There's No Friend Like Your Bro Friend  

The Internet is awash with many things I don't particularly care for, but ultimately a modest annoyance or dislike of something is no good reason to criticize another person's art, opinions, or kink. Matters such as who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman (Superman, no contest), or what amount of tentacle is acceptable in porn (zero) are permanently debatable. Besides, the harder you fight against something on the Internet, the more assurances you create that others will band together to make it happen. Even if it's simply to spite you. This in turn is actually one of my absolute favorite things about the Internet.

Being a super-fresh mid-thirties guy whose internet game is mad on fleek, I browse Tumblr occasionally, usually right before I do something hella dope like fall asleep while watching Orange is the New Black. Recently in my feed were a bunch of artfully composed pictures celebrating the best girl friend relationship. Looking at these I had a thought that something similar for male friendships would seem slightly awkward, making me wonder what images are available to the average guy yearning to express his bromance. Sadly, the answer is next to nothing. A quick image search of terms like "best guy friends" and "best bro friends" left me empty-handed, while searching "best girl friends" yielded page after page of results.

While I generally feel that insta-filtered images of cloyingly happy people overlaid with pithy text are ridiculous, there was undeniably a gaping hole out there, one that left an aching in my bro muscle. The bro muscle of course being the sensory organ located behind the heart, possessed by all men and heightened through extensive watching of buddy cop shows and practicing of double high five chest bumps. So I did the only thing I felt I could do; I took my best bro, my brother Matt, and recreated some of the top "best girl friends" shots out there. The results are as follows (with originals for comparison).

((click to enlarge))

Remember earlier when I said that these kinds of shots for male friendships would be slightly awkward? After much consideration, please replace "slightly" with "completely, and "awkward" with your choice of "amazing/magical/beautiful/life-affirming".

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Waiting on My Next Post Like...  

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Put it on My Tab  

I don't believe in karma. I believe in doing good things for the sake of doing good things, not because I'm hoping to cancel out misdeeds of the past or because I'm trying to rack up life points to cash in at some later date. Though not a religious person by any means, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm against the notion of an underlying interconnectedness in the universe. But I definitely do not think there exists some impossibly complicated web of unbreakable strings tying our actions and decisions to future outcomes, or that we are ever truly "locked in" to a particular destiny or divine purpose. To me that just reeks of fatalism, which I've always thought of as a way for others to absolve themselves of responsibility and control for their actions or inaction.

Depending on your viewpoint, you may or may not be surprised to learn that I have been lambasted in many a group conversation for not believing in karma. Especially in the thought that because it isn't a real thing, someone who has an excess of "bad karma" can choose to write off this imaginary debt. It's not about acting like it never happened, but about moving forward in spite of it. How could it possibly be helpful for anyone to sit and lament the wrongs of their past and only feel the drive to do better for fear of similar wrongs befalling them? One may argue that this is better than someone never feeling motivated to do good in the first place, although a true believer in karma would have to admit that a right and a wrong canceling one another out is the same net result as doing no right or wrong in the first place.

Whenever this subject comes up, I inevitably feel the need to make a distinction between writing off one's karma and the expectation of consequences and/or forgiveness. If you rob a bank, you will probably end up in jail. If you hurt someone I love, I will find you and hurt you at least twice as bad. Neither of those things are examples of karmic retribution. It's simply the consequence of fucking up. You fuck up, you learn better, and you move on. Sometimes you're forced to learn better while being spooned by a giant Neo-Nazi named Tommy in federal prison. It's just the nature of cause and effect. But unlike karma, there's no predetermination of the outcome being positive or negative. There are plenty of people who have robbed banks and gotten away with it, or done far worse things for that matter without suffering any negative consequences. Unlike karma, reality doesn't always dovetail nicely with our society's shared vision of storybook fairness.

Ultimately the choice to make the world -- or even just a small corner of it -- a better place is within us all. It's a choice we can make every day. Sometimes it's the choices we don't make that have the greatest impact. Other times it's the choice to make ourselves better. The best any of us can do is find the version of ourselves that makes us feel complete, which will invariably inspire greatness in those around us.

Karma is fundamentally flawed because it's hinged on the idea that the universe can owe you something or that it would ever expect anything from you. Sit atop a mountain and quietly turn to dust. Save a thousand babies from a thousand fires. I can assure you that the vastness of existence will not skip a beat to deliberately punish or reward you either way.

I'm sure to most I probably come off sounding wildly cynical. To others I might sound pathetically practical. Perhaps both are true. From my perspective it's a very basic refusal to believe that the course of my life is beyond my own control, or that some spiritual pretense exists in which I am not accountable for my choices. In the end, I will let the merit of these choices be judged by those who feel their influence. And to anyone living under the burden of guilt or remorse, know that you're best chance at being who you've always wanted to be rests not in scrubbing away the past, but in building a better future on top of it.

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Graphing and Drawing  

I had this brilliant idea for a post where I was going to draw a bunch of graphs on my bathroom mirror using dry erase markers. They were going to be awesome and make all of you love me. So much so that I was expecting presents and already cleared out some space in my closet and a shelf in the fridge in preparation.

In the end I was thwarted by my small bathroom, poor lighting, tricky camera angles, and well, the crushing reality of a shitty idea. This was the best shot I managed to pull off:

I've decided to put this graphing medium on the back burner for the time being. At least until the Kickstarter campaign to have my bedroom ceiling mirrored gets funded.

In between disappointing graphs I took a moment to give myself a heart, in a way that turned out to be much easier than powering through one of those 7-minute-long abused animal commercials:

What? That not good enough for you either? OK fine, one more thing. After that I'm done and going to the bar. I have to warn you though, the humor behind this selection from my sketchpad is hinged completely upon anachronistic juxtaposition, so you'll have to work for it a little:

Oh, and if you're under 20 and don't get it because you don't know what that thing on the left is, please be sure to leave a comment so we all know who to hate.

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Words Fail Me... and Vice Versa  

I'm always reading how we should learn to embrace our failures, because those moments of sucking ass will keep building up until we find ourselves poised to get it right. I especially like the notion that our failures have the potential to lead us somewhere completely different than where we thought we would end up or even wanted to be in the first place. In that way, life finds a balance between being a vindictive whore and a beautiful, serendipitous wonder.

I have no doubt there are many who cringe upon encountering my style of writing; detached, overly descriptive, non-linear, and rife with commas. I've also been told that I swear too much and am unwilling to entertain other's viewpoints, which is total fucking bullshit. The thing is, if you saw the back end of my writing process, you'd probably think I was insane. I draft, re-draft, obsess over word usage, cut and paste from unused stories, and fact check the stupidest of things. Very rarely do I publish anything that represents a free-flowing stream of thought. In that sense, I am a failure at publicly failing with my writing.

Pretty sure that's not the point of embracing these "happy failures" though.

You don't have to know me very well to know that, in contrast to my approach within the creative world, my aversion towards failure is ridiculously low. Being wrong about stuff is actually one of the things I do best. On that note, you should never, ever take directions from me. Or advice about which wild berries are safe to eat. For the most part I try not to dwell on any of these failures; I just pick myself back up, maybe learn something new, and keep moving forward. When you spend your whole life trying to always be right, you're bound to miss some amazing shit along the way.

Which I think is exactly the point behind "failing for the better".

On the path to overthinking less and doing more, my first checkpoint is to keep the amount of editing at a minimum. Not that I plan on ever doing away with essentials such as spellcheck or the serial comma. This isn't some Myspace blog or Techcrunch -- I still have standards. I also thought it might be a good idea to put some of my most impressive failures out there for everyone to see, specifically ones related to words and my sometimes poor grasp of basic language concepts:
  • I pronounced the word "segue" as "seeg" until I was in my mid-twenties.
  • When I was a senior in high school, I argued with a cashier at Little Caesars that I was eligible for their senior discount. When I whipped out my student ID, she only stopped laughing long enough to tell me that I might need another year or two in school.
  • I incorrectly sang the chorus of OMC’s “How Bizarre” as “Power’s On” for 10 years, even though I knew the title of the song. Somehow it took me a decade to piece together that Sphinx’s riddle.
  • When I was 13, my brother told me that when you fart and belch at the same time (or one right after the other) it was called "felching". I'd rather not share the story about how I learned the true meaning of that word.
  • I've started reading Atlas Shrugged at least 5 separate times and never made it past the second chapter. Although from what I hear, this one might belong in the "win" column.
  • When I was in middle school I had a list of things hanging on my wall that I hoped to accomplish in my lifetime. Stuff like bungee jump (check), swim with dolphins (check), eat an entire large meat lovers pizza by myself (check), and make Tiffani-Amber Thiessen fall in love with me (pending). One of the more ludicrous goals on my tween bucket list was inspired by an obsession with Death Row Records, Beastie Boys, and the fleeting success of Snow's smash hit single Informer. The goal was simple, yet quite profound for a 12-year-old white boy from Texas - "Find someone who can teach me raping skills."
  • I once bought a Black Eyed Peas album. This may not seem relevant until you consider how far back they have set the English language.
So as you can see, I am an old pro at playing the fool with my words, and have no real reason to fear hitting publish on a post that has yet to undergo a 137-point spot check. Maybe this will make me a better writer, or at the very least a more honest one. Either way I think it will lead to a few extra laughs and a reduced amount of stress. Unless of course you find a typo and don't immediately email me about it, in which case I will hunt you down and make you listen to my Black Eyed Peas CD.

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Sketchpad Friday  

When I'm not working I'm usually eating or watching TV. When I'm not doing either of those things, I'm writing. Or probably sleeping first, and then writing. I could also possibly be leaving hurtful YouTube comments (someone's gotta do it). But sometimes, not that often apparently, I like to whip out the old sketchpad and fill it with drawings. Some serious and some not so much. Since it's Friday and I don't really have a solid graph idea on deck, I thought it could be fun to share a handful of these drawings. Don't be too hard though; this is really just something I do to keep my hands busy so they aren't around someone else's neck.

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The Father of All Posts  

Reproducing is a lot like hiring and training your successor for a job you really care about, in that you have the opportunity to replace yourself with someone better at it than you could ever hope to be. Although actually it's better than that, because reproduction not only enables you to replace yourself with multiple someones, if you train them with just the right amount of compassion and guilt you can avoid ever ending up in a nursing home.

It's been just over a decade since the day I learned I was was going to become a father. In all honesty, I didn't handle the moment quite as well as I should have. Or the 9 months following. And about the first year or so after that. That first year was an especially difficult time due to the fact that my wife became pregnant with our second child about 2 months after the first was born. *Takes a knee, Tebow-style*

Though far from perfect, I managed to hold my own in most baby-raising situations. Not bad for someone who had never changed a diaper or even held a baby before. It helps that my wife is a wonderfully natural mother who prevented me from damaging our children too severely. Speaking of, did you know that a 2 month-old isn't supposed to eat pizza, even if you blend it first?

While scrambling up the steep learning curve of fatherhood, I was also fortunate to have the mental support of my best friend, McLean. This is the same Mclean who helped me engineer the Frankenstein of breakfasts, likes going elbow-deep into cows, and is indirectly responsible for the permanent bald spot on my crotch. Although a few years my junior, McLean "talked me down from the ledge" more than a few times throughout the course of that first pregnancy. He was excited for me when almost none of my other friends were. He listened to me talk about mucus plugs and colostrum. Perhaps most importantly, he constantly reassured me that I was going to be a great Dad and that the odds of me dropping my newborn son were barely worth mentioning.

Now it's his turn. McLean found out last week that he's going to be a Dad. And so the bloodline continues...

Since McLean is living the dream on the island paradise of Hawaii, I can't be as present as I would like to for the birthing of his child and insecurities as a father. I figured the least I could do was give him a head start on the tsunami of unsolicited parenting advice he'll have to feign appreciating for the next 18 years. He's also a smart guy who knows how to use Google, so I've spared him from the same bullshit "Top 10 Things for New Dads" article that recycles every year. 

These are the things I wish someone in the know had told me.

At some point you will accidentally hurt your child. Within the first week of his precious little existence, I nailed my son square in the forehead with a remote control, as well as yanked a wad of hair from his head. In the months following, the list of Dad-inflicted injuries rose to include: black eye, fat lip, and dislocated elbow. Some of these were only half my fault, but all were accidental, and they all made me feel like I was approaching Chris Benoit levels of parental failure. Have no fear. Babies were meant to take a few bumps and bruises as a way mitigate their otherwise complete and total helplessness.

Always have diapers, wipes, and some sort of burp cloth nearby. There is no such thing as "real quick" or "just a minute" when it comes to babies and their ill-timed eruptions. Be prepared for that shit. As in literal shit. In some cases a fountain-like arc of fruity poo, headed straight for your face. Which reminds me, it's a good idea to pack yourself a couple of extra shirts in the baby bag. People always pack their kid 5 changes of clothes, but rarely do so for themselves despite it being just as warranted. Maybe toss a travel size bottle of body spray in there for good measure, because after a while you'll stop noticing the vomit smell (other people won't). Oh, and baby puke is white and curdled, so try to minimize the amount of black you wear until the kid is at least 6 months old.

Middle of the night feedings are simultaneously shitty and fantastic. Shitastic! Stumbling through the darkness to soothe and feed a crying child is sort of like an alarm clock that's been hidden somewhere in your house, and the only way to silence it is by typing in a 47-letter alphanumeric code. Oh, and the code changes weekly. You know what though? Sitting there, in the quiet of the night, with this warm little pudge monster cooing and gurgling is pretty much the most adorable thing ever. Then they pass out on your chest all milk drunk, the embodiment of innocence and vulnerability, and you know you'd punch a thousand elderly nuns in the face if that's what it took to keep that kid safe.

1st and 2nd birthday parties should be just as much for the parents. How many of you remember your 1st and 2nd birthday party? If you said yes, congratulations, you're probably a pretentious asshole. Either that or there was a traumatizing clown accident which was forever burned into your memory. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't have presents or decorations or a cake for your little one to go head first into. Sing them happy birthday and be sure to take lots of pictures for the baby book. But it's not like your 1-year-old has a bunch of friends to invite over; it's primarily going to be friends and family. So get yourself a pony keg, throw some ribs on the grill, and mix up a batch of Jell-O shots. Maybe decide on a designated babysitter. After all, you deserve a party for making it this far too.

Don't take being a parent too seriously. Seriously! This is the most important piece of possibly obvious wisdom I have to impart. There is an overwhelming amount of shit you have to do and remember, but very little of it is life or death stuff. You will make mistakes. You will learn by trial and error. Very few parents are Zen masters. This is no coincidence. Many parents indulge in a daily drink or two. This is also no coincidence. Bottom line: Being a Dad is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it's also an assload of fun once you get comfortable with it.

To any expecting fathers who might be reading this, I hope these insider tips help . To McLean specifically, I have absolutely no doubt that you're going to be an amazing father. Like Bill Cosby meets Atticus Finch kind of amazing. Which is easily 1.5 times better of a father than I am. They could drop him and that baby on a deserted island for 25 years and it would still grow up to be President. You guys just wait and see.

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Mid-Year Check-In  

As I expected, my anti-climatic return to blogging was met with profound skepticism and smartassery. Also known as reason #324 why internet people hold the silver medal of my heart (second only to those who actually shower and leave their parent's house).

I initially considered using my re-return post to update the world on all the super intense next-level happenings of my life. However, there's been so much going on I thought it might be a little overwhelming for everyone. But then, the other night as I sat in my study contemplating (and eventually solving) the very nature of existence, I took a long, thoughtful draw off of my pipe, gently stroked the nape of my African Lynx, and came to the realization that it would be unfair to withhold all that I have accomplished so far this year:
  • Fell asleep with a piece of bacon in my mouth
  • Watched way more Adventure Time than what is probably acceptable for a 32-year-old
  • Read every post on Tumblr, ever (side note: I hate all teenagers now)
  • Found Jesus, promptly lost him somewhere at the mall
  • Joined Instagram
  • Had a three-way (bacon, ham, and sausage omelet)
  • Sent 11 vaguely threatening letters to Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Saw The Avengers, had a minor sexual identity crisis
  • Watched an entire baseball game without falling asleep
  • Gave up caffeine
  • Started freebasing Vitamin B
  • Became the first person to ever use the term "toner facial" in a workplace meeting
  • Finally relinquished my first email address from 1997,
  • Almost touched a spider
  • Took a yoga class, demanded refund after learning that Yoga Fire was not an actual move
  • Had one of my graphs published in a book
  • As typical when I get published, I received ZERO FUCKING COMPENSATION for it
  • Swallowed bitterness, chased it with whiskey
I could probably just go ahead and call it a year at this point, but believe it or not, I actually have greater aspirations for the remainder of 2012. All I can say is that you guys might want to prepare your brain's butthole. Or maybe it's your butthole's brain? I'm not very good with anatomy.

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It Was Either Start Blogging Again, or Go to Rehab  

That's right... I'M FUCKING BACK.

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Don't Count Your Somedays  

Wow. Four months to the day since my last post. You must think by now that these sporadic check-ins are performed solely out of compulsion or obligation, but that's not really the case. Even when this place is nothing but a bunch of tumbleweeds blowing through a field of crickets, I'm still writing somewhere. Occasionally it's for other websites. Sometimes it's at my job. Usually it's in one of the notebooks I have strategically deployed across my personal landscape.

Simply put, I have a genuine love for creating things. Funny things, serious things, stupid things, utterly pointless things; and not just with my big boy words. I've been known to dabble in art, science, languages, music, woodworking, theater, and the occasional bout of penis puppetry.

That being said, I don't do any of those things nearly as much as I would ultimately like to (or at all anymore in some cases). Most of my "plans" center around throwing myself at these creative pursuits someday. Luckily, someday has been statistically proven to be the best time to make plans for anything, seeing as we all believe ourselves to have an endless supply of somedays.

As if the universe or our future would ever be so deliberately considerate. Oh sure, take all the time you need! Just catch up with the rest of existence after you're done re-watching the full series run of Parks and Recreation for the third time!

We all know better. More importantly, I know better. I work in a hospital for fucks sake. I see decrepit, dying people on a daily basis. I hear the overhead pages for "Code Blue," meaning someone in the same building as me is literally seconds away from death. Yet somehow, like most everyone else, I convinced myself that I'm relatively immune from the influence of this inevitability.

Who wants to face the bitter cold of mortality when it's so much easier to stay snugly wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of somedays?

Too bad you don't always have a say in such matters.

Last weekend we received the heart-wrenching news that my wife's brother Jason had died. Not because of some terminal condition that had us anticipating his departure. Not from the reckless behavior or influence of another. Not due to some otherwise valiant circumstance. Jason died from a food allergy that would have normally left him itchy and wheezy, only this time it seized his throat and caused a severe asthma attack. A single piece of shrimp literally ended his life, and forever changed that of those who knew and cared for him.

It's beyond tragic. For me it's crossed beyond tragedy and into the realm of absurdity. The absurd part being how completely senseless it all feels. Jason was a great guy with dreams and goals and a life worth living just like the rest of us. He was known for bringing happiness into the lives of others, thanks in large part to his self-assured nature. He was one of the few people I've known that didn't put up a front for anyone, anytime. What you saw was what you got, and it was fucking awesome.

I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to see Jason the day after he passed. At first I very much didn't want to; the prospect of doing so scared me more than a little. I didn't want it to be real and didn't want the foundation of my life or my false sense of invulnerability to be shaken. I pushed through for my wife, because how could I possibly let her go in there alone?

As we both stood over him, weeping from the loss of a loved one, I felt an odd mix of pain and comfort. Deep, painful sadness for the good times we will never have together, but also a small comfort in knowing that his life had not been wasted. Jason had done exactly what we tell everyone else to do but rarely do ourselves -- live freely and always be yourself.

To anyone reading this: please remember that none of us are promised a single someday, let alone an infinite supply of them. If the urge to create is what drives you, then create things and see where it takes you. If all you want is to help others, then do it until your last breath. Fuck worrying about cliches and fuck what anyone else thinks -- do what makes you happy, love like there's no tomorrow, and never, ever compromise your true self.

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