22 — Dec. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Timelines 👶Extinctions 🌋Sin City 👌 As I fall deeper down the rabbit hole learning more about theories on space and time, the concept of alternative timelines comes up again and again and again. Whether it’s the stuff of science fiction or one day will be proven to be the stuff of…Keep reading
Joe(y) the Comedian — Dec. 18, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Cousin’ Laughs🎤Improv!?!? 🎭Drake Hoops 🏀 Back when I was a boy, I had a favorite Cousin-Who-Wasn’t-A-Cousin. His name was Joey DeVito, and he was in no way a blood relation to me, though I called his father Uncle Frankie and his mother Aunt Celia. I’m pretty sure this is an East…Keep reading
Doughnut Guy — Dec. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Glazed 🍩Bingo! 🖥️Disappearing Christians ⛪ I didn’t intend to bring doughnuts for my co-workers yesterday morning. It just sorta happened. How it happened and how it played out is a window into my weird mind. First, an explanation: I have a card purchased from Boy The Younger that entitles me to…Keep reading
James and Stinky — Dec. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩STL’s Homeless 😥Snake Hoo-Hoos 🐍That Was Epoch 👴 I found James huddled underneath a blanket as he sat, knees to his chest, head bowed, just outside the doorway of a CVS in the Delmar Loop section of St. Louis. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a fun place filled…Keep reading
Paul Silas — Dec. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Knicks Memory 🏀JBM LLC 🧑🏼💼Brain Drain 🧠 My most memorable interaction with Paul Silas occurred when I was a 17-year-old kid with big dreams of being a sports reporter. I’d talked with Paul before — his wife and Mother Dearest were active in the local Make A Wish Foundation chapter and…Keep reading
Humbug — Dec. 13, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Piped-In Music 🎵Astronomy 🔭Fusion ☢️ Here’s the thing about Christmas: I want to love it, and in many ways, I do. I love giving gifts and, to be honest, I love getting gifts. There’s something so cool about the magical times when someone knows you well enough to get you that…Keep reading
Aunt Pauline — Dec. 9, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Familial Reflections 👪Career Rebuild 🛠️Andrea 📱 It’s hard to think of my Aunt Pauline as old, hard to imagine how it is that she’s just about to leave her 80s and, thus, it’s hard to understand how she could be in such poor health right now. Aunt Pauline is Father Dearest’s…Keep reading
Bye-Bye, Zombies — Dec. 8, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Walking Dead 🧟Nose B Gone 👃Turkey Trouble 🦃 I spent Tuesday night watching the final episodes of The Walking Dead. I have always been the type who can get so lost in a good story that I have really strong emotions (shocker, I know) when it ends. It happens with…Keep reading
Redefining Family — Dec. 6, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Who’s Family? 👪Music Speaks 🎵Wedding Websites 👨❤️👨 I was raised as an East Coast Italian, despite being a mixed bag of ethnicities born in Denver, Colorado. That meant that there was this huge importance placed on family that’s not necessarily shared with the same ferocity by others. Yet as I grew…Keep reading
Grief — Dec. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Messy Grief 😔Hear Ye! 👂Die Trump Die 😡 I am acutely aware that I am hardly alone as a 48-year-old man when I say that I am well acquainted with grief. I’m not sure if it was always this way — though I imagine it was — but I don’t think…Keep reading
Human Jewel Beetles — Dec. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beer Bottle Connections 🍺Ear Concerns 👂BTE vs. Deer 🦌 What exactly is reality? Is there a limit to the universe? How can something as heavy as the Earth be just sort of suspended … and what exactly is it suspended in? This is the rabbit hole I’ve fallen down, all while…Keep reading
Be Yourself — Dec. 1, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Good Self 👋Urgent Care, Revisited 👩⚕️Slow Down 🐢 I remember this time back in sixth grade when a trusted adult was talking to me as I struggled through what turned out to be a pretty life-defining traumatic experience. The friends I’d grown up with since I was a small boy…Keep reading
Deer Drama — Nov. 30 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shooting a Fake Deer 🦌Time Spent Poorly ⏰Child Support 💸 About midway up my left shin underneath my leg hair is a scar about three inches long and the width of a deer antler. Well, a fake deer antler, anyway. “Deer-antler width” is hardly a standard unit of measurement, I know,…Keep reading
Metallica! — Nov. 29 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gods of Music Deliver! 🎸Insta-Anger 😠Unpleasant 😓 I was in need of something good to happen yesterday. Desperate need. The gods of music delivered. Metallica is coming to St. Louis in concert in 2023 for a two-day show at the Dome at the America Center. I found out about this at…Keep reading
Double Ear Infection — Nov. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Urgent Care 👂👂Alone Update 😔Rest 🛏️ It’s never a good sign when, less than two seconds after sticking a light in your ear and gazing through the little viewfinder thingy (patent pending), the doctor says, “Oooooooooh.” That was followed by a diagnosis of a “nasty” left ear infection and the question,…Keep reading
Fitting in — Nov. 25, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone 😔Christmas Changes🎄My Two Skillz 🔪 I would venture to guess that most of us like the feeling of fitting in somewhere. Even the most self-confident, secure person likes to have a tribe. We’re social creatures, and to have a place we just seem to slide into safely is a blessing.…Keep reading
Spouse+ Subscription — Nov. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Marriage Talk 💑Requesting Money 💰Murder-Free 🔪 If you’ve been married as long as I have (rounding the corner and heading toward 26 years), you understand that conversations between spouses can sometimes be awfully weird. I mean, Wifey Poo and I have known each other more than 30 years now. How much…Keep reading
Coffee Hand — Nov. 22, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Man Cold? 🤒Balloon Analogy 🎈World Flop ⚽ If you want to know how my Monday started yesterday, I poured coffee all over my hand. It isn’t that I don’t know how to pour coffee. I’ve done it a billion times. It’s that, on this particular Monday, somewhere in between the start…Keep reading
Zoo Signs — Nov. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gorilla Harassment 🦍Brother Love 👨👦👦True Crime 🔪 My love of wild animals was fostered early in my childhood. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was appointment viewing for my family. I grew up with scenes of hungry cheetahs chasing down baby gazelles that included what’s not included on nature shows today ……Keep reading
No Slides Allowed — Nov. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Presentation Skillz 📽️No Tribe 😔Fuck 45 🖕 There was a time not all that long ago, cosmically speaking, that the mere thought of standing up in front of a crowd and giving a talk would have made me want to throw up in my shoes. In fact, there has been a…Keep reading
What’s Funny? — Nov. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Boss Kudos 🙌Chill Time 😌One In 8 Billion🧍 It always feels good when the Big Bossman comes up to you and shakes your hand for a job well done. That happened last night when El Presidente of our company congratulated me on the video I wrote, shot and produced for our…Keep reading
Engaged — Nov. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩BTE and Div 💍Brother Greetings 👨👩👦👦Travel Day ✈️ The morning after Boy The Elder was born, I awoke in the hospital to his sweet cooing and his momma’s deep-sleep breathing. Scooping him up carefully and holding him nervously, I sat in a rocking chair in the pre-dawn darkness and talked to…Keep reading
Dying Democracy — Nov. 11, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Election Message 🗳️School Priorities 🏫Tickets Aplenty 🎫 It would seem to me that if a common sentiment from wise people following an election is that it’s a good thing the results were so muddled because it means not much will get done in the next two years, you’ve got yourself a…Keep reading
Fairy Tale — Nov. 9, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stephen King 🕮Legal Weed🌿Public Schools🏫 I read my first Stephen King book when I was in high school. It was summer, if I remember correctly, and everywhere I went, I carried a worn library copy of Pet Sematary. Since that time, King’s words have been a regular companion through every stage…Keep reading
Year In Music — Nov. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Craze 🎵Back Crackin’👩⚕️To-Dos Done🚗 My year of music is over. And, my God, has it been good. It started on a sweltering mid-July afternoon at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in which Wifey Poo and I watched my Backup Wife Jewel do her thing. It ended last night on an evening that…Keep reading
Update: My Favorite African — Nov. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little D’s Return 🏥Irony 🔨Planet Killer 🌎 Being a host parent to a little boy from Africa (Burkina Faso, to be precise) was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. And now, that little boy is returning to the United States. For those not…Keep reading
Mega Billions — Nov. 2, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid IT Rules 🖥️The Bend 🚑Is The War Over? ✌️ Tonight, there will be a lottery drawing in which someone could win $1.2 billion. That someone won’t be me, as I didn’t buy a ticket, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about what I would and wouldn’t do with that…Keep reading
Fun Family — Nov. 1, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Dynamics 👪New Mattress 🛏️To Share Or Not To Share? ❓ Let’s say the only cracker you’ve ever eaten is a Saltine. You have no experience with any other crackers. In fact, you don’t even know that there is such a thing as other crackers. You might not love the Saltine,…Keep reading
Halloween Haters— Oct. 31, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ghosts of Halloween 👻Wrinkles 👴Words Spawn Action ✍️ Wifey Poo made a bold declaration about her opinion of Halloween on our drive back from Springfield, Missourah, Saturday afternoon: “Halloween is a great time for kids to dress up …” If you think there’s more to that statement, nope. She added: “Period.”…Keep reading
How I Do Me — Oct. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Empath Life 🤗Earthquake 🌎Revolutionary Failure 😶 About six months after I started my career as a professional journalist, I started walking past this job opening in our company every time I walked in and out of the building. It was for editor of a weekly paper routinely ridiculed by those who…Keep reading
School Shooter Match Game — Oct. 24, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Game Time 🎮Family Picture📸Marriage Tips 🪢 I remember when it was simple. Horrible, yes … but simple. There was Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and they matched up with Columbine — which, side note, would have been my high school had my parents not moved to NY when I was 2.…Keep reading
Helping the Homeless — Oct. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Helper Bags 🆘What’s In The Bag?🎒Mini Golf ⛳ I was raised to avoid the homeless. Avoid eye contact. Avoid conversation. And most definitely avoid giving them anything they asked for. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, which doesn’t make me feel any better. What was instilled in me as…Keep reading
Marcus F’n King — Oct. 21, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books & Covers 🕮Seeking Balance ⚖️Weirdo🤪 We’re taught at an early age to not judge a book by its cover. If I remember correctly, that was impressed upon me sometime around the first grade. Yet to be honest, I don’t think it’s a lesson that ever really sunk in. I imagine…Keep reading
Political Ads — Oct. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Illegals or Guns? 🤦Scrolling Through Stupidity 🖱️Worst Nurse Ever 👩⚕️ If there’s anything I hate more than politics and politicians, it’s political advertising. Cutting the cable cord has lessened its intrusiveness in my life, yet it still manages to seep in. Case in point: I was watching the Padres-Phillies game last…Keep reading
Chocolateman— Oct. 19, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Passion 🍫Sarcasm 😜Poop 💩 I appreciate people who are passionate about something. Well, except politics. Then I’d prefer it if you’d just keep your mouth shut. But if you’re super-interested in photography, goats, cooking, geocaching, quilting, etching … whatever … your enthusiasm feeds my soul. Which is part of the reason…Keep reading
Top 5 Things From The Past Week: Oct. 10-16 edition
Welcome to Issue No. 9 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 pledged to finish something I am a writer. If I’m going to be a…Keep reading
Evolution — Oct. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Monkey Crap 🐒BTY Day 👨👦Incomplete Stories 🖊️ If you’re of the belief that human beings evolved from apes, I’m not here to try to dissuade you. What I am here to say is that, if evolution is true, we sure have come a long way. I say this after a trip…Keep reading
Basement Water — Oct. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Personal Growth 🌱Mad Mom 😠Oh, Jeffrey 🧠 About a year ago, Arti The Wonder Therapist waited patiently for me to finish yet another of my amazing monologues detailing just how I felt about the various situations I was attempting to address in my life at the time and then calmly asked…Keep reading
2 responses to “Chainsaws & Ladders — Sept. 6, 2022”
[…] recovering well from my Monday morning ladder fall. The bruises I have are actually quite pretty. Wifey Poo is exceptional at finding them with her […]
[…] with Wifey Boo, gone to Man Land (Home Depot) to buy a ladder to replace the one that broke when I fell off it with a running chainsaw, mudded the fire tape that was peeling off in the garage, fixed Wifey Poo’s driver’s […]