🧩 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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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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