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After my first son died in December 2000, I spent a lot of time wondering why.
Why Wifey Poo?
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 I do: I started writing. The result was my first book, Jacob’s Story: A Journey of Faith. In it, I arrived at the conclusion that the reason we suffer is because everyone suffers, and that what we suffer enables us to help those who come after us to suffer just a little bit less.
In this way of looking at things, everyone who suffers is a link in a chain, and chains are only as strong as their weakest link. If we all do our parts by taking what we have suffered through and use what we learned from it to help others suffer less, well, right there is the answer to a ton of “Why?” questions.
Don’t mistake this for me saying that this somehow makes suffering good or understandable or anything less than horrendous. I’m not saying that at all. Suffering sucks. The fact that we’re able to use it to help others suffer less pales in comparison to the destruction suffering leaves in its wake.
Instead, think of this more as a tacit acceptance that suffering exists and stubborn determination to do something with it to take the worst of the sting away.
Last night, Boy The Elder received a call from a good friend whose girlfriend had broken up with him earlier that day. She’d done so in a way that apparently is somewhat common these days — by ghosting him. Suddenly, she blocked his phone number and blocked him on all forms of social media. No explanation. No nothing.
There are two sides to every story, and I’m not about to delve into the whys and hows of a young-adult relationship, but I will say there are few situations I can imagine that warrant such a callous breakup. BTE’s friend was, obviously, devastated. His friend battles some brain illness issues, which makes something like this even more painful and difficult — and dangerous.
I’m familiar with brain illness. I know what it can do, how it can make you think, the level of irrationality it makes seem normal. Sadly, so does BTE. As I struggled to find a solution to my own brain illness, BTE was growing up to be the fine young man he is today. He saw, heard and experienced a lot. For years, that has been the source of tremendous regret for me, that my son had to witness his dad in such a bad way for so long.
Last night, BTE was able to use what he’s seen, heard and experienced to be a better friend to someone in need. He was able to take my suffering and add the suffering he experienced because of it to solidify the link in the chain that is him. In doing so, he will create in his friend the next link in that chain. That’s the hope, anyway.
It was rewarding to have BTE come to me to talk through the situation to make sure he was saying and doing the right things as a friend. So much of brain illnesses often goes unspoken, even by loved ones. That BTE felt comfortable enough to seek me out and put those unspoken things right out there on the table brought some level of purpose into all we’ve faced together as a family.
Again, suffering sucks. This experience last night doesn’t make all of that crap worth it. Not in the least. I hate brain illnesses and suffering with a passion. Yet I’m committed to extracting whatever good there is from it, and that means using this big pile of shit to help other people make their pile a little smaller.
I’m back at work today for the first time since last Wednesday. I guess I should put “work” in quotes because there’s not a ton of stuff actually being done here.
This time between Christmas and New Year’s is what it is. I worked for a company once that actually all but shut down during that time. It was a nice perk and was an honest reflection of reality.
This is a story I share with great hesitancy. I have felt the bitter sting of discrimination for having a brain illness, discrimination no one experiences when they have a problem with a different, better understood organ — the heart, the lungs, the kidneys. I know what it’s like to have work colleagues ignore you…Keep reading
I saw a list today of the most popular toy each year dating back to 1920. The premise of the article was to find the toy that was most popular the year you were born. For me, it was the skateboard. I never could quite master a skateboard. My childhood best friend was really good on one. I was barely able to stay upright if there was any forward momentum.
In 1920, the most popular toy was a Raggedy Ann doll, which cost an estimated $1. Lincoln Logs followed in 1921. Those were a staple of my childhood, too, though I spent less time building log cabins with them and more time using them as the borders for intricate road systems in fictional towns I made up on the floor. In 1921, they cost between 50 cents and $1.
Can you guess what toy was most popular this year? In the year of your birth?
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- The Indy 500 in May
- Metallica in November
- A two-day work week this week!
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🧩 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 🧩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
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Who’s Family? 👪Music Speaks 🎵Wedding Websites 👨❤️👨 I was raised as an East Coast Italian, despite being a mixed bag of ethnicities born in Denver, Colorado. That meant that there was this huge importance placed on family that’s not necessarily shared with the same ferocity by others. Yet as I grew…Keep reading