Dignity is easier to swallow with a little hot sauce

imageWithin our lives there are certain moments that inspire a deeper understanding of ourselves. I experienced such an epiphany yesterday morning during a quiet moment of introspection; crouched in the backyard; sprinkling dog poop with hot sauce.

To clarify, I was not attempting to create the world’s most disgusting Cajun appetizer. According to a book on canine behavior, this would train our dog to avoid eating his “leftovers.” It was in that moment, while clutching a bottle of Tabasco and trying not to be seen by my neighbors, I came to realize that somewhere along the way providing our dog with decent manners had become more important than maintaining my personal dignity.

How did this happen?

I’m a 49-year-old man who survived the diaper phases of two children — both of whom were heavy eaters. I’ve had my share of high profile, low-dignity diaper changes, one of which required quick thinking, commando-like precision, and a paper plate. I’ve sat across from my four-year-old son at a busy restaurant in downtown San Francisco, handed him a cheese stick appetizer, and watched him yak up what appeared to be everything he’d consumed since graduating to solid foods. I tried to salvage the situation by waiting for a lull in gastrol activity and then racing him into the men’s room. And let me just say had the rest rooms been clearly marked, we probably would’ve made it.  Continue reading

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Why NASA will never let me order furniture

imageIt wasn’t until dragging our furniture onto the patio during our spring cleaning that I realized our couches looked like they were purchased from a crackhouse garage sale. After years of having the dogs rub themselves along the front, and motionless teenagers planted on the cushions for hours at a time, they were dirty, lumpy and misshapen.

And so were our couches.

After a discussion about the merits of keeping our old set and the cost of replacing them with a new one, my wife and I decided to go ahead and get rid of our old sofa and love seat.

Total elapsed time of this conversation: 11 seconds.

That includes the eight seconds we spent covering the couches with a tarp so no one else would see them. Naturally, before going to the furniture store, I needed to measure the wall and floor space in the livingroom to ensure we wouldn’t order the wrong size couches and end up having a conversation like this:

Me: Honey, would you like me to grab you a soda from the fridge?
My wife: Only if you’re going that way.
Me: It’s no trouble. The other end of the couch is in the kitchen anyway.  Continue reading

Because sometimes, breaking into print requires a chainsaw

Because we all need a friend with a chainsaw

We all need a friend with a chainsaw

We all make mistakes…

Trimming your eye brows when you have a hangover.

Trying to bathe your cat without a tourniquet handy.

Going to a Kanye West concert.

Or not knowing Michelle Terry and her blog Lipstick and Laundry.

While there’s nothing I can do to erase the physical and/or emotional pain you may be carrying from those first three mistakes, there IS something you can do about that last one by joining me, Mandi Castle, Kati Cross, Karen Malena, Carrie Ruben, Beth Teliho and Charissa Stastny at Lipstick and Laundry today, where Michelle is hosting a writers’ panel offering tips on how to get punished.

Oops! I mean published!

Many of you probably know a few — if not all — of the authors on this panel, and may even own their books. Mandi’s Dear Stephanie and Beth’s The Order of Seven are part of my own book collection, and are both really terrific reads despite not having any pictures.  Continue reading

Because it’s the moments that matter most

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Our lives are filled with moments, many of which pass us by without notice. We’re a busy society, afterall. Updating. Downloading. Plugging in. Rushing out. Tweeting. Streaming. Always planning ahead. Constantly feeling behind.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, we lose track of what really defines our lives and who we are — to others as well as ourselves. It’s not the texts or Tweets, posts or pins.

It’s the moments.  Continue reading

Hurry! It’s not too late to celebrate Frozen Food Month!

imageIt’s been more than 80 years since Clarence Birdseye, inspired by ancient food preservation methods used by Arctic Eskimos, made history by introducing the very first frozen food option: “Savory Caribou on a Stick.” Though his first selection was met with little enthusiasm, Birdseye persisted and eventually created a line of frozen vegetables that many of us are still gagging on today.

I, for one, am still unable to walk past lima beans in the frozen food section without getting the dry heaves. This reaction stems from my childhood, and a spoonful of lima beans I’ve been trying to swallow since 1973.

Unless you’ve been hermetically sealed and stuck in a freezer, you already know March is “National Frozen Food Month.” Coincidentally, I should mention this happens to fall in the same month as “National Ear Muff Day,” “Extraterrestrial Abduction Day” and “National Pig Day,” meaning that, for anyone whose pig happened to be wearing ear muffs at the time it was flash frozen by alien abductors, this is a big month for you.  Continue reading

Parents, it’s time to rally for having spring break TOO!

imageSome of you may already be participating in the annual celebration of spring break. And by “participating” I mean coming home from work at lunch to find your teen still in pajamas eating Pop-Tarts straight out of the box while playing Call of Duty or streaming Supernatural reruns on Netflix.

Being a parent, you will smile and playfully tousle their hair. You’ll ask them if they’re enjoying their much-needed vacation from another hard month of schooling. They will grunt in response, causing you to chuckle as you walk to the kitchen, open the refrigerator, and find nothing left but a chilled cantaloupe rind.

“You must’ve worked up an appetite,” you’ll say, though what you’re really thinking is:

Between early-release days, in-service days and holidays, my kids spent a total of nine days in actual SCHOOL last month! How is this even FAIR! I hate you! I hate everyone!

Oops, sorry! That last part was my teenagers.

My point is, the time has come to expand spring break to include EVERYONE so we can all enjoy a week of unfettered fun. And naturally, when I say “everyone,” I realize there are certain positions so important to our country’s infrastructure they can’t shut down without causing our nation to crumble. So, I’m sorry: cooks, servers and bartenders, you’ll have to draw straws for President’s Day.  Continue reading

Today’s my day to #BeReal

imageAs I mentioned last week, I have the privilege of being today’s guest at Hasty Dawn’s amazing blog #BeReal, which is all about sharing a part of yourself honestly.

Some posts are so true that they’re hard to read.

Others help you realize you’re not alone.

But all of them offer a perspective and insight into the author that, many times, offers a new perspective into ourselves. A lot of you may be surprised to know there was a period in my life where my humor was, more than anything, a reflection of my unhappiness. It had become my coping mechanism. And I needed to find a way to embrace it as part of my identitiy in a way that was healthy and real, or risk losing myself to it.

Fortuately, I was blessed with someone who helped me find the way.

Click on the hot link (now I want sausage) and join me over at Hasty’s for my chance to #BeReal …

Monday, Hasty Dawn is giving me the chance to #BeReal

imageI’ve been a fan and follower of Hasty Dawn’s terrific #BeReal blog series for quite a while, marveling at the honesty and insight shared by folks revealing their truths in the hopes of helping others — either through offering perspective or inspiration. Sometimes, it’s just good to know you aren’t the first or last person to tread a particular piece of painful territory. Monday, I have the privilege of being a guest at #BeReal with my own moment of truth — and the difference between embracing humor as a part of my identity or slowly being smothered by it.

Here’s a short preview…

As a humor columnist, I get paid to be a truth-stretcher. An embellisher. A chronicler of life blown out of proportion. And I get to do it without living in Washington D.C. It’s a skill my mother will tell you I began honing at a young age — usually as a way of getting out of trouble. Again, it’s a wonder I didn’t go into politics.

However, I decided to use my skills for the greater good by becoming a writer instead.

Early in my career, I was in a very unhappy marriage. It lasted 15 years because I got good at not being real. Often, I wrote about my married life in a humorous way by portraying myself as the bungling husband always falling short of his smarter, more capable wife. It kept the peace and also gave me an escape. But while it generated laughter for readers, it also generated an identity that I grew increasingly uncomfortable with. My ex-wife, who was a successful business woman, would introduce me to clients at parties or dinners as “the silly guy they’ve read in the newspaper.”

They expected me to be the same silly guy. Always.  Continue reading

That one St. Paddy’s Day I was attacked by a wooden lion…

(It’s been two years since that fateful St. Paddy’s Day when I was attacked by a wooden lion. Some scars take longer to heal. Especially when there’s splinters. Below is the whole sordid (weird) tail… I mean tale.
Erin go Roar!)

image It’s been nearly 40 years since my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Flunkem, wrote the following remark in red ink on my report card:

Unstructured time is a challenge for Ned.

After reading this, my mother looked at me and said, “Since when did filling your unstructured time become a challenge?”

And things haven’t really changed since then. I can honestly say, through sheer luck and determination, I have put myself in a position to have what I’m sure Mrs. Flunkem would consider entirely too much unstructured time. Fortunately for me, my wife disagrees with Mrs. Flunkem and encourages me to make the most of it.

How?

By saying things like, “Hey Honey! Look at that wooden lion over there!” Continue reading

If Abe Lincoln could update his famous quote

imageIf Abraham Lincoln was alive today, I think it’s fair to say could all agree on one thing:

It would be really creepy.

I also think he would have a lot to say about the current state of American politics, and how the once noble pursuit of the presidency has become more like “The Amazing Race.”

But without the “amazing” part.

Given the chance, I believe President Lincoln would amend his famous quote to something more like this…

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