Wherein the author has been a father for one year.

Tomorrow, May 2nd, is Zephyr Kay’s first birthday.

For twelve long months, Mistress Kay and I have kept the tiny parasite shown above alive, sacrificing our life force to the vampiric entity that is our daughter. You think I jest? You assume I express hyperbole? Look at these following photos. The first reveals a vibrant, strapping 36-year-old Max just before the birth of his child (and definitely not a grainy old picture from high school):

The second – poor Max after a mere six months of parenthood:

And then there’s today. A now 37-year-old Max after a full year of fatherhood:

A dapper dresser, for sure, but horrifying all the same, I know. And yet, somehow, it’s all been worth it.

Don’t get me wrong, all my clearly and repetitively expressed fears about parenthood were 100% founded and in no way exaggerated. Even so, I still wouldn’t trade our littlest lady for the world.

It helps that she came out cute. It’s way easier to love a cute baby. If she was an ugly duckling I’d know too. I wouldn’t be able to lie to myself. I’m just too honest. I don’t know what genetic lottery she won, but it was a good one because she definitely takes after Mistress Kay in appearance and not her hairy beak-nosed ogre of a father.

It also helps that she has been an absolute joy. She sleeps through the night, she’s happy and cheerful, and she lights up our lives with her little goblin cackles (her laughs are…not cute). I’m fairly certain our little big girl took one look at Mistress Kay and I right when she was born and realized she’d better get her act together quick if she didn’t want to be called out by name in a joint suicide note, so gratitude to her really. Her parents are… fragile at best.

The first year of parenthood has been a journey. Zephyr is our first child, and since we are neither young parents nor rich parents, she is likely our last as well. Going into this whole adventure we had no real idea of what to expect. Our prior experience with children had been limited to seeing our friends’ babies for an hour or two once or twice a year, and that does not prepare you at all for the reality of the situation. When babies are first born, they are weird little homunculi that do little except eat, sleep, poop, and cry. The first few months of Zeph’s life were harder than a middle-aged white guy with a fist full of Viagra and a business class plane ticket to Bangkok, Thailand.


Every day has gotten easier. Not noticeably, not while we were in the trenches surviving off of 20-minute cat naps and cold cereal, but in subtle, seemingly inconsequential ways. Partly, it was because we’ve gotten better at being parents. When you’re doing everything for the first time, even simple activities take an inordinate amount of mental effort, but once those tasks became repetitive and well-practiced, we have found ourselves slowly coming back to…ourselves. For brief moments, in tiny ways, we are now able to seize some agency and expend some carefully hoarded energy thinking about our own interests. Let me tell you, these little moments of self-care have been essential to our well-being individually and together as a family.

On top of that, every day Zephyr grows up just a little bit more.

At one year old, she’s obviously still a tiny little baby lady, but the amount of growth we have been able to witness over the past 365 days has been simply astonishing. She has a personality now. A fun one. She plays with toys. She is taking her first shaky little steps. Saying her first garbled little words. Snuggling excitedly with mommy. Laughing every time she sees daddy, which okay, might be insulting because I get the feeling she’s laughing at me not with me, but I like her laugh so much that I don’t care.

I love her more than anybody else in the world. She completes our family, and I could not even imagine life without her. I miss her terribly when I am away from her and feel such joy when we are reunited.


Lord help me, it is such a relief to drop her off at daycare in the morning on workdays. Sometimes I giggle the entire drive to work because I feel so carefree and unburdened knowing that she is somebody else’s problem for a few hours.

Zephyr has been in daycare for the past few months, partially because being able to temporarily escape from the constant stress of being responsible for a tiny frail human being with the self-preservation instincts of a suicidal lemming is so, so tasty, but mostly because I’m a failure as a provider and we can’t survive on my income alone, so Mistress Kay has to work as well. Here’s a fun thing about daycare. I can’t remember the last time the entire household wasn’t sick. It has been a revolving door of sniffles, coughs, gunks, and goops since she started going to that petri dish of a child prison. But hey, at least it costs over $100 a DAY. And at least we don’t get our money back if she has to stay home sick. Which she has to do constantly. So that has been both fun and financially devastating.

You know how when the black plague was devastating Europe and entire villages were getting wiped out, there were multiple accounts of deathly ill people suddenly feeling much better for a day or two and thinking they were miraculously cured, only to die shortly thereafter? Basically, what was happening was their immune systems were being overwhelmed and failing completely, giving them a couple days of fever free comfort as their body stopped fighting the disease and instead allowed it to spread unchecked until all their organs shut down and they died in agony. Well anyway, I want that. Not the black plague specifically. I just want a day or two of feeling healthy again, even if it means my immune system has collapsed and the CDC will have to napalm my corpse to prevent another global pandemic.

I’m so very tired.

Recently Mistress Kay had to travel a bit for work, on top of which she has been working overtime with increased responsibilities due to a leadership development program she was selected for. Luckily, during this timeframe I was able to take a brief parental-bonding leave from my job (in addition to the month I had off right when Zephyr was born) because both my employer and the state I reside in are very nearly civilized. Compared to the rest of the USA at least. We still have nothing on those rich European countries.

Anyway, after the past three weeks of parental leave during which I had to shoulder the lion’s share of childcare for a sick baby while Mistress Kay was busy with her work duties, I have a few takeaways.

Takeaway 1 – Unassisted childrearing is brutal. I don’t know how women (traditionally) have done it for centuries and millennia. If I have to spend even a single second more in this prison, I will blow up the sun and doom our planet to a billion years of frozen darkness.

Our fathers and grandfathers saw how hard childcare was, looked at their beloved wives who clearly needed help and selfishly went – no thanks, we’re good.

I envy them.

Fathers used to be figures of terrifying intimidation. Once upon a time, not so long ago, the heavy tread of a father’s boots through the house heralded a storm of violence and ruthless aggression from which all other family members could only cower in fear. Their words were law and their capricious whims kept their wives and children walking on eggshells doing everything in their power to avoid drawing the ire of these vengeful household gods. Fathers were stern, aloof providers and disciplinarians, and that was it. They had no need to connect emotionally with the strange creatures residing within the walls of their home.

Now I’m expected to treat my wife and child like actual people, and be a friend, provider, nanny, housekeeper, landscaper, private shopper, limo driver, checkbook, and sexual dynamo all at once. It’s enough to make a man want to, you guessed it, blow up the sun, and it is not lost on me that what I’m experiencing is simply the normal responsibilities that have been handled by women for all of time.

Takeaway 2 – Mistress Kay is an incredible mom. When she’s not working, she is 100% there for our daughter. She is present and engaged, patient and nurturing. Frankly, I don’t know how she does it. If I have to stack up and knock over one more pile of colorful blocks after already doing that exact same activity 30,000 times in the last 72 hours, the sun, well, it’s not not getting blown up. I am so very lucky to have Mistress as a partner and Zephyr is lucky to have her as a parent. Having her unavailable over the past few weeks and having to do all of the things she normally does with grace and good humor was truly eye-opening. And sure, maybe some of my discomfort stems from the fact that she is being fast-tracked into leadership at work and her organization is shoving opportunities down her throat like she’s Joey Chestnut and it’s the 4th of July Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest, whereas my work has made it abundantly clear that my presence is only grudgingly tolerated rather than appreciated or desired, so I’m feeling a little emasculated, but it’s mostly that I selfishly worry that as her career grows and she focuses even more time and energy on work, my childcare responsibilities at home will increase. I don’t want to be solely responsible for the health and happiness of a growing child. I just want to do hoodrat things with my hoodrat friends.

Because that’s the biggest takeaway I have so far from parenthood. I’m not suddenly a smarter, more mature, better person with all the answers. I’m still the same slightly selfish, mistake prone, dumb idiot I’ve always been. Except now, an entire human child is relying on me to set a good example, and to get things right, and to keep her safe, happy, and healthy as she grows into an independent woman of her own. It’s going to be hard as hell. Probably the hardest, most important thing I ever do.


She’s worth it.

Happy 1st Birthday Zephyr Kay. Daddy loves you so very much.

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July 4th, 2022.

Two months ago, Wife Kay and I welcomed our first child into the world. A daughter.

I really wish this could be a celebratory post. It isn’t.

I look at this tiny, perfect, frail innocent little being, with so much love that it tears my shriveled little grinch heart in two, and I fear for her future.

You fucking know why.

The Republican party has always been a boringly evil organization, in a “let me get mine before you get yours” kind of way, but in recent years it has transitioned toward cartoonish levels of supervillainy, as if the monstrously insane inhabitants of Batman’s Arkham Asylum had escaped Gotham into real life, and immediately started campaigning for political office with a big fat R next to their name. How else do you explain ::gestures broadly:: just all of this? Every bit of it?

In the past few weeks, Texas has threatened to secede, conservative states have attacked innocent gay kids, and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court have made moves to hamstring the EPA, further expand gun rights, weaken the essential wall between Church and State, and overturned Roe vs. Wade, the long-standing constitutional right to abortion which has stood for nearly half a century. Why did they do these things? Because they’re evil.

How did they do these things? Because they’re evil liars who lie.

We wouldn’t even HAVE a conservative super majority on the Supreme Court if Republicans weren’t hypocritical lying liars. In 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died, Republicans in congress refused to hold a hearing for a replacement, arguing that a sitting president could not elect a Supreme Court justice in an election year. This prevented President Obama from electing a progressive justice and allowed President Trump to elect a conservative justice when he took office the following year. Then, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died – in an election year – Republicans immediately moved to allow President Trump to choose another conservative justice, completely proving their prior arguments about a sitting president being unable to elect a supreme court justice in an election year to be nothing but baseless lies and political maneuvering. If that wasn’t frustrating enough, because you just know hypocritical Republican voters would be out for blood if the Democrats had pulled a stunt like that to pack the court with progressive justices, the conservative justices on the Supreme Court, who in the past have all intentionally made statements implying that they would never attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade in order to placate a rightfully suspicious congress, swiftly went back on their word when an opportunity arose and gleefully stripped women of their guaranteed right to bodily autonomy and set America back by several decades, because as soon as the Supreme Court overturned Roe Vs. Wade, multiple shithole red states immediately instituted abortion bans, all while spouting disingenuous manipulative language about safeguarding the sanctity of life.

But WHY? For one thing, abortion rates have been steadily falling over time in the United States for the last 40 years. In fact, Abortion rates are lower now than they were before Roe v. Wade first passed, so it’s not like there has been a huge surge in abortions since 1973 due to Roe v. Wade, so why bother to overturn a ruling that was supported by 70% of the American population?

Ah yes, the evil.

We KNOW how to reduce abortions. We KNOW that comprehensive science based (non-religious) sex education reduces unwanted pregnancies. We KNOW that easy access to contraceptives reduces unwanted pregnancies. We KNOW that affordable and accessible healthcare reduces abortion rates. We KNOW that a robust welfare net which protects vulnerable people enough so that they don’t have to make a hard choice for financial reasons reduces abortion rates. These are all PROVEN ways to reduce abortion. We also KNOW that conservatives will never do any of these things, because their goal was never actually to help people or prevent abortions. It was to punish women.

We KNOW that making abortions illegal is actually class warfare, because wealthy (white) people will always be able to afford to travel somewhere where abortions are available.

Vulnerable populations of mostly black/brown/immigrant people will be the most affected by abortion bans, and this is BY DESIGN.

We KNOW abortion bans lead to more crime, not just the “crimes” of desperate women trying to obtain abortions and healthcare professionals dedicated to the well-being of their patients performing them, but also subsequent crimes as people with more kids than they can afford turn to law breaking to get by, and later still as these unwanted kids grow up poor, abused, abandoned, and without hope or prospects and turn to crime themselves.

20 years after Roe v. Wade first passed, statisticians noticed a significant drop in crime, and determined that it was due in part to the undesired babies that unfit or undesiring women would previously have been forced to give birth to not being born. It turns out that if only wanted babies are born, those babies are less likely to grow up poor, abused, and unloved, and are less likely to turn into criminals. Go figure.

So why do conservatives want additional poor, black, brown and immigrant babies? Don’t they hate the poors who don’t vote conservative? Well yes, but you see, they also need those criminals.

The war on drugs was never about drug use, it was about arresting “undesirables,” such as counter-culture hippies and black/brown/poor individuals to feed our unforgivable for-profit prisons and increase the modern-day domestic slave labor pool. Rich white people could always obtain and use all the drugs they want without consequence after all (just like abortions).

Since public opinion has turned enough that marijuana is being legalized across the country, and usage of other drugs is being decriminalized, conservative capitalists needed to find another avenue to pipeline people into the prison industrial complex. So they overturned Roe vs. Wade.

First, because cruelty is fun for them, and they hate women as a hobby, but also because it benefits them in concrete ways.

Abortion bans mean women are forced to give birth to unwanted kids. Those unwanted kids then grow up in poverty and receive a bad education thanks to conservative GOP’s concurrent crusade against secular public schooling. Best case scenario for the GOP, the public school system collapses and kids are then forced to go to weird Christian religious indoctrination “schools” that teach creationism and other demonstrably false lies, schools which are somehow paid for with taxpayer money thanks to additional GOP shit-fuckery, thus creating more brainwashed future GOP voters.

Even if the GOP doesn’t get the eventual increase of religious extremist voters that they hope for, they win anyway because they still get more future criminals and subsequently more legal modern slaves, PLUS if they can get any felony convictions to stick to the women who receive abortions or the medical professionals who perform them, they don’t have to worry about those people voting Democrat in the future, which they would likely do, you know, thanks to the cruelty and evil they experienced at the hands of conservatives, because felons often can’t legally vote. Either way, it’s a win-win for the conservative Christo-fascists.

Once again, we KNOW how to reduce abortion rates. We KNOW how to reduce crime. If this was about helping people or saving “babies” we would be doing those things (healthcare, contraceptives, education, social safety nets, unions, minimum wage increases, reducing income inequality, etc.)

Since we’re NOT doing ANY of those things, we KNOW what this is really about. Control by a regressive white “Christian” minority and Hurting people to benefit rich elites.

This is NOT what the vast majority of the country wants. 70% of Americans support abortion access and a woman’s right to choose! Meanwhile, a Supreme Court illegally packed with liars due to the actions of hypocrites is making decisions that go against the wishes of most of the American people for the benefit of a violent minority. Is that fair?

Again, if this was about reducing abortions or protecting babies, we KNOW the ways to do that, and this is not one of them. This is just about control. This is about what happens when you say you’re for “small government” and “individual freedoms” while hypocritically supporting big government infringing upon individual freedoms.

Federally protecting a woman’s right to make informed decisions about her healthcare and protecting the right to abortion access is freedom. You never have to get an abortion if you don’t want one.  That’s freedom. Taking away somebody else’s right to make the choice for themselves and enforcing your beliefs on somebody else’s body is not “small government”. It is not “freedom”.

I am 36 years old. My wife is 35. We are not young. We have been together for almost 15 years. We are college educated. We come from supportive, financially stable families. We own a small house. We have both been gainfully employed full-time for as long as we have been together. Our needs are modest, and our lifestyle is simple. We are doing far better than most, and we are just now barely able to afford a child. No wonder birth rates have fallen significantly in the US, and the average age of first-time parents has risen dramatically. With housing costs, healthcare costs, education costs, and every other cost rising exponentially year after year, and salaries remaining stagnant for everybody except CEOs, children are now literally unaffordable in this country.

The thought of forcing someone who isn’t in a good position to incur the devastating, ongoing expense of raising a child in America’s current economic reality is sickening. The inevitable result will be to sentence yet more American citizens to inescapable poverty and desperation, which of course the conservative GOP is just fine with, since it creates more bodies to toil under the tyrannical yoke of unfettered capitalism. Blood for the Blood God, skulls for the skull throne!

The forced-birther monsters on the Supreme court clearly don’t care about our well-being. They just want to force American women to crank out more babies to feed the machine, but doing that without doing anything to improve the economic and social conditions that are leading to lower birth rates in our country is an eminently cruel endeavor.

Of course, conservatives don’t go out and say that’s the reason. They don’t admit that wanting a larger population of wage slaves (or actual slaves) is the driving reason behind their appalling actions. They instead explain that their actions are due to their personal religious beliefs or a desire to protect the sanctity of life, as if their religious beliefs are in any way relevant to a free and equal secular society, and as if we don’t know how to actually reduce abortion rates by helping people instead of punishing them.

America is supposed to be a home for everybody, a magical mixing pot of cultures and creeds where every individual can experience a life of freedom, equality, opportunity and safety.

So tell me, why are we allowing it to be taken over by a violent minority of fake Christian fascist assholes intent on dragging us back to the dark ages? Why is a political party that has been infiltrated by racists, bigots, nut jobs, conspiracy theorists, and anti-intellectual dumbasses, and who hasn’t won a presidential popular vote in over 30 years, and who can only win state and local elections through lies, demagoguery, voting restrictions, and blatant gerrymandering, able to consistently stop good legislation, and push through unpopular legislation against the will of most of the American people? Does that seem fair? Or desirable?

I am not being alarmist; the conservative GOP have admitted their goals! They have admitted that abortion is just the beginning, and that they want to outlaw contraceptives and gay marriage next. If you don’t think outlawing interracial marriage and further reducing other freedoms and rights follows, then you are a fool. The modern GOP has explicitly and repeatedly admitted that they want to remove the separation of Church and State and effectively create a Western Christian Theocracy. We should not be promoting “Christian” values in a secular nation, and we should not be making supreme court decisions based on religious “morals”. Even if you are Christian, you should not be pushing for your religious beliefs to be forced upon your non-Christian countrymen. If you would be uncomfortable or angry by having a different religion’s tenets being forced upon you, then don’t be hypocritical. Realize that your beliefs can govern your decisions and your way of life, but not other people’s decisions or ways of life. Forcing your beliefs on others is completely counter to the entire idea of our Nation. Other religions allow abortion. Hell, even Christianity allows abortion according to the bible, this is just about control of women by a small amount of evil assholes who have decided to interpret the teachings of their faith in a way that benefits them exclusively and harms others.

Forced birth is evil. It’s regressive and wrong. Especially because WE KNOW HOW TO ACTUALLY REDUCE ABORTION RATES, and it isn’t by using legislation to strip rights away from women. We know that making abortions illegal doesn’t stop abortions, and that making abortions unnecessary does. So, what’s the point of banning abortions if it doesn’t actually stop abortions, and there are far more effective ways to stop abortion that actually help people? Evil is the point. Control is the point. Criminalizing the most desperate and vulnerable members of our society is the point.

So yeah, I’m worried for the future my little girl will grow up in to. By the time she is an adult, will she still have any rights at all? Will she be able to make her own informed decisions regarding her healthcare? Or love who she wants? Or drive? Or vote? Or have a bank account? Or will she be seen as a possession, to be sold into chattel slavery or owned and controlled by a man thanks to some regressive “Christian” extremist fucks who are doing everything in their power to destroy everything our non-Christian, non-religious and Deist Founding Fathers created?

Happy Fucking 4th of July or whatever.

Lady Liberty can’t even with this
Tiny baby agrees
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Modern Communication: A texting etiquette primer for Boomers…

A Boomer goes about his day

Boomers have a problem.

Technically, boomers have a lot of problems, like their misplaced pride, regressive values, and frail, saggy, liver-spotted bodies scaring children and gentle ladies of sensitive constitution, but the specific problem I refer to is their inability to communicate appropriately in modern society.

Think about it from their point of view. When their parents were children, humanity was still drawing ochre-colored mammoths on cave walls, and language consisted of grunts and pointing. When Boomers were young, literacy was as rare as a supportive, sensitive, emotionally open father figure, and was almost exclusively limited to myopic monks painstakingly transcribing ancient religious texts onto stretched vellum by hand.

Consequently, Boomers, well…they don’t text so good.

Millennials, by comparison, prefer typed communication to the unhygenic barbarity of the spoken word. Millennials spent their formative years lurking in their parents “computer room”, happily typing away for hours with their friends and creepy internet strangers using AOL instant messenger on a 56k dialup connection. The inevitable result of these activities, besides giving the family Gateway computer incurable super-aids while attempting to download Limp Bizkit’s Nookie from Limewire, was that Millennials learned to express emotion and intent via punctuation in an informal conversational typing style. Boomers, by comparison grew up chiseling pictograms into stone tablets. Writing was a serious business. After walking up hill six miles through the snow to a one room unheated schoolhouse, Boomers were taught that writing should be more formal, and that expressive punctuation was childish and silly. They were taught that exclamation points were infantile, and that conversational pacing and tone was inappropriate for written communication. Paired with their currently failing eyesight, and knobby arthritic hands which lack keyboard muscle memory, this tends to make their text messages quite cold, perfunctory, and sterile. In a time when writing a letter involved plucking a feather from a disagreeable goose to make a quill, dissecting a squid for its bladder of ink, carefully writing a short missive on a scrap of paper from the back page of the Sears Roebuck catalogue, tying it securely to the leg of a carrier pigeon, and hoping the bird survived the harrowing 3 week journey from the front back to the gilded manor estate where your middle-aged 18-year-old sweetheart languished in a laudanum and radium makeup induced haze, then yes, formality and brevity would be worthwhile writing habits to cultivate. What they fail to realize however, is that, to supple young fingers which can type more quickly than a mouth can speak, and where technology can deliver messages instantaneously across the globe, text-based conversations truly are conversations, and not treating them as such is quite jarring and off-putting to the recipient.

Millennials communicate much more clearly through text because they don’t have those outdated notions of formality. They’re used to holding convenient text-based conversations with their friends and have learned how to use punctuation to great effect to convey accurate intent and emotion. Boomer texts usually fail to do so.

Take for example, the following statement – “Here I come”.

If a Millennial were to receive that text with anything other than an exclamation point at the end of it, they would worry that they have somehow angered or offended the person sending the text.

Here I come! – means that your friend is on their way, and nothing is wrong. Here I come!!! – means that your friend is on their way, and they’re relatively happy about the situation. Here I come!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – means that they are on their way, and are super fucking stoked.

Conversely, Here I come. – is NOT a plain statement of fact, but instead an indicator that something. is. wrong. The period is stern. It is angry. It indicates that while the person is indeed coming, they are somewhat pissed off about it, and will be yelling at you about something when they arrive.

What is even worse however, is Here I come… – Oof. The ellipsis. The most ominous of punctuation. Boomers, you seem to use (…) a lot, and I can promise you that Millennials are not reading it how you intend to use it. That grammatical pause is most often used by Millennials to indicate threat, or deep annoyance, or as the setup to the punchline of a joke. Since there is not often a joke following up “Here I come”, the implication would instead be something along the lines of “Here I come…I’m coming to get you (and then kill you)”, or “Here I come…but I’m REALLY fucking pissed off about it and when I arrive I’ll be skipping the yelling and going straight to slapping you in the mouth.”

As another example, LOL or HAHA in texts. LOL, for the particularly uninitiated, means laugh-out-loud, and it is used as a response to indicate that a sentence was either received well, or that a sentence being sent is intended to be lighthearted and uncontroversial. Something like “You forgot the cake lol” does not mean that the sender is actually laughing out loud about your failure to bring cake, they are instead notifying you that you forgot the cake, and that they are not upset about it. It is similar to using an exclamation point, and is often interchangeable. So “you forgot the cake lol” and “you forgot the cake!” can feasibly mean the same thing, which is that cake was forgotten, but all is forgiven. “you forgot the cake.” however, would mean that they are angry about you forgetting the cake, and “you forgot the cake…” means that forgetting the cake is the last thing you’ll ever do, because you’re about to be murdered.

There is a good bit of nuance to the LOL and HAHA as well. Capitalization changes the degree of the term. So lol is only slightly funny, whereas LOL means it is REALLY funny, because it’s BIGGER. LMAO (laughing my ass off) and ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing) are for the funniest things of all, messages which were funny enough that it may even have elicited an actual physiological response, like a quick breath out the nostrils, or even an audible chuckle. “haha” and “HAHA” follow the same rules, with both capitalization, and amount of “ha”s used indicating increasing humor (hahahahaha is funnier than haha). Placing a space between the “ha”s however, is not good. HA HA is bad, and HA HA. (with a period) is worse. HA HA, with the space in between indicates a pause for effect, like you are sarcastically fake laughing, and “HA HA.” is especially scathing.

Ugh, there are too many rules, complain Boomers (a subsection of the population who historically fucking LOVE rules), not because the rules are particularly confusing or onerous to learn, but simply because Boomers are used to perceiving themselves as the experienced professionals at everything, and they don’t like being reminded that there is much they do not yet know. Why should we even text anyway, Boomers may say, hand-written letters are much fancier, and speaking face to face or on the phone with our words is clearly superior?

I say that superiority is debatable. The goal is clear communication. Most people, and Boomers especially, employ the frustrating Christian habit of assigning moral value to inherently amoral activities. Cursive isn’t fancier/better/more formal/morally upright to print, it’s just an obsolete penmanship style that has been made redundant and unnecessary by the speed, convenience, and legibility of word processors and cell phone screens. A person with good handwriting is not a better person, they are just a person with good handwriting. Inefficient and slowly produced handwritten letters have been replaced by the convenience and clarity of typewritten and printed letters, and even more so by purely digital email and texts. But what about phone calls, you scream impotently into the void. After they stole our telegraph, nothing beats a good old fashioned phone conversation. So why would you even want to text or email instead of just calling?

Stop. Just stop. Millennials HATE phone calls.

Back when Boomers opinions mattered, phones used to be tied to a place, whether home or office, and if you were not within reach of the phone, you were free. If you weren’t within arm’s reach of your landline telephone, nobody could impose upon your free time or privacy. Your boss could not bother you on vacation, your time was your own. If you had to speak on the phone, you did it in the privacy of your own home or workplace. Not in line at the grocery store. Not while trying to enjoy a romantic meal at a fancy restaurant. Millennials do not have that freedom. Thanks to our capitalist corporate overlords demanding more and more productivity and infringing more and more upon our previously free time in their quest for ever higher profits wrung from ever more overworked and underpaid employees, now that everybody has cell phones, we are expected to be plugged in and available all the time. It is EXHAUSTING.

To attempt to combat this, millennials keep their phones on silent ALWAYS. The only time a millennial would have a phone ringer turned on, is if they are expecting a very very very important call, like to notify them that their wife is going into labor, or their mistress successfully got the abortion. Boomers, there is NO reason to keep your phone ringer or notifications on for normal everyday casual usage. If your phone is always in your pocket, you can check the screen periodically, so you would notice a missed call or text quickly enough and can respond accordingly. An immediate response is not expected, nor should it be.

Boomers, try to understand, it is not texts or emails that a Millennial considers rude. If they’re texting you, it’s because they respect you. Actual phone calls are considered rude and demanding. You can answer an email or respond to a text conversation at your leisure while doing other things. You can multi-task. You can prepare yourself and provide thoughtful and accurate responses. Calls on the other hand require your undivided attention immediately and imprison you in a single conversation until they are over. Sending a text or email indicates that the sender respects the recipients time and would like to work with them at their convenience to communicate whatever needs to be communicated. Calling a person indicates that you only care about yourself, and you don’t care about how your selfish actions may inconvenience or otherwise bother your target audience.

When a Boomer makes a phone call, I generously assume they’re not thinking “oh boy, let’s see how quickly I can ruin somebody’s day today”, but that’s ultimately what they’re doing. When millennials receive a call, their immediate response is – first of all how dare you? Who would even? Why would? Eww.

They feel put out, infringed upon, violated.

Receiving a text or an email however, they love. They can respond at a convenient time. They can collect their thoughts and formulate a better response. They can multi-task and remain in contact with multiple parties. It does not disturb the people around them, like having to listen to one half of a phone conversation in public would. And there is no loss of intent, anything that can be conveyed verbally over the phone can also be conveyed visually through text, since Millennials are able to type quickly and express emotion accurately through the clever use of punctuation, abbreviations, and emojis.

The goal is clear, concise, convenient, and quick communication. Currently the best way to do that is through text or email. Not phone calls. Not letters sent via pony express. Not seances, crop circles, or petroglyphs. Text or email. And the great thing is, Boomers, you too can take part in this new renaissance of efficient global communication. All it takes is a little practice. So get to it! Boomers, learn how to text… (implied by the ellipsis – or else.)

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Happy Birthday to Me.

“But I am very poorly today & very stupid & hate everybody & everything. One lives only to make blunders.” – Charles Darwin, 1861

I am 36 today.

Technically, yesterday was my birthday, but I can never remember exactly what time of day I was born, and that means that for a while yesterday, I was still 35. So today is the first full day of the 36th year of my life. Status report: I’m struggling.

Not only am I working through the existential dread that afflicts me every year as I grow ever closer to death without achieving much in the way of accomplishments or a lasting legacy, a depressing fact which always leaves me feeling grumpy and irritable around my birthday, but the last couple of years in particular have hit especially hard.

Not to be dramatic, but not only is my entire generation pretty much resigned to the fact that things will never be good, ever again, and all of the happy, fun, carefree days are over, squandered by the generations before us before we ever even got a taste of the pie, but we’ve also been permanently affected by COVID deaths and isolation, rocked by economic uncertainty, victimized by skyrocketing housing, healthcare, education, childcare, food, fuel, and all-around living costs, and exhausted by traitorous politicians, greedy buffoons, anti-intellectual idiots, conspiracy theorist morons, and regressive fucks, all while the entire world boils alive and narcissistic billionaires rush to flee the planet instead of working to save it.

I’m exhausted boss. I’m burnt out, depressed, and anxious, and all of that has been working together to create a never-ending hell loop I lack the imagination to see an escape from. I’m depressed because I’ve been isolated from my family and friends for two years due to the pandemic. I’m anxious because if I make the wrong move and irresponsibly pretend nothing is wrong and spend time with my friends for my own enjoyment and happiness, my selfishness may very well kill somebody. I don’t know who is immuno-compromised and at risk, so I’m trying to do the right thing and act compassionately and responsibly. What I do know is that I can’t think of a single person that died from the flu or any other trendy illness du jour in my entire life, but I can think of at least a dozen people I am acquainted with who have died of COVID in the past year, so this shit is no hoax, and yet there are still assholes refusing to get vaccinated or wear facemasks, which just keeps extending this damn plague when it could have been fucking over already. So not only am I depressed by the perplexing selfishness of a significant portion of the US population, I’m also depressed because my anxiety has gone so far off the rails that I’m having panic attacks while driving, so even if I could safely plan a visit with my friends, I don’t know if I’m even physically capable of getting to them, which has me feeling especially trapped and isolated, and I’m anxious because even if I successfully meet up with my friends, I’m so depressed that I worry I might not be funny enough, or entertaining enough, or just enough in general for them to continue liking me and wanting to be my friends. Which naturally isn’t helping my anxiety. Which obviously, is compounding my depression. You see the pattern.

So, it’s fair to say that for the last two years, I haven’t really been living much. Just existing.

My hobbies have suffered, because I have lacked the energy, enthusiasm, focus, or drive to really do anything. I’ve just been feeling really dumb and useless. Look at this website for example, I’ve barely posted anything over the last 24 months. Honestly, I’ve barely written anything at all, online or off. I mean, it’s been three years and I still haven’t completed the sequel to my most recent novel, and that story was supposed to be done in 2019. It gives me nightmares thinking about how I’ve let everybody who wants to know what happens next in the story down so thoroughly, and I’m still working on it, slowly and unsteadily, but lately writing anything at all has felt like a chore. Can you imagine? One of my favorite activities, and I can’t find any pleasure in it these days.

My work has suffered too, because something has to give, and I’m frankly not at 100%. The way I figure it, sometimes simply doing good enough needs to be good enough, and while my bosses say they totally understand that things are crazy, and support their employees, and care about their emotional and physical well-being, they absolutely do not understand, and do not support us, and care only for profits, and if our performance slips even a smidge below some arbitrary benchmark, we will be thrown to the wolves immediately without a second of regret, because to them we are faceless interchangeable cogs in an ever hungering machine, so, you know, that’s not really great for my overall state of mind.

My health has suffered, because constant stress, anxiety, and depression will do that to a person. Beyond the newfound anxiety, which I have grown half-convinced is from a brain tumor, or blot clot, or impending stroke or aneurysm, or an even more rare and exotic syndrome or disease which will kill me at any moment, although logically it’s probably just the anxiety making me think that, but I’m not going to actually go find out, because what’s the point? I can’t afford to go to the doctor, because this is America, so if I go and they actually do find something wrong, I may as well just kill myself then and there so that my family can collect on the life insurance policy, because otherwise we’d be saddled with so much medical debt that we’d lose everything and our economic prospects would be ruined for 100 generations, and I’m not doing that to my family.

On top of the natural physical consequences of growing older, COVID isolation has had me stuck at home, sitting on my ass eating sugar snacks and growing fatter and fatter, which, compounded by the depression making me too lethargic and weak to lift weights or exercise, of course makes me feel worse about myself, and contributes further to my depression. Like I said, vicious cycle.

But you know what? It’s not all bad. I woke up on my birthday yesterday still exhausted after a fitful nights sleep with a pounding headache and ready to choose violence all day, but then something wonderful happened. My phone started buzzing, and it did not stop.

All day I was bombarded by texts, and calls, and social media posts from my family and friends wishing me well and giving me tangible proof that, isolated though I may be feeling, I’m never truly alone. Not even a little. Even if we can’t share the same physical space as much as I would like, I am still surrounded by people who care about me. To them, I matter. To them, I’m enough.

So for all of those people who took a moment out of their day to reach out and wish my a happy birthday, thank you. It means more than you can ever know. Even if I’m having a rough day and feeling very poorly & very stupid & hate everybody & everything, as our old pal Chuck Darwin so eloquently stated, those feelings pass. I ended up having wonderful time yesterday, and went to bed feeling so loved, and so thankful, and dare I say, even a little optimistic.

And wouldn’t you know it, it looks like I’m writing again.

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It’s been a shitty year

Who are we? Are we our bodies? Are we our minds? Are we a discrete and singular entity, bound to a specific time and place, or are we instead our legacy, the summation of all of our actions and the cumulative causal weight of our existence?

I prefer to think we are the latter, that the sum of who we are is not bound to the thoughts in our head or the face we see in the mirror, but can instead be fully perceived only in the aggregate effect we have had on others. There is some solace in that.

To use a cheap analogy, we are not just a skipped stone, we are instead both the stone AND the ripples in the pond, emanating from every spot the stone impacted the water.

This does, however mean that we can never truly be known, not fully. Not by somebody else, since our personal experiences are both private and ineffable, and not even by ourselves, since we can never really comprehend the full impact we have had on others.

This is not meant to be a lonely thought, or a depressing one, but is instead beautiful, because it means that who we are is never just one thing. It is instead a wonderful, mutable, conglomeration of the many permutations of cause and effect that have occurred due to our existence. If who we are is defined on a sliding scale between solipsism and sonder, and built from both the rich internal tapestry of our own consciousness as well as the countless unique versions of us that reside solely in other people’s minds, then we are truly infinite, which is immortality of a sort.

I lost a friend recently. Although my knowledge of him, limited as it was to our personal interactions and shared experiences, was really only a small piece of the entirety of his being, if you will let me, I would like to tell you about the man I knew. I would like to tell you about Chris Slater.

Slater was a man of vision. I met Slater in college, and he was, frankly, easily dissatisfied with the mundane, and constantly sought ways to elevate the experiences of himself and others into something special. This was, I believe, both a blessing and a curse, because when he was able to, he invariably made things better than they would have otherwise been, but when he couldn’t, he grew resentful and discontent.

He was brilliant, and creative, inventive, and resourceful. Chris saw what life at UCONN had to offer, and he said not good enough. He created an oasis with his tribe at Willi Oaks that took everything good about the college experience, and turned it up to eleven. It became, in no small part thanks to Chris’s charisma, vision, and sheer force of will, a truly magical place of mad invention, deep friendships, constant laughs, hedonistic excess, and personal growth, and I am forever grateful to have been able to experience it, even lurking as I did on the periphery as a frequent visitor instead of one of the resident savages.

While most of the specific stories I have from that era are wildly inappropriate to share in a public forum like this, just know that many of the funniest, best, most enduring memories I have of college involve Chris, and in that, I am in no way unique.

After college, I was lucky enough to keep in contact with Slater, and although the occasions where we spent time together were far too infrequent, when they did occur I always knew they would be memorable and special, because that is simply what Slates did. Nobody else fit the old adage “here for a good time, not a long time” quite as well as Chris, and the world is a lesser place without him. The effect he had on his friends and family can never be overstated, and he will be missed dearly. The stone may be gone, but the pond will keep rippling, for a long, long time.

Obituary of Christopher Lincoln Slater (cornellmemorial.com)

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