🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Changes and Similarities ✈️
Family Drama Update 🎭
Close Encounters 🤼♂️
My Favorite African (MFA) has arrived. His plane landed at Lambert International at around 1:15 yesterday, and about 15 minutes later, a kind TSA person allowed us and the woman who accompanied MFA on the flight to violate all sorts of Homeland Security rules and meet at the area where the gates spill out into baggage claim.
A few thank yous to her and an update on how he did on the flight and whammo, MFA was our responsibility.
So many things have changed from the first time he came to us back in 2021. For one, the boy can now walk with the assistance of a walker. Last time he arrived, his only way of getting around was to drag his feet behind him as he walked on his hands.
He also came to us this time missing numerous teeth. The Philly Tooth Fairy and the St. Louis Tooth Fairy thankfully are aligned on the going rate for a tooth these days.
His English has come so, so far. Then, he knew zero English words. Now he’s talking with us in complete English sentences and correcting us when we use the French/tribal dialect words he used last time for things like “airplane.”
Sadly, a few other things have changed too. I’m no longer “Da-Da.” I’m Dad. That’s boring as shit. Wifey Poo is not Danti. She’s Mom. Again, boring as shit. But worst of all, peanut butter is no longer peanut bugger. It’s plain old stupid boring peanut butter. Whoever smartened him up on this was just wrong.
He still is obsessed with brushing his teeth for incredibly long durations, still has the same goofy laugh and still has unmatched upper body strength for a 6-year-old. He also has a tornadic ability to make a once-clean family room look like a bomb went off in 3.2 seconds.
His first doctor’s appointment for his stay here is next week. The goal is to get some hardware out of his leg and to fix the problem in which his bladder isn’t sending signals that he needs to use the bathroom. I’m particularly interested in that second one, as my diaper changing years are long over and I never liked them when they were here. That said, I’ll do it because I love the kid.
It the midst of all of the craziness with welcoming a boy with special needs from Africa into our home, I’ve been dealing with the drama from the family situation I mentioned a few days ago. I’m constantly torn about discussing the situation openly on here, but truthfully, I’ve reached the point where, if you wanted to be written about more kindly, you would have shaped your actions differently. This is very much a “you made your bed …” situation.
My relationship with my birth family has been strained for quite some time. The strain in my relationship with my mother was born before I was, to be honest. There was a reason I went to college a thousand miles from home and have never lived near the same state as them. Distance has been good.
This isn’t to suggest I’m right or have always been right. I’m as much a product of my past as they are. I’ve said and done things wrong. The major — and I mean major — difference is that I accept responsibility for my past actions and have worked my ass off to change. Of all the things I’m personally proud of in my life, that I’ve never given up and finally found solutions is at the top of the list.
This also isn’t to suggest that my mother or any other members of my birth family are bad people. Whatever my opinion is of them is just that — my opinion. There are many people who find them exactly their cup of tea. That’s wonderful.
It’s just not me more and more these days. I am so, so, so completely over the swirl of drama that has surrounded me my entire life. I am 1,000% done with the bullshit that leaves somebody mad at somebody all the fucking time. I no longer accept “let’s just move forward” when no one has ever move forward and today’s crap becomes the foundation for tomorrow’s bigger pile of crap, with nothing ever truly getting solved.
After hearing about the latest ways in which the past was affecting the present, I asked for a phone or Zoom conversation to address the issues in a calm, adult manner so that we can all have better futures. This was met with wildly inappropriate defensiveness and anger that, if nothing else, proved my point for the necessity of just such a conversation. It also led to the same bullshit manipulation in which other’s poor behaviors and bad decisions are turned around to somehow be my fault, which I’m pretty sure is the definition of gaslighting, but I’ve never really understood that term.
So ya know what? I think I’m … done?
I mean, I haven’t talked with my sister, a definite byproduct of the past, somewhere around a decade after she and her husband sparked the ultimate drama situation and stormed out of my parents’ home just after Christmas for the most trumped-up bullshit I’ve ever heard of. And all that “family” I have back on the East Coast whom I haven’t seen or heard from for most of my adult life? That’s not really family anymore, I don’t think.
Which leaves the situation with my parents, and frankly, I’m sick of it taking up so much headspace and energy and causing conflict in relationships that do matter a lot to me. I will always be available for exactly what I offered — a conversation to address the past issues that are affecting present-day behaviors and actions. That’s all I asked for. That’s it. That’s all. Nothing more.
But I’m not going to continue to try to work something out when there’s obviously no desire to meet me anywhere close to halfway. Instead, they have indicated very directly that, rather than have a conversation, they’d prefer to miss out on their grandchild growing up and not have a relationship with their son.
That hurts. That’s sad.
But I can’t do anything about other people’s decisions. I have worked too hard for too long to get healthy to be dragged down by anyone — family or not — who refuses to look themselves in the mirror and see that they, too, might have some things they need to work on and that a simple conversation is sometimes all it takes.
So I move on. Hurt. Sad. But hopeful for a less-drama-filled future.
Jill, The Dot Connector
(Editor’s note: Welcome to Living Eulogies. All recollections are accurate in the author’s mind only. Apologies in advance to everyone who has different recollection of the same events. Send all complaints to your Gwenyth Paltrow’s laywer. Void where prohibited by law.) With the benefit of numerous trips around the sun, I’ve learned that whatever it…Keep reading
In the midst of the familial storm and preparation for MFA’s arrival, Boy The Younger and I had an amazing experience on Wednesday night. He and I are professional wrestling fans, and if you’re going to judge me for that, I’ll piledrive you. In recent years, we’ve become a fan of upstart promotion AEW — All-Elite Wrestling.
They have provided meaningful competition to sports entertainment juggernaut WWE — World Wrestling Entertainment — which has its flagship event this weekend, Wrestlemania. I am much more into the old-school wrestling that AEW has been providing of late.
So BTY and I went Wednesday night to AEW’s live broadcast of Dynamite. We snagged seats right by the ramp where the wrestlers come in and leave. To say that BTY was thrilled was an understatement. Truthfully? So was I.
Professional wrestling is about being larger than life. Being up close and personal with these larger than life individuals — sometimes quite literally larger than life, I might add — is simple, pure fun.
BTY has a similar look to one performer, Orange Cassidy. With floppy blond hair and aviator sunglasses, BTY could pass for Orange’s son. So when Orange saw BTY at the railing separating the entrance ramp from the fans (he might have been assisted in seeing BTY by BTY’s dad frantically pointing down at him to show him the similar look), Orange came over to him and gave him his signature fist bump. It was something BTY will never forget.
The event itself was awesome. The wrestling was great. The up-close-and-personal encounters we had were memorable. We both left blissfully exhausted.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Taking care of MFA.
- A less-drama-filled future?
- The weekend.
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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
Vision Board — Dec. 30, 2022
🧩 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
The Point of Suffering — Dec. 27, 2022
🧩 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
Freezing Fans — Dec. 26, 2022
🧩 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
Jacob at 22 — Dec. 20, 2022
🧩 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
Joe(y) the Comedian — Dec. 18, 2022
🧩 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
Doughnut Guy — Dec. 17, 2022
🧩 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
James and Stinky — Dec. 15, 2022
🧩 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
Paul Silas — Dec. 14, 2022
🧩 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
Humbug — Dec. 13, 2022
🧩 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
Aunt Pauline — Dec. 9, 2022
🧩 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
Bye-Bye, Zombies — Dec. 8, 2022
🧩 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
Redefining Family — Dec. 6, 2022
🧩 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
Grief — Dec. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Messy Grief 😔Hear Ye! 👂Die Trump Die 😡 I am acutely aware that I am hardly alone as a 48-year-old man when I say that I am well acquainted with grief. I’m not sure if it was always this way — though I imagine it was — but I don’t think…Keep reading
Human Jewel Beetles — Dec. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beer Bottle Connections 🍺Ear Concerns 👂BTE vs. Deer 🦌 What exactly is reality? Is there a limit to the universe? How can something as heavy as the Earth be just sort of suspended … and what exactly is it suspended in? This is the rabbit hole I’ve fallen down, all while…Keep reading
Be Yourself — Dec. 1, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Good Self 👋Urgent Care, Revisited 👩⚕️Slow Down 🐢 I remember this time back in sixth grade when a trusted adult was talking to me as I struggled through what turned out to be a pretty life-defining traumatic experience. The friends I’d grown up with since I was a small boy…Keep reading
Deer Drama — Nov. 30 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shooting a Fake Deer 🦌Time Spent Poorly ⏰Child Support 💸 About midway up my left shin underneath my leg hair is a scar about three inches long and the width of a deer antler. Well, a fake deer antler, anyway. “Deer-antler width” is hardly a standard unit of measurement, I know,…Keep reading
Metallica! — Nov. 29 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gods of Music Deliver! 🎸Insta-Anger 😠Unpleasant 😓 I was in need of something good to happen yesterday. Desperate need. The gods of music delivered. Metallica is coming to St. Louis in concert in 2023 for a two-day show at the Dome at the America Center. I found out about this at…Keep reading
Double Ear Infection — Nov. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Urgent Care 👂👂Alone Update 😔Rest 🛏️ It’s never a good sign when, less than two seconds after sticking a light in your ear and gazing through the little viewfinder thingy (patent pending), the doctor says, “Oooooooooh.” That was followed by a diagnosis of a “nasty” left ear infection and the question,…Keep reading
Fitting in — Nov. 25, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone 😔Christmas Changes🎄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.…Keep reading
Spouse+ Subscription — Nov. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Marriage Talk 💑Requesting Money 💰Murder-Free 🔪 If you’ve been married as long as I have (rounding the corner and heading toward 26 years), you understand that conversations between spouses can sometimes be awfully weird. I mean, Wifey Poo and I have known each other more than 30 years now. How much…Keep reading
Coffee Hand — Nov. 22, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Man Cold? 🤒Balloon Analogy 🎈World Flop ⚽ If you want to know how my Monday started yesterday, I poured coffee all over my hand. It isn’t that I don’t know how to pour coffee. I’ve done it a billion times. It’s that, on this particular Monday, somewhere in between the start…Keep reading
Zoo Signs — Nov. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gorilla Harassment 🦍Brother Love 👨👦👦True Crime 🔪 My love of wild animals was fostered early in my childhood. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was appointment viewing for my family. I grew up with scenes of hungry cheetahs chasing down baby gazelles that included what’s not included on nature shows today ……Keep reading
No Slides Allowed — Nov. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Presentation Skillz 📽️No Tribe 😔Fuck 45 🖕 There was a time not all that long ago, cosmically speaking, that the mere thought of standing up in front of a crowd and giving a talk would have made me want to throw up in my shoes. In fact, there has been a…Keep reading
What’s Funny? — Nov. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Boss Kudos 🙌Chill Time 😌One In 8 Billion🧍 It always feels good when the Big Bossman comes up to you and shakes your hand for a job well done. That happened last night when El Presidente of our company congratulated me on the video I wrote, shot and produced for our…Keep reading
Engaged — Nov. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩BTE and Div 💍Brother Greetings 👨👩👦👦Travel Day ✈️ The morning after Boy The Elder was born, I awoke in the hospital to his sweet cooing and his momma’s deep-sleep breathing. Scooping him up carefully and holding him nervously, I sat in a rocking chair in the pre-dawn darkness and talked to…Keep reading
Dying Democracy — Nov. 11, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Election Message 🗳️School Priorities 🏫Tickets Aplenty 🎫 It would seem to me that if a common sentiment from wise people following an election is that it’s a good thing the results were so muddled because it means not much will get done in the next two years, you’ve got yourself a…Keep reading
Fairy Tale — Nov. 9, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stephen King 🕮Legal Weed🌿Public Schools🏫 I read my first Stephen King book when I was in high school. It was summer, if I remember correctly, and everywhere I went, I carried a worn library copy of Pet Sematary. Since that time, King’s words have been a regular companion through every stage…Keep reading
Year In Music — Nov. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Craze 🎵Back Crackin’👩⚕️To-Dos Done🚗 My year of music is over. And, my God, has it been good. It started on a sweltering mid-July afternoon at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in which Wifey Poo and I watched my Backup Wife Jewel do her thing. It ended last night on an evening that…Keep reading
Update: My Favorite African — Nov. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little D’s Return 🏥Irony 🔨Planet Killer 🌎 Being a host parent to a little boy from Africa (Burkina Faso, to be precise) was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. And now, that little boy is returning to the United States. For those not…Keep reading
Mega Billions — Nov. 2, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid IT Rules 🖥️The Bend 🚑Is The War Over? ✌️ Tonight, there will be a lottery drawing in which someone could win $1.2 billion. That someone won’t be me, as I didn’t buy a ticket, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about what I would and wouldn’t do with that…Keep reading
Fun Family — Nov. 1, 2022
🧩 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,…Keep reading
Halloween Haters— Oct. 31, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ghosts of Halloween 👻Wrinkles 👴Words Spawn Action ✍️ Wifey Poo made a bold declaration about her opinion of Halloween on our drive back from Springfield, Missourah, Saturday afternoon: “Halloween is a great time for kids to dress up …” If you think there’s more to that statement, nope. She added: “Period.”…Keep reading
How I Do Me — Oct. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Empath Life 🤗Earthquake 🌎Revolutionary Failure 😶 About six months after I started my career as a professional journalist, I started walking past this job opening in our company every time I walked in and out of the building. It was for editor of a weekly paper routinely ridiculed by those who…Keep reading
School Shooter Match Game — Oct. 24, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Game Time 🎮Family Picture📸Marriage Tips 🪢 I remember when it was simple. Horrible, yes … but simple. There was Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and they matched up with Columbine — which, side note, would have been my high school had my parents not moved to NY when I was 2.…Keep reading
Helping the Homeless — Oct. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Helper Bags 🆘What’s In The Bag?🎒Mini Golf ⛳ I was raised to avoid the homeless. Avoid eye contact. Avoid conversation. And most definitely avoid giving them anything they asked for. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, which doesn’t make me feel any better. What was instilled in me as…Keep reading
Marcus F’n King — Oct. 21, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books & Covers 🕮Seeking Balance ⚖️Weirdo🤪 We’re taught at an early age to not judge a book by its cover. If I remember correctly, that was impressed upon me sometime around the first grade. Yet to be honest, I don’t think it’s a lesson that ever really sunk in. I imagine…Keep reading
Political Ads — Oct. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Illegals or Guns? 🤦Scrolling Through Stupidity 🖱️Worst Nurse Ever 👩⚕️ If there’s anything I hate more than politics and politicians, it’s political advertising. Cutting the cable cord has lessened its intrusiveness in my life, yet it still manages to seep in. Case in point: I was watching the Padres-Phillies game last…Keep reading
Chocolateman— Oct. 19, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Passion 🍫Sarcasm 😜Poop 💩 I appreciate people who are passionate about something. Well, except politics. Then I’d prefer it if you’d just keep your mouth shut. But if you’re super-interested in photography, goats, cooking, geocaching, quilting, etching … whatever … your enthusiasm feeds my soul. Which is part of the reason…Keep reading
Top 5 Things From The Past Week: Oct. 10-16 edition
Welcome to Issue No. 9 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 pledged to finish something I am a writer. If I’m going to be a…Keep reading
Evolution — Oct. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Monkey Crap 🐒BTY Day 👨👦Incomplete Stories 🖊️ If you’re of the belief that human beings evolved from apes, I’m not here to try to dissuade you. What I am here to say is that, if evolution is true, we sure have come a long way. I say this after a trip…Keep reading
Basement Water — Oct. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Personal Growth 🌱Mad Mom 😠Oh, Jeffrey 🧠 About a year ago, Arti The Wonder Therapist waited patiently for me to finish yet another of my amazing monologues detailing just how I felt about the various situations I was attempting to address in my life at the time and then calmly asked…Keep reading
Death! Death! Death! — Oct. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cue the Outrage 🔫Animal Extinction 🐆Eye Update 👀 Even back in the day when I considered myself a Republican (before the dark times … before the Trumpire), I never quite understood the death penalty. Perhaps it was because I looked around at the other nations that still killed people as punishment…Keep reading
2 responses to “African Arrival — March 31, 2023”
Just here to say that I stopped communication with my dad about 15 years ago. The relationship was always me doing 100% and him always being right about Everything. And if there’s any real actual definition of gaslighting, my dad’s a master. I have no hard feelings. And when I decided it wasn’t for me anymore, I left the door open with: hey, if anything changes with you, let me know…not surprising, he’s never once been in touch since then. Like you, I’m sad we can’t have a healthy relationship. But whenever I think about reaching out to him, I play the tape all the way through and since he hasn’t changed, I end up where I am now anyway so …hope all is going well with D.
Thanks so much for sharing that. I really appreciate it. It’s easy to feel alone in things like this.