For regular readers of my Shit that Pissed me Off column, I did something a little different last year. For the first time since I began writing, my birthday fell on a Friday. I opted to reflect on the good things I saw in the world rather than the bad ones.
Obviously, my birthday isn’t on a Friday this year. It is on a Sunday. But I’m still going to focus on the good things. I turn 49 on Sunday. It is something of a personal year for me because my dad died when he was 49 years old and I can’t help but think that soon, every day I’m alive will be one more day than he ever had.
The challenge for me today, of course, is to write about 49 things that don’t piss me off and that are different from the 48 things I wrote about last year.
Never fear, I’m going to post Shit that Pissed me off on Monday! You still get a full helping of negativity. I’m just going to make my birthday about the good things.
So here, my friends, are 49 things that do not piss me off.
1) I don’t know if it’ll happen. I certainly hope it will. But whether it does or not, we have the opportunity to put a woman in the oval office. I’ve heard all the arguments about “not this woman” and everyone has a right to make their own decisions. For me, though, the simple fact a woman could win is a gigantic step.
2) Speaking of women, that Ghostbusters remake was pretty fucking awesome. I don’t feel like I have to make excuses for liking it. How amazing is that? If you want me to make excuses, you can shut up and stop harassing my squee.
3) As I write this column, I am looking at a shelf that holds a LEGO Millennium Falcon, a LEGO Ecto 1, and a LEGO Han Solo frozen in carbonite.
Apologies to regular fans of my Friday blog. I’m going to do things a little differently today.
I’ve been writing Shit that Pissed me off most Fridays for the last three years. I enjoy it as an exercise in writing humor and in exploring my opinions about what is happening in the world around me. Since I’ve started writing the column, it has never coincided with my birthday.
Well this year, it has.
So I decided instead of spending my birthday thinking about stuff that annoys me, I’m going to write about things that make me happy. I’ll post this week’s shit that pissed me off on Monday. Because even on my birthday, there are things that piss me off.
I begin my 48th year today and in honor of that, here are 48 things that make me happy.
1. I’ve been married to the same amazing woman for the last 25 1/2 years. She is brilliant, courageous, thoughtful, sexy, and supportive. She laughs at some of my jokes. She listens when I’m in a bad mood. She corrects me when I’m wrong. There is not a night that goes by where I am not happy we share a bed, a home, and a life.
2. I’ve got one fantastic mother. She loves math and has spent her life finding ways to help others love it too. She loves being an amateur artist. She is a fun travel companion. Any day I know I’m going to see her is automatically a good day.
3. My oldest son is great. He’s clever, cheerful, fun, and affectionate. He grew several inches in the last year and is starting to show signs of facial hair. Pretty soon, he’s going to learn how to drive and get a job and start looking at colleges. I’m not sure I’m ready for any of that.
4. My youngest son is wonderfully creative. The way he builds new Lego structures and describes ideas for new games or parks or dinosaurs shows boundless inventiveness. His head must be such an interesting place to live.
5. My Brother is full of passion and energy. He has been remarkably successful in not just the field he has chosen to pursue, but most anything he decides to accomplish. We have a great relationship hampered only by the distance that separates us.
6. My Sister-in-law has a sharp sense of humor, an infectious positive attitude, and seems like a perfect partner for my brother.
We had an appointment for our cat Nala to be euthanized this afternoon but sadly, she died overnight. For some reason, she had stopped eating over a month ago and all attempts to get her to ingest food failed. We don’t know what was wrong with her but it was, ultimately, something we could not fix.
She was not yet five years old but in her short time, she had a remarkable impact on our lives. Rather than remember the sadness of her passing, I choose to remember the joy and laughter she brought to our life.
Almost all of our cats are Humane Society cats and Nala was adopted as a kitten. Only six weeks old, she was precocious and social and her ears made up about 65% of her head. She was clumsy even for a kitten. And she was loud.
That’s right, they had shirts that read “we reserve the right to refuse services to homosexuals.”
I mean, good for them. They have completely ensured that everyone who sees them will know that they would happily torpedo their best interests as business owners because they are bigoted assholes.
Some the people are kids, of course, so they will only be able to refuse service to homosexuals at lemonade stands. Or when they are going around the neighborhood offering to mow lawns, they’ll just skip the houses with rainbow flags hanging in front.
Their attitude amazes me because I can’t understand why anyone would be proud to refuse services to homosexuals. I don’t have the bible memorized but I’d sure like someone to show me where Jesus told everyone that refusing to sell someone cupcakes makes you closer to god.
Stay classy, people who really fucking hate the fact that homosexuals aren’t going to stay in the closet. The more T-shirts you print, the more everyone else will see you for what you are and realize they can be better people than you.
Her picture looks adorable. I’m sure she’s twenty. Maybe.
She is firmly of the opinion that they should teach the controversy (that doesn’t exist). She also says that schools should focus on the “basics” of education.
Like evolution, right?
No no no no no no no no!
Well, she thinks it should be taught in science classrooms alongside creationism. She also thinks sex education should be abstinence only because that is also “basic.”
Is this barely not-teenager going to be elected? I doubt it.
And yet I’m tired of living in a world where people continue to believe that creationism should be given the same amount of time in the classroom. And I’m tired of living in a world where we continue to argue about abstinence-only sex education when the evidence clearly shows it is inadequate.
Peter is one of the few friends I have from college. I suppose that is because I got out of theater for several years so I lost touch with most of those people.
I’d like to think that I had some impact on Peter’s choice to get involved in theatre. He took a stagecraft class when I was a TA in the scene shop and we hit it off. I put a pneumatic nail through his hand. He dropped a platform on my foot. We both got to spend a snowy January morning trying to move a bunch of steel platforms from Downtown St. Paul to Hamline University in a truck with no traction. We bonded.
His passion for photography is evident in the sheer amount of pictures you will find on his Facebook page. He works for the photography department of two major conventions and the number of pictures he takes is amazing. I would say almost every decent picture of my children was taken by him.
If we were the kind of people to ask someone to be a godfather, I think we would have asked Peter. Instead, he’s the crazy uncle that they like more than their parents because he brings them weird stuff.
Any time we need help with a project around the house, he’s there. He is the sort of person who will lend a hand to anyone if he has the time. You know your real friends when you are looking for someone to help you demolish a ceiling. Or watch your cats with two days advanced notice.
Peter is the kind of guy who calls you on the Thursday of a convention weekend as he is leaving his house and asks you what you forgot so he can swing by your house and pick it up.
All of it, I guess, is to say he’s one of those people we’ve always been about to count on when we need something. It is no understatement to say he is one of my best friends. He actually feels a lot more like a family member than a friend.
And he will remain so as long as he doesn’t drop another platform on my foot.
I’ve known David all of his life but I don’t really feel like I got to know him until we spend a summer together in Europe in 1985.
As we traveled around the country that year, I was getting ready to go to college and he was getting ready to spend a year studying in France. We’d spent our lives in the same home and suddenly we were both branching out on our own. We’d spent years hanging out with our own friends and suddenly we had to spend a month with just each other.
David is, like most members of my family, someone who finds ways to fill just about all of his time. He’s passionate about his career in the study abroad field. He has grown to take a leadership role in his professional organization. He worked a full-time job while getting his PhD to advance his career.
While he doesn’t have time for it any longer, David is a great dancer. I’ve always been in awe of his grace simply because I have none. In college, his senior project was a tribute to our dad and it is still one of the most powerful pieces of dance I’ve ever seen. Sure, it was personal and I was the perfect audience but it was still a terrific work by a very talented dancer/choreographer.
We only see each other about once a year these days and that’s a shame because there is always so much to talk about. He is one of the most genuinely charming people I know. If you know David, you probably like him. I have no idea how you couldn’t.
He’s had his share of challenges but he always maintains a positive outlook on everything. I have tried to learn that from him over the years.
I always tell people I’m a big fan of my family. They are good people and I’m pleased to know them not just as family but as friends. David is family, but he’s also a great friend.
I’ve known Alex and Devon for literally their entire lives. They are great kids and I’m proud that I’m their dad.
Alex loves school. He’s great at math and science and he reads just about any book we put in front of him. He’s got a very cheerful disposition that helps get him through tough times.
He loves to watch videos on Youtube and play on his 3DS. He is starting to learn how to do laundry and cook. He’s a huge fan of tabletop games and is up for trying just about anything of any complexity level.
About two years ago, he was having some bully problems in school. The kids were calling him gay and even though he was upset, he had the presence of mind to tell them that there was nothing wrong with being gay. I was so proud of him specifically because he was in the middle of an emotional moment but managed to defend a group of people who deserved a defense.
Devon is amazingly creative. I think The Lego Movie struck home for me because I finally realized that I need to stop freaking out when he takes his Lego X-Wing apart to make something else. They are his Legos, after all. He should be able to do whatever he wants with them.
He’s always building something new and is always excited to tell me all about it. As a dad, I need to do a better job of listening.
Earlier this spring, Devon decided that he wanted to learn how to ride a bike. He didn’t tell anyone. He just got a bike out of the garage and started riding it up and down the alley. By the end of the evening, he was nearly an expert.
Devon does things like that. He decides that he needs to figure out how to do something and he does it.
Both of them are great kids. Father’s day is a good time to take a moment to look at your kids and realize that they are wonderful little people. So thanks to Alex and Devon for making me a dad!
24 years ago today, I married my best friend. Because she is still my best friend, it only makes sense that she would be my subject for today’s blog.
Pat is one of the smartest people I know. When I’m trying to work through my opinion on something, I will always ask her opinion because if she doesn’t agree with me, I am probably wrong. She can beat me at just about any game except cribbage and when she tells me how she did it, I feel like an idiot because I didn’t try the same thing myself. If I try the same thing the next time we play, she’ll beat me some other way.
There is only one person in my home who can find something when it is lost and that’s her. It doesn’t matter if she’s never even seen that thing, when one of the other three people in the house ask her where it is, she’ll probably know. That she tolerates our ignorance never fails to impress me.
We talk about a lot of things and argue about very little. She laughs at my jokes, which in endearing and so very polite.
She supports all of the theater work I’ve been doing lately and that is invaluable. It takes me away from the family far more than I like and her patience is amazing. Without her patience, it would be hard for me to do any of what I do.
When I write something, she is always my first beta reader and not just because we live in the same house. If I’m writing comedy, I want to know if she’ll laugh. If I can get her to laugh out loud even once, I figure I’ve managed to write something at least a little bit amusing.
She’s also willing to be critical. She’ll tell me when something doesn’t work. She’ll tell me when a lyric sounds wrong. I may not always agree and I may not always make the change but she is never someone to rubber stamp my work and tell me it is perfect.
If you ask me what the secret to a long marriage might be, I’m afraid I don’t have great answers. For me, though, I know the secret is that I married someone I liked a lot. I never tire of spending time with her. A walk around the lake with her is the most pleasant way to spend an hour that I can imagine.
24 years is a long time but I know I’m married to the right person because it doesn’t feel like all that much time at all.
Happy Anniversary, Pat. I love you!
Thanks for being my best friend.
For Mother’s Day, my friend a day is my mom. I love my mom because she’s my mom but because this is a Friend a Day post, I’m going to write about why I like her a lot.
Just this last week, we went to see Neil deGrasse Tyson speak. I went because mom got an e-mail about the event and asked if I wanted to go. Not being stupid, I said absolutely yes. We had a great time at that event and Dr. Tyson has always impressed me as someone who is excited about teaching people about science.
He’s not the first person who taught me to be excited about learning, though. That person was mom. She’s was a teacher of mathematics for most of my formative years and she was good at it because she loved sharing math with kids. She wouldn’t just talk about her work day, she would talk about the ways she was teaching math that made her excited.
I always tell people I’m the child of math teachers because I’m proud to have come from that background. Math teachers are awesome. Mom taught me that.
I love going on vacations with mom because she gets so completely immersed in what we are going to do. We are heading to Yellowstone later this spring and ever since the plans were made, she has been watching the Old Faithful webcam and sending me regular messages when the geyser is about to erupt.
She keeps trying new things in her life and I think that is part of that teacher mentality that she should always be learning. Right now, she is doing a sketch journal and talks about it a lot. It is a new thing that has her really excited and I think that’s great.
She’s always looking for new things to get her excited. And she always finds them.
I love my Mom, yes. But I also like spending time with her as a person. For that, I feel incredibly lucky. Thanks, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!