🧩 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 a question: “John, do you like yourself?”
Looking back today, I’m shocked at how easy the answer spewed out of me: “Of course not. What the hell is there to like?”
It would be easy to dismiss such an answer as an outgrowth of depression or an attempt to garner sympathy. It was neither. I am quite familiar with depression and what it does to me, and this wasn’t it. Nor did I give a rat’s ass if Arti The Wonder Therapist or anyone else had any sympathy for me. This was simply an honest appraisal of what I thought when I looked at the person in the mirror and reflected on his actions and behavior over the previous half-decade or so.
Arti The Wonder Therapist continued: “What’s something good you can say about yourself?”
Silence. And it wasn’t because I was trying to be difficult. At that moment in time, I had absolutely nothing.
Fast-forward to today. I spent the early morning doing stuff for the family budget, the mid-morning chainsawing fallen trees in the woods behind my Humble Country Home and burning a variety of cardboard boxes and scrub brush raked up from under the cedar tree I trimmed this summer. After cleaning up all that crap, I came inside and was sitting down to eat a little something when Wifey Poo called out from the cellar, “Um, John? When you’re done eating, can you please come down here?”
“Sure,” replied I. “What’s up?”
“We’ve got a water issue.”
Now, no one in the history of the world has ever been happy to hear those four words in that context. Ever. Old John would not have handled it well, either.
New John has put in the work, and it’s in times like this that I see it paying off. Having rebuilt my self-confidence and earned several really positive successes on which to hang my hat, I calmly went downstairs, saw the situation and got to work. Wifey Poo and I moved the boxes and assorted crap in the danger zone out of the way, I went back upstairs to do some research on what the hell could cause two backed-up basement drains, talked over the solution with Wifey Poo and then shooed her upstairs to finish getting ready for a birthday party she was going to while I Shop-Vacced up the water and, um, assorted other material.
This might not seem like a big deal. After all, it’s how adults should handle stuff. But it is a big deal when it’s juxtaposed against the way that situation would have gone a year or two ago.
Listen, I still don’t like the John who used to look back at me from the mirror. This isn’t a matter of finding the John who has been inside me all along. This is about creating a John I can look at in the mirror and say, “Hey there you handsome, capable studmuffin.”
Jokes aside, I like me now. I handle my stuff. I take care of my business. I act with integrity and honesty. I stay in control when shit (literally) doesn’t go my way. I use my brains and my intuitions to find solutions. Am I perfect with all this? Absolutely not. But am I better and improving? Definitely. Do I re-center quicker when I get a little wonky? Absolutely.
On top of that, I’m proud of who I am as a husband, as a father, as a creative person, as a man, as a friend to the very few who actually seem to want that from me. I’ve come a long, long way in a really short time when you know the full story of what I was up against. My journey isn’t over. I doubt it ever will be until God finally lets me move on to There. But right now? I’m good.
So yeah… That.
I know that look on Wifey Poo’s face I saw this morning prior to the basement incident. It’s that look that tells me she wants to package up one of our children and ship him to anywhere else but here. I saw that look when she got out of the car and I was walking back to the garage carrying the chainsaw. It made me make sure I had an extra good grip on it.
Boy The Younger is a good kid. He truly is. He’s also 13, which makes him, in many ways, inherently dumb. This isn’t a knock on him. It’s a knock on all 13-year-olds. As a species, human young take a comparably awful long time to not be their own worst enemies, and BTY is no exception.
The thing BTY does most frequently to generate that look on Wifey Poo’s face is to complain about the tasks in his life about which he has great familiarity and yet acts as if he’s being asked to donate a vital organ when he’s reminded he actually has to do them.
Case in point: Running.
BTY is on the cross country team. If he put in the effort, he could be really good. He’s got that cross country runner’s build, which is to say a strong wind could launch him into the next state and you can easily miss him if he’s standing sideways. Yet despite the fact that BTY ran everywhere he went from the time he could stand, he seems to have some great moral objection to the existence of cross country. Thus, he finishes somewhere in the middle of the pack most races, which is fine with us as parents — and him as a child.
This morning, Wifey Poo reminded BTY he needed to run today and that she was ready to take him to the trailhead. Nationals is coming in a few weeks, a trip to Springfield, Missourah, that will cost us several hundred dollars in hotel fees, food and gas, all so we can watch him do his thing over the course of maybe 20 minutes. Her reminder was met by a teenager who apparently thought we were requiring him to join a new Trail of Tears.
Now, to be fair, Wifey Poo wasn’t overly thrilled with him to begin with today, owing largely to the fact that BTY often takes the path of least resistance through life and does not do more than what’s essentially required of him to be part of a human society. He knows he should be practicing baseball on his own, practicing basketball on his own, lifting weights, getting outside instead of sitting in front of a screen, studying for whatever tests he has coming up and assorted other things all teenagers confront in some capacity. But unless specifically required to do these things and reminded at least once, BTY is good to just … not.
This drives Wifey Poo — a high achiever as a child and one who does a good job managing a wide variety of things as an adult — absolutely, positively, 100% batshit crazy. As her husband, I can sympathize. As someone who used to be a lot like BTY, I can empathize.
Wifey Poo is cute when she’s mad, and I learned a long time ago that the best thing to do is listen patiently and attentively without trying to problem-solve when she’s expressing her frustrations. That’s what I did this morning. An awesome thing about Wifey Poo is she gets over things fast, preferring conflict-free relationships to spiteful angst.
I’m pretty convinced that even if she did box up BTY, she’d reconsider before she got to the UPS Store.
Oh, Jeff Dahmer. You sad, sad man. Like much of Muricah, I’m working my way through the Dahmer movie on Netflix, and I’ve augmented it with Confessions of a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes. Boy-howdy, that’s not light listening.
Dahmer’s a monster. It’s a good thing he’s dead, I think it’s fair to say. Yet so many things surrounding his case are also so, so wrong and so indicative of this nation’s weaknesses. Racism. Homophobia. Poor policing. Urban poverty. A broken mental health system. All of those things contributed to who Dahmer was and what he was able to do for so, so long.
Anyone got any recommendations for something a little more uplifting to watch next?
Top 5 Things You Will Learn If You Read This Whole Thing You can’t “Hippy” the desire to conquer land out of boys. Sometimes leadership is thrust upon us. Bob is an idiot. There’s a game played by a bunch of violent, drunk Englishmen that even Nazi bombs couldn’t stop. Even the most violent feuds…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Stephen King books.
- Alice in Chains music.
- Netflix documentaries.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books and Stories 📚SVB Lessons 🏦Basketball Party 🏀 Holy crap, you guys! I actually finished something I wrote! In fact, I finished two somethings I wrote! As my regular readers (hey you three!) know, I’ve been stunk in a funk of starting to write books and short stories with gusto and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Podcast Appearance 🎙️The Birth Control Pill Story 🐶Good Tired 🥱 If you would have asked me a few years ago whether I could ever envision myself on a stage in the back room of a dive bar sharing a story about how my dog ate six months of birth control pills…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pee Mate 🚽Game Maker 🎲Dumb Muricans 🦅 I have been thinking about death a lot lately, not because I’m particularly eager for it to happen or because I’m particularly not eager for it to happen. I guess it’s because I’m a few months shy of my 49th birthday and please-for-the-love-of-God let…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dieudonne 🌍Hoops Win🏀Cornhole Roll ✔️ In 2021, during some of the darkest and most difficult times in our lives as individuals and couple, Wifey Poo and I did a thing. It was a big thing. It was a challenging thing. It was an amazing thing. But to say it was just…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Full Stop’ 🛑Needles 💉Business Lessons 🧑💼 Here’s something I learned about myself today: One way to ensure that I will debate you on a topic until I give my last breath or until you are huddled in a corner in a fetal position is to end the statement of your opinion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mindfulness 🧘Mullet Prez 👩🦳Murder Family 🔪 Our brains are amazing things. So adept are they at routines that they can essentially run on autopilot and let you do the everyday stuff like operating a multi-ton object advancing at 70+ mph among lots of other multi-top objects advancing at 70+ mph without…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bloody Hell 💂Circus Moments 🤡Silence 🤫 OK, people: I’ve got a bone to pick with you. But first, a little digression. What in the bloody hell does that phrase mean? “A bone to pick with you?” That sounds absolutely disgusting. And if you’re wondering why I said “bloody hell,” well, that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩24 Hour Video 😡Rubik’s Kid 🧊Dilbert Doofus 🤪 There are two things I cannot stand in the working world — and in life, in general. The first is people whose lack of preparedness turns ordinary stuff into emergencies. The second is when people criticize the result of something they previous approved.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mormon Billionaires 💰Bigger Packages 🍌Birds Really Aren’t Real 🐦 Can we just get on with blowing the tits off the world with nuclear weapons or something and end this stupid thing we call the human race? Yeah, I know that’s a little dramatic, but when I take a look at the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Muricah The Evil 🦅You Buy You 💰Big-Ass Van 🚚 I find it rather humorous that Muricah warned China not to send arms to one side of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine … and that we issued this warning with a straight face. I’m quite sure most Muricahns believe their country…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Salve 🩹Car Wash 🚗💧Light Removal 🎄 I try not to venture too often into a Wal-Mart, especially on the weekend. I cling to slim hope for this nation as it is, and I find Wal-Mart trips do not help my grip. Alas, this weekend, Boy The Younger was under the weather…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CC, BCC, FU 📧Basketball Poll 🏀Andy Rooney 🎙️ This week has largely been a Shit Week marred by Shit People. What are Shit People? They aren’t exactly easy to define, but one hallmark of a Shit Person is his rampant use of the CC function at work to passive-aggressively play power…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chill Day 🛋️Busy Weekend ⚾Halftime 🏈 I’m not working today. Not only am I not working at my day job, I’m not doing any work for my side gig today. I’m not planning on doing much of anything, actually. And I don’t feel guilty about that. This weekend was insanely busy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Big Pharma Sucks 💊Work Rules 🧑💼Big Weekend 🏈 Spend any time in front of the television and you’ll see ads touting the latest drugs that you shouldn’t take if you’re allergic to and that you most definitely need to ask your doctor about. Now comes a study showing that the people…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Top 5 🎈Symphony 🎻Living Eulogies 💗 Top 5 things overheard in Missourah last week as a purported Chinese spy balloon made its way over the state en route to its rendezvous with an F22’s missile: Despite my high-brow upbringing in Suburbia, New York, I’m not what anyone would call A Symphony…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Space Walk 🧑🚀Bye-Bye Brady 🏈Failure Rate 🐿️ When Boy The Elder was just Boy and devoid of a younger brother, we had a nickname for him: Pokey Joe. BTE didn’t do anything fast, but more than anything, what he did incredibly slow was get out of a car. That would suck…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Raccoons 🦝February 💘Man Nips 🕺 Today I bring you the story of a raccoon who got his balls stuck to railroad tracks. But the reason you think I’m bringing you this story is not the reason I’m bringing you this story. You think I’m bringing the story of the raccoon Neil…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tyre Nichols 😔Tattoo Day ✒️Nephew Hoops🏀 I was a white kid in suburbia, New York, in 1988 when the gangsta rap group N.W.A. came out with its album Straight Outta Compton, featuring the song Fuck Tha Police. It was scandalous, at the time, to suggest that the police would be anything…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Car Concert 🎵Sick Wife🤒People Suck 🖕 Within the 24 hours in the run-up to Snowpocalypse 2023, the estimates on the Weather Channel app for our snowfall total ranged from 1 to 10 inches. That’s like going to the doctor and being told you have anything from a splinter to terminal cancer.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mission: Failed 👎Ho 🤣Handy Family 👍 It has to suck to work at the Missouri Department of Transportation. Why? It took exactly 75 minutes for all of 2023 to be a failure. Let me explain. Those of you unfortunate enough to have been involved in any sort of corporate planning process…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Houston 🖊️Sad clown 🤡Taco Seasoning 🌮 Houston, Missourah, is not unlike a lot of other rural Missourah towns through which I’ve driven and bears a resemblance to the Small Town USA in which Boy The Elder did a lot of his early growing up and to which Boy The Younger came…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Definitions 📖Missing Bourbon 🥃Mysterious Knocks 😵 I generally abhor any writing that starts with, “Webster’s dictionary defines …” Webster’s dictionary defines “ceiling” as a noun meaning “the overhead inside lining of a room.” The implication is that it’s a limitation, a max, a point of demarcation between what’s out there and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Annoyance 😠Disappointment 😞 When Boy The Elder was Boy The Only in our home, he watched one of the Air Bud movies featuring a basketball-playing dog. Or maybe it was football. Or soccer. By the time that series was over, that dog had played them all. Anyway, whichever Air Bud…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thor’s Blurry Hammer 🍆Pigeon Delivery 🕊️Idiot List 🤪 Thor is really, really good with his hammer. And by that, I mean that Thor the walrus in Scarborough, England, is really good at masturbating and ruining New Years Eve. If you haven’t heard about this story, stop reading stupid news like politics…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bruising Basketball 🏀Poke ☝️Six?!? 🔫 I grew up in the NBA era of the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons while loving a New York Knicks team that was, to put it mildly, quite physical. Guys like Steph Curry and LeBron James can makes basketball seem like artistry these days, but give me…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What There is Like! ⛅’Modern Policing’ 🚨Xylophone Time! 🎵 When you decide to talk about a time in which you truly believe you more-or-less died and saw what comes after this life, you have to be comfortable with the fact that people might think you’re nuts. Hell, talking about it on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Grace Ashford! 📰Idaholy Shit! 🥔Story of the Year! 🍆 The three most influential people in my life as a journalist are, sadly, all part of the Great Newsroom in the Sky now. Professors Michael Perkins and Bob Woodward (AKA Bob Woodward-Not-That-Bob-Woodward) helped educate me at Drake University, and Lisa Warren was…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poor Puppy 🐶Romeo and Juliet 🤴👸Meta Mistake 🙊 Disturbing news out of Washington, D.C., today as Republican Congressman-elect George Santos (if that’s his real name) brought a 6-month-old puppy to the house floor and screamed “Hey, look at me!” before slitting its throat and lapping up its squirting blood like a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Pretty Good Rant 😠Tesla Plunge 🚗Missed Lasts 😥 Those of you who regularly read my drivel (I see you, DirtySciFiBuddah) might have become aware of the fact over the past year or so that I am not a huge fan of our world’s modern institutions. All of them might, in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Incomplete 🕮Frustration 😠Bowl Bust 🏈 To say that I know how to write is like saying I know how to breathe. No one considers that they know how to breathe. They just … breathe. No one is particularly good at breathing or bad at breathing. Again, they just … breathe. I’ve…Keep reading
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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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