🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Life Right Now 😥
Classmate’s Death 😥
I long ago lost any semblance of the notion that life could be easy. To the best of my recollection, this shattering of innocence occurred for good somewhere in the third grade, when I was dealt my first really shitty teacher (I imagine Mrs. Taylor is dead by now, and to that I say, well, at least she’s not attempting to educate anyone anymore), got glasses and had to deal with fractions for the first time.
Then came the true joy that was growing up with my mother and the battles with brain illness that followed. Along the way to this point here today, my first son was born and died on the same day five hours apart.
Fun place ya got here, God.
That doesn’t mean that life hasn’t been good to me. It has. I am blessed with two boys Here who are pretty damn amazing, a spouse who has stuck with me through a lot of shit, a career that’s back on track, a side business that is fun and rewarding, and a few people who might actually give a crap if I got plowed over by a truck while crossing the street.
Yet lately, life has been a slog.
I arrived at that word yesterday while taking a break from work and sitting at a local park. I’ve been trying to do that regularly these days instead of sitting at my desk and basically working through lunch.
“Slog” has a few definitions. I know. I checked.
The one I was initially thinking of was “a spell of difficult, tiring work or travelling.” And yes, I’ve had that. My colleague retired a few weeks ago, and he did all the really boring crap I, as a creative person, hate. So I’ve been doing his job now for a few weeks and largely been unable to create. Me minus creating equal crabby.
I also had a pointless work trip to Columbus, Ohio, this week, made better only by the fact that the rental car company screwed up, didn’t have a car for me when they said they would, and, thus, gave me a boss Dodge Challenger in which to make the journey. Alas, even that turned into a slog. Ever get back into a Piece of Shit Nissan Versa after driving a Hemi-infused Dodge Challenger for three days?
“Slog” has another definition, though. “Hit forcefully and typically wildly, especially in boxing.” Forest Gump can kiss my ass, because life’s not like a box of chocolates at all. It’s like a boxing match with a coked-up Mike Tyson in his prime. Good luck and, oh, yeah, duck.
This isn’t to suggest any one thing is going particularly poorly. It’s that a whole lot of things are going not great and, added together, it packs one helluva wallop.
I find myself alternating between sad, irritated, tired and angry a lot of the time, mixed in with a sprinkle of I-don’t-give-a-fuck.
Yes, there have been some moments of tremendous joy since I last wrote. Boy The Younger participated in his first speedcubing event and then, the next day, his baseball team won a weekend tournament. I played in my first St. Louis Brown Stockings baseball game, which was my first competitive baseball game in two decades, and I managed to avoid a hospitalization and have fun and play some great defense, despite it being 581 degrees outside. The game was held directly underneath The Gateway Arch, which was pretty damn cool.
So yeah, I’m surviving. But life seems very much like one big, nasty slog right now. And I’d rather it not.
I learned the other day that one of my long-ago classmates died. Sarah Huin was the pretty blond girl in middle school whom I always assumed never knew I existed, despite the fact that, if I remember correct, me, her and two others were science lab partners in sixth or seventh grade.
She left our school district shortly after that, and I think I might have been Facebook friends with her for a time, but I’ve winnowed that field way back in recent years. We weren’t Facebook friends at the time of her death.
I haven’t heard what happened. I don’t know that anyone from back in the day has. That makes me sad. You spend your days in your childhood thinking these people are going to be a part of your life forever. And then, one day, they’re not.
Then, seemingly from out of nowhere, they’re gone. Forever.
(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 Vanilla Ice. Stop. Collaborate. Listen.) The first indication I had that girls are complex came at the ripe old age of 6. I…Keep reading
As a former Christian and an overall nerd for learning, I am familiar with the story of the apostle Paul, an all-around asshole who turned into the standard bearer for Christ by changing one letter in his first name. Dude went from sparking mass murder to being the Chosen One by the Catholic Church, having his writings — which, truth be told, aren’t all that good — make it into the TM’d Bible at the expense of others who had different and slightly more … problematic accounts of the religion’s savior.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul Not Saul talks about being given a “thorn in the flesh” by God, lest he become an arrogant douche for touting his specialness for receiving revelations from the almighty creator of the universe. Religious scholars have debated endlessly what this thorn might have actually been, which is kinda sorta indicative of the problem with a lot of Bible writers in that they, if they truly are non-fiction writers, sucked at clarity.
A Google search revealed a bazillion different opinions as to what this thorn actually was, none of them being an actual thorn. I’m glad for that, because how would it have been to whine about something that could have been solved with a some Biblical tweezers.
Finding nothing conclusive on the Google Machine, I asked the ultimate modern-day source of Truth: ChatGPT.
In response to my query, “What was the thorn in Paul’s flesh,” it told me this: “Many different interpretations have been proposed over the centuries about what Paul’s thorn in the flesh might have been, ranging from physical ailments such as eye problems or malaria, to spiritual challenges like temptation or persecution. However, since the Bible does not provide a clear answer, it remains a matter of speculation and personal interpretation.”
Thanks. Thanks a lot. Stupid AI.
Here’s the thing — and here’s what some would say is brilliant about the TM’d Bible’s lack of specificity: I can relate. I, too, have a thorn in my flesh. I call it something different — a little less dramatic, but no more specific.
I call it TUP.
TUP is short for The Unsolvable Problem. It’s this … thing that I’ve been dealing with for years now and that often dominates the conversations between me and Arti The Wonder Therapist. Before TUP became TUP and was merely TP, I thought I’d solved it numerous times. Each time, the fucking thing came back — like the pain from a thorn in my flesh when I turned over onto that side in the middle of the night.
I haven’t had a day in years in which TUP hasn’t been at least somewhat on my mind. Sometimes, TUP is low-key and manageable. Sometimes TUP leaves me in tears in my car or at restorative yoga, when music or my mind tends to catch up with me most. Every single goddamn day there’s a moment when TUP first crosses my mind, as if to say, “Oh, hello again. Still here, just in case you were forgot.”
I haven’t forgot. Ever.
The things I have tried to rid myself of TUP are vast and varied. The talks with Arti The Wonder Therapist alone have cost enough to make TUP the most expensive P I’ve ever had. No fewer than five professionals have given me very well reasoned, very well intentioned, very smart ways to solve TUP.
All of them have failed.
And so, like Paul, I have a thorn in my flesh — or maybe it’s better said as this: Paul had a TUP, too. Whatever the case, it sucks and I’m tired of it. To add the U to TP and make it TUP seems to me to be giving up, and that makes me mad. I’ve overcome a lot of shit in my life with one simple tactic: Keep going. Added that U to TP and making it TUP means that I’m saying this thing is always going to be here. Whether I get hit by a bus tomorrow or, god forbid, live to be a disgusting old man, TUP and I are going to go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. Forever.
That sucks. I hate it.
But at this point, what other choice do I have? Paul lived with it. So can I.
Of course, Paul was deserted by all his friends and had his head chopped off by Emperor Nero. ChatGPT told me that, too.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- BTY’s choir concern tonight.
- BTE’s birthday celebration on Saturday.
- Music. When no one else sees me, music does.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Costly Mortality ☠️Crazies, Unite 🤪Defining ‘Appointment’ 🦷 I’m getting ready to die. Sounds ominous, right? Dramatic? Scary? It’s not. Oh yes, in a certain light, it’s depressing as hell. But what it really involved was a meeting with an attorney that Wifey Poo and I had yesterday to figure out exactly…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books and Stories 📚SVB Lessons 🏦Basketball Party 🏀 Holy crap, you guys! I actually finished something I wrote! In fact, I finished two somethings I wrote! As my regular readers (hey you three!) know, I’ve been stunk in a funk of starting to write books and short stories with gusto and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Podcast Appearance 🎙️The Birth Control Pill Story 🐶Good Tired 🥱 If you would have asked me a few years ago whether I could ever envision myself on a stage in the back room of a dive bar sharing a story about how my dog ate six months of birth control pills…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pee Mate 🚽Game Maker 🎲Dumb Muricans 🦅 I have been thinking about death a lot lately, not because I’m particularly eager for it to happen or because I’m particularly not eager for it to happen. I guess it’s because I’m a few months shy of my 49th birthday and please-for-the-love-of-God let…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dieudonne 🌍Hoops Win🏀Cornhole Roll ✔️ In 2021, during some of the darkest and most difficult times in our lives as individuals and couple, Wifey Poo and I did a thing. It was a big thing. It was a challenging thing. It was an amazing thing. But to say it was just…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Full Stop’ 🛑Needles 💉Business Lessons 🧑💼 Here’s something I learned about myself today: One way to ensure that I will debate you on a topic until I give my last breath or until you are huddled in a corner in a fetal position is to end the statement of your opinion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mindfulness 🧘Mullet Prez 👩🦳Murder Family 🔪 Our brains are amazing things. So adept are they at routines that they can essentially run on autopilot and let you do the everyday stuff like operating a multi-ton object advancing at 70+ mph among lots of other multi-top objects advancing at 70+ mph without…Keep reading
🧩 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 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 🧩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