🧩 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 🧩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
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Spoon Nose 🥄👃🏻Dump Truck 🚚Twitter Traitor 🐦 Every night, I strap a mask attached to a long hose to my face so I don’t die. Not satisfied with looking kinda like an idiot, I then wrap a flexible Velco-enabled strap around my chin and fasten it on top of my bald…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thanks, Yankees ⚾Kitchen Moment 👩🍳McDonald’s Glasses 🥛 Wifey Poo and I were recent college graduates and months away from becoming Married Folk when our relationship nearly faced its greatest test. The New York Yankees were rolling toward their first World Series appearance since I played with Matchbox Cars, and the St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mammoth Dilemma🦣Zombie Pigs🧟🐖Stadium Pals⚾ Finding the fossilized remains of a Wooly Mammoth in New Mexico isn’t exactly news. It seems the furry elephants loved to hang out in the land so frequently visited by aliens. What is news is the condition of the fossils from the latest find. Some of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ankle Shot 🦶🏻Teamwork 🤝🏽Talkspace Stupidity 🤪 Over the years, I’ve played catch with Boy The Younger dozens and dozens of times. From those early days of him aimlessly flinging an oversized soft thing a few feet forward, to now when he’s zipping a real baseball the regulation distance from a pitching…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Creative Desert 🎨So Long, Supra 🏎️Taco Truck 🌮 I have absolutely nothing today. On most days — even the really, really bad days — I can push out something creatively worthwhile. A blog post. A flyer. A video. Not today. Today I have jack shit. This is professionally problematic, considering my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hungry=Stupid 😋Strategic Planning 📅Bed Sizes 🛏️ Hunger is a strong motivator. This, most of us know. Yet I witnessed this truth at a whole new level this weekend. Wifey Poo and I traveled up to Hannibal, Missourah, for a few days. Hannibal, for you uncultured folks, is the hometown of Mark…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Change 🌀Me, Different 😷Bad Baseball ⚾ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Most everything in humanity is governed by two intertwined forces. Supply and demand. Scarcity. Whether its the economy or human emotions, everything about us is geared toward responding to these two things. For example, when there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double Standards 🦅Birthday Deals 🎁Video Guy 📹 The United States has a problem with hypocrisy. Don’t worry, though; it’s nothing new. It just happens to be glaringly apparent right now. Our revered Founding Fathers got things off on a really bad foot when they penned the lofty statement that all men…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Revolution 🌍Rain 🌧️Refund 💰 By this time tomorrow, I will have completed 48 trips around the sun. Or is it 47 and I’ll be starting my 48th? Whatever. I’ll be 48 years old tomorrow. I have to admit, I’m feeling kinda blah about it. Looking back, this past revolution was busy…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bitchy Mother Nature 🌧️⚡Tech Woes 🖥️Maturation 👦 Overnight storms made for a restless night, as waves of rain and thunder rolled through our section of Missourah. Flash flood warnings pinged my phone sometime in the middle of the night, and by the time I left for my drive to work, eastbound…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rollercoasters 🎢Sad Puppy 🐶News Roundup 🤖 It’s possible to think a lot of thoughts while plummeting 90 feet at a 90-degree angle while staring up at the sun. This I learned yesterday while at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missourah, with the Core Four, Div, Wifey Poo’s baby sister and baby…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Date Day 🤟🏽Prison Justice 👊Universe Questions 🚀 Wifey Poo and I ended up having more than 12 hours to ourselves yesterday here in the Midwest Redneck Mecca of Branson, Missourah. Boys The Elder and Younger, along with BTE’s lovely girlfriend of nearly three years, and Wifey Poo’s baby sister and family…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩WFH WTF? 🧑💼Rebel Ball ⚾Psych Myth 🧠 As a writer/columnist/blogger/thought-spewer, I always enjoy when I get something out there before anyone else. I dug that when I was a newspaper journalist, and I dig it now. That’s why I’m happy to be hearing national publications and sites like Business Insider starting…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fahrenheit 🌡️Blindingly White ⬜Alone Time 👴 Muricah is very much a reactionary nation. Much of what we do and who we are is because we were pissed off about the way someone else did things. Monarchy? We’ll have a democracy, thank you very much. The metric system? We’ll measure stuff our…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tryouts ⚾BBQ Sauce🍖TMNT🐢 There is cause for celebration in the Core Four: Boy The Younger has been drafted. Sadly, we’re not talking about the ongoing Major League Baseball draft. Rather, we’re talking about the sick modern world of Little League baseball. Not to get too “Get off my lawn!” on you,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Growth 💗Dreams 💤Redecorating 🛋️ 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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Burn Pit🔥Alaska Ass🍑Nose Hair🐽 Having a plan is a far different thing from having a plan work out. I’m really good at the former, yet the latter seems to be extremely elusive. Yesterday, my plan was to take the huge pile of chopped-down cedar-tree limbs that have been in my backyard…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Jewel💎First Kiss💋Slow Ahead🐢 Wifey Poo and I are headed out into the sweltering hell that is Missourah this evening to see the woman who, should she knock on my door and say “let’s go,” I am fully empowered to join in the next part of life’s journey. I jest. Sort of.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Parenthood 🚓Alexa 📋Quick-Hitters 👋 Just about every statistic imaginable tells us we shouldn’t have kids — at least, not if we’re concerned about our own happiness, mental health, marriage, career, finances, time or ability to buy a really boss car instead of a freaking minivan. Yet here we are, still a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Lawrence Pfaff Sr. Sucks 🚓Engagement Talk 🌯Quick-Hitters 👋 From what I know of Lawrence H. Pfaff Sr. of Belmont, NY, he was kind of a douche. The 81-year-old man died on June 27. I never met him. Never even heard of him. Until I read his obit. And about that obit?…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Travelling Companion🚓Free Beans 🌯Unfollowed 👋 Brandy Bottone is either stupid or brilliant. Whichever it is, she’s also right. The Texas woman was traveling in the HOV lane — which, for the country folk out there, stands for High Occupancy Vehicle and is reserved for cars with two or more people to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Slots 🎰Dude Perfect ⚽Bye Bye Facebook? 👋 My mother-in-law (AKA The Judester) is nearly 81 years old and has knee problems that keep her from getting around too well these days. Watching her stand up from a chair is to feel pain yourself. Yet when I walked into the Ameristar casino…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Reflections on Grandma 👵Kids & Death 👨👦👦Don’t Say It 🤫 My grandma died yesterday, four days shy of her 96th birthday. As it goes with people at that age, it wasn’t a surprise. She had been fading for more than a year and, though she still was breathing, that version of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sleepwalking 🧨DnD Gang 🎲Gas Idiots 🛢️ If there were a day-by-day measure of the collective output of workers in these here United States of Amuricah (and for all I know, there is), I would venture to guess that July 5 ain’t our most productive day. I base this on my observations…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid Parade 🧨Math Matters ➗What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Not being a hugely patriotic person at this point in my life, I made no plans to go to any Fourth of July parade this year. It seems mighty foolish to be celebrating freedoms that are eroding right before our eyes, though I…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone Time, Girl Time 👩👧Picture Hanger🔨What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Wifey Poo and I found ourselves in an interesting position at home today for a little bit: Alone. Boy The Elder took off for Six Flags with his buds, and Boy The Younger left with a friend and his family (Chicken Owner,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oil Change 👨🔧Goose Lover🛦Church & State⛪ Based on my history, the last place anyone should ever look for me is underneath a car. Yet that’s where I found myself late this morning, side-by-side with Boy The Elder as he showed me exactly how stupid I’ve been all my life. I’m not…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Media Bias 📰Rudy’s Sandals 🩴Lack of Faith ⚖️ I’ve watched with interest the blowback against newspaper tyrant Gannett following its reminder to its journalists in the wake of the Supreme Court’s undoing of Roe v. Wade that they are not to take sides on social media. “You cannot use social media…Keep reading
🧩 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