And I’m Fine


Stay classy, Ann Arbor

There’s no denying there’s a rift in the country today.  It seems to fall straight down party lines.  People say it’s because of the rhetoric that speaks to two different sets of people; others say that it’s because we’ve gotten into this tribalism where we’re defined by reactions of The Other (that is to say, it’s not enough that I like my team, I also must hate your team).  I think it’s a lot simpler than that.

Things are changing quickly.  It wasn’t that long ago that I had calendars, shopping lists, clocks in every room, a camera, photo albums, a computer room, a laptop, a discman, a CD-wallet, copies of CDs in my car, a multi-disc changer component stereo, a radio, a telephone with long-distance, a calling card, a VCR, a DVD player, a tape recorder, a printer, a scanner, several road maps, different calculators, a newspaper subscription, cable, an encyclopedia set, a dictionary, a thesaurus, several flashlights, a rolodex, recipe books, a bunch of regular books, a travel agent, a banker, an investment specialist, a filing cabinet with many files, and a white noise machine.  Now I own a phone.  It’s a lot to get used to.

Add all that change to the natural narcissism of people (although, I think everyone only reading news that caters to them isn’t helping) and here’s what you have: “I did these things that society has evolved out of, and I’m OK”

I got spanked when I was a kid, and I turned out fine.

We drove around Lake Michigan in the bed of a pickup and I turned out fine.

I used to watch TV on a schedule and the only was to catch an episode if you missed it was to watch it again at the designated time during summer reruns and I turned out fine.


What if I stuck with it…?

No one says, “I am a trainwreck.  I have a ton of Daddy Issues so I always look for compliments from older men.  I seem to be addicted to everything and I have the absolute worst taste in TV (I can no longer make love unless The Bachelor Winter Games is playing in the background).  I’m not sure how refusing to brush my teeth works itself in there…”  Everyone says “I’m OK” because we all honestly believe it.  How devastating would it be to look at yourself in the mirror every day and say, “I picked the wrong religion.  I picked the wrong job.  I picked the wrong spouse.  These things that happened to me messed me up beyond saving.  I am broken; some of it’s how I grew up, but a lot of it is what I’ve done since then”?  We all — just to survive — have to say that where we’re at is good enough (at least for now).

And of the two schools of political thought, which one reminisces about the old days?  Which one wants to conserve their past?

Everything else falls to the left.

This also contributes the feeling of superiority of the liberals.  Of course everyone wants free health care and free college and less violence and a clean planet; that should be the goal of all societies.  From the liberal’s point of view, you’d be dumb not to want these things.  But from the right: “We paid for all our doctor’s visits growing up — even when dad got cancer — and we turned out just fine. I worked my way through college — paid for every cent — and I turned out just fine.  I got beat up in school once in a while — it taught me to be tough — and I turned out just fine.  We had asbestos in my middle school — I remember when they replaced it with fiberglass — and we turned out just fine.”  It feels like a personal slight to tell someone they have to be respectful to gays when they’ve spent their whole life trying not to get called a queer.


It can’t be THAT hard

How would you react if someone told you your favorite music can be created by anyone? Do you take a good long look at your personal choices and weighing the evidence at it comes in, eventually arriving at a point where you try to discover new points of view?  No; you say, “Nut-uh!  You don’t know!  Rhyming is hard!  Words are hard! Sound is hard!”


Back on Track (and other advice that rhymes)


To be fair, some of the excuses are pretty valid.

I know it’s been a while, but that’s mostly because I haven’t done a thing on the comic.  I likely never will.  I took some time off when the kids were born and I took some time off when I built the house and I took some time off when I had my surgery (actually, my plan was, during recovery from heart surgery, I would work on the book – after all, I would be spending weeks just sitting, might as well sit at my drawing desk – it didn’t work out)… no I don’t know where I was.  I’m not even sure if I want to pick up where I left off.

And, like everything else, once I stopped working on Tiny Life, I started filling that time with other activities, some necessary, some not (picking up the kids from school = necessary; giving some serious thought to whether I should start using the phrase “cutting the grass” instead of “mowing the lawn” = unnecessary).  All told, I have about an hour per day where I could actually sit down and do whatever I want.  That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s about a page per week.  That means in about two years, I’ll finish the most recent (I almost wrote “current”, but that’s not the right word anymore) Tiny Life book.

To tell you the truth, I miss it.  I miss the little puzzles an artist has to solve when drawing.  I miss how a page looks when all’s said and done.  I even miss the painstaking monotony of scanning a page and working on it in Photoshop to get it print-ready.  There was a sense of satisfaction in that. Oddly enough, though, that’s not what I miss the most.

What I miss the most is this.  I miss writing up a little something – apropos to the book or not – and thinking my way through an idea.  Sometimes that idea was “Lookit what I done!” and sometimes that idea was talking about how the Harry Potter series (as much as I hate any type of magic) should not be categorized as “young adult fiction” just because the protagonist is a young adult; it’s written for adults.  I miss organizing my thoughts in a compelling way with a beginning, middle, and (most of the time) end.

So I think I’m going to start up again.  I think I might take my hour a day and find something to say.

(also, as I get closer to 40, I’ve noticed myself just staring at a situation and shaking my head instead of actually coming up with a few original thoughts; I think this’ll help me get back storytelling)

A Conversation

Lemon: “I’m nervous about halloween.”

Me: “Why?”

Lemon: “I’m scared that boys won’t think my costume is scary enough.”

Me: “Boys are dumb.”

Lemon: “Not all boys.  There’s a boy in my class that’s really smart.  He can eat his apple sauce faster than anybody!”

Useless Utilitarianism

About 12 years ago, when I lived in Eleven-Miles-from-the-Middle-of-Nowhere, I built a cabinet.  At first I thought it was the best idea – it held all my video game systems in one place and I could play any one whenever I wanted.  I hooked up my Atari 2600, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega, Game Cube, Dreamcast, N64, PS1, and eventually Wii in one place and hooked up to a (then) hi-def projector.  Admittedly, it was a childish endeavor.

I’ve done it again at my new house.  I’d like to say I’ve grown up, but there are a glaring number of similarities between creating a place to hold a bunch of video games and a place to hold a bunch of tools.


This is where I go when I need to feel manly.  It’s also where I cry.

With the game cabinet: I am by no means a “gamer”.  I’ll play Dr. Mario or Zelda for about a half hour, but I’ve never played a God or War; I only know that a “MMOG” exists, I don’t know what it is.  Yet, I spent hours creating a cabinet, buying the parts, and figuring the logistics of connecting all those wires so that I had the option to play video games should I choose.  I rarely chose.

With the workbench: I am by no means a “wrencher”.  I’ll get an idea once in a while and spend an hour making a box or fixing a My Little Pony toy; I know that a “fuel pump” exists, but I have no idea what it looks like.  Yet I spent hours creating this bench, buying the parts, and figuring the logistics of what tools go where so that I can tinker with things quickly and efficiently.  I rarely tink.

I spent hours on the game cabinet knowing that I would never play an actual Nintendo game – you have to put the game in just right, you have to push it down, just far enough, and if that doesn’t work, you have to blow it in (put don’t spit in it, because that make it worse) – I just wanted to fulfill a childhood dream of playing tons of video games in the basement where no one can bother me.  Cuz no one understands me.  And Alice in Chains rules.

I spent hours on the workbench knowing that I would never build anything worthwhile – there’s way too much measuring, cutting, sanding, and staining to make it worth it; I can buy the same thing at Ikea for $59 (and it has a cool name like GRÖNKULLA) – I just wanted to fulfill an adult dream of fixing things in the garage where no one can bother me.  Cuz these kids today.  And Muse rules.

People don’t really change that much.

Breakfast is a Liar


My mom came over to watch the kids earlier this week and was appalled that I don’t cook the kids breakfast everyday.  She said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Then I started to think: it can’t be.  Like a Nobel-prize winning novel, dinner is a big deal with numerous sides containing lots of importance; lunch is something small and light that’ll get you through the day, like Mila Kunis.  But let’s take a look at typical breakfast food:

  • Cereal = a bowl full of carbs
  • Toast = a rectangle of burnt carbs
  • Granola bar = a candy bar with granola in it
  • Bacon = strips of fat fried in its own grease
  • Sausage = strips of fat, stuffed into an esophagus, fried in its own grease
  • Hash browns, tater tots = round french fries
  • Donuts, muffins, bagels = round cake
  • Pancakes, waffles, french toast = fried cake, served with liquid sugar

The only remotely healthy thing breakfast offers is eggs (which was neutral, then unhealthy, then healthy, then unhealthy again, then healthy if you only eat the whites, then unhealthy, then a super-food, then cruel, now healthy-ish) and coffee.

My kids don’t need coffee; the world doesn’t horrify/bore them yet.

What to Do with an Old iPhone

I first bought a cell phone in 2002.  It was a blue Nokia.  I got it because I was constantly on the road – my band, The Rachels, was starting to hit it big after “Alicia Silverstone Should Be a Homophone” got some serious airplay.


That’s me on the left.  I used to be swole.

Once we broke up (there was some in-fighting about whether or not the Chevy Chase Show was going to be the best late-night talk show of all time or just the best currently airing), I got a good job and was making some serious five-figure cash.  I could afford a credit card and bought an iPod with that credit.  This meant that at any given time I had a cell phone, an iPod, keys to a sweet 2001 Eagle Summit, a digital camera, and a money clip with a credit card tied around it.  It was around this time that I started wearing many-pocketed pants and gave up the leather trousers (I had a hard time giving up the lifestyle of the Joe Millionaires (we changed the name of the band a few times; it went from “Hobie’s Gotta Run” to “The Rachels” to “Felicity Grow Your Hair”, to “NOmorosa”, to “The Joe Millionaires”)).

Then the iPhone came out and I could finally put all this in one place.  Then I had kids.  Then Apple made it so I didn’t need to sync my phone to my computer, so I bought a new iPhone.  But I can’t give the old one away, it’s a tiny computer. There’s gotta be a thousand things you can do with a tiny computer.

I tried loading it up with kids games and letting them play with it every once in a while, but for some reason it always made them angry (it might have been my choice of games; The Wife and I were legally separated over level 70 of Candy Crush).  So then I thought about a jukebox or a TV remote or a tiny picture frame or a Netflix viewer for destroying my vision or some sort of smart-house hub system, but that all seemed way more trouble than it was worth.  Plus, as the apps advance and as the internet speeds up, my little iPhone isn’t going to be able to keep up with much of anything anymore.

So I made a clock.  Or, rather, a clock dock.  Or rather, my Unlocked Mock Clock Dock Block.


I’ve taken everything off it except three apps:


1. It tells the time, date, and weather.  None of which are internet-heavy apps.


2. Pandora, so I can soothe my inner-rage with “A Pocket Full of Kryptonite”


3. A picture viewer, in case I need the thunderdome of my home-life to encroach on the thunderdome of my work-life


(I also have the “Find My iPhone” app, in case anyone wants to steal a phone that only works when plugged in and that contains no apps built after 2009)

The only other thing I could think of, since I can’t trade it in for a 7s, would be to sell it on eBay.  But I need shrink-wrap:



I got this in the mail. Someone explain.