🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
My Two Skillz 🔪
I would venture to guess that most of us like the feeling of fitting in somewhere. Even the most self-confident, secure person likes to have a tribe. We’re social creatures, and to have a place we just seem to slide into safely is a blessing. Sadly, that’s a blessing I have spent large swaths of time in my life without.
There are some times when this doesn’t bother me all that much. I don’t need a large tribe — never have — and I’m comfortable being by myself. But there are times — and yesterday was one of them — in which I look around and realize I’m alone in a crowded room. That feels awful sometimes.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. We went to my sister-in-law’s house in Columbia, Missourah. She’s Wifey Poo’s baby sister. Collectively, there were 16 people in the home — the Core Four plus The Fiancee and My Other Son, The Judester, Baby Sister’s five and Big Sister’s four.
As often happens at big gatherings, they tend to break down into smaller pockets of people. There was this post-turkey moment when I looked around and realized — I am alone.
My brothers-in-law are good dudes. They grew up together and married each of Wifey Poo’s sisters. They played in a band together and still love music. They disappeared to jam.
Boys The Elder and Younger were outside with My Other Son and all my male nephews, save for the little one, playing football in the front yard. I am not young enough or fit enough these days to keep up with them, and the sides were an even three apiece, so …
The Fiancee was with the two youngest of Baby Sister. Fiancee is a teacher in training, and the youngest are attracted to her like a magnet. I’ve never been the best “young kid” guy, and there really was no invitation or desire for me to get involved.
Then there are the Three Sisters. They love spending time together and naturally fall into their own conversations. I guess they left to go check out the football game outside, but then ended up where the music was happening. So did Boy The Elder, who’s a savant of a guitar player and who is always down for a jam.
So there I was … me and my 80+-year-old mother-in-law, watching the Cowboys-Giants game, a game I really didn’t care about, wondering why exactly these things seem to happen. I mean, I have no problem with how things shook out for everyone else. People do what they want to do, and groups form how they’re going to form. Had this been the first or even 500th time something like this had happened, where a group breaks down and there’s not really a place for me or anyone saying, ‘Hey, man. Come on and hang out with us!’ I might not have thought twice about it.
But it’s not the first or 500th time. It seems to happen all the freaking time. It happened when I went to Florida the other week for the five-day work trip. I am not a huge drinker or late-night party guy, so that set went on and did their thing. Neither do I just want to go back to a hotel room and sit by myself. I’ve written before about finding the sweet spot, and I never seem to be able to a) find it or b) hold onto it. I’ve had it several times in my life, and it always seems to disappear.
This brought up all the feelings I battle far too frequently — of being lonely, being different, being an outsider, being the unincluded one. I really, really missed the people who used to be in my life who I did fit in with. They’re all gone, for various reasons. All of them. And it hurts. A lot.
I have worked really hard of late to “put myself out there” and “keep my head up” to look for social opportunities, and I do, indeed, have at least a bit of a tribe in a good friend who lives in Ohio. But as I just said, he lives in Ohio. That does little for me here in fucking Missourah.
The Core Four is great. Wifey Poo is amazing. BTE and BTY are great kids. The Fiancee is fun to talk to. But are they really my tribe? To an extent, but god do I feel like a burden to Wifey Poo when she seems to be the only one who understands who I am and actually want to be around me. She needs a break from me as much as I need a break from her sometimes. Marriage is wonderful, but it is definitely strengthened by occasional time apart and interaction with other human beings. I love that she has a tribe. I hate that I do not.
So I’ve spent much of today trying just to rebound. I’m still feeling under the weather and probably will go to urgent care tomorrow, if for nothing else than to get this damn clogged ear checked out.
Wifey Poo and I went on a date. We saw the movie She Said, which was good and very cool to see as a former newspaper journalist. We then went and ate Mexican food and drank margaritas, which meant an afternoon nap was in order. We watched Mizzou football, a game attended by many of the people mentioned above, and wrapped/put together Christmas presents.
I wish I could say that all of that helped get me back to feeling positive and strong. It didn’t. It was good, mind you. Great, even. But there is such a large fucking hole in my life, and I’m frankly having trouble staying motivated to think that it’s ever going to be filled in the meaningful way it once was.
Things are changing fast in my family, and it’s interesting to be on the other side of the coin. With BTE’s engagement to The Fiancee earlier this month, there came this sudden realization for Wifey Poo that Christmas is changing.
We once had an issue where BTE and BTY shared their Christmas wish list with my parents and us at the same time, and let’s just say it led to a few double purchases and a discussion on boundaries. Now, it’s time for us to understand that The Fiancee is the person who has first dibs on BTE’s Christmas list. Soon, he’s not going to be here on a Christmas morning, waiting for us to get up and make coffee and “get ready” before the present orgy begins.
This is all good. The Fiancee is awesome. They are amazing together. They’re great for each other.
But that doesn’t mean this is easy.
I believe there’s a sweet spot in life. It’s that space in which everything just feels balanced. There’s not too much work or too little play, the calendar is just full enough, your friends and family are who you need them to be and you are who they need you to be. Your job is…Keep reading
Some skills are underrated or underappreciated until they’re needed. Take, for example, two things I’m really, really good at.
- Parallel parking: I kick ass at parallel parking. Rarely if ever do I need a second shot to get any sized car less than six inches from the curb and safely between two vehicles. Often I can fit a vehicle into a space smaller than the vehicle itself. Or so it seems. Of course, self-parking cars are turning my talent obsolete, but until Wifey Poo and I purchase such a car, I have a place in her life.
- Turkey carving: I remember the first time I realized that I had this skill. It was a Thanksgiving at another person’s house and I was watching as he mutilate a bird like a final-frenzy serial killer. I can carve the hell out of a bird. It’s systematic and leaves clearly defined slices, not just shreds of meat.
Combined, these two skills matter about three times a year. But when they’re needed … oh, boy, do people love you.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- The wedding in 2024.
- Surely I’ve got a friend out there waiting, right?
- Gotta see this four-day weekend through to the end.
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🧩 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
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Piped-In Music 🎵Astronomy 🔭Fusion ☢️ Here’s the thing about Christmas: I want to love it, and in many ways, I do. I love giving gifts and, to be honest, I love getting gifts. There’s something so cool about the magical times when someone knows you well enough to get you that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Familial Reflections 👪Career Rebuild 🛠️Andrea 📱 It’s hard to think of my Aunt Pauline as old, hard to imagine how it is that she’s just about to leave her 80s and, thus, it’s hard to understand how she could be in such poor health right now. Aunt Pauline is Father Dearest’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Walking Dead 🧟Nose B Gone 👃Turkey Trouble 🦃 I spent Tuesday night watching the final episodes of The Walking Dead. I have always been the type who can get so lost in a good story that I have really strong emotions (shocker, I know) when it ends. It happens with…Keep reading