Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Number 333

333

I see the number sequence 333 a lot.

Like, a lot.

And I don’t know what it means. Maybe nothing. Maybe something.

This has been happening for two years straight—right about the time my life started to fall apart at home.

The vast majority of the time, I see it on the clock. 3:33 p.m., typically. But sometimes, I wake up at 3:33 a.m. and see it. It’s enough to be unsettling, but not enough to really scare me.

I’m not like Jim Carrey’s character in The Number 23, or anything.

I see it on email and blog comment time stamps. I see it during football and basketball games. On data analytics spreadsheets at work. On odometers. On my iTunes. I’m surprised how many songs I have that are three minutes and thirty three seconds long.

Is It Signifying a Person?

This was my first working theory.

I’ve shared this 333 phenomenon with three people.

The first used the number 9 a lot. And 3+3+3=9. Once I called it to her attention she noticed it a bunch too.

And maybe the “phenomenon” is that simple. Once your mind is tuned to a particular number sequence, you simply take note of it with greater frequency.

But I don’t think in this case that can be true. I’ll just be running around my house not paying attention to anything, then I glance at the clock and—BAM—3:33. It’s kind of uncanny.

The second person I shared it with, as far as I know, doesn’t have any numerical ties. But she was seeing it a lot too.

The third person I shared it with is someone I have a rich history with. We’re childhood friends. I mention her a lot, but not by name. She’s having marital problems. And she’s my best female friend in the world. I can count on very few people to support me as much as she does.

We’d lost touch for a while over the past couple years. She had some traumatic things happen to her and her family. And I was dealing with my own family crisis here.

We reconnected after I told her that my soon-to-be ex had finally pulled the trigger and moved out.

In the Strange Things are Happening Department, this friend dreamed the night before my wife left that it was going to happen. So when I called her with the news, she thought I was playing a practical joke and that her husband had told me about her vivid and detailed dream.

I jokingly call her the Dream Prophet now. I don’t know whether or not she likes that. I also don’t know whether or not she’s an actual dream prophet. Jury’s still out.

But she has always used 33. Dating back to our childhood. She was a Boston Celtics fan. A huge Larry Bird fan. He wore #33. So, 3 and 33 were always her go-to numbers. For anything.

So I asked her one day: “Does the number sequence 333 mean anything to you?”

Her: “Are you kidding? Did someone tell you to ask me that?”

Me: “No. I’m serious. I keep seeing it. A lot. Does it mean anything to you?”

Her: “It means everything. Those numbers are my life.”

Could this be a sign of some kind? Something I need to think about, or worry about, or prepare for? Could it have anything to do with someone or something specific?

Maybe the Internet Knows

I’ve looked it up a few times.

The “consensus” on Urban Dictionary seems to be it means “half-evil” (half of 666) OR something along the lines of “I love you.” Because those two things have a lot in common.

If you type “333” into Google, you’ll find a blog called Sacred Scribes. The author comes off a little too New Age-y for my personal tastes but I’m guilty of liking the idea that angels might be sending me a message.

The blog reads:

“When Angel Number 333 appears consistently it implies that the Ascended Masters are near you. They have responded to your prayers and wish to help and assist you in your endeavors and with serving your Divine life purpose and soul mission.”

I know. It’s weird as shit. Settle down. I’m just exploring ideas here.

The blog continues:

“The message of Angel Number 333 is to have faith in humanity and the Universal Energies. The angels and Ascended Masters are working with you on all levels. They love, guide and protect you—always. When the Angel Number 333 repeats in your life you are asked to call upon the angels and Masters for love, help and companionship.

“They will give you guidance along your path, and if feeling perplexed or confused as to your life purpose, call upon the angels and Ascended Masters to assist. They are waiting for your call.”

The post closes with:

“Use your natural communicative and lightworking skills to aid, assist and serve others in positive and uplifting ways.”

Well, I do try to be uplifting and positive when I’m not being a whiny douchebucket.

Questions to Self: 

  1. Do I really believe I’m being delivered a supernatural message? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But I’m not so close-minded that I’m not open to the possibility. It’s legit. I see it more than what I deem to be the statistical likelihood. But maybe I’m just shitty at math.
  2. If it is a message, what am I going to do about it? Hell if I know. But if I can use it as a reminder to be strong. To be courageous. To try to be a light in an often-dark world. Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t that helping me grow? Isn’t that using whatever gifts I have to try to help others? I say yes.
  3. If it’s not a message, am I some kind of Freaky McFreakerson? Mmmhmm. Probably. Scary? Sure! But it could make for some interesting writing material.
  4. If I’m currently a target of messages from angels and “Divine Masters,” what should I ask them about? Maybe I’m an angel medium. Ooooohhhh. The Angel Medium! Maybe that’s my calling! My purpose! “Oh, what’s that you say, Soon-To-Be Ex Wife? You want to take half of my furniture now? I’m the mother-effing Angel Medium and I’m about to sic some Seraphim on your ass. Prepare to have your shit ruined!”

Do you think that’s what the Angel Blog Lady meant when she wrote: “Use your natural communicative and lightworking skills to aid, assist and serve others in positive and uplifting ways”?

Yeah, me neither.

But we can’t be good all the time.

Update: I just hit “Publish” and read “This is the 33rd post published on your blog!” I swear on all that is good and right in the world that I didn’t know that was going to be the case. Freaky! I might be an angel medium!

Or just a stupid asshole. I’m sticking with the latter until I get a clearer message from the Great Beyond.

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The Fear of Losing What We Love

courage

Three people who matter to me expressed fear about one of their human relationships in separate conversations this past week.

Friend #1 is worried about her troubled marriage. And she has gone so far as to say that if it doesn’t work out, she will never marry again. She doesn’t believe she would be able to trust another human being with her heart.

Friend #2 is in a three-month relationship with someone she met recently. He has swept her off her feet. She’s more in love with him than even she will admit. But now that her feelings are so strong, she’s asking herself: Does he care about me as much as I care about him? She’s in the relationship phase of overanalyzing situations without having all the facts and letting anxiety over the unknown ruin her day.

Friend #3 is gun shy about a new man in her life because she’s been burnt before.

“I loved a douchebag that fucked me over. I never saw it coming,” she said. “It’s the fear of letting the wall down. I don’t want to go through that pain again to which I am sure you can relate.”

And she’s right. I can.

I’ve never been more fearful of so many things as I am right now. It’s funny. I remember thinking how brave I’d be as an adult. We’re so cute and stupid when we’re young.

A Fall Down the Stairs

I was in front of my upstairs bathroom sink brushing my teeth yesterday. My five-year-old son was running around with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-branded Raphael sai taking out invisible bad guys who’d invaded our second floor.

“I’m going downstairs, dad!” he said.

A couple seconds later, I heard the horrific sound of 50 pounds of human tumbling down hardwood stairs.

I’d never moved that fast before. Within five seconds he was in my arms at the bottom of the stairs, not yet able to speak.

I sat him on a couch, looking him over and asking him where it hurt.

He had a couple subtle marks on his knees and shins. But otherwise? He appeared completely fine.

He had gone down head first. He wouldn’t tell me how it happened. And it doesn’t matter because I’m quite sure he’ll never try it again.

It’s a praise-Jesus miracle he didn’t lose some teeth, or worse.

I just hugged him, thanking God for his safety.

Here’s my point: I was six feet away from him. And I couldn’t stop something bad from happening to him. Something that could have been catastrophic had he bounced differently.

He is the thing I love the most in this world. I know all of you parents know exactly what I’m talking about.

But should being afraid of the bad things that might happen to him in his life frighten me, or others, away from bringing children into this world?

Wouldn’t that be the greater tragedy?

Allow Yourself to Love

For the purposes of this conversation, you have two choices:

  1. Deny yourself the best things about being alive because you’re afraid to lose them.
  2. Love anyway. Take the leap of faith, knowing you’re not always going to land safely on the other side, but that every time you do, you’ll experience unadulterated joy.

We cannot escape this particular truth about the human experience. No one gets out of it.

If you love something hard enough, you’re going to fear losing it.

We’re always going to be afraid of losing our children, our partners, our parents, our pets, our money, our jobs, our possessions, our homes or our friends.

Love anyway.

If you’re the kind of person afraid to lose a child, then you’re EXACTLY the kind of person we need raising them.

Love anyway.

Pet owners, are you really going to never have another dog or cat because you were broken up by the loss of a former pet? Don’t these other animals deserve your love too? Don’t they deserve the opportunity to love you back? I understand wanting to protect yourself. You have no idea how much so.

Love anyway.

Scorned lovers, don’t let your hearts be hardened. Because you can give a brand of love to a deserving soul that they may have never otherwise known. It’s terrifying. I know. Putting yourself out there again. But what are you going to do? Walk this world alone? Do you really want to be that selfish? If you won’t do it for you, do it for that other person out there who needs you.

Because somewhere, right now, there’s a person out there—a good, wonderful, deserving person—who needs you. And they might not even know it yet.

People like you. People like me.

The most beautiful things in this world are precious and rare.

Not everything in this life was built to last. Things will break.

You can either hide from life. Or embrace it. The good and the bad.

I’m afraid too.

Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. It just means you don’t let it stop you.

So, please, love anyway.

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How to Lose Sleep in 6 Easy Steps

This isn't me. I don't wear pajamas.

This isn’t me. I don’t wear pajamas.

Ever feel like you’re getting too much sleep? Do you wish you could yawn more, feel lethargic and get that hazy 2:30 feeling every afternoon at work?

I have a plan GUARANTEED to help you lose sleep and feel shittier about your life!

All you have to do is follow these simple steps, and I’ll have you feeling horrible faster than you can say: “Tony Robbins? I thought you said ‘Baskin-Robbins.’”

1. Get divorced

This is easy!

All you have to do is communicate poorly with your spouse, spend time not doing things together, have sex infrequently—or better yet—never, have massive disagreements about where you should live and why, have different hobbies and passions and interests and tastes.

All around you, people are doing it! Nearly half of all married couples are fucking up their lives as we speak! Don’t sit on the sidelines! Be a part of this movement sweeping the nation!

Having trouble creating this much separation with your significant other? Well I’ve got the answer for that too!

It’s called infidelity! Does that make you uncomfortable? Me too! But don’t worry, if you act fast, I’m sure you can find some cockface to sleep with your partner for you!

In fact, if you do just 75 percent of what I describe above, divorce will probably just happen organically! And you’ll be on your way to losing sleep and feeling wretched about your life with hardly any effort at all!

2. Let your five-year-old sleep with you

This is easy!

Don’t have a five-year-old? Your friends will let you borrow theirs, assuming you’re not a card-carrying member of the Neverland Society for Creepy Children Sleepovers, Presented by Michael Jackson.

This is best done with your own flesh and blood. And it’s easy! All you have to do is let a little discipline go out the window since your life is in shambles from your divorce!

That empty bed you were worried about? Now there’s someone there!

Are you one of those people who actually sleep better with someone next to you? Fear not!

Kids NEVER hold still! Not even when they’re sleeping. They’ll be slapping your face, kicking your privates, pushing you off the bed, asking for middle-of-the-night drinks, having bad dreams, talking in their sleep and many other sleep-depriving tricks!

Step 2 is a surefire way to decrease your energy level AND you have the added bonus of chipping away at the integrity of the structure and discipline that once existed in your house! You can’t afford NOT to try this method!

3. Leave the TV on all night

This is easy!

Melatonin!?!? Pfffffftttttttttt! Who needs it?

Leave the TV on! It’s great. If the kid’s next to you, he or she will get less sleep too, so it’s a two-for-one double-bonus surprise!

If your kid isn’t there, you’ll lose a little sleep worrying about them while they’re with the other parent, AND you can watch more explicit TV programs. So if you fall asleep watching The Matrix for the 74 millionth time on HBO or Cinemax, you might have the pleasure of waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. to the sounds of softcore pornography in your bedroom!

Even when it’s not really your cup of tea, you’ll still watch for a moment because it represents EVERYTHING you’re not doing! It will make you feel sad, stressed and horny all at the same time. Just one more reminder that you’re not getting laid and that your life kind of sucks ass. Even after you turn the TV off, you’ll just lay there for hours thinking about it! More importantly, you won’t be sleeping!

4. Never have sex

This is easy!

Once your partner leaves you, there’s no one there to sleep with anymore, making this step the easiest of all of them! Because you’ll lack confidence and feel like a total waste, it will be easier than ever to repel potential mates! You’ll feel more unattractive than ever, and by feeling unattractive, you’ll ACTUALLY BE UNATTRACTIVE! No gimmicks! No tricks! Just make a bunch of bad choices, feel awful about it, and never having sex will come so naturally, it will feel just like going through puberty again, except your skin will be better and you’ll be less optimistic about your future!

5. Exercise infrequently

This is easy!

Just don’t do anything. Ever.

Do you enjoy lifting weights? Running? Hiking? Having sex? Going for walks in your neighborhood? Bike riding? Or performing other physical activities?

You can STILL do them! (Except for the sex!) Just cut back a lot! And maybe eat more pizza and M&Ms and drink more beer.

You can further erode your self-esteem by pledging to work harder on balancing the Body component of your Mind, Body, Spirit makeup and then not follow through with any conviction! Like a total fraud!

Exercise and feeling good about your life WILL help you sleep better. So I beg you to avoid it at all costs if you’re looking to feel really terrible. I know you can do it!

6. Buy things you’re not sure you can afford

This is easy!

I just did it two days ago. And you can too—I know it!

There are so many ways. Drugs! Premium cable TV! Alcohol! Expensive phones! Parties! Nice dinners! Too much house! Run up credit cards!

If you’re me? Buy a new, expensive car on top of some of this other shit.

Your insurance will go up! You’ll worry more about door dings and scratches! You’ll be anal retentive about dirt on both the inside AND outside of your car for the first time in your life! Most importantly? You’ll totally sweat how your life is going to be impacted by the new car payment!

You’ll question your ability to make disciplined, responsible choices. You’ll question your ability to set a good example for your son. You’ll question whether anyone’s going to want to date a guy who doesn’t know how to prioritize financially. You’ll question, well, EVERYTHING!

Not to bring positivity into the mix, but you WILL feel great while driving your new ride. But don’t worry!

Actually, check that. DO worry! Because you’ll lose so much sleep over your bad decisions that it will more than offset any positives gained from your driving buzz!

In conclusion, sleep is bullshit. It’s for all those people who want to look and feel good, succeed at work and in their human relationships, and make good decisions that improve all facets of their lives.

Sleep isn’t for you and me!

I’ve already lost a bunch.

And now, by following my proven formula, you can too!

Hey, listen. We’ll sleep when we’re dead.

And with this kind of decision making, we’ll be there in no time!

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Buyer’s Remorse

Whenever I find a girlfriend, she's going to like riding in this infinitely better than she would have in my Pontiac.

Whenever I find a girlfriend, she’s going to like riding in this infinitely better than she would have in my Pontiac Grand Prix.

And just like that <insert dramatic hand motion here>, she was gone.

I don’t have the Girlfriend Litmus Test anymore. I am now in total jeopardy of attracting a woman who only wants me for my money—and by my money, I mean the $500 or so I have left in my checking account now. Settle down, ladies!

Because my brain doesn’t work like regular human beings, I used a bad wheel bearing in my inexpensive 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix with only 46,000 miles on it as an excuse to go buy a brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee yesterday. Like a total dick.

If Dave Ramsey finds out I read his excellent personal finance book AND still did what I did yesterday, I could be murdered by nightfall by a Financial Peace University minion. If this ends up being my last post, just assume that’s what happened.

Since acquiring the new Jeep, I’ve put 15 miles on it. During those 15 miles, I never felt any better about my life than I did in my crappy car over the past few months.

My family didn’t reappear at home.

I still got stuck at red lights on my morning commute.

When my soon-to-be ex asked me today whether I bought a new car, I didn’t even feel better after telling her that I now have a nicer Jeep than she does.

Who sits around worrying about personal finances, then goes out and buys a brand new semi-expensive vehicle?

This guy.

Stephanie, the girl who invited me to The Bruno Mars Wedding, is encouraging me to think of it as part of my new beginning. To simply embrace and enjoy this new part of my life and take pleasure in all the good aspects of having a new vehicle while leaving behind the sadness of the old one.

And hell, maybe she’s right.

Maybe I should enjoy, for the first time in my life, having one of the nicer cars on the road. After all, the thing is pretty sweet. The nicest thing I’ve ever had, certainly.

I guess when I think back on the past three or four years of my life—dealing with a job loss, marital turmoil, and now my pending divorce—what’s a little buyer’s remorse compared to that stress?

Piece of freaking cake, that’s what.

Screw it. Steph’s right. I’m just going to try and enjoy it.

After all, now that I’m not driving that Pontiac anymore, I’m going to get more female attention than I know what to do with.

Right?

RIGHT!?!?

It’s foolproof.

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Change Your Culture, Change Your World

Don't try to change the entire world. Just try to change yours.

Don’t try to change the entire world. Just try to change yours.

I have a bit of a man crush on Seth Godin.

Because he, in many ways, represents who I want to be.

I work in marketing. And Godin writes for people just like me. But what’s so great about him is that much of what he thinks about and writes about can be applied to our personal lives.

I try to view it through that prism, at least.

As marketers, we want to instill change in consumer behavior by educating or convincing people to make different decisions that will either benefit them, benefit our brand, or God-willing, both.

Yesterday, Godin wrote a post titled “Change the culture, change the world,” where he makes an important observation.

Godin said that “most actions aren’t decisions at all.”

And I’ve spent the past 24 hours thinking about how we can apply his keen observations here to our personal lives.

He gives examples:

“In Reykjavik, shopkeepers keep their doors closed (it’s cold!) and if they were aware that in Telluride most stores keep their doors propped open (even in the winter) they’d think it was nuts.

“In China, the typical household saves three to five times as much of their income as a household in the U.S. This is not an active decision, it’s a cultural component.”

He continues:

“The list goes on and on. A practitioner of Jainism doesn’t have a daily discussion about being a vegetarian, and a female graduate of Johns Hopkins is likely pre-sold on the role of women in the workplace.

“If you ask someone about a cultural practice, the answer almost always boils down to, ‘that’s what people like me do.’”

Do you have anything in your life—something big—that you’d like to change? What about with your spouse? Or your children? Or your co-workers? Or your friends?

Do you make bad choices like me? Do you have addictions? Bad habits? An unhealthy lifestyle?

Because maybe picking the low-hanging fruit isn’t going to be good enough here.

Quitting Ben & Jerry’s might not reduce your waistline.

Forcing your kids to spend more time outside and less time watching TV might not improve their grades or their social lives or your parent-child relationship.

Making a date night once every couple weeks with your spouse might not fix your marriage.

“Powerful organizations and great brands got there by aligning with and accelerating tectonic cultural shifts, not by tweaking sales one at a time,” Godin writes.

You want to change your life? Go big or go home. That’s what it takes.

I wrote this to shitty husbands a week or so ago. But it applies to all of us: Don’t just sit around waiting for things to happen to you. Because while stuff WILL happen to you, very little of it is going to be good. Not when you’re passive. Take some control.

The faithful would wisely remind you that God’s in control. That we can’t do it all. And while I agree, I think a lot of people use that victim mentality as an excuse for not taking action themselves. Taking the lazy way out of accepting responsibility for their lives.

More importantly, the net result of inaction is your life flying by with you playing the victim. And when you think back and tell your life story, I want you to be the protagonist you can be proud of. A legit hero.

I play poker. Sometimes, very well. When I’m not playing well, it’s because I’m getting dealt shitty hands—life does that!—or because I’m playing too passively. I’m letting other players at the table control the action and dictate my moves.

But when I’m winning? I’m in control. The chips on the table are mine for the taking. And I know it. I mitigate my losses through thoughtful decision making. And I seize opportunities to rake big pots.

Godin has identified one of the many things that separate the winners from the losers in business. He finished his post with:

“There are two lessons here. The first is that the easiest thing to do is merely amplify what a culture is already embracing,” he said. “The second is that real change is cultural change, and you must go about it with the intent to change the culture, not to merely make the easy change, the easy sale.”

Don’t quit ice cream to get skinny. Work your ass off daily and reward yourself with ice cream occasionally.

Don’t try to be more involved in your kids’ lives by merely reducing their TV or video game time. Hell, just watch TV with them. And discuss it. Play video games with them. Or something else entirely. Be present in the moments they’re around.

Don’t try to fix your marriage with out-of-character flowers or surprise gestures of thoughtfulness like making dinner or cleaning the bathrooms. Make those things the rule. Not the exception. Choose to love—actively—every day of your life.

Give, don’t take. Ask friends and neighbors what you can do to help instead of complaining about your problems.

Because if we change the culture in our personal lives, we will—quite literally—change our world.

I don’t know what those ripple effects might look and feel like.

But I can’t wait to find out.

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The Bruno Mars Wedding

As far as I know, Bruno Mars is not getting married. Sorry for the misleading headline. He's only singing. Don't you do it, Bruno. Don't you sing "When I Was Your Man."

As far as I know, Bruno Mars is not getting married. Sorry for the misleading headline. He’s only singing at a wedding. Don’t you do it, Bruno. Don’t you sing “When I Was Your Man.” You’ll just make it weird.

A girl I haven’t seen in 12 years has invited me to a wedding where Bruno Mars will be singing.

That’s the second-most-interesting part of this story.

In June 2001, I was interning at the daily newspaper where my father lives and preparing for my final year of college—my fifth year.

I like to tell people it took me five years to graduate college because I switched majors my sophomore year AND because I worked so hard at the college newspaper of which I was editor in chief during the 2000-2001 school year.

But the truth is I smoked a ridiculous amount of pot and went to keg parties all the time.

I also spent that summer taking a Spanish class at a local community college in Illinois to help fulfill my foreign language requirement.

That’s where I met Stephanie.

She and I hit it off right away because we’re both kind of awesome and hilarious. No sparks or anything. Just a lot of laughs. We made the class fun. She was dating a rugby player. I was weeks away from heading back to Ohio for my final year of school.

The Phone Call That Changed My Life

It was just a typical summer night at dad’s. I was standing behind the basement bar doing something on the computer when the house phone rang—back when hardly anyone had a mobile phone.

My dad answered.

“It’s for you,” he said, handing me the phone.

They say father knows best, but he never told me to hang it up. He never told me to be careful. That these next 20 minutes on the phone would change my life forever.

It was my wife calling.

Only I hadn’t spoken to her in six months. I had never met her parents. We didn’t even really know each other very well.

Why is she calling?

I only knew I liked her. That we’d made out once or twice after parties. And that she was one of the most-beautiful things I had ever seen.

She told me she was getting ready to move to Orlando with three of her girlfriends.

But she had reservations. Thoughts of me had been gnawing at her. She and I had unfinished business, she said.

“I need to see you,” she said.

Whoa.

I ended the conversation and had a talk with dad. He had concerns about inviting a girl he’d never met into his home for an entire week, but ultimately I talked him into it. I sold one of the best salesmen I know on one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. I have never considered that until this very moment.

A couple weeks later, she flew out to see me.

Stephanie remembers me talking about her before and after that week. She remembers feeling jealous.

The first night my future ex wife was in town, she accompanied me to Stephanie’s parents’ house for our Spanish study group. She sat patiently on a couch in the basement watching something on TV while me, Stephanie and another girl I don’t remember worked through our Spanish lesson.

Stephanie didn’t know if this visiting girl was right for me, she said. She also secretly had a crush on me, but waited 12 years to tell me that part.

It didn’t matter. I was absolutely smitten with my future ex wife. By the end of her week-long stay with me at my dad’s, she had cancelled her plans to move to Florida. She was going to stay in Ohio, be my girlfriend, and wait for me to graduate.

I meant that much to her.

Two years later, we were engaged.

Three years later, we were married.

Seven years later, we were parents.

Twelve years later, we were a memory.

Same bed. But it feels just a little bit bigger now.

The Facebook Status Update

I had to attend a mandatory parenting class last weekend.

Something funny on the whiteboard prompted me to make a Facebook post. When I did that, a handful of people who didn’t know I was getting divorced finally found out.

One of those people was Stephanie. She lives in Tampa now. She has a five-year-old son just like me. She’s recovering from the end of a marriage just like me.

And she still likes me. Maybe too much. Maybe just the right amount. I don’t know yet.

We have plans to reunite in a few weeks. I’ll know more after that.

Stephanie has always said I remind her of an old celebrity crush—Jon Favreau’s character in one of her all-time favorite movies, Love & Sex.

Stephanie has been invited to a September wedding in Illinois where Bruno Mars will be singing.

She invited me to come with her.

It seems like a good opportunity to go see my family in Illinois and experience once-in-a-lifetime nuptials with a super-cool chick.

Bruno won’t sing “When I Was Your Man,” right?

Surely not at a wedding, right? Would God allow such a thing?

Because I don’t want to be at an amazing wedding with an amazing person and think about—her.

Stephanie doesn’t deserve that.

I might deserve it. I don’t know.

But my future ex wife? I’m quite certain she doesn’t deserve it.

And let’s just be honest: “Gorilla” is a much better song anyway.

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Fishing with Mandy, Vol. 2

1. I don't want to walk the Earth alone, like David Carradine's character, Caine in

1. I don’t want to walk the Earth alone like David Carradine’s character Caine in “Kung Fu.”
2. I also don’t want to die in an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident like Carradine in a Bangkok hotel. Or anywhere for that matter. In fact, let’s just all agree not to strangle each other, even if it’s all in good fun. Cool? Cool.

I don’t want to walk this world alone. Like Caine in Kung Fu.

Most likely, I will one day be in a serious relationship again and perhaps even married.

I was at parenting class the other day.

The most noteworthy thing I heard during the three-hour class was this:

1. First marriages involving children end in divorce 50 percent of the timeYeah, I already know that one. It’s pathetic.

2. Second marriages involving children end in divorce 75 percent of the timeWhoa.

I truly thought the conventional wisdom was that it’s easier to make marriage work the second time around. After learning many of the things that didn’t work the first time, making better choices about who you want your partner to be as well as identifying mistakes in our own behavior not to be made in future relationships.

But, damn. Three out of four doomed to fail? I can hardly stomach the idea of doing this a second time.

I’d like to tell you there’s absolutely no way I’d ever let that happen. But I already said that once. And it turns out I was completely full of shit. Or naïve. Or stupid. Or some combination.

Revisting Fishing With Mandy

In my first Fishing With Mandy post, I tell the story of a woman I know who believes Mandy—a very simple girl in Texas who spends all of her free time fishing—is her husband’s dream girl.

And it got me thinking: What does my dream girl look like? Like, if I wrote it all down? What would be my equivalent of Fishing with Mandy?

I also asked these two questions at the end of the post, and I’ve been thinking about them ever since:

  1. Does defining your ideal mate close your mind to people who might actually be your perfect match?
  2. Does NOT defining your ideal mate keep you wandering aimlessly through the dating wasteland?

I believe in goal setting. I believe the most-direct route to achieving whatever it is you want to achieve in life is to be very specific about what it is you want. Write it down. Then take daily steps to get there.

So, while I wouldn’t want to get too militant and close-minded with my dream-girl parameters and miss out on someone really special just because she wasn’t a perfect match, I don’t see how it can hurt to identify that which is most important to me.

So, profiling my anonymous dream girl seems like a worthwhile exercise. I think I’ll do that.

What I Want in a Partner

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to come back and revise this. What I wanted when I was 16 was different than when I was 22. At 34, I don’t want the same things I wanted 12 years ago. But more importantly, I think I have a much firmer grasp on what it will take for me to have a healthy, loving, sustainable relationship with someone new. But something could change tomorrow. Things always change.

Let’s start with the most-important stuff and work our way down.

1. Personality – She must be kind. I’m fine with a little bitchiness once in a while—particularly if she’s been wronged somehow. We’re all human. I’m certainly capable of saying some pretty terrible things to other people when I witness atrocious driving. Example: “Are you fucking kidding me!?!? I know you have a raging boner for your pet goats you’re in such a hurry to get home to, but could you PLEASE try not to kill everyone on the way back to Beastiality Acres, Farmer SHITFACE!?!?!?”

I say things just like that.

It’s horrible, and I ask God to forgive me every time I speak that way. Which is about 5 percent of the time I’m in the car under normal driving conditions, and about 88 percent of the time I’m in the car if I happen to be driving in Florida. And you know what? I think God does forgive me, because I don’t think God approves of goats being treated that way.

Seriously, though. I am nice. And I think it matters. And I have a VERY low tolerance for mean people. Unless they are thoughtful, conscientious drivers just having a moment.

She also must be someone who can find humor in most any situation. They say laughter is the best medicine. And I can’t prove that wrong. I want to have fun and laugh with the girl of my dreams. I want to think she’s hilarious. And I want her to feel the same toward me.

2. Faith – I need her to have a moral code. I happen to be Catholic. Not a phenomenal one. But I care and try hard. I believe in Christian principles whenever I’m not in the car. Love people. Love yourself. Treat others as you want to be treated. Stuff like that. On the flipside, I don’t want her to be TOO Christian, because then I won’t be able to drink and have sex as often as I might want to. Goodness, I’m an asshole sometimes. BUT, I’m an asshole who believes in establishing a unified voice on subjects of morality for children and constantly striving to be the best people we can possibly be.

While I completely respect opposing viewpoints and can be friendly with those with whom I disagree, this one is non-negotiable. We need to mostly be on the same page. For one another. And for any children in our lives.

3. Education – She has to be smart. Hopefully smarter than me. I want to be able to talk to her about all of life’s most-important issues. I want to have philosophical conversations about serious things and unserious things, alike. Education doesn’t have to mean advanced college degrees or anything. There are many ways to be smart.

4. Sex – The foundation of my failed marriage was based on one where open and honest communication about sex was not properly established. It ended up being one of the things that drove us apart. That won’t happen again. My partner must have a sense of adventure. She must be willing to do it in the morning. On a table. In the kitchen. Two or three times per session.

If on a scale of 1-10, 1 is teenagers surprised to be having sex, and 10 is semi-scary Fifty Shades of Grey dom/sub dirtiness, my sex life needs to be like a 7.5 or 8. Dear Jesus, please don’t let my mother or grandmother ever read that. Amen.

5. Hobbies/Interests/Passions – I REALLY would like a partner that likes some of the things I like. My soon-to-be ex pretty much hated all the stuff I love. Music? Didn’t care. Poker? Hated it. Sports? Totally bored her. We had different tastes on movies. And food. And wine. And many other things. I need the next girl in my life to have similar hobbies, interests and passions to me. Not identical. But we’re going to have to share some if we want it to work. I think doing things together is important.

6. Attractiveness – At the risk of seeming superficial, this might be too low on the list. Especially when you consider the fact that a prerequisite to sex—at least for me—is physical attraction. I don’t mean for this to be superficial, though. I want to think the woman I love is beautiful. I want her to take my breath away once in a while when I see her from across the room, or when I wake up next to her. I don’t need other people to agree that she’s beautiful. I just need to think so. I absolutely love faces. There’s nothing more exquisite than a beautiful face. And my dream girl? She owns my favorite face in the world, outside of my son’s.

7. Politics/Life Philosophy – While I consider myself extremely pragmatic and quite willing to listen to opposing viewpoints, I choose not to have very many fundamental political differences with my future partner. I consider myself moderate with several right leanings—particularly on economic matters. Here’s the thing Person Who Wants to Help All People and Animals: I want to help all people and animals, too. It’s all part of my whole being-kind thing. You know what REALLY helps, though? Funding! Money to pay for stuff. Our federal government is extraordinarily shitty at making money. I think the idiots on the right are a little better at it than the idiots on the left.

8. Geography – I live in Ohio. And unless something totally unforeseen happens in the next 13 years—when I expect my son to graduate high school—I’m staying right where I am. I kind of have to. So, my dream girl has to live pretty close, or be willing to move here.

There are 3.5 billion females in this world, and I just narrowed my dream girl search down to approximately 0.1 percent of the female population.

Shit.

I have a lot more thinking to do on this entire subject. But this is the beginning of establishing the parameters for who I want to spend the rest of my life with.

One of my best friends is encouraging me strongly to figure out EXACTLY who I want, and wait for her. She says I deserve it. And I think she’s probably right. And even if I don’t deserve it, settling for someone with whom I don’t believe I can spend forever with, doesn’t make sense to me anyway.

So…

Dear dream girl,

I will wait for you.

I may get intoxicated and make out with a few randoms. I may continue to online date. I may make a bunch of other horrible decisions along the way. In fact, I almost guarantee I will. It’s kind of my thing.

But—whoever you are, wherever you are—I will wait for you.

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Parenting Class

In the parenting class' educational video, everyone but Karl Malone looked just like this.

In the parenting class’ educational video, everyone but Karl Malone looked just like this.

I was a half hour early. The police officer manning the security checkpoint at the courthouse had to unlock the door to let me in.

Like I was excited to be there or something.

The State of Ohio requires parents to take a mandatory one-time three-hour parenting class before they will schedule a divorce or dissolution hearing.

I wasn’t feeling 100 percent because I stayed up really late the night before drinking with friends at a local festival, despite having a cut on my face.

I don’t feel like I drank THAT much, but I have evidence to the contrary.

  1. I spent a lot of money last night.
  2. Despite going to bed in my room, I woke up in my son’s bed next to his stuffed animals just prior to 4 a.m. I don’t know how I got there. The TV was still on in my bedroom down the hall.
  3. I felt a little hung over.

I took my seat in the inactive courtroom now used only for these types of educational programs.

I remember thinking: There’s going to be a bunch of newly single women in here.

I’m such an asshole sometimes.

I was scanning the room when my eyes honed in on the whiteboard.

“Drugs and alcohol,” someone had written. “Obstacals?”

Spelled just like that.

Because I’m a smartass, I posted it on Facebook with the comment: “So, right away, you know you’re in for some top-quality education.”

Because of that decision, a few more people learned about my pending divorce. That’s always awkward. I always feel sorry for the people I tell. I don’t know why.

My classmates began to trickle in. I was sizing them up.

I wonder how many of them know how to spell the word “obstacle”?

I was surprised at how many not-yet-divorced couples attended together. Five, by my count.

One guy, maybe mid-50s, came in with his wife and was still drunk from the night before, I think.

The wife said: “Don’t sit by me if you’re going to talk.”

And the drunk replied: “I’ll talk if I wanna talk! Ain’t a library!”

They sat right behind me.

A semi-attractive blonde sat down two seats to my right. She smiled at me.

An extremely attractive blonde walked in shortly thereafter. She didn’t smile at me. She sat next to her soon-to-be-ex husband—the only guy who looked like he wanted to be there less than I did.

I feel you, sir. Note to self: Don’t marry any more attractive blondes.

The female magistrate—a former prosecutor—led the class. She seemed smart. I’m not convinced she’s the one who misspelled “obstacle.” But you never know.

She warned everyone to turn off their cell phones. That if they ring or otherwise cause a distraction, you would be excused and you would have to come back and complete the class some other day.

The semi-attractive blonde two seats to my right raised her hand.

“Excuse me. I can’t turn my phone on vibrate and I can’t turn it off either because I’m the emergency contact for my children,” she said.

“Well, let’s just hope there isn’t an emergency,” the magistrate said, coolly.

The blonde left her phone on, gambling. I sort of admired it. And I sort of hoped it would ring just to see what would happen.

The coffee started to wear off as my classmates bombarded the magistrate with legal questions.

“What if my husband refuses to come to parenting class?” one lady asked.

“What if they’re in jail?” the blonde who wouldn’t turn her phone off asked.

Some self-righteous guy in the back wanted to prove he was smarter than the rest of us. He may have had a law degree, or he may have just memorized a bunch of Law & Order episodes, but he asked a bunch of annoying questions in legalese only the magistrate understood.

No one cares that you can talk that way, dude.

The drunk guy behind me took a cue from the smart-sounding guy.

“Is there any deviation to shared parenting?” he slurred. “Joint parenting? Co-parenting? Equal parenting? Is there any deviation to that effect?” he asked.

I have no idea what he just asked her. I wonder if she does.

She responded thoughtfully.

“I kind of feel like you just glossed over my question!” the drunk yelled.

“I’m sorry, sir,” she said.

He asked the EXACT same question again. With the same level of nonsensicalness.

The magistrate set him straight and then started playing a video.

They were still using the old square-tube-TV-on-top-of-rolling-cart-with-VCR setup that I remember from high school. I’m not sure why this surprised me. It was the first time I watched a VHS tape in more than a decade.

Question for future essay: Why are all of these educational videos old and cheesy?

You should have seen the clothes and hair. 1987 dot com. I kept waiting for Whitesnake to start playing.

Is there not a TON of money to be made producing modern videos covering these topics? Someone should get on this.

Halfway through a video encouraging parents to truly listen to their children when they talk about their feelings, Karl Malone made an appearance.

Karl freaking Malone. He was still young and—at the time—the greatest power forward in basketball.

That’s how old the video is.

The Mailman hooked us up with some parenting knowledge. But Whitesnake never played “Here I Go Again,” which was disappointing.

My favorite part of the day was watching all of the wives looking at their husbands every time the magistrate said something about child support or that reinforced their side of the arguments they had obviously been having.

“Shared parenting does NOT mean no child support,” the magistrate said.

Every single woman attending with her husband shot him the EXACT same look, which said: I told you, motherfucker!

I felt bad for everyone in the room, except for the deputy getting paid time and a half and the guy in the back who thought he was smarter than everyone.

I thought back to waking up in my son’s bed.

Why did I go in there?

I was either just really intoxicated and confused, or in some drunken moment of self-reflection, I missed my son and wanted to be in his room.

He woke up in hysterics last week with his mom, sobbing.

“It’s all my fault! Everything’s ruined because of me!” he said, half asleep.

My soon-to-be ex consoled him and assured him that NONE of this was his fault and that he’s loved and safe. Exactly as she should have.

No, son. None of this is your fault. And you are loved. Beyond measure.

And I didn’t need this parenting class, or Karl Malone, to tell me that.

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I May Have Serious Issues

My face cut doesn't look awesome and badass like Bruce Lee's. It looks stupid and weaksauce.

My face cut doesn’t look awesome and badass like Bruce Lee’s. It looks stupid and weaksauce.

I have a small cut on my right cheek due to a shaving accident yesterday morning that I may let affect my entire weekend.

While it represents the worst cut of my shaving career, in the grand scheme of wounds, it’s not exactly a conversation piece.

Might be a centimeter wide. Like this freaking guy. Whatever.

It took me 90 minutes to stop the bleeding yesterday. I actually came in late to work because of it. At least three co-workers gave me shit about it.

However, when I look in the mirror, it’s the only thing I see. Like when you have a large blemish. Or a small coffee stain on your shirt.

My brain is savvy enough to understand that most people aren’t really paying attention to it. But it’s not savvy enough to not care.

When God was handing out I-don’t-give-a-fuck genes, He gave my share to someone else. Someone who is probably living in Turks and Caicos earning 20 percent on self-made millions and drinking fine tequila every day like a boss. Or my wife’s boyfriend. One of the two.

The Thought Process

I totally care about shit like this. All the time.

I’m not Men’s Health-cover hard bodied like I want to be. So I talk about being fat, even though I’m not really fat.

I’m not 6’2” like I want to be. So I talk about being short, even though I’m not THAT short.

My house isn’t 5,000 square feet with an in-ground pool and theater room like what I want to live in. So I talk about it being old, humble and shitty, even though it really is a decent and pleasant home.

My car isn’t a fully restored and resto-modded 1961 Chevy Impala like I want to drive. So I talk about how shitty my Pontiac Grand Prix is, even though there’s plenty of shittier cars on the road.

When I’m embarrassed about something, I call attention to it. I want everyone to know that I know I have some personal defect, or that some room in my house is cluttered, or that my grass needs mowed, or that my car needs washed. I want everyone to know that I’m not oblivious. That I’m totally self-aware. As if it’s going to excuse the thing I’m embarrassed about, when every wise person knows you should either NOT be embarrassed, or fix whatever condition is embarrassing you.

The Decision

So, as many of you know, I’m trying to get back in the game. I’m dating and look forward to new opportunities to meet women as they arise.

Tonight was supposed to be another great opportunity. We have an Italian Festival in the town I live in. It will be going on all weekend. That means the downtown bars will be packed. And since my son is with his mom, this is exactly the type of situation I’ve been trying to take advantage of.

Additionally, I promised you more courage—that I would introduce myself to strangers when I want to meet them and trust that rejection won’t be as bad as my mind predicts it will be, and being conscious of the fact that the rewards of being bold could be great.

But I have this damn cut on my face. It’s not like I got it taking out some ninja assassin. I cut it shaving. Like an asshole.

How can I act confident and be myself when I don’t feel confident?

“Hi, I’m Matt. Sorry about this big cut on my face. For the purposes of this conversation, try to imagine me cut-free like I am most of the time. Thanks. Oh, and also pretend I’m not a total freaking spaz,” is what I’d want to say.

Because of a one-centimeter-length cut on my cheek, I may skip going out and having fun tonight with friends and girls I might want to meet.

What if my friends ask why I’m staying home? Do I tell them the truth? Or do I make something up?

Despite my strong desire to always be honest, this falls within the realm of “little white lies.”

And I don’t really have a problem with little white lies because they’re the ones you tell when you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. So, I do that sometimes.

A girl I know said staying home because of this cut is stupid. That I should go out and make up a rad story about how I got it.

“Make up a total badass story about the gash,” she said. “GO OUT. Nothing happens to those who choose to stay in. The Domino’s delivery girl will not be the woman of your dreams.”

  1. I don’t want to lie about the gash. That wouldn’t be a white lie. That would be a regular lie.
  2. I would never order Domino’s. I’m kind of a food snob. Even with pizza.

I’m not sure what the right play is here.

Go out with the cut and feel self conscious all night until I drink enough to not care?

Or stay in and use some early morning responsibilities tomorrow as a cover for my chicken-shit decision?

Jury’s still out.

Hi. My name’s Matt. Nice to meet you. I make bad decisions.

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The Female Rating System

old-lady

This old lady does not approve of the rating system. In related news, she’s a 2-2-3. Unless I drink a lot of tequila. Then? Maybe a 2-1-3.

7-1-6.

Three little numbers.

That’s what I’ve reduced women to here.

Check that. That’s what Ryan and whoever invented his little female rating system has done.

It’s horrible and hilarious all at the same time.

To be clear, it’s only accidently demeaning to women. The rating system’s sole purpose is to communicate with other men what you’re thinking in a way he can understand via quick text message.

Ryan is my neighbor. Even though he’s five years younger than me, he has his doctorate and is way more successful than I am, personally and professionally.

He has a great job. He has a gorgeous and brilliant girlfriend. He has more cars than I do. His house is nicer. Basically, everything about his life is better than mine. It’d be annoying if I didn’t like him.

Ryan introduced me to, and may have invented, the Three Poles in the Pond theory.

He became my neighbor the same week my wife moved out. He’s at least passively interested in my dating situation.

When I told him I was going on my first date in more than a dozen years, he asked me to send him her digits.

“You want her phone number?”

“No. You don’t know the three-digit rating system?” he asked.

“Dude, I’ve been married,” I said.

“Okay,” he said. “It’s like this…”

The Rating System

Three numbers.

1. The Face Rating (Scale: 1-10)
This is not an exact science.
Whenever I have rated a girl on a scale of 1-10, I’ve never believed a 6 was a very good rating. You know? The way a big red 73% isn’t exactly something you’re proud to see at the top of your high school math test.
Anything rated five and up is good in Ryan’s eyes.
“That’s above average!” he says.
I think he’s full of shit. I employ a more stringent rating method. But I make bad decisions so I’m probably doing it wrong.

2. Would You Sleep with Her? (Yes = 1. No = 2.)

Level of desperation, the lunar cycle and alcohol consumption could all come into play on this one.
But there’s no ambiguity. The second number is an important piece of information. And you only have two choices. Would you? Or wouldn’t you?
This is the part where really important things like personality, chemistry and self-respect come into play.

3. The Body Rating (Scale: 1-10)

Just like the Face Rating.
But everyone likes different things, so these ratings are always subjective.
Some men like chesty women. Others like petite ones.
Some men prefer thicker hind ends. The curvy look.
Some like tall women. Or athletes. Or BBWs.

My first date in a dozen years was a 7-1-6 in my estimation.

My second date was a 9-2-7.

So, chemistry goes a long way with me.

Ryan still remembers old girlfriends and women he has met by their numbers. He and his friends still banter about the 8-1-7 from that one night last year, or the 3-2-10 that got drunk with them on their last camping trip.

On my first date, Ryan insisted I text him the numbers.

So the first time she went to the restroom at the bar, I texted to Ryan: “7-1-6.”

“Yeah man. Take her home!” was his response. He’s an excellent combination of polite gentleman and total savage.

I don’t have a good sense of how offensive women will consider this. But I’m curious to find out.

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