Archive for November, 2018

I’m Better than you Because I Travel

So, it’s no secret that we all should be travelling all the time. Go into debt if you have to, but travel. You’ve seen the memes. It’s very enriching. And don’t mistake me for a tourist. Tourists go to Ocean City and Disney World, two places I don’t go to unless my parents are footing the bill. I carry a backpack, not one of those rolly thingies. I hate buses. I would rather wrap myself in banana leaves than stay in a famous hotel. Also the places I travel to are usually filled with people who don’t speak the same language as me. Or brown people. Or Asian people. And these things make me a much better person than you. Here are some ways that travel has made me a fantastic person.

I spent two weeks in Africa a few years ago and now I totally understand racism. People looked at us the whole time. We stood out like a sore thumb. It was so annoying. People kept asking us for money. It was probably really stressful for the hotel security who had to keep scaring those kids away from the other side of the fence at the pool. It was so annoying. But afterwards I did what I always do. I sat under a tree indigenous to the country, took out my moleskine, and searched my soul. I demanded that I learn a lesson from the experience. The lesson was that now I totally and completely 100% understand what it’s like to be black in America. Maybe in the northern states. I understand what it’s like to be black in Milwaukee. I am one with my brothers. Fist in air.

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Obituary for my Season Spirit

Photo courtesy of Andy Thomas at

This last Sunday morning, at 8:13 am, my Season Spirit passed away quietly in his sleep. He was twenty-seven days old.

We did everything we could for him. He was tucked chest-deep under The Holiday Aisle comforter I’d bought him which depicted Christmas trees and wintry homes. A random selection from Spotify category Autumn Road cooed at us from my laptop, which simultaneously played Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (on mute). I was chanting a list of fun autumn activities from

We tried everything, but by the time we got his pumpkin spice muffin to him, he was gone.

My Season Spirit was born in late October, when the daytime sky was brilliant blue and the evenings still conveyed a feeling arguably that of cozily creepy and not yet morbidly depressing. He was born on a Thursday before a long weekend, perhaps the most optimistic day of the week buffered by the boost of an extra day off. He was born after the leaves had just started changing, but before they lay around the city in soaked clumps. He was born while we prepared for the season’s first screening of Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin. I was donning my favorite roll-neck sweater, testing out a bourbon spiced flavored coffee, and gazing out the window at the leaves and baring trees, enjoying the season’s last reflection on the cycle of life that wouldn’t focus intensely upon my death.

Or maybe it was indigestion.

So ripe were the conditions that my Season Spirit just came out with a big smile on his face. Sort of like that thing that Craig T. Nelson pukes out in Poltergeist II, only it was wearing a scarf, a jauntily tilted newsboy cap, and he was humming the rhythm to Autumn Leaves. And now he’s gone.

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The Haunted Toaster

Professor Percival Plumefeather and Paperfeet the Cat.

Sunday sucks. Sure, I can sleep in and eat a leisurely breakfast. But after that the hours storm by as I watch helpless. This feeling of angst (read: epic morbid depression) is worse in the autumn, when the sky is gray all day long, thus making it seem about 4 in the afternoon from 8 am until the actual 4 pm, at which point it then appears to be about 8 pm.

Making all of this even worse is a pressing deadline for a writing or editing project. Now, I do enjoy writing and editing work. Usually. Often. OK, sometimes. More often, I come up with creative ways to avoid the work, just like everyone else.

And so my procrastination mission begins. I start by checking my email 9 times in 23 minutes. I groan through a smile when I have an email. Then it’s to my normal stomping grounds. Mental Floss, AP News, Twitter, Facebook. The Book is filled with football predictions and statements of either support or aggression. You can only look at so many GIFs of hot girls winking on Twitter. I check my email two or three dozen more times (both email accounts – work and private), but nothing doing. I visit a site of ill-repute for about 129 seconds. I have a sandwich and read some more articles. Trump’s still a nit. Today he’s being a nit in France. I write an unflattering post about his self-promoted tough guy image vs. the fact that he doesn’t want to stand in the rain, but then I cancel it.

It’s the haunted toaster that saves me.

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This summer I was driving into the city when I saw a moderate green and white sign: Belmont Plateau. Belmont Plateau is a green area with fields and some picnic areas. If you were going to a picnic at the plateau you would be happy to see this sign and its helpful little arrow. If you weren’t looking for the plateau there’s a good chance you would miss it altogether.

I did neither. I lost my breath, my train of thought derailed and, just like in a movie, I stopped speaking in the middle of a sentence. My companion asked what was going on and I told her in a faraway voice that this was where I used to practice football in high school. In said movie, we might cue an eighty minute flashback. It would show a younger me about to go through something trying, something I wasn’t suited for, but in the end gaining something important from the experience.

If you’re worried now that this is going to be a post about past glories on the football field, then we obviously have never met in person. In the first place, there were exactly zero glories on the football field with which to regale you. There were, in fact, two debacles. Second, even if there were some glories, I wouldn’t want to be that middle aged male caricature, whose [enter sport here] career as a young man somehow gets more and more glorious with each passing year and each inch added to the waistline.

The fact is that while many I knew look back with great warmth and nostalgia at their high school career, I do not. Rather, high school football was the first time I remember hating being active. It was when exercise stopped being fun and became work.

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