I, too, sing America.

When I was young I sang loudly.
I learned what they wanted, minded my manners, recited the pledge.
My white friends and I pedaled our bicycles through suburbia, swam the summer away, and sat in our air-conditioned homes watching MTV when the heat was simply too much to bear — sometimes it was so hot.
Just living the American dream…

Two decades passed and I wasn’t sure what had happened.
I had a wife and a mortgage, two kids and two cars.
My pockets were full but my stomach felt sick.
I was sleep-walking through life,
Just living the American dream…

Then, one day, I turned into the wind and woke with a start.
Dirt stung my face as I walked our gritty streets.
I saw people with dreams of their own —
Like living in that big house on the hill,
And driving that big fancy car,
And wearing those nice clothes that the pretty people wear in the magazines left in the trash cans.
Like finding a bite to eat and a way to make their children warm again — sometimes it gets so cold.
Yes, we all have an American dream…

So while I lost my faith, I found some purpose.
And tomorrow I will continue to trudge along, singing my song and trying to make some tiny difference.
Because I, too, sing America.
And I’m wide awake.

Random Sunday Ramble

March 11, 2017

Sorry to ramble…

I had a lot of things I wanted to get done today, but daylight savings time has ruined my schedule.

How can thirteen-year-old boys be so good at remembering to liberally douse themselves in cheap cologne, yet they can’t remember to turn off lights or flush toilets?

Why does getting good experience at anything take so damn long?

No kid of mine will be operating a vehicle if they “can’t” operate the washer and dryer.

I recently read that the brain begins deteriorating at age 27. Or was it 37? Anyway, it seemed young.

If you believe God is omniscient and everything is predestined by him, what is the point of anything? I at least wouldn’t be getting up early for church.

Why is it that the competitive neighborhood dads all seem to end up mowing at the same time on Saturday mornings?

Did you know…the average American annually consumes as many calories as 32 Kenyans?

Tacos sound good.

I like soccer, but it seems to discriminate against people in wheelchairs, which is why I think basketball is a better overall sport.

Does anyone actually say “tomahto?” If so, they’re not doing themselves any favors.

Spring break is nice for kids, but for most parents it’s simply a week when we are forced to find a sitter.

We are all capable of doing great things, but most of us decide to take a nap.

One out of every three people in the world has no access to a toilet, yet the average new American house has three toilets before finishing the bathroom in the walkout basement.

I truly believe soda is worse for you than beer, I just don’t have the data to back it up.

Life is best experienced with your TV off.

While I don’t watch much TV, I become very concerned when I can’t find the remote.

Considering thousands of people are born each day, I’ve concluded that the possibility of reincarnation seems more realistic than going to heaven.

When we were younger my wife would complain that I didn’t listen to her. Now she just tells everyone I’m deaf.

25% of people in the world live with no electricity. This makes me feel slightly guilty about having a portable phone charger that looks like the poop emoji.

With so many aging baby boomers, I predict canes will start to be en vogue again.

I’d be lying if I said speaking French didn’t make me more handsome.

Did you know…805 million people in the world go hungry every single day. Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my warm car, polluting the air, as I complain about the long line in the drive-thru (tapping my steering wheel along with the radio, of course). Pathetic.

“As a matter of fact yes, (teenage) son, that gold chain does make you look like a douche.”

They say learning to play an instrument has many wonderful benefits for children, yet they never mention how much it sucks for the parents of these children learning to play instruments.

Did you know…it is legal for children to smoke cigarettes in the US? Doctors, however, discourage it.

If I knew then what I know now I know I would have at least known more then.

Call me stupid, but I feel inclined to believe in ideas backed by scientific evidence.

It’s scientifically proven that no man can look cool while drinking from a straw.

Twenty-somethings are into the whole “Netflix and chill” thing. My wife and I spend 45 minutes trying to find something to watch on Netflix, then just decide we are too tired for a movie or sex.

In a world where you can choose to be anything, many people seem to choose poorly.

My six-year-old daughter recently had some ideas about how I could comb my hair differently to look less bald. I thought this was kind of cute at first, but she followed that up by saying that I should consider wearing black because it’s slimming.

Did you know…farting helps reduce high blood pressure?

Dear Red-Blooded American Badass: Before you start cursing that guy because he’s in your country and isn’t speaking English, you might want to know that the good ol’ USA has no official language.

Do you suppose God plays tennis?

I think it’s good when people are politically correct, but I’d rather hang out with someone who is genuinely kind and also enjoys making fun of people. Including themself.

If I could do it all over again, I would be nicer.

Life is short. Let’s do some good.

I’m probably overreacting. It’s probably no big deal. This too shall certainly pass. Still, I’m genuinely concerned about the direction our country is heading. What direction, you ask? Increasing violence? Decreasing human rights? Social security running out? Healthcare in limbo? The economy? The threat of terrorism? These are all extremely valid concerns, but I’m most troubled by how we seem to be losing any interest in kindness and mutual respect, and seem to get off on being hateful. 

For the record, I’m not attacking or blaming any one group. I can point a finger at Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Muslims, Jews, athiests, jocks, freaks, nerds, and geeks. Oh, and even me. We all seem to be on the bandwagon of hate — even if we don’t see it, or worse, somehow justify it. Is this magnified and blown out of proportion by the media? Definitely. However, is it real? You better believe it. 

We live in a time when our president tweets hateful messages on a daily basis, religious leaders post discriminatory messages on Facebook, and the news media is on the constant lookout for any controversial, disappointing, or downright hateful news. We are possibly as divided nationally as we’ve been since the Civil War, and there is little evidence indicating improvement anytime soon. I truly fear that in the not too distant future it will be considered acceptable for bank tellers to look us in the eyes, smile, and say, “Thanks so much for banking with us, and go fuck yourself.” 

Despite our very serious problems, all hope is not yet lost. I know for a fact that there are great people doing incredible things every day. We may not all share the same political, religious, or economic views, but there are people putting kindness first. Every single day. It’s not sexy, it’s not popular, but it’s happening, and it needs to get noticed. It needs attention so it can gain traction. This matters — maybe more than anyone realizes. 

It’s not always easy to be genuinely kind and respectful. In fact, it’s damn hard. It’s far easier to lash out, to try to prove a point, to try to make someone feel small, while we make ourselves feel clever. I struggle with it regularly. Taking the high road is sometimes an agonizing climb, but I’m always proud of myself for getting to the top. What people forget — or maybe haven’t learned — is that it feels good to be kind, even to people you disagree with or simply don’t like. If we truly gave everyone a chance, we might just discover that we get along with far more people than we thought. 

I think I was born a realist. I know we will never see eye to eye on everything or be just like one another. Man, I’m glad because life would be awfully boring. I’ve chosen to be an optimist, partly because it just feels better, but also because it forces me work at being a better person. I hope we (and we includes me) can put an effort towards being kind and respectful, because we are all in this together. This is life people, it’s not a drill. Can we agree to stop judging those who are different? Can we let people — as long as they are not directly harming anyone — do what makes them happy? Can we not only accept those who are different from us, but actually wish them the best, and then expect the same in return? 

We all think our opinion is right. We all have beliefs we think others should follow. Many see this as conviction, a positive, the only way. I will continue to do my best to make my conviction kindness. When I’m kind and respectful I always feel like I’m doing what’s right. 

If we care about our nation’s well-being, I hope we will not just agree to disagree, but learn to sincerely respect each other and be honestly kind to one another. This isn’t easy and won’t happen overnight. It takes practice. It requires trying to see the world through the eyes of others, even if we don’t always like the view. We can choose kindness. Don’t jump ship — we can change our course — it’s not too late. However, it’s a big ship, it’s a pain in the ass to steer, and we all must have a hand on the helm. 

The Audacity of Patriotism

January 22, 2017

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to…remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson

As our ‘indivisible’ nation embarks on a new era under Trump, we may actually be as divided as we’ve been since the Civil War. The presidential election process brought out the worst in those from both sides of the political fence. We called each oth names, pointed fingers, and dispised those who believed differently than we did — despite many saying they were simply supporting the lesser of two evils. Someone had to win, and now Donald Trump is our president. Some of us are very upset and scared, some are unsure what to think, and others are gloating. This would be no different if Clinton had emerged as the victor. I voted for Clinton, not as the lesser of two evils, but rather because I thought she was a good candidate. Besides her political experience, we share many of the same values and beliefs. Mostly, she seems to have some compassion for people, which I think is extremely important for a president.

I could go into much greater detail about why I believe Clinton was the better choice, but that isn’t why I’m writing…

Since Trump was elected, many of his supporters are asking the rest of us to give him a chance. “Take it easy,” they suggest. “Get on board and see what he can do,” they recommend. “Whatever happens, it won’t be that bad — just like it wasn’t that bad with Obama,” they insist. “Come on, be patriotic and support your president,” they plead.

“Be patriotic…” This is why I’m writing.

What if I said that true patriotism doesn’t mean that we should always be proud of our country. It doesn’t mean that we should always support our leaders. It doesn’t mean that we should always agree to simply try to make the best of the situation in our country. What if I said true patriotism means we should do the exact opposite? A truly patriotic person should question everything that impacts their country. I think our Founding Fathers would agree. Keep in mind that the original Patriots were also known as Rebels and Revolutionaries. Not only did they refuse to make the best of the situation, they declared independence from their country (England), and many died rather than be forced to live under what they felt was unjust rule. I’m not suggesting that anyone should declare independence, start a revolution, or literally fight for their freedom — at least not right now — but when someone tells me that I should support the president because it’s patriotic, I have to speak up.

I understand that we have an election process and that my candidate lost fair and square (or something like that). Like it or not, Donald Trump is in fact my president. However, I will never blindly support him, just as I would never blindly support any president, regardless of their beliefs or political affiliation. I sincerely hope we can get through this term without reversing progress that has been painstakingly made over the past decades and even centuries. I hope we will show compassion for all of the different people who share this nation. Diversity is one of the many things that truly makes America great. I hope people are right when they claim it won’t be “that bad,” and I hope people realize they can act to help make things better. I hope we will protest peacefully and in a way that earns respect from those who believe differently. I hope we will question and debate Trump and his supporters in a respectful way, whether this respect is reciprocated or not. I recall very clearly not liking it when people were hateful to President Obama — and turnabout is not fair play. I hope that Trump is held accountable for his mistakes, and is applauded for any successes. Mostly though, regardless of who we cast our vote for, I hope we will all remember to be truly patriotic. If we do this, the rest should then take care of itself.

When I was young, my father said Sonny

If you want happiness you must make lots of money

People adore those who acquire great wealth

It demands respect and promotes good health…

Swimming laps in the cesspool and recording great times 

First in class (Ivy League), and my car is so fine 

Engaged to the best girl, yeah her daddy’s real rich

An aspiring actress, she has perfect fake tits


Swimming laps in the cesspool and in the lead pack

A nagging wife and two kids are a pain in my back 

You have the best of everything, so give me a break 

Don’t bother me now, I have too much at stake

White lies and blurred lines, my eyes have turned red

Have to get the deals done, I’ve got the enemy in bed


Swimming laps in the cesspool but falling behind

My arms burn, my legs ache, but I’ll keep up the grind 

Working each day to pay for my sins

Swimming laps in the cesspool is a race no one wins


Treading water is really no fun, the pool is so cold, and my body’s gone numb

I stretch out my toes, but I can’t touch the bottom 

I’m stuggling and realize that my time has come 

Young swimmers splash by, they’re moving so fast

I reach out my hand, but they simply rush past 

They don’t even see me, they’re focused ahead


I can’t hold my breath…

It’s that time again. The holiday season is winding down, and we are bracing for the long winter that lurks outside our frosty windows. Unwrapped but unopened gifts clutter various corners of our homes. Boxes and plastic storage tubs sit restlessly in our basements, longing to be reunited with fraying stockings, fragile ornaments, and dusty wreaths. Our perfect plastic trees will soon be dismantled and neatly put away until next season, which I promise will be here in the blink of an eye.

As the holiday decor is coming down, lists are being posted. Resolutions, or as I think of them, decent ideas that most people don’t really expect to follow through with. Many of us resolve to exercise vigorously (“I’m joining my local gym, which is very close-by so it will be easy for me to get up and go at 5AM every day before work.”), eat clean (“I’m cutting sugar completely out of my diet.”), quit drinking (“Seriously, after New Year’s Eve I’m done.”), etc. These kinds of resolutions are all fine ideas, but for most of us they simply aren’t very realistic — or are at least not very sustainable. So what seem on the surface like positive goals, actually end up making us feel worse when the goals are not met. The only resolution I’ve made that has seemed to stick was a few years back when I swore off resolutions. I would encourage everyone to try this. What if I suggested that rather than coming up with daunting resolutions that we don’t want to do in the first place, we simply decide to live intentionally and do things we believe will make us happy?

There is a mountain of scientific evidence suggesting that happier people are healthier, more productive, and live longer than others. I think we can agree that happy people are generally more fun to be around, and as a former grump who has become mostly very happy, I can attest that it feels a hell of a lot better. Unfortunately many refuse to give it a try — or perhaps just honestly don’t know how.

“Happiness” is subjective, and we all define it a bit differently. But when we make a list (preferably an actual written list) of things that bring us a bit joy, we can more easily make an intentional effort to regularly increase our happiness level. Instead of coming up with lists of bad habits to break and agonizing things to attempt, we have “tasks” we enjoy and actually want to do. When we associate happiness with healthiness and longevity, we no longer need to feel guilty about making the time to cross these tasks off our to-do lists.

So here are some things on my list; maybe they can provide some inspiration:

1.  I will not worry as much about healthy eating. I’m not a health nut, but I definitely watch what I eat. I rarely have fast food, fried food, or even red meat. I’m certainly not going to start chowing down on everything in sight, but I’m not going to avoid the bacon this year. Or the ice cream. Or the gravy. And I might have seconds of each.

2.  I will ride my bicycle more. I rode my bike constantly as a child, and have periodically as an adult. After a trip to Colorado, where approximately 1 out of 1.1 people were cyclists, I was inspired to give it a go again. Cycling is obviously great exercise, but it also makes me feel like a kid again. Racing down a long, steep hill with the wind in my face, knowing that at any second a blowout could send me tumbling, is truly exhilarating. So exhilarating that I no longer care about looking goofy in a helmet. 

3.  I will take more hikes in the woods. This is another activity that is great physical exercise, but I find it to be much more beneficial mentally. I jog or walk most days for fitness, but it becomes a boring routine. However, when I’m hiking through wooded areas I lose track of time and the outside world as I become pleasantly lost in my surroundings. I completely forget about the fact that I’m exercising at all. Everyone should get lost in the woods from time to time — it’s amazing what you might find.

4.  I will read more books. Besides stimulating the brain, reading is said to strengthen memory, reduce stress, hone one’s focus, improve sleep, and much more. Mostly though, I enjoy it.

5.  I will continue to make an effort each day to be somehow kind and helpful. I’ve discovered that how people treat others is almost always directly related to how they feel about themselves. Similarly, being kind helps me like myself more. I often hear the term “random acts of kindness,” but I prefer regular acts of kindness. These acts don’t necessarily require any time, money, or even much thought. For me, it is simply an intentional attempt to do little things like smiling more, saying “hello” to strangers on the street, or returning my shopping cart. I have felt horrible after being negative or rude many times, but I have never once regretted being kind. 

Maybe this to-do list doesn’t fit you, but there is one that does. Another year is passing, which means we have one less to take advantage of. What are you waiting for? Forget the resolutions to do things you want to avoid; instead figure out a way to do things that make you happy. If nothing else, remember that happiness is good – not something to feel guilty about or put off for later. Go live intentionally, and savor the gravy.

Cheers and Happy New Year

Don’t Forget Thanksgiving

November 17, 2016

My favorite holiday is on the horizon. If you immediately think of Christmas, you’re completely wrong. I love the simplicity and comfort of Thanksgiving. During a time of extreme division and animosity between so many different segments of our nation’s population, we need this day to come together — not for religious purposes, not to share gifts, but to eat, drink, be merry, and share our gratitude for each other and for all that we have.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas, but I’m saddened that consumerism and greed are tarnishing the greatness of Thanksgiving, all under the guise of Christmas. Unfortunately, our new Thanksgiving tradition is to skip out on board games, movies, and other family activities, and instead opt to leave shortly after dinner in order to get a good spot in line outside of a department store. Once the doors are unlocked, we swarm inside like an unruly mob, sometimes screaming, trampling, and literally throwing punches, all in order to…shop.

I understand that times are tough for many of us and that there are good deals to be had, but there has to be more to it. I believe many people think they are happier when they are spending money or, more specifically, shopping. There’s a certain sportsmanship and one-upmanship that’s involved with shopping, especially on Thanksgiving. It’s a primal hunt for the best deal, followed by a desire to beat one’s chest and howl in triumph (or at least post on Facebook about how awesome it was). It’s a societal change that is the result of unbelievably successful marketing. Thanksgiving shoppers may be getting good deals, but it is actually corporate America that is really winning — just as they’ve strategically planned. There’s a reason that Christmas marketing starts the day after Halloween. Thanksgiving just doesn’t sell well. Corporate greed trickles down and unknowingly becomes the greed of the consumer. Meanwhile, retail workers — people making $8-$10 an hour — are being forced away from their families to deal with the madness as they simultaneously help line corporate pockets. But, hey, it’s all for Christmas…

My beef really isn’t with Christmas or capitalism, it’s with American consumers. In a time when we bitch and moan far too much, when our possessions define us, when our politics divide us, can’t we take one full day to be grateful for what we already have? Let’s reverse the trend of diminishing the importance of our country’s first holiday. Let’s stop shopping on Thanksgiving or even at the stroke of midnight on Friday. Let’s spend time with our family. The gifts you’re buying don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things (in fact, if you look in your children’s closets, you’ll probably find some unopened toys from last Christmas). However, our kids will quickly grow up and start their own families, and our elders will eventually leave this world. The best gift we have is time with our family. The appreciation of which is also one of the best gifts we can pass on to our youth.

I read a quote once — I’m not sure where it originated — that said something like: “It’s not happy people who are thankful, but rather thankful people who are happy.” We have plenty of time to shop before Christmas. Let’s put Thanksgiving back on the pedestal it deserves. Let’s carry on a tradition that began in 1621 when immigrant and native families shared food, stories, and gratitude. Let’s preserve the best holiday of all, Thanksgiving.

(By the way, this also means no Christmas decorations until Thanksgiving is over. Please and thank you.)