45

45

This again? Seriously? Didn’t we just do this?

Well, that number sure isn’t getting any smaller, now, is it?

The good news is, I’m not freaking out … you know, like I did when I turned 40. Quite the contrary, in fact. I’ve taken stock of things and I’m OK with 45.

Is my day job something I’m thrilled with? No, but I’ve reconciled myself with it. It’s a good fit for my family at this point in our lives. It’s a decent paycheck, it provides us with health insurance, it’s an easy gig, nice environment, the hours are very reasonable, I listen to iTunes all day, I’m only 20 minutes away from my house, and I can come and go pretty much as I please and work from home when I need to.

Because of this work arrangement, I have been able to remain hugely involved in my children’s lives thus far … which is when they have most needed me to be hugely involved in their lives. Yes, this has been to the detriment of my writing endeavors … but I realize now that focusing on fatherhood rather than on my writing pursuits was not an obligation I was forced into honoring; it was a decision I made … even if I didn’t realize it at the time. If it felt like an obligation rather than a choice, it’s only because I can’t imagine not prioritizing the things I chose to prioritize.

My father, by his own admission, wishes he spent more time with me and my siblings when we were youngsters. I will never know what that regret feels like, and my children will have a childhood filled with memories of their father being a constant presence in their lives.

So I’m OK with 45.

bday-dinner

My phenomenally awesome birthday dinner (at my favorite new restaurant, Ardé Osteria, in case you’re wondering). I ate until it hurt. A lot.

What I’m not OK with, however, is the thought of hitting 50 and looking around to find that everything in my life is the same as it was when I turned 45. If it is, then that also will be due to the choices I make between now and then.

There have been moments — long spans of time, actually — during the past five years when I’ve felt like my dream of a writing career is a silly fantasy that I need to let go of. Feeling like that has sucked. So fuck that.

The next five years are going to be about finding some balance between being a family man and being a writer. They’re going to be about making writing a regular part of my life again, and about tackling — and completing — some writing projects I’ve thus far relegated to the confines of my imagination, under the heading “Someday, Maybe.”

They’re going to be about taking some chances to find out if I can make this dream a reality … because, in the same way that I can’t imagine not having prioritized my role as a father in recent years, I also can’t imagine not making a serious attempt at carving out a writing career in the years ahead.

So “Someday, Maybe” starts now. That’s my birthday present to myself.

Happy Birthday to me.

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UPDATED: Well, this oughta do wonders for my OCD

Well, this oughta do wonders for my OCD
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In the spring of 1994, I was approaching the end of my sophomore year at Salem State College in Salem, Massachusetts, where I was… [read the rest]

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If you’re a ginormous asshole who regularly demonstrates a total disregard for your co-workers, this post is for you

So that I.T. job I’ve been wasting away at for almost four years now? Well, I still haven’t figured out how to leverage my writing skills in a way that’ll get me the fuck outta there … but I have figured out how to have a little fun with those skills in the meantime. And so, instead of limiting the recipients of my latest masterpieces to the adult-sized toddlers with whom I work, I figured I’d share these two missives with all of you as well. You’re welcome! (Of course, it’s beyond depressing that I work in a place where the following emails are even necessary — particularly the second one —but sending them to every single person in the corporate office felt good.)

To: Home Office
From: Jon
Subject: Office Etiquette 101

Dear Everyone:

If, after obtaining a paper towel from the rack over the kitchen sink, the dispenser looks like this:
 
image001
 
… you have officially used the last paper towel. The one glued to the roll doesn’t count. There’s a new roll under the sink. (I know this because I’ve replaced it for the offending party/parties twice in as many weeks.)
 
Stay tuned for next week’s lesson, in which we tell the fellas about the latest development in toilet-seat technology: Hinges! (Sneak preview: They allow you to tilt the seat up before peeing all over the place!)

Thank you,

Jon
Home Office Etiquette Officer

I had hoped that my little passive-aggressive zinger at the end there would allow me to kill two birds with one stone … but I soon realized that the kind of douchebag who regularly pisses all over the workplace toilet seats isn’t the type of person who knows how to take a passive-aggressive hint … which is why, a couple of weeks later, I felt compelled to address the issue head-on.

To: Home Office
From: Jon
Subject: Office Etiquette 102 – Men’s-Only Edition

Gentlemen:

I apologize for the intrusion, but this is a daily, maddeningly obnoxious, easily avoidable occurrence that I no longer can tolerate: Please stop urinating on the toilet seats. Really. The bathroom is equipped with two perfectly good urinals … but if you’re the shy type and you just can’t bring yourself to use them like a big boy, then you simply must stop splashing your urine all over the toilet seats every single time you use the bathroom. Here’s how:

How To Not Splash Your Urine All Over The Toilet Seat: A Tutorial

Step 1a:

image005

Step 1b:

image006

TA-DAH!! That’s all there is to it! You can even leave the seat up when you’re done! Believe me, those of us who regularly and repeatedly are forced to clean up your liquid human waste every time we have need of a bathroom stall would much rather deal with the inconvenience of lowering the seat.

Thank you in advance for your immediate and total compliance with this outrageously reasonable request.

Jon
Home Office Etiquette Officer

If I ever figure out how to make a living writing wise-ass emails and blog posts, I can assure you that I won’t miss my current gig.

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I’ve narrowly cheated death yet again

My tombstone

There are many downsides to being a hypochondriac … but it does have its benefits. Take yesterday, for example.

Yesterday, I headed to my doctor’s office for the third time in about two weeks … which, for me, is unfuckingprecedented, since my immune system is basically on par with Wolverine’s. And yet, despite my mutant healing powers, I’ve had a persistent cough for, like, a month now.

During my first doctor’s visit, he prescribed an albuterol inhaler and a codeine-based cough suppressant. After a week, the inhaler had accomplished roughly jack shit, and I’m pretty sure I was downing the cough medicine only because the idea of legally ingesting an opiate before bed each night seemed appealing.

In addition to my ongoing cough and blossoming drug habit, I then developed a reddish, dime-sized, welt-like thing on my face, just slightly below and to the right of my nose … which, really, is exactly where you want to develop a reddish, dime-sized, welt-like thing, because at least then it’s not very noticeable.

I literally watched this thing spontaneously appear on my face while washing up after doing some work on our porch, and I tried to convince myself that perhaps I’d been bitten by a spider while tending to that chore … but being bitten on the face by a spider seems like the kind of thing a guy would notice while it was happening, so I wasn’t fully buying my own theory.

Last Thursday, still coughing and sporting my attractive face welt, I returned to the doctor, who subsequently prescribed an antibiotic for the cough and a topical ointment for the face welt, about which he said: “I don’t know what the hell that is.”

Four days into my antibiotic-and-topical-ointment regimen, not only was I was still coughing like a barking seal and sporting my ever-snazzy face welt, but also I was experiencing a chronic headache and some general sensitivity and discomfort on most of the right side of my face, head, neck, throat and right ear. Clearly, it was time to do what any respectable, modern-day hypochondriac does to diagnose what ails him: check the Internet.

A brief Google search later, I reached the conclusion I always reach when I use the Internet to diagnose an unexplained ailment: I had cancer. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, to be exact.

Certain that my children soon would be fatherless and my wife a widow, I decided I should at least let the doctor confirm my imminent death before getting my affairs in order. Thus, I called his office Monday evening, scheduled an appointment for yesterday morning, and spent the interim upsetting myself with thoughts of leaving my kids behind at such a young age, and of not seeing them grow into adulthood.

And I wish I was kidding, believe me … because I know that some people — “the sane,” you might call them — can’t imagine being so unbelievably fucked in the head …. but I am absolutely terrified of disease and death and my own mortality in general … to the point that it is a full-blown phobia. (This dovetails nicely with my hypochondria, which causes me to immediately assume anything more serious than a brief head cold is terminal.)

As I got out of my car and headed into the medical building for my appointment yesterday morning, I heard someone yell “Dead man walking!” Probably it was me who yelled it, but still … not a good sign either way.

“You don’t have non-Hodgkins lymphoma,” my doctor lied while examining me. “The discomfort you’re having is only on one side of your head?”

“Yes.”

“Is your scalp sensitive right here?” he asked while touching a newly sensitive region of scalp on the top-right side of my head.

“Yes,” I replied, impressed that he had predicted that … so much so that I was willing to entertain the possibility he might not be lying about the you-don’t-have-cancer thing after all.

“I know what you have now,” he said. I assumed his next words would be “Terminal [something].” I was wrong. Go figure.

“You have shingles.”

Shingles? Motherfucking shingles? Who the fuck gets shingles? Isn’t shingles something people got in the 1600s after spending a month in a cargo hold while crossing the Atlantic? Or maybe that was scurvy. Either way, I’m pretty sure you have to be a special kind of basket case to contract shingles in 2014.

But anyway … on the one hand, I was all, “Boo! Shingles!” … but, on the other hand, I was all, “Yay! Totally not cancer!”

And so, “Yay! Shingles!” I said.

“You’re probably the first patient I’ve heard say ‘Yay! Shingles!'” replied my doc, who clearly has no idea just how deep my neuroses run.

“So I don’t need chemotherapy?”

“No. I mean, I could give you chemotherapy, but it won’t do anything beneficial for you.”

I decided to skip the unnecessary chemo and instead received a prescription for Valacyclovir HCL 1, which comes in the form of an enormous, blue pill roughly the size of a whitewater raft. With any luck, it will clear up this shingles thing in the next week or two. I hope. Because my fucking head is killing me … which bums me out until I remind myself that I don’t have terminal cancer.

Which brings us to: You non-hypochondriacs are missing out on the incredible flood of headache-minimizing relief you could be feeling every time you learn that you don’t have terminal cancer. And, yes, you might argue that the burden of needlessly worrying that you’re about to die a horrible and premature death offsets the benefits of subsequently finding out you’re OK … but that’s only because you don’t know how great it feels to experience the illusion of getting a second chance at life!

In related news: It’s exhausting to be me.

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And then I bought a spaceship!

And then I bought a spaceship!
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In the midst of all this madness, I realized I was a 44-year-old man driving an econo-car that I bought when I was 29. … [read the rest]

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