🧩 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, but you’re not going to really hate it either because you don’t know there’s anything better.
Such is the case with families, for some people. If you grow up surrounded by a certain family dynamic, you’re not going to know whether that family dynamic is good or bad. You’re not going to know if what you grew up seeing is normal or even healthy. Only when you broaden your horizons a bit and start purposefully looking at other people’s family dynamics can you make a value judgment on your own.
Last night after work, I went to a Halloween party at the home of a friend of Wifey Poo’s and Boy the Younger’s. I’ve met these folks before and knew they were Good People, but I don’t really know them super well and they don’t know me either. It was super kind of them to invite my family to this party, as it was made up largely of family.
What I did know of the families at the heart of this party is this: Between the two sisters whose children BTY plays with and Wifey Poo enjoying hanging with at homeschool stuff, they’ve brought into this world a lot kids. I’m talking, like, hella kids. Missy has nine, the youngest entering the world earlier this year. Jen has five or six. This isn’t a rare thing for homeschool families. I’m not sure exactly why that is, but it’s a truth. If you go to a homeschool event, you’re gonna see at least one conversion van arrive and kids spill forth like clowns from a circus car.
I’m becoming a new person when it comes to social events. These days, I’m much more at ease and comfortable in my own skin. That translates well in these types of situations. I’m able to just kick back and enjoy myself. And what wasn’t to enjoy about last night? The weather was gorgeous for a fall evening. There were not one but two kinds of chili, along with a host of Halloween-themed foods. And there was hot apple cider, which happens to be a personal fall favorite.
There also were, as I mentioned, hella kids, all decked out in various costumes — from Shelby the MMA fighter to a group of cowboys/cowgirls and BTY The Rubix Cube, which makes sense, as he’s down to being able to solve that thing in, like, 20 seconds, no joke.
It was so, so, so cool kicking back and watching the family dynamics. There was so much love among everyone there … the two sisters and two of their brothers, the associated spouses and the hella kids running around in various packs. Grandma and Grandpa made an appearance, which was a big deal because Grandma is going through chemo for a return of her cancer, yet she was in tremendous spirits and exceptionally friendly to the strangers in us who were seated around the fire pit.
It just felt good.
As I said, it’s hard to know what is more typical and what’s good in family dynamics until you are mindful of those beyond your own. Mine? I’ve learned in recent years just how dysfunctional it was/is, despite all outward appearances. If there’s one word to mark my family dynamic, it’s most definitely, 1,000% summed up by “drama.” My sister and I don’t speak, which might make sense when you know my mother and her sister didn’t speak for more than a decade because of some stupid perceived slight while my aunt was in the ICU after open heart surgery. Yeah, that can happen.
Dysfunction runs deep and spreads wide in my family tree. Down this branch are two brothers who don’t talk. Down that branch is a mother who dumped her daughter off with relatives for years so she could go out and live the 1920s flapper life. It’s all just … ugly and unnecessary.
Last night, I saw a family that was not that. I’m sure there’s stuff that isn’t exactly pleasant. What family doesn’t have something? But it was so refreshing to be among calm and judgment-free love and acceptance. I saw brother hugging brother, grandkids hugging grandma, sister-in-law talking with sister-in-law, baby being passed around to be loved on by any willing arms.
Like I said, it was good and fun to be a part of.
I’ve now slept for two nights on the first new mattress I’ve ever purchased with my own money, and I must say, it’s freaking delightful. We went mattress shopping a few weeks back (an adventure in its own right) with one mission in mind: Softer.
The frame arrived a few days after that trip, and the mattress showed up on our doorstep last week rolled up into an impossibly small box for a king-sized thing. Wifey Poo and I love each other deeply, but we also love lots of real estate when we’re asleep.
Sunday, we got the old bed out of our room, and I put together the frame for the new one — nothing more than a few screws. Then, we unpacked the mattress and removed it from the vacuum-sealed packaging. It immediately began to fluff up. Vacuum sealing is something akin to black magic, I believe.
By that night, we had our new bed set up with fresh sheets, and I was ready. Our previous bed was very high and very firm. You kinda hopped up to get on it and then just bounced on top of it when your butt hit. The new bed is what others would consider normal and what Wifey Poo and I, for now, consider low. And when you sit on it, you don’t bounce. You sink. It’s wonderful.
The first two nights of sleep have been great. The bed sort of wraps around me like a cocoon. My back actually doesn’t hurt when I wake up.
When you get to be my age, it’s things like this that get you excited.
I learned long ago that if I have the urge to write something, I need to just freaking write it and get it out of my system. There was a time when I’d fight that urge if the topic was challenging or dealt with a place I didn’t want to go. All that led to was restless nights and a general unsettledness until I finally just wrote what I needed to write.
I recently started feeling the urge to write my mental health story, and boy howdy, is it an ugly one. Rather than fight it, I wrote it. More than 7,100 words later, the first draft is done, and I’ll tell you, I’m scared to death.
Here’s the truth: I don’t know that anyone cares to read this story. I don’t know that it means anything to anyone else but me. What I do know is that publicly sharing this stuff is dangerous. I’ve experienced firsthand the strong, ugly workplace discrimination at a previous employer because I was open about my pursuit of brain health improvements. I used to thing that my job was to be a stigma-fighter, a person to let it be known that just because the illness I was battling was in the brain didn’t make it anything different from my colleagues who were dealing with heart or kidney issues.
The truth, though, is that to many people, it is different, and they’re going to treat you differently because of it, no matter what the company rhetoric is about its EAP plan or work/life balance or mental health benefits. That’s all bullshit when you end up with a supervisor and management that supports discrimination instead of conversation and understanding.
If that weren’t scary enough, man, I gotta say … this story is ugly. U-G-L-Y. It’s tentative titled “Thirty Years in Hell,” if that gives you any indication, and while I believe it has a happy ending right now, that doesn’t mean the road to that destination was filled with much beyond heartache and pain for a lot of people in my life. The story most definitely has landmines liable to make my aforementioned family dynamic even more challenging, which doesn’t mean it’s a story not worth sharing, but does lead me to pause.
So if you’re in my shoes, do you share that story? If you do, how and where? If you don’t, is it enough to just have written it, regardless of who sees it?
I’ll wrestle with these questions for a bit and see what happens.
Welcome to Issue No. 11 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. Most married couples enter marriage having heard at least once that marriage is work. Very, very few…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- It’s Slash Month!
- I am feeling good about my life, for a change.
- Gin Blossoms concert on Friday!
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🧩 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 email@example.com. 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
🧩 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