Holy Cripes on Toast!

I don’t have a good reason to write this post outside of wanting to bring one of my favorite video games of all time to your attention.

The game is a weird little point and click adventure game called Sam and Max: Hit the Road. It’s based off a series of goofy comic books written and drawn by a dude who used to work at LucasArts (the video game division of George Lucas’ Star Wars empire) who also happens to work with Pixar and is responsible for really cool things like the screenplay for Brave.

The year was 1995 (or maybe 1996? 97? This is really unimportant) and I was at Best Buy looking through the PC games section, and I came across this little CD case on sale for $9.99 with a silly cartoon picture on the front and a warning label saying “Warning: Naked Bunny with Attitude” on the front. I’ll be honest, I was probably more taken with the fact that this game was in my price range more than anything else. But lucky me, I had hit the jackpot with this random uninformed purchase, because with this one random act of chance, I found a game that would occupy a space in my brain for years to come, and, obviously, gave me something to talk to you about today.

If I’m being honest, the gameplay isn’t really all that great. Point and click adventure games tend to get rather tedious as you try to go back through all of the places you’ve already been in order to find the one thing that you can click on that will open up the next part of the story. The same thing happens here. I remember during my first play through, I spent hours going from one location to the next trying to figure out what I was missing. And actually, it’s probably that exact piece which stuck with me, because these locations are one of the things I love most about this game. Well, that and the spectacular dialogue which I find myself still quoting to this day.

It’s an adventure story about an anthropomorphic dog and rabbit who call themselves the Freelance Police. They get a case where a local carnival’s bigfoot has gone missing. This leads them on a chase across the country to solve the mystery of the missing bigfoot, taking them to such great locales such as The Largest Ball of Twine, or Gator Golf (a flooded mini-golf course infested with alligators), or the World of Fish (which looks an awful lot like the World’s Largest Musky in Hayward, WI).

It’s quirky in all of the best ways, and led to this odd couple getting their own Saturday morning cartoon, as well as a series of new similar games released about a decade ago and a new VR game coming out this fall.

Sam and Max have this fanatical cult following which has allowed them to continue to exist for decades and, amusingly enough, I don’t know of a single other person who knows about them, except the people I have showed them to directly.

I picked up a copy of this original game again not too long ago and I’ve been slowly reworking through it with my youngest kid, and the whole time I play it, I’m instantly brought back to sitting in my dusty room in front of my beige monitor, playing the game with several high school friends crowded around shouting ideas on what we need to do next. And…I kinda love it.

So, this is really just a long post telling you all about how much I’ll need to pick up a VR setup just so I can play the new game when it comes out. Or maybe that you should also consider playing it…I guess. I really don’t know how much this holds up outside of the nostalgia aspect for me. But that at least is keeping it fresh and fun all the same.

Flash Fiction: How to Subjugate Humanity – Part I

In a dark room, hidden away in a level of the earth only few know exists, there were six towel-clad men, sitting around a oval table, leaning back against the wall behind them as they sweated profusely from the hellish heat from their lava-powered sauna.

These men had joined together on this day with only one order of business in mind: how best to continue bending humanity to their will.

Generations of these six men had been meeting together in this forbidden lair for hundreds of years, slowly guiding the course of mankind. Their names were known to but a few, their existence was believed by most to be nothing more than myth.

They were referred to in drunken barroom conversations as the Six Jew Bankers, an anti-semitic reference to the belief that these men stemmed from the lineage of Jacob. The truth of their history was far older. Even the men in this room had no true answers as to their organization’s origins or why they had been tasked with their most holy of priorities. In recent years, the group had decided to lean in to their supposed Hebraic heritage, jokingly referring to themselves as Children of Roth, yet another way of obscuring their true nature.

These six men, and their forebears, had directed mankind through every major moment since man’s first appearance on this earth. Although many saw their efforts as nefarious, the reality is that these nameless men wanted nothing more than for mankind to succeed, as through humanity’s successes was how they would profit.

Today was their annual Schvitz ‘n Kibitz, where they would offer up their latest schemes for world domination and receive feedback from each other on how to better those schemes to further the profitability of subjugation. This same annual meeting had led to the American Industrial Revolution, when the representative from North America, still feuding with the representative from Europe over the fairness of the Revolutionary War, had decided to steal the European delegate’s newest plot away from him. The African slave trade was started as a result of the representative from Africa losing their annual game of mahjong. The world was a mere three tiles away from Australia becoming the center of the trade. Of course, the delegation from Australia’s loss a few years later would result in its status as a prison island not long afterward. Some of the most fickle arguments in this archaic sauna had resulted in some of the most tumultuous times in the world’s history.

This day would turn out to be no different, as they all relaxed in the heat and settled in to finally discuss the business they intended to follow through for the coming year.

“Gentlemen,” the representative from Asia began, “as we move into the year 2020, I have great plans. And believe it or not, they all begin with a bat.”

The other five men laughed, assuming their brother from the East had made a joke. The Asian delegate waited for the laughter to abate before continuing.

“I have an idea that is bigger than anything we’ve done in over a hundred years.”

The Drama of Authorship

Nearly twenty years ago now, I was in the midst of moving back to Eau Claire, WI after a brief stint back in my hometown of Lexington, SC and was interested in finding some things to do once I returned to the Midwest. I had long enjoyed my time on the stage in high school and was aware of a friend of mine who had spent a little time working with one of the regional theatre groups in Eau Claire, reached out to her, and shortly thereafter was auditioning for Scrooge for the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre.

I actually managed to get a little role as Scrooge’s friend from youth and then when another actor dropped out, I picked up the additional role of Jacob Marley’s ghost (who, coincidentally, was also kind of a friend of Scrooge). And, although I know this sounds hyperbolic, my life was forever changed.

First of all, yes, it most definitely was forever changed. If I hadn’t started working with the ECCT, I would have never met the woman who would become my wife and the mother of my three children, so, it’s not hyperbolic in the least to say that this was a pivotal moment in my life.

But that’s only a portion of how my life would change, because it also introduced me to the arts as something more than just a fun hobby. While I definitely wasn’t getting paid for my time at the ECCT, I was spending over 10 hours a week there for at least a couple years. It introduced me to a community of artists and friends that have forever changed how I would perceive my own artistries and was the primary reason I found myself trying to make a movie back in the mid-2000s. I had found artistic expression as the pinnacle of what I wanted to do with my life.

Unfortunately, this isn’t quite where the happy ending comes in. I made not only one, but two movies, as well as a few other short-form projects, and I never really felt like I knew what I was doing behind the camera. And so, after I finished the second movie, I entered a period of artistic drought. I had become so disenchanted with my work on these movies because of all of the failures in myself I saw projected on the screen that I simply didn’t know how to move forward knowing that everything I considered a failure about my two movies were entirely my fault.

I then started working a real 9-5 cubicle farm job (which, as a note, happened right before I was offered a paying acting gig at the local dinner theatre, which I reluctantly turned down, partially because of the artistic funk I was in, partially because I was recently married and felt I needed to start providing for my family). I had gotten to this point in my life where I felt like I needed to settle down a bit and think more realistically about my future, and, well, even if I wasn’t feeling so down on myself about my art, it’s not exactly a field ripe with opportunities.

And, I’m again not being hyperbolic when I say how much of an emotional toll my artistic drought took on me. It was during this period that I reached out for the first time in my life to get help with my depression and started taking medication for it.

It wouldn’t be until the point where my wife and I were expecting the birth of our first child that I finally felt myself begin to emerge out of this drought again. Over two years of hiding from my artistic self was ended by the fact that I wanted to do something I could be proud to show my children someday. So, I started working on the book which would become The Legend of Buddy Hero. While working on that book, I began understanding why I had such troubles when I was making films. For one, I had completely rushed the writing process. This was a huge issue, considering I had never written anything with a full narrative arc prior to these movies. I had done some skits and writing for the school newspaper. And I did more than my fair share of writing weird experimental fiction. But I didn’t did anything that tried to tell a full story before. And there I was, crapping out a first draft of a script and handing it to my friends with no real vision for what the film was going to look like, as we head out to shoot for the day. I was incredibly into the concept of artistic expression, but not so much into making sure I knew what I was doing before jumping in.

I wish I could say that this realization made all the difference when working on my first book, but the reality is that I initially rushed the release of that one as well, and didn’t realize how much it remined me of those same film failures until I happened to hear someone reading it out loud and I turned the brightest shade of red as I realized how stilted my attempts at developing a character arc was.

But, this time, I was still in the zone, so I took that book off the market and tried writing something completely different. Something focused entirely on action, just to see if I could get something that moved from point A to point B in a fashion people would find interesting. I first wrote the first draft to Agora Files in only 30 days, because of how much I was into the artistic expression. But, I made the decision to put it aside for a bit and to come back to it fresh, to see if I could maybe see those same things I had seen in my movies and previous book if I simply didn’t have it so fresh in my mind. So, I went back and edited Buddy Hero, which ended up being nearly a complete rewrite.

And writing became so much better when I began developing this process for myself to actually find my best artistic self. And I fell in love with writing hard. While I certainly faltered along the way, it wasn’t long before I had other authors reaching out to me asking for tips on how to do something in their book because of how they saw me doing the things I was doing, or just simply professing their love for my writing. So, although I wasn’t making enough money to write full time, I was definitely feeling validated as an author, as an artist. And that felt incredible.

As noted before, a few years ago I had to take a little bit of a step back from writing because of life interfering and me wanting to focus on my family. But also, like I said, I hadn’t stopped writing completely. And it was at almost this exact time that the executive director of the ECCT reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be involved in their attempts to write their own show. This was to be a committee project, where a bunch of people who had done these types of shows before would get put together and try to piece something together. And it was a fun creative process, but as is to be expected with committee work, it moved slowly.

As our deadline was approaching, I was asked to do the heavy lifting on completing a final script on my own. And although these scripts are broad comedy, which is a genre I hadn’t traditionally worked in, we produced something I thought was spectacularly funny and from what I heard (I wasn’t able to attend any of the performances due to my work schedule at the time) the crowds absolutely loved it.

It wouldn’t be until a couple years later when I was having a conversation with the executive director when we came up with the idea that I should take on writing my own script. Which I did. And I was able to watch. And I had this completely amazing moment of seeing my words performed before me, under the direction of this artist who I’ve long respected for his ability to turn a writer’s vision into something special. And I reached this amazing moment where I was back at this place where I was first inspired to make creating art my life’s work, watching my art come alive before me.

And, interestingly enough, I was inspired again. I’ll always have stories to tell which will work best through novels, but I now can’t help but want to try to write even more stories for the stage. And as if this all wasn’t full circle of a story enough, this same director was asking me if I’d write scripts for them 20 years ago. I just wasn’t confident enough in myself back then.

But now, twenty years later, I got this new season’s brochure in the mail, and I see the title of my newest script included in the season’s lineup. And it feels pretty awesome.

The “Golden Age” of Comics

The demons at Gayland!

I mentioned a week or so ago about how I’ve been reading through the comics published by DC through the 1930s and 1940s. To be clear, I started with Action Comics #1, published in April of 1938, and I’m nearly finished with all the books they’ve put on their digital platform DC Universe Infinite up through 1943.

It’s been a wild ride so far. So many characters that we know and love today had already been created by this point, like The Joker, Plastic Man, Jimmy Olsen, and even The Cheetah. And it has been interesting to see such things like the original Catwoman wearing a full furry-style cat mask, I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply can’t continue.

While interesting from a historical perspective, from an enjoyment perspective, it’s purely terrible.

I get it. It was written for kids. And I’m deep in the midst of the World War II era which means everything made at that time was filled with as much propaganda as possible. And, looking back 80 years means that we’re bound to see all sorts of racist and sexist depictions perpetuated.

But honestly, what’s causing me to stop isn’t even really that as much as it is the sheer atrocity which is the writing.

For an artform which combines pictures and text to tell a story, they sure don’t seem to know how to recognize how much of the story is already being told by the picture. I found a panel while reading last night where the picture showed a guy walking through a door and a portion of the text on the panel (because these panels are absolutely filled with text) literally said “The man walked through the door”.

Now, that’s just an annoyance, obviously, because really, I just don’t want to spend all my time trying to wade through unnecessary text when working my way through ancient comic books. But the worst part of it is how they will absolutely overwrite moments like a guy walking through the door, and then completely blast past things like the villain’s motivations or how they stop the villain. There are countless examples in these early books where we see the hero and the villain in a moment where the hero is certain to lose, only for the next panel to have the hero and their friends crowded together with big smiles on their faces saying “Man, that was a crazy battle, huh? Hope they don’t try that again.” And then they often insert a sexist remark about how women are useless just for a fun sign off.

I’m not one to claim that comic books are known for their writing. There are certainly examples of amazing writing done in the comic book medium, but I’ll admit there’s more than enough crap being written today as well. But, the modern comic book era, and even the silver age, seemed to do a far better job of focusing on the story and knowing exactly how to use a panel to convey all the information necessary, without covering up the picture with text or skipping over the exciting moments.

We often use the phrase “golden age” to reference some ideal time. And this has definitely been true when using it for the dawn of superhero comic books. But, sometimes it just means old, and not the best. In the case of comic books, at least in the DC arena, , golden really probably means first (like in the Olympics?), instead of best.

And unless you want to dig through the books for some historical curiosity, I wouldn’t recommend getting too invested. Unless, of course, you’re looking for something to put you to sleep in between your rage fits about Clark Kent stealing another news story from Lois Lane, even though he wasn’t on the scene, but Superman was.

Golden Age Clark Kent spent so much time wondering why Lois Lane didn’t like him when he would pull these stupid stunts like stealing her stories out from under him just because Superman had to show up and save her. And then she’d be like, “How’d you even get this story?” and he’d say, “Superman told me.” And she would still somehow swoon over Superman although he was literally stealing these stories from her. She was obviously only interested in Superman for the red underpants.

Become an Agent of Karma!

I don’t often like to speak about my thoughts on the sacred realm with people. That’s partially because of how I fear my friends and family will react to my rather open stance on religion, but also because, well, I don’t know that I have a great grasp on it to begin with. And also, I really don’t want to give off the impression that I feel like I have any solid answers. If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s that we are not expected to know everything, even if most of the religions out there would tell you otherwise.

But, for whatever reason, I feel like opening up a bit today. To give you a glimpse into where I sit with the idea of the supernatural. The divine. The unseen. And to do that, I feel like I should probably give a very brief background on my own history with religion.

I grew up in an incredibly fundamentalist church group. My dad was/is a pastor. Throughout my childhood, I had an incredibly detailed education on what the Bible said and what that church group claimed was the only possible interpretation of it. I grew up closed off from other religions. Even other Protestant Christian religions. I remember being invited to go to a friend’s Baptist church where they were holding their Wednesday night revival and being incredibly excited to see how other people went about their worship. I was immediately forbidden to go, being told how dangerous it was to even entertain other interpretations of the Bible.

Needless to say, this only served to cause me greater interest to see what these other groups were teaching that was so darned spiritually fatal.

I already knew the basics like why Martin Luther split off from the Catholic Church, but the differences between the Wesleyans and the Methodists and the Presbyterians and why all these groups considered the other groups anathema, well, it thoroughly intrigued me.

It turns out the separation of Christian religions was a truly boring history lesson and really involved far more politics than anything else. But my interest in the history of religion had been piqued, so I expanded my research. I started looking into newer religions like the Ba’hai. I looked into ancient religions like the Greek/Roman/Norse/Egyptian gods. I fell in love with the tragic story of Buddhism and found myself disgusted by the bits I could find about Molech. This wasn’t obsessive research, mind you, but slow periods of interest spread out over decades. What I found most amazing was the severe amount of similarities between all religions.

Especially with regards to Karma.

Karma is a belief system which basically boils down to do good and good things will happen, do bad and bad things will happen. It’s the eastern religion version of the golden rule. We often think of it as simply as “Be good, get good”.

Karma feels incredibly logical. It’s cosmic justice. And humans love justice. We love things to be fair. One of the primary reasons many atheists believe there can’t be a god is because they simply can’t understand how a just god could allow pain to impact the good. Even the non-religious are on-board with karma.

And it was actually at this point of my understanding of religion that I started to pull away from it. Because karma, within the church, had you focused on the future instead of the here and now. Karma has you focused on what you can get for being good. Karma felt like it was causing me to put my focus in the wrong place. I remember being in high school and questioning why one wouldn’t simply kill themselves to get to the reward faster. I mean, if this world sucks in comparison to the next one, why waste our time here? The church is so incredibly focused on the next realm that this world, the one they claim was made for us, feels incredibly inconsequential.

I guess it’s good that suicide is one of those sins that causes the church the most trouble as far as how to best condemn it, which reminds me of a conversation we had in class when I was in the 3rd grade. Since I went to a Christian Day School, we openly talked about theology often. And on this day, for whatever reason, we had gotten onto the topic of suicide, which then led into a discussion with the teacher where we, the third graders, tried to determine which versions of suicide would take long enough for you to die that you would have time to repent for your sin and still get into heaven.

And after you’ve had a moment to consider how purely screwed up of a conversation that is for a group of 3rd graders to have…

How better to realize how much of religion is about the future than to see a bunch of kids discussing in which ways one could kill themselves and still earn their eternal reward? Like, outside of the subject matter, this wasn’t a morbid discussion. It was a logical review of how far one could get in bending the rules before you absolutely broke them.

Importantly, us 3rd graders wanted to know how bad you could be and still “be good”.

For so long, I’ve bristled at the anti-men rants so many of my feminist friends would go on because they felt like an attack on me. I had similar responses to any anti-cis-white-male stereotype. “But I’m different!” I would shout (quietly to myself as I cried about people not liking me). “I’m one of the good ones!”

But I wasn’t one of the good ones. Not really. Because I never actually spoke up and showed how I was different. Yeah, if someone would speak ill of the Black Lives Matters movements, I would lightly try to explain why BLM is important while still trying to not offend. I would take similarly tentative approaches to many similar movements, but only if someone else broached the subject and forced me to speak my mind and as long as I could find a way without offending or appearing to take a side. I never actively and publicly supported gay marriage, but I would like feeling like an ally when I’d go hang out with my friends at the gay bar. I was following all the rules, but I wasn’t really being any different.

It wasn’t until about a year and a half ago when I realized how much this bothered me about myself. I spent my days feeling helpless as I watched the world being torn apart by protest after protest due to the elections, George Floyd, the pandemic, and countless other things. And all I could see was countless people actively working to put bad into this world. And it wasn’t until I was at my very lowest that I realized that in order to counteract people putting bad into this world, the only option is to put good into it.

It was a simple thought, but it grew rather quickly. I saw how much bad there was and how unjust our world really is, but it wasn’t until that moment when I realized I didn’t need to wait for karma to act. I could be an Agent of Karma. I could work to balance out that cosmic scale.

I could put good into the world.

And so, I did something that I had been hesitating doing for years. I went down to the Red Cross and made my first donation. And although I may have only made a positive impact on one person that day (the Red Cross claims up to three people impacted per donation), I came out of the donation center feeling a whole lot better about the world than I had going in.

I’ve become a little obsessed with the idea of putting good into the world. You might even call it my religion now. So many religions focus on what you can do to improve your own status in life (or afterlife). They see you as a recipient of karma. I’ve come to the conclusion that they could work a whole lot better if we were to all act as Agents of Karma.

Put good into the world. Don’t expect to get it back, just do good. Make the life of one single person on this planet somehow better. And then, if you can…do it again. Maybe as Agents of Karma, the world won’t have to look quite as stark as it does right now.

That’s my belief anyways.

I Appreciate YOU!

At the start of the pandemic, feeling isolated, as one does when in isolation, I decided to finally do something I had been intending to do for a long time: Reach out to my friends and family whom I have friended on Facebook that I haven’t talked to in forever. Considering how busy my life has been, this meant basically everyone.

The problem is…when you haven’t talked to someone in a long time, sometimes it’s difficult to know how to start up a conversation without being incredibly awkward. I’m one of those people who likes to pretend nothing has changed in a relationship, even if it has been years since we’ve talked, and so, knowing that other people aren’t the same, I often found myself at this weird impasse of wondering whether or not they still considered me a friend.

This issue of Schrodinger’s Friend is why I hadn’t talked to many of these people for years.

However, I stuck to my guns and started reaching out, going through my friend list on Facebook and hitting one person a day with a message (meaning this has been going very slowly and there have been more than a couple of periods of me not sending the messages out, meaning I’ve probably only hit about 50 people so far).

It was/is awkward, and I never really know how best to go about starting these conversations, and so, originally I went pretty big with my opener. It was basically: “Hey, just awkwardly reaching out to say I miss you and love you and stuff.”

What I actually sent was quite a bit longer than that minimalist paraphrase because I get extra talkative when I’m feeling awkward. But, I don’t think it was a terrible pick-up line…just maybe not the best way to reach out to someone I haven’t had a conversation with for years.

I wrote multiple different versions of this opener, a new one for each person I contacted, and each time felt just as awkward as the previous. For the people I had kept in relative contact with over the years, it served well to kicking up a new conversation and spending some time catching up. For others, it often went by unanswered. It was because of this, I actually stopped sending the messages out for a while. I loved catching up with people, but it felt like I was getting far more misses than hits.

But the problem was, I really wanted to catch up with everyone (okay, I’ll be honest…almost everyone). I used to have a fairly busy social life, back before having to be both an adult and a parent. As of late, my social life doesn’t often get much farther than interacting with my kids, my kids’ friends, or, very rarely, my kids’ friends’ parents. Don’t get me wrong, these are all the coolest people I could ever talk to…but, well, I miss my friends.

About a month ago, I came across this idea of sending out random notes of appreciation. I really liked the idea, but at the same time, I think appreciation works a whole lot better if you have something specific you can note your appreciation for. A new idea began percolating in my head as to how to start conversations. Something equally as awkward, but perhaps not nearly as necessary for me to put my heart into an awkward message of generalized love.

I send people a gif of a woman saying “I Appreciate You”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that this is the laziest method by which to strike up a conversation with someone. Sending a gif, unaccompanied by any message, through Facebook Messenger, to someone I haven’t talked to in years…it’s really just asking to be ignored.

And it does still get ignored. But I think my success rate in catching up with old friends has actually improved. Mostly because people just assume I sent the gif to the wrong person and feel the need to point that out.

Hook, line, and sinker, I guess would be the really weird and creepy way to respond to that moment.

But the point is, it starts the conversation. And it gives me an opportunity to express my love for my friends and family in a way that wasn’t as available to me when starting out immediately with the love note.

I miss the love note though. I’ve been trying to be more directly appreciative of people in my life, even if they aren’t as directly involved in it nowadays. And this gif feels far more impersonal than the notes I used to write. So, I’m torn. On the one hand, I’m having a far better opportunity to catch up with people I miss. On the other, it’s far more awkward to send the love note after we’ve started conversing and it then goes unsaid.

So, just know, if you’re one of the people who have received a gif saying “I appreciate you”, that’s me telling you I love you.

And now it can be awkward again 🙂

Flash Fiction: The Last Man on Earth

The man walked down the empty street, listening to the sound of his footsteps and the dragging of his suitcase’s wheels as they echoed. It felt like ages since these streets had last been filled with the pollution of noise from cars and people and businesses. He’d like to say he missed it, but he knew that to be a lie. Although he was alone, he found the silence comforting. It was as though he had become a part of something far greater than himself. No longer was the world happening around him. Now he could hear himself and know the world heard him as well.

He heard a crow cawing in the distanced and wondered if it had found something to eat. He had never spent so much time thinking about food before. In the before times, he was considered something of a foodie, which was just a term he liked to use to hide how he was an overindulgent eater. But he didn’t miss it. Being a foodie was a fun way to pass the time in the before times, but it was never important to him. At this point, he’d simply be happy if he could find anything more to eat than SPAM. Something about that sticky pink meat made his stomach turn. The disgusting shlump it made as it fell out of the can definitely didn’t help anything.

The man dragged his rolling suitcase behind him. The suitcase contained all he had left in this world and he didn’t know whether it was even worth keeping. For months he had dragged the suitcase behind him, hoping he’d find some place he’d finally decide would be worth settling down. Some place where there might be some other person to spend the rest of his days on the empty planet with.

So far, all he’d found were the crows. And they seemed to only be interested in him when he was eating.

The sun was setting behind the monstrous buildings and the man decided it would be best to find a place to settle in for the night. He spied a parking garage nearby and walked to it, noting a large barrel nearby that he could use to keep warm. He opened his suitcase, and pulled out one of the books from inside, stopping briefly to inspect his face staring back at him from the back cover, before ripping out the pages of the book and tossing them into the bottom of the barrel.

He laughed as he realized how he had finally achieved his greatest dream. His book was currently the most popular book on the planet.

But…Where DID the Time Go?

As I’ve noted a few times since the relaunch of the blog, the past few years found me in a place where I simply didn’t have as much time for writing as I once had.

And the truth is, I still don’t.

Between work and school and kids and all the things that come along with living life in the fast-paced 21st century, I’ve found it difficult to keep writing as a part of my daily schedule.

Honestly, I’m really not sure how other people do it. I feel like I have my life fairly well organized and I think I’m somewhat put together, but I look at other people and the sheer amount of things they appear to be able to get done in a day and, well, I’m exhausted. I’m at the point where if I don’t have something in my ‘To Do’ list that I have on my phone, I will 100% forget to do it.

Most days end up feeling like a marathon sprint, just running from task to task hoping to be able to get all the things done, so much so that by the end of my day, all I really want to do is collapse in my chair and fall asleep.

I’m actually surprisingly good at time management, but I sometimes wish I didn’t need to manage my time quite so much.

I’ve long dreamed of the moment in which I can quit my job because of some sort of massive influx of wealth. And the one thing I always tell myself I’m going to do when that magic moment happens is to take a nap. My wife laughs at me when I tell her this, and the reality is that depending on how that money comes about, I’d probably be a little too excited to actually get any sleep, but my million dollar wish almost always ends up being a nap.

Because if there’s one thing I miss most in this world, it’s sleep. I’m even past the point where the kids keep me from sleeping. Sure, my boys both get up as soon as the sun is poking its head through the trees, but they generally bother my wife first, who then sends them off to be quiet in front of some screen. But there’s still so much to do! I find myself in my sleep trying to think of how to complete all the things.

And I guess there’s just some small part of me that believes that whenever I finally win the lottery, I’ll feel, at least briefly, as though I can take a little bit of a break and sleep.

So, this is just a short post to tell you that I’m tired. And that I’ve been thinking about putting a nap onto my task list for the day.

But instead, I’m going to get some editing done. And then some work. And then some school. And then I should probably clean that absolutely disgusting bathroom. But not until after I have a lightsaber battle on the front lawn because my youngest is getting stir crazy.

A Little Wednesday Morning Sweetness

My wife and I have spent a long time battling the idea of age. As a simple note to prove this fact, the song we chose to be sung at our wedding reception was Bob Dylan’s Forever Young.

The truth is, our baker’s dozen plus one years of wedded bliss have been spent doing tons of childish things. We might have three kids, but it’s often the two of us who are looking for the next big fun thing to do, whether it’s through travel or just silly things like hanging out at the arcade in town.

We even like to get down to some of these goofy kid-like antics without our kids in tow. For instance, although we’ve taken our kids down to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida numerous times, some of my favorite memories at this bastion of theme parks happened before we even had children.

Like fourteen years ago when we were honeymooning in ‘The Most Magical Place on Earth’. Yeah, I’ll admit that it’s a little embarrassing to note how we, the coolest people on the planet, spent our first days as husband and wife in an amusement park based around the worship of a cartoon mouse. But I’m also embarrassed to admit that I’m wearing my Figment hoodie as I write this post, so…

Anyhoo.

We spent a lot of money on our honeymoon. I wanted to make it special, especially seeing as I was the one who really wanted to spend our first married days at a theme park, where my wife probably had something far more romantic in mind…like Vegas. In my attempts to up the romantic atmosphere, I set us up with a hotel with a savannah view, meaning that we would wake up and watch the zebras and giraffes eating their breakfast as we drank our coffee on our hotel room balcony. We went on a sunrise safari where we rode out among the animals before the park opened, getting the opportunity to get far closer to these creatures for far longer than would be allowed during the normal park operating hours.

And, we had dinner at the Chef’s Table at Victoria and Albert’s. Now, this probably means nothing to you. It really didn’t to me until my wife told me about it. As of right now, TripAdvisor lists it as the second best restaurant in the whole country. And they have a table in the kitchen where the head chef prepares a meal especially for you and their master sommelier pairs everything perfectly with wines which have far more interesting backstories than I could ever hope to have.

But, all of that is beside the point because the truly magical moment, the moment which will stick with me for forever, was after this incredibly exclusive (and expensive) fourteen course meal and nearly as many drinks, when we walked out into the courtyard of the hotel.

The Florida summer rain poured down upon us as we were dressed in our finest. And although we were getting soaked in clothes which weren’t exactly made for getting wet, we were both in this state of childlike bliss. We rain through the courtyard, giggling in amusement, before hiding out for a minute from the rain underneath a canopy. We knew the idea of hiding out was pointless as we were already drenched, but we stopped just briefly to enjoy the moment together. And as I looked at my newly minted wife, and she at me, we shared a beautiful kiss.

This wasn’t a kiss at sunset as the birds chirped in the cool breeze. It was the kiss of two half-drunk kids, dripping from head to toe with sweat and rain, as they ruined the nicest clothes they had.

And it was then that I knew we would never grow old together.

Because in our hearts, we’d never be old.

Here's a picture of us from before we got married because my wife lost our camera during our honeymoon and there are no pictures of that events for me to share with you.

Now if only I could tell my knees this story.

Golf…Who Knew?

Although I grew up playing an awful lot of putt-putt (or, mini golf for those of you who don’t know the right thing to call it), I had never, in my life, played an actual round of golf.

Until last year.

It’s not for a lack of interest, it’s just that my interest was so low that it would have required a direct invite from someone who would do all the work for me to actually get there.

Or, I guess, a global pandemic.

Nearly two years ago, my family and I moved back to the city of Eau Claire. And we happened to move right across the street from a golf course. And for the past two years, every fair-weathered morning, I’ve watched people trek across the manicured lawn, looking like they were having the most pleasant time. And Wednesday evenings there is a men’s league which means the course is completely covered with dudes drinking while they hit their golf balls into my yard.

Golf always felt like something that could be fun or could be boring. And I honestly had no clue how I felt about the idea. And it always had this concept of wealth behind it. I figured I had to be rich to be able to do it. So, I never even took the time to see what it would cost.

That is, until golf was quite literally the only thing left to do outside of my house that wasn’t hiking. Thanks to the global pandemic, and the realization that outdoor sports like golf are safe, my family and I finally decided last year to check out this new golf thing the kids are always talking about.

And it turns out, I’m actually pretty good. So is at least one of my children.

Now, I’d love to say that this caused a severe change in my attitude toward golf and I now spend every Thursday in a golf cart knocking my ball about across the nine holes next door, but the reality is that I’ve actually only gone once more outside of that original outing, approximately a year after the original outing.

But now when I watch those golfers across the street, I find myself telling my family, “Hey, we should go golf again” and they all respond with a “Yeah, that sounds awesome” before we decide we’re going to the pool.

Maybe next year…