🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
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 the diagnosis or the accident. But even in those situations, the significant time actually began before the moment you think about. What put you in the position to be at the bar where you met your dream guy? What was in your DNA that led to the diagnosis? Why were you on the route that took you to where the accident happened? What if you’d dropped your keys on the way to your car and picking them up set your departure back 10 seconds? Ten. Freaking. Seconds.
I was thinking about this in terms of my own life, yes, but what got my started down this path was Eliza Fletcher, the woman abducted and killed while on a routine morning jog in Memphis, Tenn., where I lived while an intern at the Commercial Appeal in the summer of 1995. According to reports, that run was something she did regularly. It was routine. It was familiar. The morning she woke up on what would be her last day of life, she had no clue something significant was about to happen.
Yet the story doesn’t truly begin that day. Where does it begin? When she took her first run? Perhaps. When something happened in her life that made running an attractive fitness option? Maybe.
Every story has a beginning, yet so often, we fail to identify where that beginning truly is, and that’s often because we have no clue when our Once Upon a Time is happening.
For example, I could say the love story that is me and Wifey Poo began when we met freshman year at Drake University. But that’s nowhere close to the beginning of our story. What the hell was a kid from suburban New York City doing in Des Moines, Iowa, for college, anyway?
Well, that goes back to the summer in between my freshman and sophomore years in high school. The truth is, I’m married to Wifey Poo because of a decision my parents made from our suburban New York City home to take a vacation to a dude ranch in Middle of Nowhere, Texas, on the exact same week that the parents of a girl from the tiny town of Harvey, Iowa (Population: 176), took their family to that same dude ranch in Middle of Nowhere, Texas. Had I not met their daughter, I never would have even considered attending a college in Iowa, and I never would have met Wifey Poo freshman year.
And here’s the thing: That trip almost didn’t happen! It was booked and everything was ready to go, but my great-grandmother fell and broke her hip two days before we were to leave. Only because she was an ornery, tough old bird who insisted we go did I end up on that ranch meeting a girl who would, in the aftermath of our vacation, write to the ranch to get my address to send me a letter to start a long-time correspondence that made me say, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if I went to school in Iowa?”
I’ve thought about this a lot in terms of 9/11 and the people who died in the towers, especially those who died instantly upon impact of the first plane. They didn’t even know they are a part of the most significant event in America’s 21st century history. One second they were starting a workday. The next they were gone. Never did they have a sense that day would put them on a list that gets read aloud every single year and that’s on a memorial wall.
Thinking these thoughts can take you down a long and winding network of rabbit holes. With the story that led to me meeting Wifey Poo, sure, I can say it began with that vacation in Texas. But what put us in a position to be free that week to go as a family? What made us able to afford to take the trip? Why was there an interest in us playing cowboy for a week? How did that ranch come to be?
There are a million different paths to follow behind any story, and all of it makes me think one thing: Our lives, which may seem like a series of random events stitched together by coincidence, are most definitely not that. So much had to line up so precisely for me to even be here right now that I can’t fathom the odds. And if you add that to the odds faced by all those people around me right now to be here in their own moment right now, well, the odds of us all being together are insanely large.
Yet here we are. Right here. Right now.
Kinda makes me wonder why.
Fifteen years ago today, I was there as Boy The Elder got on a school bus and went to kindergarten for the first time. What the actual fuck? How is that possible?
I remember it so vividly… limping my way with Wifey Poo and him down to the bus stop at the end of our street in Faribault, Minnesota. I was on crutches after major ankle surgery a month before. He was so happy, yet so nervous. I can see it in his face as I looked at the photos this morning from that day, photos that came up in my “memories” on Amazon Photos.
I am growing to largely hate social media and all things electronic that keep track of us far more than we know or would be OK with. Yet the reminders of significant events from my past? Yeah, I’ll take those.
Boy The Younger played in his second baseball game of the season last night, which turned into a 5-0 loss on a beautiful late-summer evening. It was so refreshing to see a game that, while it didn’t end with a positive score for our team, was played solidly and coached by adults who acted like adults. We have had so precious little of that in that boy’s baseball career.
The game played last night was baseball. It wasn’t based on gimmicky and often dangerous baserunning gadgetry. It was about pitching, hitting and fielding, and the other team did it better. It wasn’t the umpire’s fault. It wasn’t the other coach’s fault. The game was played on the field as the game of baseball is meant to be played. It was run by adults who showed the proper perspective for the role of youth athletics and their position in it.
It’s so sad that something so basic made such an impression on me last night.
Soul Comforts A just-because gift An accidental nap Shared fries A hidden note, found A joined passion A soft hand Communicated desires A hug, freely given A safe landing place A secluded table Memory-filled songs Appreciation, openly stated Take me away from here Take me away Take me Take A common blanket A slow dance…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Sunday float trip with Wifey Poo!
- Saturday cross country meet for Boy The Younger!
- Sweet memories.
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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 🧩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