The Holidays One Year Later

happy-christmas

When you’re co-dependent and have never truly been on your own and you haven’t had sex in more than a year and then your wife leaves you, it feels like your life is over because you’re 34 and every second it’s: Now what?

You cry a lot and feel shitty and lack confidence and no women in the history of the universe have ever been attracted to that.

So much of your identity was wrapped up in your marriage and essentially all of your purpose was.

And when that identity and purpose go away, you don’t even know who you are anymore or what you’re supposed to do and it’s terrifying.

You have a lot of choices to make.

About who you want to be. And about how to get there.

But you’re still having trouble breathing. You’re still having trouble moving. You still don’t recognize the reflection in the mirror.

Being an adult is hard. And life is not always fair. And the choices we make are predominantly responsible for wherever we are in life.

If we can accept those three facts and make peace with them, we have a chance to move forward.

Especially that last one.

Because the choices we make moving forward will be predominantly responsible for wherever we are five years from now.

Something important happens during all that suffering. You get tougher.

And you figure out what really matters.

So instead of trying to win a pointless fight with your future girlfriend or spouse for no reason, you’ll act like an adult and exercise patience and kindness and sensibility.

Think of the last really awful fight you had with your spouse or partner. You probably wanted to punch them in their stupid face, because: Ugh—they’re so dumb and stubborn and mean and unfair sometimes!!!

I get it.

Now imagine a drunk driver runs a red light and crashes into their driver’s-side door at 50 miles per hour and now they’re not with us anymore. And the last thing you wanted to do was punch their face.

And you cry because you loved them more than you’ve ever loved anything. And you cry because you feel guilt and shame for feeling that way.

Perspective is a beautiful thing.

Figure out what matters. Fight for it. The stuff that doesn’t? Maybe let it go because car accidents happen and we’re not guaranteed anything because life isn’t fair, and being an adult is hard, but we should still be adults, even when it’s inconvenient.

Something else important happens.

Time passes.

You stop crying.

You stop feeling broken.

You stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Maybe you start making better lifestyle choices.

Maybe you start working out and taking care of yourself again.

Maybe you start laughing again. Laughing is important. Kids do it constantly and they’re happy and healthy. Adults rarely do and they’re sad and miserable.

And maybe you smile and laugh and are attractive again, and people like you because everyone likes smiles more than scowls and then you get some confidence back because all isn’t lost.

A year ago, I played “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on repeat while decorating the house for the holidays because it’s my favorite Christmas song, and I got sad over and over and over again as I kept pulling Christmas décor and ornaments out of boxes that belonged to my ex-wife, all with a different story attached.

I was obsessed with the idea that I would never find a girl to like me because I was mid-thirties and had a little boy and who could possibly want some loser castaway who probably deserved everything he got?

I spent the vast majority of Christmas Day alone, eating Chinese food and watching TV. It felt exactly how it sounded.

But then another year passed.

And I’m so far beyond the brokenness of yesteryear that I sometimes forget to be amazed by it all. To feel the gratitude the miracle deserves.

I felt like dying because the whole world ended.

But I just kept waking up anyway.

Just kept smiling at the people who lifted me up.

Just kept my sense of humor which has always kept me younger than my chronological age.

And now we’ve circled the sun another time. That was fast.

I’m going to break out the Christmas tree tonight and set it up for my little son who is the most-precious thing I have ever known.

I might still listen to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on repeat because it kicks ass, but I won’t be sad over and over and over again and cry like a wimp.

I’ll be hopeful. Maybe I’ll even watch Elf or Christmas Vacation and laugh some more. I’ll probably smile, even if I’m alone.

Because I don’t want to die. Because some girls will like me. Because I’m actually alive again.

Because it’s just about Christmastime and sometimes magic happens.

Because 2015 could change everything even though we don’t have all the cool stuff Back to the Future 2 promised us.

Because I recognize the guy in the mirror.

And despite all the flaws and immaturity and bad decisions?

He’s really not so bad.

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A Thinking Lesson From Jerry Seinfeld

campfire-stories

People tell stories. What do we want them to say?

Throughout most of my relationship that ended in divorce, I would try to win every fight.

Because winning is good, right?

Wrong.

Fighting with someone you love is always a zero-sum game. It’s strange that I would fight most often with the person I loved the most, shared a house and bedroom with, and planned to live with forever.

I must be stupid.

Why is winning a fight with my spouse that can’t POSSIBLY make my life better no matter the outcome be more important to me than keeping the peace and being kind?

Even if I was right. And I was sometimes.

What good can come from it?

Comic legend Jerry Seinfeld has a project called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

I watched my first episode yesterday. Liked it.

It was Jerry and Sarah Jessica Parker driving around in a classic Ford woody station wagon Parker had bought recently.

The entire episode is full of stories and banter between the two. (Every episode is like that with someone new.)

Jerry likes to drink a lot of coffee, so at one point during the segment, they stop at a diner.

The two multi-millionaires have a funny exchange about who is going to pay their $37 bill.

Jerry asks how much she would tip.

Sarah does some quick math to calculate the tip: She would leave $10. A respectable 27 percent.

Clearly not enough for Jerry, though.

They have some more back and forth, and Sarah says: “$20? Should we leave $20?”

A nice tip. That would be more than 50 percent.

She looks down and sees the tip Jerry leaves, and she makes an impressed face. She says something to the effect of: “Wow. Really? That much??”

And Jerry just looks at her across the diner booth. Then says this:

“That waitress is going to tell everyone she knows that she waited on Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Jessica Parker. Every person she tells will ask: ‘How big of a tip did they leave you?’

“What story do you want her to tell them?”

What story do we want people to tell?

Isn’t that all we really have?

The stories our children and friends and neighbors and family tell about us?

In business, it’s the stories our employers and co-workers and clients and customers tell about us.

Sure, Jerry’s rich. So he can afford to tip 100 percent or 500 percent or much, much more.

But EVERYONE can suck it up and help their friends move furniture even when they don’t feel like it.

EVERYONE can volunteer to help out a local charity or at one of their child’s school functions.

EVERYONE can forfeit something they want to do in order to make someone they love happy by doing what they’d prefer.

Everyone can give more than they take.

And then when we’re gone some day, maybe someone will see a photo.

“That’s my dad,” my son might say. “He was one of the good guys.

“At the funeral, everyone said he was kind and funny and generous. They must have known him because that’s the guy I knew, too.

“Kind. Funny. Generous. That was my father. And that’s how I want to be, too.”

If I die today, not everyone will be able to say that about me. I’m not always kind or funny or generous.

Sometimes I’m a total dick. But I don’t want to be. Not ever.

And I hope the next time I’m faced with a choice, I choose the thing that will make me a reflection of that desired narrative.

What story do we want people to tell?

And then maybe I’ll leave a bigger tip.

Be more generous with my time.

Live more kindly and courageously.

Because that’d make for a pretty good story.

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Bring the Target Closer

Shooting-Target

When life coach and motivational speaker Tony Robbins was 24, he wanted to train U.S. soldiers to shoot better, despite having never fired a gun.

How can I—a guy who has never shot a gun—teach someone else to improve their shooting?, he wondered.

The first thing he did was find five sharpshooting experts and interview them extensively. He then cross-referenced his notes from all five interviews and found commonalities among them.

From those conversations he formulated his strategy for improving the accuracy of soldiers’ shooting: Bring the target closer.

He brought the targets only a few feet away for each student. Of course, everyone shot bullseyes. Then he moved them back one foot. Everyone shot perfectly again. Then he moved them another foot. More success. And so on.

This incremental and confidence-building improvement strategy increased shooting accuracy in the school by 50 percent.

All from the mind of a guy who had never before fired a gun.

I read about this yesterday in James Altucher’s excellent “10 Things I Learned While Interviewing Tony Robbins About His New Book ‘Money’.”

Altucher added one more anecdote from Robbins that really resonated with me. 

Look at Goals Differently

Altucher wrote:

“Tony told us of one time he asked people what their goals were. One guy said, ‘I want to make a billion dollars!’ At first this would seem like an admirable goal—set it high! There’s that horrible saying, “Aim for the moon, because even if you miss it you’ll find yourself among the stars.”

But Tony said, this guy didn’t really understand his goal.

He broke it down. ‘Why do you want a billion?’ And the first answer was, ‘I want my own plane.’ Tony told him, ‘Well a plane costs $100 million and you might only be flying 12 times a year. If you charter a jet for $30,000 an hour then it will take you forever to spend $100 million.’ So suddenly the guy didn’t need $1 billion anymore. He needed $900 million.

“By the end of that session,” Tony said, “it turns out to achieve the exact lifestyle he thought he needed a billion for, he needed $10 million.” This is still a lot of money but this was Tony’s way of bringing the target closer.

When I read that in his book, I did the exercise with Claudia (James’ wife). Her numbers went down by 90% when we really went through it. What happens then? You feel relief. You don’t have to be on the hamster wheel of money for your whole life. What you want is freedom, not money.”

The Five Steps to Succeed at Anything

In the interview with Robbins, Altucher said, “Ok, I figured it out. You use ‘the Tony Robbins Method’”. Which he defined as:

1. At first you don’t know anything.

2. You find five people who are the experts in the world.

3. You extensively interview them.

4. You figure out the most simple things they have in common with each other.

5. You do that simple thing over and over and over and over (repetition).

And that’s how you succeed at anything.

Elegant, it’s simplicity.

Discovering Shortcuts Usually Requires Knowing the Long Way

Whenever I move to a new city, I find I’m always travelling the main streets and busiest thoroughfares at first because they’re the easiest to remember and the first ones you get to know as you’re learning your way around.

Inevitably, as I drive around, over and over and over and over again, I hone my sense of direction and increase my comfort and familiarity with my surroundings.

After a year or two in a place? I learn all the side streets and back roads. The ones that help me avoid busy, annoying intersections, or help me efficiently navigate obstacles, or shave minutes off my work commute.

I learn the shortcuts and become a proficient driver only after learning the long way first.

We’re always looking for shortcuts.

To riches.

To physical fitness or attractiveness.

To expertise.

To love or sex or friends or success.

And maybe that’s a bad plan. Maybe if we accidentally find ways to improve speed and efficiency, it’s great or fortunate or because we’re fast learners.

But maybe most of the time the best way to get really good at something is to really embrace that incremental improvement mentality.

Maybe the best way to improve our lives is to always make sure we’re looking at goals differently.

You want to have a happy marriage?

Practice communicating with kindness and patience, no matter what. Love without expecting or demanding anything in return.

Never say mean things. Ever. And if you can never say something mean to your spouse for one day, maybe you can do it for two. And three. And four. And maybe after a month of kindness you realize you can do it every day and that it’s worth it because you feel peace and happiness you’ve never felt before.

If I did 50 pushups today, couldn’t I do 51 tomorrow? And 52 the next day? And 53 the day after that?

How long before I’d be the strongest I’d ever been?

We have these small successes. And we know we can improve upon them the next time. We can ALWAYS improve. Just 1%.

Just one measly percent.

And then we’re a little better. A little smarter. A little stronger. A little kinder. A little richer. A little happier.

And then someone asks you how you are.

“I’m great. Really great,” you say.

And you smile.

Because it’s true.

You are great.

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Doing What We Don’t Want To

kid doesn't want to

I sometimes want to punt my six-year-old when he says: “No. I’m not doing that.”

I’m a curious person. Always have been. If you’re asking me to do something, and I don’t want to do it, I want to know why I’m being forced to.

Why? Why am I doing this?

I really want reasons. Even if I think they’re bad ones, I like to understand why I’m being asked or told to do something.

Sometimes my parents or other authority figures would say: “Because I said so,” which is the biggest bullshit reason to do anything ever, said every enslaved human being in the history of the universe, and me.

I always try to give my son a reason for everything I ask of him. I’m accidentally a hypocrite sometimes, but I’m never intentionally one.

The house isn’t democratic. He gets his way the vast majority of the time because I don’t like to fight with him, but sometimes I need him to simply follow directions. He needs to learn to respect and obey the instructions of his parents, teachers, coaches, etc.

Why doesn’t he understand that all of these instructions are for his well being!?!?

I wonder how many times he has to drop food on his shirt or lap before my incessant reminders to eat over his plate or bowl will finally sink in.

He probably thinks I’m full of shit just like I thought my parents were full of shit because we all think we’re geniuses until we become adults and realize that we actually don’t know anything, never did, and that even really smart and successful people are part-time dumbasses too.

‘I Don’t Want to Go to School’

My son hasn’t said this yet. But he probably will.

Because school is sometimes stupid.

It is.

Not this early part my son is in. First grade is great. He’s really starting to figure out many things related to reading, writing and math, and I beam with pride every time I see his very capable little mind grasp a new concept or retain knowledge from a previous lesson.

But later? High school? College?

Let’s just say if you’re not doing something super-specific that requires specialty training and certification (Education, Law, Medical, Engineering, etc.) I feel like you learn very little of lasting value in school, academically.

I’m not saying EDUCATION is stupid. Education is amazing, and one of my many life regrets is not caring about learning when I was surrounded by academic resources and so many thought leaders, like I was in college.

For a guy like me? School is something you have to do in order to get a decent job. That’s it.

In fact, that’s REALLY the lesson of school: Learning how to complete projects you don’t want to complete and are not interested in by a certain deadline and to the judgement of others.

I didn’t crave knowledge when I was a student. I went to school because that’s what everyone else did! I wasn’t doing any thinking for myself back then.

Later, I craved a piece of paper that would tell hiring managers I graduated college, so they would think I was smart even though my diploma doesn’t prove my competence.

It’s more than possible I’m not giving my school years enough credit, but it really does seem as if everything valuable I’ve learned has been learned in the “real world” on subjects in which I am naturally interested.

Street smarts, if you will.

When I got divorced last year, my entire life fell apart, and I learned that falling apart emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, physically, financially is something that’s really important for human beings to not do.

But I never learned anything like that in school. I didn’t legitimately crave knowledge until after turning 30.

Because I read a lot about marketing principles, I know that if you give people reasons (even totally bogus ones!) for doing something, they are much more likely to comply with your request.

So when my son finally gets around to fighting us on going to school (hopefully he never does!) I want to be able to give him the reason why we make him go. The reason why it’s important for him to go.

What are the reasons why it’s important to go to school?

To learn how to get along with others? To follow directions? To learn a few basic things?

I’m sure a better advocate for the American education system could better answer that question. Near as I can tell, we send our children to school because we need them to be in a safe environment, and learning socialization skills and government-approved curriculum so us parents can go to work and help finance the government by earning money at a job and paying taxes.

I think they want our kids to learn enough to grow up and want to get a job so that they can help finance the government also, and have children that will also go to school and learn how to get a job they can pay taxes with.

It’s a little cynical. But it’s my most-honest answer.

I wonder how much of that I will ever say to my son. I’ll probably lie and say it’s to learn even though you really don’t learn much academically until you organically want to, and even though I never want to lie.

‘I Don’t Want to Go to Work’

I haven’t wanted to go to work dozens, maybe even hundreds of times.

But I almost always do go, even when I don’t feel like it. I have to pay for food and shelter. I have to pay for transportation. So my son and I can eat and sleep safely. So I can drive to and from my job that I need to pay for those three things.

People do things they don’t want to all the time.

We do it for our jobs.

We do it for our friends.

We do it for our children.

We do it for our spouses, partners, girlfriends/boyfriends, etc.

There’s nobility in sacrifice. In generosity. In inconvenience in the name of compromise, or serving others.

And those are important lessons I want to instill in my son. That I want to focus on when I’m muttering because I have to do something else I don’t feel like doing.

My favorite writer is James Altucher, and he writes so much about how he tries to never do things he doesn’t want to do.

It sucks? He doesn’t do it.

It makes him feel bad or uncomfortable? He doesn’t do it.

If people bring bad feelings or negativity into his life? He cuts them out.

It’s a little bit radical. But his point is easy enough to understand and get behind: Life is too short to spend most of it doing things we hate with people who make us feel bad.

Are these ideas irreconcilable?

Is it possible to live a life mostly doing things we want to with people who lift us up and make us feel good?

Or is this it?

Is the human experience always going to include inconvenience?

Living in cold, snowy places even when you don’t like the cold and snow?

Going to work in a cubicle, feeling unfulfilled, and financially limited by meager 3.7-percent raises once a year?

Always with chores and taxes and appointments and obligations we’d have no part of if real choice was involved?

I think maybe it is.

But then I think back to being a kid. Like my little man. So young still. So much to learn.

“No. I’m not doing that!”

Why doesn’t he realize it’s for his own good?

Maybe. Just maybe. There is more to life than this.

Maybe. Just maybe. We are where we’re supposed to be for reasons we can’t possibly understand right now.

Maybe. Just maybe. We’re being prepared for something greater.

Because we’re more than just water and bone.

Because we don’t have all the answers.

Because we sometimes have to do things we don’t want to.

But it’s really for our own good.

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We Only Need 5% To Say Yes

power-of-5percent

I work in a cubicle and I’m 35 and my life is always going to feel a little crappy and disappointing unless I do something about it.

Going to bed every night and doing the same thing each day is NOT a viable strategy for improving your life. We wait for things to change. But they rarely do.

Before you know it, it’s too late and you’re old and you can’t afford to live until you’re 85 anyway, so maybe it would be better to just die because at least that would be affordable.

Or.

Just maybe there’s an opportunity to play a leading role in making our lives what we want them to be.

Being 35 sometimes scares me because I feel like I’ve lost so much time, but it’s also not without its perks.

Remember Bill Murray’s Phil Connors character in Groundhog Day?

“Maybe the real God uses tricks, you know? Maybe he’s not omnipotent. He’s just been around so long, he knows everything.”

There’s an important truth there about life experience that you can’t fully appreciate until you feel it.

I don’t know when it happened. And it had nothing to do with my chronological age.

But at some point, I recently concluded: I’m not a kid anymore. I’m good at a few things. I’m capable, and I need to do something.

When I lost my job on Jan. 1, 2010, I knew my newspaper career was over.

The recession had slaughtered newsrooms everywhere. When no one’s making money, no one’s advertising. When no one’s advertising, news organizations are making less money.

That, combined with the breakneck speed with which the internet has grown as everyone’s primary news source, sealed print journalism’s fate.

The news business will never be what it used to be.

I needed to reinvent myself.

And I’ve never done particularly well with change.

Because of people I knew through my wife, I got some seed projects to get started as a freelance writer. And just like that, I became a guy who wrote marketing copy for websites and stuff.

I’m not shitty.

But there are limitations to what you can do when your primary discipline is writing. I was never going to be able to provide the comprehensive services people need from their internet marketing agencies, consultants, or in-house departments.

And frankly? I’m just not responsible and disciplined enough to handle all of the administrative aspects of business operation on my own. It’s because I’m a large child.

My business was never going to blossom into something more on the merits of my writing projects.

Damn. I need to get a job, I realized.

And I did.

I was offered a pretty good job writing website copy and blog content for two top-1% (by global traffic) sites. I also write email copy. The kind you get from Kohl’s or Groupon or Walmart or Victoria’s Secret.

We send lots and lots of email to customers.

We get an enormous amount of traffic from Google and other search engines and social media networks.

And you know how many of those people buy something? Single-digit percentages.

Sometimes less than 1%. Sometimes closer to 10%.

Let’s split the difference and call it 5%.

That means that for every 100 people that interacts with something I write—a blog post or retail email or an individual part page on a website where something is for sale, only a super-small fraction (maybe 5, at most!) ever buy anything.

We call it the “conversion rate.”

And guess what? In my line of work, a 5% conversion rate is fairly awesome.

Is There a Point?

A couple friends and I are talking about taking the skills we’ve developed in marketing and trying to build something from it.

A business of our own.

There are a virtually infinite amount of small businesses out there who do a subpar job marketing themselves on the web. We can make them more money. We know it. And better yet? We can prove it. Because almost everything is measurable on the web.

It will be a side project at first.

And God-willing, it will grow into something meaningful. Only time will tell.

But here’s the mindset I want to have, and I think it applies to most facets of my life.

In business, as in life, we’re going to hear “No” a lot. It’s probably going to feel too often.

Rejection hurts. And we get discouraged.

Based on the math I see, 95% of everyone who sees my stuff doesn’t do what I want them to.

That’s 95% rejection!!!

And without context that might feel like a lot.

But I do have context. You can change the world with a 5% response rate.

If 5% are going to do what we want to, then we only need to increase the amount of people we’re communicating with to grow. If 5% out of every hundred businesses we pitch say yes, we have five new clients.

Work twice as hard, we’ll have 10. And so on.

The conclusion? Success is a virtual certainty IF only you’re brave enough to ask enough people to let you help them, and then deliver good work.

We can hear “No” and feel the pains and discouragement of rejection 95 out of 100 times, and still win.

It may end up nothing. Or it may change everything.

No matter what, it’s another opportunity to choose ourselves and control our own destinies.

And there aren’t many things in life better than that.

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How To Find My Blog, Vol. 2

duckduckgo

“Why do I think it’s gross that everybody poops?” a curious person types into Google and is no doubt delighted to discover The Jesuit Standoff—the art of two people trying to out-wait one another in a public bathroom as to avoid discovery.

“Holy shit!!! You’ll never believe what I saw in the bathroom, Seamus! You know Matt from the second floor? Yeah, yeah. Short guy. Spikey hair. Anyway. He TOTALLY poops! I’m not even kidding! I was just in the bathroom and he came out of the stall and I, just, KNEW. He pooped!!! I couldn’t even talk to him because I didn’t want to laugh and tell him how smelly and stupid and ugly he is now that everyone will know he does that.”

Because the working theory of Jesuit Standoff participants is that everyone thinks this about them. Don’t get caught pooping!

No. Don’t get caught, is right.

And apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way because a short examination of the search terms people use to ultimately visit this blog is full of poop-related inquiries.

My favorite being about parcopresis—or a much more fun name, “psychogenic fecal retention.”

It is a psychological condition that prevents a person from being able to physically defecate without a lot of privacy.

Whether you use Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo, I’m certain you use search terms to find information.

And I hope—for a great many reasons—that you’re not searching for any of the following.

Because here’s the second installment of how people find my blog.

You can read the original How to Find My Blog post here.

The Notable Search Terms

Let me address the elephant in the room first: I use the word “penis” a lot. I know this. It’s because I don’t want to offend you with words like “Johnson” or “cock” or “pork sword.”

I like to write about serious things, and I just don’t think you’ll take me seriously if I overuse “beef wand.” But maybe I’m wrong.

A cursory review of the search terms that lead people to Must Be This Tall To Ride yields nothing short of a brontosaurus wang-sized list of penis-related inquiries.

Draw your own conclusions.

1. A multitude of “penis”-related searches

Examples:

Diphallus (which means having TWO penises)

Daddy penis

Small penis

Father son penis

My son’s penis

Big black penis

Penis on a boy having sex naked

Sons penis

Son penis

Show me your penis

Penis talk

Big guy small penis

Big muscly black guy with big dick

Old dad penis

Boy grabs dick

Big boy penis

Small penis boner

Blue penis (insert squinty-eyed, confused face here)

Love my sons penis

Massive penis

While I’m extraordinarily uncomfortable by the idea that so many people seem to “love their children’s penises,” I am totally guilty of enjoying that SEVERAL (!!!) people found this blog by typing: “Boys are showing their penises while naked and girls are sucking on the boys penises and peeing at the same time in public restaurants.”

Please read that one more time. You have to admire the specificity.

I think it’s safe to conclude that someone writes the word “penis” too much.

2. “List of celeb grandmas I’d like to f—”

Film Title: No Country for Old Men

Maybe they found the post about my grandma having a total crush on Liam Neeson. Because I certainly don’t have a Grandma Bone List laying around. I swear.

3. “I hate match.com” 

Me too!

4. “Mr. Balls”

In case you missed it, in Brazil there is an organization raising money and awareness for testicular cancer that invented a large, hairy, glistening ball sack to walk around and take photos with children in order to do so. Near as I can tell, it’s totally working. And now I know anything is possible.

Mr. Balls. An actual, real thing.

Mr. Balls. An actual, real thing.

5. “Golden Corral lobster”

Or my favorite variation: “Is the lobster tail at Golden Corral good?”

How is it that I know the answer to this question without ever having tried it? Anyway. I wrote about this once because things like Golden Corral pimping $4 lobster makes me laugh.

I could probably find a junkie willing to perform tumor-removal surgery for $200 in an alley somewhere. And that’s a REALLY good price for having a tumor removed, I’m guessing.

But something tells me it’s just not a very good idea.

6. “My husband is an asshole”

This was also popular: “Piece of shit husband.”

Maybe you’ve never read this blog before. I wasn’t a very good husband and then my wife left me and my life got shittier and then I cried a lot and wrote about it.

7. “Why does my marriage suck?”

Because you are JUST like me and half of everyone else. That’s why.

I have really good news for you: It DOES NOT have to suck.

 8. “I lost my virginity to my mom”

And! “I lost my virginity to my dad.”

I wish I was kidding.

What in the blue phuck is going on out there, people!?!? MAKE BETTER CHOICES.

That’s all I’ve got.

Well. And this:

Film Title: No Country for Old Men

9. “Anti-bucket list ideas”

I made an anti-bucket list once at the suggestion of others. Everyone should do this.

10. “Tall gay sex”

I’m short. I’m straight. And I have infinitely less sex than one might prefer.

So, color me baffled.

11. “Gay professional wrestling”

Suddenly, names like Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Roddy Piper, and Ric Flair are taking on a whole new meaning.

I don’t want to take this to an overly perverse or offensive place. BUT. “GAY” professional wrestling?! Is this being shown exclusively on Logo? What happens? Is it totally fake like “straight” professional wrestling? When they’re tumbling around on the mat together, do they start making out and shit?

“Oh my God! Brutus ‘the Barber’ Beefcake is totally trying to have butt sex with Ravishing Rick Rude! I never saw that coming! I wish this was a cage match!”

Film Title: No Country for Old Men

12. “80 year old vagina”

There were also a couple variations of people using the p-word in conjunction with lady parts from 80-year-olds.

I mean, one time I did write a post about this older lady I met at a bar and she totally hooked up with another old guy there and it got a little weird.

However, I don’t think that one post justifies the amount of traffic I get from people seeking 80-year-old vaginas.

In this case, A + B ≠ C.

With apologies to the genius Matt Posky: You monsters are people.

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When the Going Gets Tough

split personality

If a person is kind to most people most of the time, but occasionally horrible, how would you describe that person?

Mostly kind?

Occasionally horrible?

A total fraud?

What do I want to be?

A good man. A good, decent, principled, kind man.

Can you be part-time good? Is that really good? Aren’t you only good if you’re good all the time?

I don’t know.

If you’re always good, there can be no growth.

If you’re always good, there can be no forgiveness.

If you’re always good, there can be no redemption.

But maybe I’m not actually kind? If I can’t be kind when it’s inconvenient?

Maybe I’m horrible? If I actually say horrible things?

Maybe I’m a fraud? If I write about walking a higher path here?

And when the opportunity presents itself in real life, I don’t actually walk that path?

Treat Others As You Want To Be Treated

The Golden Rule. We all learn it young. It is the very foundation for teaching young people how to treat others. It is a simple, easy-to-understand guideline for human behavior.

One I profess to believe in very strongly.

“I need your fucking life advice like I need a dick in the ass.”

That’s one of the things I said to her.

A grown man. A FATHER. Responsible for raising a man.

In the most snide, mocking voice I could muster, I repeated something she’d said and pointed out how bitchy and shitty and horrible I thought it was—while ACTUALLY BEING bitchy and shitty and horrible.

I lose myself. I’m like another person.

When I’m seeing red. When I’m being challenged and it’s fight or flight. When I feel trapped.

I don’t count to 10.

I don’t take deep breaths. In, then out. Don’t forget to breathe.

I always forget to breathe.

So I say something vile. Because I feel hurt and am trying to balance the equation.

“You wouldn’t know the first fucking thing about fairness or justice or hypocrisy,” I charge, while actually being unfair, unjust and hypocritical.

The hurtful, spiteful language.

A face full of contempt and resentment.

They reinforce every accusation leveled in your direction. And you know it while it’s happening. Reinforcing the very notions you’ve been trying to dispel.

Screaming for acknowledgement. I’m here! I’m not crazy! This is who I am! And you’re saying I’m not! Who do you think you are?

And they say you’re not that person because you’re actually doing all of the things you said you don’t do.

Because actions speak louder than words. Always have. Always will.

Murderers don’t murder EVERYONE. Sometimes they only murder one person out of hundreds of thousands of people they’ve met.

But even one still makes them a murderer.

Domestic abusers don’t ALWAYS abuse those they profess to love. They don’t always rage violently or assault their partners or children.

But if they do it even once? That still makes them an abuser.

I can’t remember all of the things I said. Because I’m forgetful. And because in those moments, I’m not even myself.

I only know that I say I’m kind.

And that when I had a chance to actually be kind, I wasn’t.

I only know that I say I love.

And my behavior was closer to hate.

I only know that I say I try to walk a higher path.

And when I had a moment to do so, I dug my hole even deeper.

If we can’t be principled during the really challenging moments, when can we ever be?

If we can’t be good when no one’s watching, are we ACTUALLY good?

When I don’t walk the walk, I fail you.

When I don’t walk the walk, I fail my son.

When I don’t walk the walk, I fail myself.

Maybe I’m not a good man.

I only know I want to be.

But without action? It’s just a bunch of words.

Just a bunch of words that don’t mean much.

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The Underwear Problem

Pretty much this sort of thing.

Pretty much this sort of thing.

Sometimes I wear embarrassing underwear.

Each time I do, I’m gambling that no women are going to jump out of nowhere and tear my pants off, or that I’m not going to be in one of those multiple-hostage bank robberies where during the heist the bank robbers make everyone take their pants off.

I saw that in a movie once, so now I’m pretty sure all bank robberies involve hostages being forced to remove their pants.

I do not wear women’s underwear. I hope you weren’t thinking that. But I do sometimes neglect my laundry long enough where I get through all of my respectable boxers. And what’s left?

Novelty boxers that my mom enjoys sending me around the holidays for reasons I don’t understand.

M&Ms. The Bumble from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Nintendo Wii. SpongeBob SquarePants. Valentine’s Day-themed boxers with hearts all over them.

I have one pair of M&M boxers that say “Bring on the Chocolate” across the ass.

Those embarrass me the most. I don’t know why.

Sometimes I have a bunch of clean clothes folded in the laundry basket two floors away from me. The choice: Walk down to get some normal boxers? OR. Wear these random silk boxers with hearts all over them?

I always ask myself two questions:

1. Is a woman likely to take my pants off today? Yeah, probably not. Okay. These should work.

2. But wait!!! Am I going to a bank where I’m almost certainly going to be taken hostage along with 15 other people and be forced to take my pants off and just stand there while all the bank robbers, employees and other customers laugh at me??? Probably not! But I better run downstairs and get some regular ones just to be safe. If I don’t? I know I’m gambling. Someone might see!

The girl thing is totally scary.

Just imagine it.

Eyes locked. Fingers and lips touch. Just the right amount of teeth and tongue. This is totally going to happen.

Hearts racing. Bodies pulsing. Both people breathless as they lose themselves.

Buckles unbuckle.

Fasteners unfasten.

Zippers unzip.

A shirt flies off here.

A bra flies off there.

And then—whoosh!—pants off.

<insert vinyl record screech noise here>

And then she sees your SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas boxers.

Then she pulls out her phone and snaps a photo of you trying to hide your underwear and your erection.

Then she runs out of your house laughing hysterically.

Then she posts the photo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and tags you in all of them and everyone laughs at you for the rest of your life because you wear SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas boxers EVERY DAY, apparently, and now no one will ever want you.

They’re all gonna laugh at you!

That could totally happen.

Which is why my boxers are a very respectable solid-color blue right now.

Whew. It’s probably gonna be a good day.

I dream up random crap all the time and then worry about it.

It’s really useful for things like protecting my little son from danger and driving safely.

But it’s mostly pretty debilitating like that one time when a few people in the United States contracted Ebola and I worried about a pandemic happening.

I used to think I was the only person that did this, but now I know even without asking that most people probably do it because we’re really not so different once you strip away all the stuff that doesn’t matter.

What Do You Mean You Don’t Have Attack Pants!?!?

My stepsister, who I don’t like calling “stepsister” because she’s family, had just picked up her and her husband’s bedroom.

As they were getting ready for bed, she noticed he’d set out a pair of pants in a spot she had JUST picked up.

“What the hell? I just put those pants away,” she said.

“Yeah, but I need these here,” he said. “Just in case.”

(I’m totally making up this dialogue, by the way, but the spirit of the conversation is absolutely accurate.)

“Just in case… of what?” she asked him.

“Just in case bad guys break into our house and attack us.”

She stood there looking at him.

“You mean, if bad guys break into the house, you want to have pants on hand to put on real quick before you fight them off? These pants—they’re your ‘Attack Pants’?”

And then they both just stood there laughing.

The next day, she asked me if I had Attack Pants. I don’t need specific Attack Pants, because I always have a couple pairs (pants too clean for laundry, but too dirty to be folded and put away) around and ready to throw on in an emergency.

I never thought about them in the sense of needing pants during middle-of-the-night combat. BUT. I have absolutely considered the possibility of fire.

Smokey. Frightening. Smoke detectors going off. Maybe my son would be there. He’s my only real priority. And maybe the fire is hot and raging. And maybe there’s no way to get downstairs and out the door safely. Maybe jumping out the window is the only way.

And maybe there’s no time to put on pants.

Maybe the entire neighborhood will gather outside and watch my house burn down. Maybe newspaper photographers will be there.

And I’d be standing there. Probably during winter so my penis would look smaller.

But no one would really care, because they’d be too distracted by my M&M boxers. Bring on the chocolate!

“Why does his underwear say that?” all my neighbors and the firefighters and the media would be wondering.

And then everyone would post the photos to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and tag me in them and everyone would laugh at me for the rest of my life because I apparently wear silly M&M boxers with writing on the ass EVERY DAY, and now no one will ever want me.

They’re all gonna laugh at you!

Right?

That could totally happen.

Do any of you guys keep Attack Pants handy? Does anyone else wear bad underwear sometimes and worry about anyone seeing it? Do you also worry about really bizarre, arbitrary things that are highly unlikely to happen to anyone, ever?

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The Truth About Lying

truth

I looked my mom in the eye and lied to her about watching a movie I wasn’t allowed to watch even though she totally knew I was lying.

Even when I was young and extra-stupid, I was still smart enough to know she knew.

Parents just know.

It was a conservative house. No R-rated or even PG-13 movies for me. Even actually turning 13 didn’t convince my mom that PG-13 material was age-appropriate for me.

When I was probably 9 or 10, we had just one PG-13 movie in the house. Hiding Out. A random late-1980s Jon Cryer movie I’ll be surprised if any of you have ever seen.

I totally watched it whenever I had a few hours to kill home alone because I was young and liked doing things I wasn’t supposed to.

There was a word used in the film that no one ever uses: execrable.

And I used it once in a sentence while talking to my mom.

Because she’s not a vegetable, a small-brained woodland creature or a moldy piece of ham, my mother knew instantly I had watched the one movie in the house I wasn’t allowed to watch.

When she asked me where I’d heard that word, I told a lie.

Because self-preservation is one of our greatest instincts.

Because no kid wants to get caught doing things they’re not supposed to, or more specifically, punished for the behavior.

Because we don’t appreciate the freedom of honesty when we’re too young and innocent to know how poisonous dishonesty really is.

My son got in trouble in gym class this week for sliding on the floor even after the teacher instructed him not to. He wasn’t allowed to participate in gym that day and it made him cry.

We got a note from the teacher telling us what happened.

Our six-year-old denied it. He suggested his first-grade teacher was lying to us.

He gets his facts wrong a lot because he’s 6. But this is the first time I know of where he was being intentionally dishonest out of self-preservation.

He didn’t want to lose rewards and privileges. And I’d like to believe he didn’t want to disappoint his parents.

I never want to lie to him about anything not related to Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.

So, we hugged.

“Daddy used to get in trouble at school too, bud. And when the teachers told my mom and dad about it? They were never lying,” I told him. “I know it’s hard to tell the truth sometimes. Sometimes people say things that aren’t true because they’re afraid to get in trouble. Everyone does, man.”

And then we hugged again.

So here we are. Just a little more innocence lost.

He can lie when he’s afraid just like the rest of us.

But maybe he’ll choose not to.

When I was five or six, I spent a summer staying with a family during the day while my dad was at work. They had a little boy named E.J. He was a year younger than me.

We would run around behind their house, playing in sandboxes and doing Big Wheel stunts and picking raspberries while trying to avoid bee stings.

On one random afternoon adventure, we discovered a bucket of discarded motor oil outside a neighbor’s house.

E.J. picked up a pinecone lying nearby, dipped it in the bucket of oil and started drawing oil marks on the wall of the house.

I don’t remember feeling like we were doing anything wrong.

The neighbor discovered the oil mess on his house later and contacted E.J.’s mom—the neighbor lady who babysat me.

She sat us down at the kitchen table to ask us what happened.

E.J. told her that I did it.

I denied it.

She believed her son.

And I was simply the lying vandal shitty kid that helped supplement the household income for however many more days or weeks I stayed with that family that summer.

That’s the first time I can remember someone accusing me of something that wasn’t true.

That’s the first time I can remember feeling a real sense of injustice and outrage.

I’m almost certainly the only human being in the world who remembers the story and knows (or cares) what really happened.

The truth matters.

I hope I’m always brave enough to be as honest as possible without hurting people.

I hope my son is always brave enough to be as honest as possible without hurting people.

I hope the power of truth prevails for people who deserve justice.

I hugged my son so tight. The missteps of growing up have begun.

Everything’s going to be okay.

“It’s always better to tell the truth,” I told him.

Something I’m sure to repeat over and over and over again for many years.

Something I need to always remind myself to be.

Because we must lead by example.

Because honesty takes courage.

Because that’s where peace lives.

Because the alternative is execrable.

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