Tag Archives: Childhood

New Things and Places Make You Grow and I’m Almost 1% of the Way There

Guy walking down road traveling

(Image/smagmagazine.wordpress.com)

Even though I lived in three different states growing up, I didn’t understand that people in other places were different than the people I was accustomed to seeing around me.

As I imagine there are many common traits among people living in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, so it is with people in Iowa, Illinois and the part of Ohio in which I was raised.

I was born in Iowa.

My parents split when I was 4 and I moved to Ohio to begin my school years. I spent a lot of time in Iowa and Illinois along the Mississippi River visiting my family throughout those years. Both places—Ohio, and the Mississippi River Valley—provide feelings of Home.

There wasn’t a ton of money floating around nor did I know anyone close to me with a passion for travel.

So I didn’t get out much.

Which is actually fine as it’s happening when you’ve never experienced anything different. Contentment is a highly underrated thing—a lesson I learned the hard way after graduating from college. What I lacked in material wealth and life experience was more than made up for in genuine contentment, surrounded by wonderful family and friends no matter which state I was in.

How do you manufacture a decent guy with a genuinely kind heart and good intentions who is capable of ditching his crying wife in the hospital hours after giving birth to his beautiful newborn son?

There are an incalculable number of factors, but I fear many innocent and well-meaning actions and conditions contributed.

I was born to very young parents. They were eightish years younger than my ex-wife and I when our son was born. I didn’t feel ready at 29. It’s hard to imagine how they must have felt.

I am, for all intents and purposes, an only child.

Because my mom is from a very large family of kind, loving people; and because my dad was from a mid-sized family who didn’t see me often; and because I made friends easily and was seemingly well liked by their parents and my teachers because I’m naturally outgoing and well mannered, I was showered with an almost-obscene amount of love, support and affirmation growing up.

These things feel good. And almost every day felt good. Being me was a very positive experience.

I think my dad spoiled me just a bit because of our unfortunate geographic situation which kept us from a typical father-son relationship. I think my mom took it pretty easy on me in terms of chores and responsibilities around the house because she was so accustomed to (and skilled at) accomplishing home management tasks from being the oldest of many brothers and sisters, so I got used to things just “magically” getting taken care of.

Folded laundry. Swept floors. Clean counters. Spotless bathrooms. Stocked fridge and pantry.

My only real job was schoolwork, and I could perform academically at a fairly high level without trying hard, and certainly without learning the material inside and out. After all that K-12 learning, followed by whatever I did to get a bachelor’s degree, I’d be surprised if I’ve retained even 10 percent of it. We’ll never know.

So what DID I “know”?

  1. Being myself makes most people like me, and I don’t have to work hard for things.
  2. I’m totally smart, which means when people disagree with me or challenge my beliefs, there’s an above-average chance they’re wrong.
  3. Life is beautiful, people are kind, and mostly good things happen, which means sad, depressed, angry or impoverished people just aren’t trying hard enough. Yay, life!
  4. People are mostly the same everywhere you go. It’s obvious because I’ve been between Iowa and Ohio my entire life, and it pretty much all looks and feels the same! Neat!

Certainly, attending a 20,000-plus-student public university after 12 years of Catholic schooling in a town with the same amount of people delivered some eye-opening moments.

Not everyone believes what I believe. Some objectively super-smart people disagree with some of my political philosophies and can articulate why without saying anything moronic. Also, I’m friends with black people! 

But the real shock to the system happened when I braved a move outside of my little four-state bubble in middle America, moving to a Florida beach town on the Gulf side to take a newspaper reporting job.

Because we all live inside our own heads and nowhere else, and because I hadn’t done a lot of travelling, and because when I had gone to other places, they shared many cultural similarities with my hometown, I assumed people were pretty much the same everywhere, at least in the United States.

In other words, I thought I was moving to Ohio with Nice Weather and Beaches.

It only took me a few months in Florida to observe how incorrect my assumption had been, and to learn an important life lesson at the age of 23:

Different people in different places often have different beliefs and different life experiences than I do, and those differences feel as natural to them as my normal does to me.

Oh, the Places We’ll Go

Last week, one guy I met while living in Florida told his oldest son to pick any place in the world to visit for a father-son trip. The boy (I think he’s 11) chose Tokyo, Japan. And off they went, leaving mom and the younger two brothers behind. Those two looked like they had an awesome time, and I imagine both father and son will have grown significantly from the experience in some way.

As I type, another friend is in the midst of a two-week tour of Europe. She texted me some photos from Switzerland that made me want to drop everything and go there. Mountains. Waterfalls. The greenest greens. And those totally rad “Ri-cola!” horns.

A new friend, author and potential future collaborator routinely travels the globe, has lived in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, is married to a Dutch man she now lives with in south Florida, and returned less than a month ago from a speaking gig in Stockholm, Sweden.

That’s just regular life for her.

For me, that’s, like, whoa.

I started traveling domestically in my second job out of school, which had brought me back to Ohio. Every couple of months, I was going somewhere for a conference or industry trade show. It was then that I really felt as if I was broadening my horizons in my mid- to late-twenties.

I took a look at a map to evaluate where I’ve been.

Toronto, Ont. is my furthest trek north. New York City is my furthest east. To the south, Key West, Fla. And to the west, San Diego, Calif.

I downloaded an app where you can log all of the places you’ve been. I went through it carefully, marking my destinations.

Two countries. My homeland. And Canada. And let’s be honest. When you’re from the United States, and you occasionally get Canadian coins handed to you when cashiers are making change, and when the border is way closer than half of the U.S. states, it doesn’t really feel like international travel.

And unless I’m forgetting one, I’ve visited 24 states and Washington D.C.

That’s it.

About half of the states in my native country and a few cities in one Canadian province.

My new app was kind enough to calculate what percentage of the world I’ve seen.

That figure? 0.8 percent.

I’m 37 years old. And I try to write stories that I hope might help someone live and love better.

And I’ve seen less than 1 percent of this world.

There’s More to Life Than What We Think We Know

I’d seen and read a bunch of things about saltwater fish and coral reefs, but until I went snorkeling off the coast of the Florida Keys, I couldn’t accurately describe their beauty.

I’d seen and read a bunch of things about New York and Washington D.C. throughout my childhood, but until I walked the streets of Manhattan or sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I couldn’t marvel at all the steel and concrete that makes up NYC, or feel what a grateful American feels looking out over my favorite visual piece of our nation’s capital.

I’d seen and read a bunch of things about California and the Pacific Ocean, but I was 28 before I stood on Mission Beach for the first time and felt the awesome power of the largest body of water on Earth, and could finally understand why so many people are willing to move so far away and spend so much money to live near it.

I am a better, different, wiser, more intelligent, more balanced, more complete human being for having experienced the few life-expanding places and moments I have.

And I’ve seen less than 1 percent of all there is to see.

How much better, different, wiser, more intelligent, more balanced, more complete might I be if I see more? How much more might you be?

Maybe we owe ourselves the opportunity to find out.

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In the Trailer Park with Elise and a Deaf Man

Woman piano player

(Image/Mike Kemp)

I lived in an Iowa trailer park.

Mom always called it a “mobile home,” and fondly remembers it as being “the nicest one in the neighborhood.”

I have no idea whether that’s true. Little kids don’t think about things like that.

I’d sit atop my favorite blanket spread out in the living room and play with my Star Wars and He-Man toys. I was 3 years old.

My mother sat on the bench in front of our upright piano—probably our finest possession—playing beautifully, despite the handicap of having small hands consistent with her short stature.

I’m sure my mother played many things on the piano.

But I only remember one: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Für Elise, a common choice of beginning pianists. I didn’t know the name of the piece until I was in my 20s. This version is gorgeous:

Near as I can tell, this is my oldest memory.

What are our lives, if not a collection of memories? And if this is my oldest one, what must it be worth?

Save the things we cherish today—right this second—what could be worth more?

I cried and begged my mom not to make me take naps, staring and poking at the bottom of the top bunk which no one ever slept in.

I sobbed when she threw away my blanket because the stitching had come undone on the binding.

I developed anger issues when my parents later divorced and mom moved us 500 miles to Ohio.

But there is no amount of sadness, anger or pain that can erase those moments with mom at the piano.

Everything was—really and truly—okay.

I didn’t worry about what people thought of me, or how to make more money, or whether I’ll ever meet a girl who will like me, and who I like back.

I was just there. Just being. Pure and innocent and totally content.

With my mom who would make it okay. With my dad who would come home from work later and play Star Wars with me.

And with this piece of music. Magic.

Just a footnote on the list of Beethoven’s best work. One he chose not to publish for the final 17 years of his life.

Maybe he thought it was shitty. Maybe he thought it would never matter to anyone.

I wonder what he’d think of that score being an endearing and enduring memory of some random stranger on the other side of the world more than 200 years after writing it.

He probably wouldn’t care.

But I’d like to believe the implications would make him feel good about his impact on the world.

Beethoven is famous for being deaf.

He wrote some of the world’s most influential musical pieces between age 30 and his death at 56, totally unable to hear any of it.

What’s the equivalent of that? A fragrance maker who can’t smell? A photographer who can’t see? A choreographer who can’t walk?

The story of Beethoven’s accomplishments in music following his hearing loss (which happened gradually—he wasn’t completely deaf until around age 30) is the ultimate retort for anyone offering excuses for why they can’t achieve success in their life pursuits.

He was shy. Socially awkward. Ill-tempered. And had, according to various biographies, an “unfortunate physical appearance.”

Women apparently didn’t want to have sex with, or marry, him.

The lonely genius.

So he poured himself into his art, producing many of the world’s most famous symphonies, which are still heard today—more than two centuries later.

A deaf man wrote music that people absolutely adore 200 years later. I don’t have an adjective for how astounding that is.

Even though Beethoven never married, he still had feelings. A love letter he never sent to a married woman named Antonie Brentano was found after his death.

Für Elise is linked to a couple different women, but there’s no direct evidence he was in love with them.

Beethoven’s loneliness is worth contemplating. Here’s a man so famous that every classically educated person on the planet has heard of him. He was admired and beloved while still alive despite being a prickly cock to most in his life.

We all know somebody like that. Except the one we know is a retired electrician or factory worker, and not very many people will remember them after they die because they didn’t leave behind anything of value.

They didn’t leave behind anything beautiful.

Not like this. This ode to Elise.

Beethoven was dead 40 years before ANOTHER guy named Ludwig found Für Elise and published it.

This musical composition is an afterthought.

If any hardcore classical music fans read this, they’ll probably think the score is low-level bullshit compared to Beethoven’s—and his genius German musical predecessors, Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart—most influential work.

You know how popular albums always have three or four songs everyone knows, surrounded by songs most people have never heard or care to?

It’s super-common for my favorite songs to be among those lesser-known titles. It’s either because I have amazing taste that most plebs could never understand, or because I’m the trailer-park rube who likes crappy things that will never be popular.

Both are possible.

I can listen to Für Elise on repeat for hours, as I have through this entire writing.

I don’t know how the world hears it. Maybe people think it’s silly that I don’t prefer Beethoven’s 5th or 9th symphonies.

Maybe dudes who lived in Iowa trailer parks can’t tell the difference between good and great.

I only know this:

My mother didn’t play Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 while He-Man was riding Battle Cat, or while Luke was lightsaber-fighting Vader back when the good guys always won.

She didn’t play Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 back then. Before the whole world changed, and everything went from safe and perfect to something else. To something unsteady.

But mom did play Für Elise 33 years ago, and it was beautiful. And even now, when it’s playing, it’s almost like nothing bad could ever happen.

It’s almost as if everything is going to be okay no matter what.

Maybe because it is.

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Admit It: You’re Just Making This Up As You Go

It's one of those secrets no one told us.

It’s one of those secrets no one told us.

I was just a young hormonal Catholic school boy sitting in church on Sundays begging God to forgive me every time I thought about having sex with one of the girls I saw.

Why am I thinking about sex in church!?!?

I used to think I was so bad.

I used to feel so guilty.

I used to look around at the backs of all the grownups and think to myself: It must be great being an adult! You can control all these thoughts and FINALLY be a good, disciplined person!

I was just a young, helpless virgin with no one to talk to about it. I wonder what THAT feels like!

I’d watch my mom and stepdad living their lives. They NEVER sinned!

I’d sit at the dinner table at my friends’ houses, quietly studying other families. They’ve got it all figured out!

When I was a kid, I didn’t know the secret.

I didn’t know everyone else was wearing a mask, too.

When I was a kid, I thought everyone’s lives were amazing and had every reason to look forward to adulthood when I wouldn’t make mistakes and feel guilt anymore.

I didn’t know everyone was having marital problems, having sex with other people or wishing they were.

I didn’t know the secret until I was well into my thirties: We’re all just making this up as we go.

You Are Not Alone

At least one of you (and probably many more) can relate in some way to all that young, hormonal, confused kid stuff. At least one of you thought you were going to reach adulthood and have the great “Ah-ha!” moment we’re all waiting for, and at some point it finally dawned on you that it never actually comes.

You don’t just wake up feeling like an adult one day.

You always just feel like a scared, confused kid, and realize with horror—maybe after having children of your own—that you ARE an adult, even though you don’t always feel or act like one.

And I just want you to know that you’re not weird.

I just want you to know that you’re not the only person who doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing.

I want you to know that it’s okay to be scared. Because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

That it’s okay to be confused. Because things didn’t turn out the way you thought they would. Because not even you are who you thought you would be.

And that it’s okay to be sad. Because you wasted all those childhood years looking forward to these shittier, adult years, never once stopping to think: “Holy shit! I’m a kid! No one needs me for anything! All I have to do in the entire world is hang out with friends all the time and learn stuff! I better enjoy this while it lasts!”

We were all in such a hurry to grow up.

So we could have FUN!

Because we thought drinking beer and having sex and getting into bars and trips to Vegas and having a job with a paycheck would be better than playing playground kickball and freeze tag and passing notes in class and sneaking kisses behind the school.

Because we thought having our own money would be better than our parents just giving us some.

God, we were stupid. And by stupid, I really just mean ignorant. It wasn’t our fault.

It’s natural to want to drive a car. And stay up as late as we want. And go to whatever party we want. And wear whatever clothes we want. To be cool.

It’s natural to be curious. To want to try new things. And to do things we’re not supposed to.

The forbidden fruit, and all that.

It’s natural to want what we can’t have.

I’m not into Buddhism. But Buddhists wisely recognize that we DO gain value in our lives from our pursuit of things we want, even though acquiring or achieving those things didn’t bring us any palpable happiness or perceived value.

That experience brings us value. The garnering of wisdom from chasing and getting, followed by the lack of long-term fulfillment afterward.

That knowledge is valuable. Because it gives us wisdom.

We didn’t fail because our lives aren’t like we thought they would be.

This, in a lot of ways, was inevitable.

Behaving like human beings and suffering the consequences was inevitable.

That’s what’s real.

I think that’s part of really being an adult. Really being human.

I think it’s one of the many fragments of that “Ah-ha!” moment we’re all waiting to experience, but end up collecting one little realization at a time.

When the light bulb clicks.

When it dawns on us that we’re not the only one.

When we see a quote from Socrates and realize: Hell. I already figured that one out for myself.

“The only true wisdom is to know that you know nothing.”

It feels good to admit it.

It feels good to grow up.

It feels good to realize all those other boys in church were thinking the same things.

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Guest Post: The Pigs Were Important

Important.

Important.

NOTE: This is the second in a series of guest posts scheduled to run while I’m away from real life. Ironically, in today’s post, David mentions Milan, Ill. And as long as I’m not dead, that’s exactly where I am right now, immersed in the warmth of friends and family I don’t see often enough. I asked David (the blogger behind both The Marmot in My Head and Sounds like Orange) to write because I believe we’re kindred spirits. Because I believe we both find unique beauty in the mundane. Because David is just very real, very… human. And that’s something that means a lot to me. Because that’s exactly what I want to be. Thank you, David.

Have a seat everyone. Get comfortable. We’re going to talk about livestock, pigs, uncles and chess.

Grab a beer or pop from the fridge. Yes, that’s “pop” because, today, location matters. You see, my roots overlap with Matt’s, barely I suppose, but closer than you’d imagine. They overlap in a place where “soda” is for baking and “pop” is for fizzy-drinking. Where? Milan. Matt’s dad ended up in Milan, Ill. My aunt and uncle live just outside of Milan on a farm.

I can assure you that the Milan in Italy and the Milan in Illinois differ. In two hours in Milan, Italy, I did two things: change trains and find an internet cafe. Neither are possible in the Illinois version. True, my actual roots are from a little farther west along the Iowa-Nebraska border, but culturally, they are almost identical.

We’ll start in Elk Horn, Iowa, a town 10 miles off the interstate halfway between Des Moines and Omaha that billed itself as the Danish capital of America. Yup. They have a windmill and a museum to prove it. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I was five years old when my family and I visited, staying at my grandparent’s house on a farm just outside of town. It was a typical farmhouse, seemingly both spacious and cramped all at once. There were toys, too, including that electric train track that always smelled like it was smoldering.

I was bored.

I could go outside, I suppose, but as a “city kid” (anyone living in a place with more than 5,000 people), I wasn’t allowed to go near the farm equipment, the road, the barns, the pastures, the animals. Really, I was allowed on the porch and the driveway. Boring, yes, but the noisy tractors were scary and the weirdly massive pigs were scarier yet.

Oddly, at the other grandparent’s house, where several barns were partly fallen down, a windmill that had stolen part of my dad’s finger when he was a child, “filled in” outhouse pits and tractors that were older than my parents, I was given free reign. Not in Iowa, though.

For whatever reason, my uncle found me, not my brother or sister, but me and invited me along to do chores. He was the tallest in a family where, at 6’4″, I would be the shortest adult male in two generations. First (and last), we went to the pig barn where there were creatures that looked like the Jolly Green Giant’s hot dogs, with surprisingly agile flat pink noises and almost as much hair as in my grandparent’s ears.

A quiet sleeping pig is not that scary, but when food is coming or the mud is just right, they turn into terrifying steam engines randomly bouncing off one another. Worse yet, I’m told, is their behavior around threatened piglets. My uncle, one of the calmest, gentlest people in the world, opened the door to the pen, lured me in and told me to stand quietly just over there near the edge. He poured feed into the trough and the pigs (were they hogs?) surged. They bumped into my uncle. He shoved them back. Then, from off to the side, a piercing squealing noise. One of the piglets had gotten a foot caught in the wire fencing. Sure my uncle could handle that all by himself, but he called me over anyway.

So, I delicately stepped past mud and pig poops, worrying about a pig tsunami, to join him by the fence. While he held the 40 pound piglet in his arms, I worked the wire out from around the pig’s hind leg. Then, once free, my uncle set him down, shutting down the pig air raid siren and letting the piglet scurry beetle-like over to the trough with the rest. I’d still be afraid to step into a pig pen, but I learned that calmness in the face of fear is often all that’s needed for things to work out.

But wait, there’s more. Later that week, my uncle got married. I remember that day because he was getting married on my birthday. At the time, I thought he chose that date just for me. After all, he gave me a spectacular watercolor paint set and unlike my infinitely cuter (and younger) brother and sister, gave me nothing to do at his wedding. I got to just sit and enjoy it. Obviously, it wasn’t for me, but, when you’re six years old, who can tell?

My uncle had a way to be an adult, a real adult, and be with children, treating them not as pests or annoyances, but as real people who, for the moment, are smaller than the rest of the world. Among my favorite memories was him lying down on the floor to teach me how to play chess. I was and still am horrible at it, but there he was at my level, in my world, showing me how my world worked.

I don’t see him much, but that doesn’t keep me from being impressed by him. Later, I don’t know when, I remember him being the one person who could give real advice to my sister. Later still, when my life was a mess, he was the only person I knew who could accept me as an expert at digging holes in life and still offer constructive advice for living better. Most recently, he finished grad school again (a veterinarian in the past and now a public health degree) and takes periodic trips volunteering for agricultural education in Tanzania. He’s not perfect by any means, but he accepts life as it is, lives it as best he can, and leaves the best bits of himself lying around for the benefit of others.

I’m not like him, but I want to be.

Maybe I am and I just can’t tell.

I’ve left bits of me lying around, but sometimes I needed those bits myself.

I’ve botched a marriage, but then again, so has he.

I never did get as tall as he is… but that’s okay, I guess.

I’m tall enough.

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Things I Learned About Myself From My Baby Book

memory-lane

I once shit my pants four times during a wedding and everyone in the church heard each one.

Four times.

Last time my mom visited, she asked me whether I ever looked at my baby book.

She had given it to me to keep on my 30th birthday. I put it with the photo albums and never thought much about it.

I told her no, and I think it made her feel bad.

My ex-wife asked me recently for the cabinet in which we kept keepsakes like that. So now I have a bunch of old photo albums and my baby book sitting out.

I decided to commit some time to going through them.

Reading my baby book—which I haven’t completed yet, as I want to do this in real-time—I’m learning some things about myself I didn’t know.

That’s fascinating to me. I DID all these things. And I have no idea I did them.

Like all those keg parties in college.

I’m kidding.

Probably.

A Trip Down No-Memory Lane

I was so blessed to know all four of my great-grandparents on my mother’s side. A perk of being born to a young mother. They were beautiful people.

On my father’s side, I only knew my great-grandmother—the mother of my dad’s dad. The other three had died, as had my dad’s mom, prior to my birth.

I now know all of their names.

Earl and Laura. Lewis and Edith.

Maybe I’ll look them up someday.

My mother (who did a ridiculously good job detailing my early years) wrote that it took me four days to recognize her, but that I recognized my father almost immediately.

“He really is a Daddy’s boy!” she wrote.

My first word was “Ma-ma.” Good for mom. She deserved that.

I apparently loved to sing. Which is weird because I’m really terrible at it now, when I can speak well and know a lot of songs. I can’t even begin to fathom how shitty I must have been at singing when my vocabulary was predominantly baby gibberish.

My favorite stuff to play with were things I wasn’t supposed to. Shocking.

They used to call me Matrick Fitzpatrick as a nickname. Rad.

Oh, hell no…

My mother wrote that my first “girlfriend” was a girl named Kristy. When we were both babies.

The reason this is awesome is because I remember who this is.

When we were in junior high, Kristy’s dad used to come over once in a while and bring her along.

She was uncomfortably hot (you know, in junior-high terms). And I was a lot more confident back then.

One night, I stole some of my stepdad’s cologne so Kristy would think I smelled sexy.

We fell asleep on the couch together watching the original 1960s Batman film with Adam West.

Kristy and Batman. I must have been on Cloud Nine.

But when I woke up, Kristy was gone. And my mother was sniffing my neck.

“Are you wearing… cologne!?!?”

“Umm. No! What? No way. How would that happen? Of course not. Why would I be wearing cologne?”

I’m not sure I ever saw Kristy again after that.

Thanks a lot, mom.

I was two months old during the quad-shit wedding incident.

One of the gifts I received on my first birthday in 1980: “A leisure suit.”

Even+Goldmember+is+grossed+out+_7287f853faf49e5d134885d168995d81

One of the gifts I received on my third birthday (1982): 50 cents.

You’ve got to be shitting me. So this is what gypped restaurant servers feel like.

My first celebrity meeting?

*drumroll*

TOM POSTON!

Wait. What? You don’t think that’s awesome? Tom freaking Poston, baby!

No?

He played Mr. Bickley in Mork & Mindy!

tompostonsmallerYeah, I didn’t watch it either.

I was busy being a toddler.

In October 1986, I took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and scored better than 89 percent of all the other second graders in the United States.

Suck it, other second graders!

My worst score, by far? Word analysis. I ranked 59th for that.

I got three 93s. Vocabularly. Spelling. Math concepts.

59th for word analysis?!?!

inconceivable“Hey Matt! You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

What they should have tested me on was my sick art skills.

If you need a reindeer drawn that looks like a cow, I’m your huckleberry, according to my letter to Santa in 1986.

IMG_0577

Just as I was feeling bad about my subpar art skills, I stumbled upon this gem, created by my aunt, who is just four years older than me. I’m assuming she made this for us when I was born. And I’m also assuming she didn’t mean to draw a bunch of multi-colored penises and upside-down Ls. If that’s my dad in the middle, he’s about to have a really bad day. But at least he has his entire body. I look like a turd with limbs.

IMG_0576

My letter to Santa in 1987. I didn’t believe in proper punctuation or capitalization back then:

“Dear. Saint Nick,

Please tell the Reindeer I said hi please give me some Ghostbusters and some Ghost

Please give me the Ecto 1 and Headquarters

Turn Over!”

*turns paper over*

“Hope you like the cupcake! Please Write Back!”

And then I drew Santa a very nice picture of himself with a black ink pen. He has just one boot on and a bunch of stars surrounding his face.

No wonder I didn’t get the damn firehouse headquarters.

I received my first-ever phone call from a girl in the fourth grade.

It was on May 6, 1989 at 9:38 a.m. This was apparently a big deal to my mom. But she didn’t write down who it was.

Which is a bummer because I was just about to call her up to see if she is single.

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