🧩 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 email@example.com. 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 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…Keep reading
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 email@example.com. 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 🧩Beginnings 📚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…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
🧩 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