Holiday Cards With Meaning

Now that Halloween is behind us, all eyes are turning to the Holiday season. And those eyes aren’t always jolly and bright. In addition to suffering through a few hours of Thanksgiving with your crazy Aunt Betty, you’ve also got to prepare yourself for the onslaught of Holiday cards you’ll receive from family, friends, ex-friends and soon-to-be-ex-friends-they-just-don’t-know-it-yet.

Part of the Holiday card tradition requires the sender to capture a photo or two of their children (and perfect black labrador) dressed to the nines, smiling broadly, and seemingly happy to be together. That alone can be hard to stomach as you look at your own children covered in candy cane-fused dirt and a carpet stained with what you hope was mud the dog tracked in.

Even worse is a Holiday card that includes a single-spaced, double-sided diatribe on how fantastic everyone in the family is doing. Little Jimmy excels at soccer, plays french horn, is captain of the debate team and never gets caught stealing money from your purse. And Susie is just so grown up now. A beautiful young woman. Of course she didn’t have three wine coolers and end up parking the car half on a mailbox.

To spice it up this Holiday season, consider sending the card you actually want to a friend or family member. Tell them how you really feel. The folks at Rated Cards have made it possible to combine distinctly beautiful and artistic cards with sentiments that might feel a bit more true-to-form this Holiday season.

Whether you just want someone to know you see through their bullshit…card-sample-successlessSuccessless: (1) failure to accomplish a goal or objective (2) your life

Or want to get together, but would murder yourself if it’s over coffee.day-drinkingDid someone say something about Day Drinking? Oh. That was me. Let’s get together soon.

Or want to express your condolences but not really pull any punches.card-sample-sorryloserSorry to hear about your loss. Loser.

These and many more Rated Cards just became available for pre-order at www.rated.cards and will be just the thing to send this Holiday season if you’re ready to put an end to the Holiday card torture once and for all.

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Welcome to Your Life, Stranger

Fifteen billion odd years ago, give or take a billion, there was no universe. There was nothing. Except what some religions call the Word, or the Will or God. That’s not that much different from science calling it Energy. Whatever it was, it just was. Totally and completely enclosed in itself. Uniform, unchanging (there was no time remember), unending, unrelenting, uninspired and bored to shit.

big-bang-diagram

Think about sitting in a first grade arithmetic class practicing addition. Sure, you might need a brush up course on the big numbers, especially if you’re from Boston, but after a few days you’d probably be one of the top kids in class. You’d be able to add and subtract even double and triple digit numbers without flaw and mostly without fail (it’s okay, we all make mistakes). No answer would escape you. There would be no whiteboard challenge you couldn’t handle. And since you’d be an adult, you wouldn’t even mind going to the whiteboard with a boner, especially if your teacher was Ms. Julie from Ridgemount Elementary (I’m on Facebook, call me!).

That said, even if Ms. Julie was there wearing her brown skirt that accidentally showed a bit of her slip, and even if you weren’t turned off because who wears a slip today anyway, eventually you would be bored beyond belief. There would be nothing in the first grade arithmetic curriculum that you didn’t know completely and utterly. There would be no challenge and no inspiration.

And this, I believe, is the experience that the Word/Will/God/Energy/It found itself in. Complete, mind-numbing boredom. If you’re that entity, before existence and time, you can’t have a thought or experience without knowing that thought or experience before you have it. There is nothing to experience because you are everything and you can’t experience yourself.

Then it comes to you. You need to try The Stranger.

hands

If you haven’t already clicked on the definition, The Stranger is simple. You sit on your arm until it’s numb and then masturbate with it. Because you can’t feel the arm or hand, it’s like you’re getting diddled by a complete stranger. If you’re the universe, it means you can finally have an experience that is unique, different and most importantly new. It would be something, and after an eternity of nothing, you are desperate for something, anything.

So the Word/Will/God/Energy/It sits on its arm, and just like that the Big Bang starts the ball rolling. Like five foreign fingers dancing across your flesh, electrons and protons are suddenly interacting in ways that you experience for the first time. Time suddenly exists, so the concept of cause and effect can exist. Matter has properties that govern its actions and interactions, properties that serve to make it separate from each other. Suddenly not everything just Is. There is distinction. And to the Word/Will/God/Energy/It, that is deeply satisfying.

So welcome to your life. You’re basically a masturbation tool.

 

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Viva Mexico!

Years ago, we took the whole family to Mexico for a weekend. When Erin first scheduled the trip I figured we were headed to Cancun for spring break. To this day, I regret being so timid in that wet tee-shirt contest from 1995, and wanted a chance to really show the crowd what I had. This time I planned to stay away from the edge of the stage where it’s so easy for the audience to say mean, nasty things, grope you or throw bottles at your skull. At a minimum I planned to stay out of prison. I’m a father after all.

It turned out our trip was to Rocky Point, an obscure and ridiculously expensive slum turned resort city on the Sea of Cortez. Ten years ago the beaches were crowded with dope-smoking coeds learning, the hard way, what fecal cholera really does to a body. Today, the coeds have been replaced with multi-million dollar McMansions looking over the ocean, the dope has been replaced with a seven US dollar deposit on a case of twenty Dos Equis, and the fecal cholera has been replaced with the smug, self-righteousness of people who were smart enough to buy up the ocean lots from unsuspecting Mexicans years back.

We stayed with friends on one of those ocean lots. I quickly adopted an air of my own smugness. But that broke down when Erin informed me she wasn’t planning on serving me on demand and that my daughter had a messy diaper that needed changing.

Our arrival night was chaotic. First of all, there should be a rule that says, if I have two children under the age of four in the car, and you’re telling me how long a trip will take, lying is punishable by death. Rocky Point is not four hours from Phoenix. Rocky Point is four and a half hours from Phoenix. You might be thinking, hey, it’s just thirty minutes, what’s the big deal? You don’t have children. Thirty minutes in the car with a twelve month old who wants out is worse torture than water boarding, and just as likely to cause you to hate America or at least your penis for getting you into this mess. Bad, bad penis.

By the time we got to the house, it was already close to bedtime for the brats, nobody was in the mood to go out for dinner, and the bottle I urinated in to save time during the drive down had tipped over on the floor of Erin’s car. That last part isn’t true. It was a can.

We pretty much put the kids right to bed and then started drinking with furious abandon. At least I think the kids were in bed. Dos Equis goes down very easily when watching the ocean or when standing over the cooler with one in each hand.

The reality of vacationing with children really set in the next day. The whole point of the trip was to get some rest and relaxation. Not so fast. It turns out some babies like to put their faces directly into the sand, scream when the sand sticks to the snot caked all over their cheeks, and then do it again fifteen minutes later. Over the course of chasing my daughter around the beach she put the following in her mouth: sea shells of various sizes and shapes, live snails, cigarette butts, clumps of sand and something unrecognizable but foul smelling. In the storybooks, the cute baby stumbles upon a buried treasure and appears with a gold doubloon dangling from her lips. In the real world, the baby is hard to look at without vomiting.

Speaking of vomiting, during high tide Friday night a dead dolphin washed up on the beach. That wouldn’t have been all bad except for the jackass pre-med student who wanted to show off for her friends and decided to eviscerate the carcass just upwind from our house. Hey look, here are guts.  I know, let’s expose them to the Mexican sun and see what happens. I wonder what the dolphin was eating. Oh, fish. Dead fish. Rotting fish. Super.

We decided to name the dead dolphin Dee Dee.

combined-dolphin

The next day, I excused myself for a beer run mid-day Saturday and spent two hours eating street tacos. In fairness, I brought my son with me, so I didn’t completely abandon Erin. I even left the window of the truck cracked open such that if he woke up and started screaming I could hear him. He did wake up and had his first street taco with me. Every father should introduce his son to un-refrigerated meat products.

That evening, the girls got to head out and enjoy an evening on their own. They even came back. I took that as a signal that I had a chance to get lucky, regardless of the fact that our bed was the lower bunk with my son asleep up top and my daughter in a crib inches away. I have been known to misinterpret signals. I could not be Major League pitcher because I would throw a fast ball when the catcher called for a slider. I would also throw it 20 feet short of the plate. I throw like a girl.

Rejected, I slunk back out to the main room and it was volunteered that perhaps I’d have more luck with Dee Dee. And you can’t really argue with a little romance on the beach under the moonlight. Plus she has a blowhole….

Sunday dawned clear, bright, beautiful and hung over. Staring down the barrel of a four plus hour drive home, we did our best to enjoy the rest of our time on the beach. My son and I took a walk. At one point he turned to me and said, ‘Dad, sit down. You need to enjoy the ocean.’ So I told him not to smart-mouth me. But he was right. For thirty-six hours we’d run around like chickens trying to enjoy our brief weekend vacation. The truth was all I needed to do was sit, be still and look at the ocean. It puts you in your place, gives you a sense of perspective, and allows you to breath. Also you can check out the girls in bikinis.

 

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9 Struggles I hold in My Pea-Sized Brain

I struggle with balancing all of the following. These aren’t original, but I like to write things down.

  • There is an inherent moral code that directs us to choose good over evil at some instinctual level. We associate that instinct with God being good.
  • But terrible, terrible things happen in the world, to the world, and to the people I love most in the world.

    babe_ruth_red_sox_1918

    The curse is over

  • At the same time, amazing miracles happen in the world, sometimes to people I hate. I’m talking about everyone in Boston. Kidding. Not all people in Boston. I love South Bay.
  • I can’t help but think we’re all connected, humans, animals and mountains, in some vast, cosmic manner.
  • I’ve been told to live in the present, and something deep inside me believes this is absolutely the path to ease of life and happiness.
  • Despite this knowledge, I find it impossible to not worry about the future, relive the horrors of the past, and generally ignore the smell of the roses because they give me allergies
  • Meanwhile, I’ve read or heard of things like ‘The Secret’, which is all a
    bout controlling my future by visualizing it. And that doesn’t feel like living in the present, but I can also believe, at some level, that visualization does work.

    big-bang

    Boom!

  • When I try and wrap my brain around the concept that everything we know – all matter, planets, galaxies and Uncle Frank who alway
    s made everyone uncomfortable when we
    visited Grandma’s for Easter….all of that was created instant
    ly from an infinitesimally small point during the Big Bang before which time and space did not exist – it makes me want to drink.
  • A bad day at the office makes me want to drink too. So does a good day. We have to celebrate life’s wins after all.

In fairness, the last actually isn’t a struggle. It’s a victory.

None of it makes sense, but I spend a lot of time rationalizing those thoughts. Perhaps it’s the journey, not the destination.

 

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Some things you just accept….

lip-butt-dial

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Checking Every Box in Life

Life starts so clearly. So well defined and structured. And then it’s not….

The progression through early school is defined by achieving a clear set of measurable goals. You must pass each grade. You try out for the varsity sports team. You make JV. You graduate high school and one of your classmates dies that night in a drunken driving crash after the party up at the lake. They put his mangled car on the front lawn of the school as a lesson for the remaining students. Someone spray paints a picture of genitalia on the car because kids have no respect for the dead.

Then you’re an ‘adult’. You enroll at a ludicrously expensive college and quickly realize everyone is smarter and cooler than you are. You join a fraternity to try and address the coolness gap and get hazed by a bunch of dicks. You choose a major. You become a dick because you realize you’re not any cooler and take your anger and sexual frustration out on new fraternity pledges. You write nonsensical term papers and learn just how many pages you can add by changing fonts and margins. You graduate. You’re in debt.

hooray

Hooray! We all did it. Like millions of our peers.

At that point you’re REALLY an adult. Some people extend education another four, ten or fifteen years through graduate studies or specialty disciplines. Some decide to rob a bank and guarantee a clear progression for twenty-five years plus. But eventually the sands run out of the hourglass and the yearly rigor is replaced by real life. The time-defined goals of academia vanish.

Fortunately, society offers some clear ‘next step’ goals that keep the teaming masses heads down and shoulders to the grindstone. You need to get a job that puts your questionable skills to use. You need to try and find that special someone who isn’t disgusted by your presence and tie the knot. You need to qualify for a massive mortgage with a monthly payment that will crush your soul and then fill those bedrooms with little kiddies who may or may not be yours.

homes

One of these beauties has your name on it!

And then……….nothing.

One day you’ve checked all those boxes. You’ve knocked down the remaining goals that society says are important. Maybe you knocked them out in five years. Maybe twenty. Maybe you had a false start and married a philandering ass and need to try again with husband number two. But eventually, one day, you look up, pull your shoulder off that grindstone and realize that all that remains is the vast emptiness of time until you die.

This bitter pill is sugar-coated with concepts like ‘retirement savings’, ‘moving up the corporate ladder’, ‘buying a vacation home’ and ‘burner phones’, but all of those are just distractions. Once the big goals of life are completed, the extra mortgage for a place you never visit and has the squirrel problem, or the second family that thinks you’re a truck driver, are shadows of the main event.

At some point you realize that your goal dance card is filled up. There’s no prescription for the next step. That’s when the panic sets in and bad decisions get made.

Perhaps one of the most common bad decisions is to have more children. You already checked that goal box. Little Timmy can be as cute as a button sometimes. That time he hand-wrote a card for your birthday was adorable. Just fucking adorable. You were so proud when he scored his first goal in soccer, even if it was with his hand. Orange slices all around.

But sometimes, secretly, you wonder if little Timmy can fit in the thirty gallon trash can with the lid, and how much duct tape it would take to keep the lid tightly secured for when you drop it in the lake. Hint – the trick is to punch some holes in the garbage can to let out the decomposition gases. Also, drop it in the ocean. About fifteen miles out so you’re past the continental shelf.

trash-bin-review

My wife says that last bit is over the top. Nag nag nag. You can’t joke about infanticide any more? This country….I mean am I right?

Maybe you think your problem is that you work for the man. If I were my own boss, you say, running my own company, then I’d end every day with the deep emotional satisfaction of a job well done on my terms. Unfortunately you’re a general doofus with no business sense, and after burning your entire savings on an ill-conceived Cuban Buffet on the corner in the strip mall, you tuck your tail between your legs and go work for the phone company where it’s safe. You may even try to convince yourself that the innovative work you do on that new Call10 plan, where any call under ten minutes is one flat rate, is as exciting as the keg bowling event you won in college. It’s not. Secretly you want to murder your coworkers for slurping their coffee.

Even if your business is a success, even a raging success, you realize that a job is a job. Your boss might be your customers, or your creditors, or your secretary who is blackmailing you for what may or may not have happened at that convention in Reno, but you still have a boss. In the last case the boss allegedly has some photos and credit card receipts, but a boss nonetheless. And because you have a boss, your business is still a job. And after three to five years of blood, sweat and tears you’re back to the same place. Staring down the endless void of what next.

So what can you do? Some ideas:

  1. Alcohol or drugs – You might end up on the streets or in jail. You’ll certainly end up without a family or loved ones. But you can say, with assurance, that you decided to ‘opt out’ of the system. You rebel. Well done.
  2. Geographic cures – Move your entire family to another city, or better yet another country. To be clear, this is purely a delay of the inevitable, but if you string together a few of them you can pass a couple of decades.
  3. Burn it all – Take a moment and read James Altucher’s blog  He will give you reasons to avoid college, avoid a mortgage, forgive yourself for not having a passion, and give up everything.
  4. Set Non-traditional goals – Consume your time setting and achieving goals nobody else does. That way nobody can criticize them like I am in this article and you have good party conversational fodder. Like learn to cobble shoes. Or slaughter a bison.

Perhaps none of these are good ideas. I’m open and listening.

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I’ve officially become my parents

Collecting bacon grease next to the sink. Of course this is plastic and therefore likely to melt because I am dumb and won’t achieve anything right Dad? Right? I learned it by watching you. Seriously…you’re dumb too.

Also don’t ask why I’m making bacon at 6:30pm.

2016-10-13-18-36-17

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