Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Man Things"

"Man things" that I hate:

1) Anything to do with the fucking lawn.
Why do I want to pour my time and money into my lawn? What a fucking waste. I could be taking my daughter to a museum or just taking a nice, long shit. Just about anything is better than baking out in the hot sun pulling weeds out of the fucking mulch at the expense of my back and knees. Don't even mention the fucking water bill to keep my grass green during eight weeks of no rain. Sure, I could pay someone to take care of it for me (I totally pay the kid down the street to mow the grass) but then I'd be paying for someone to take care of my lawn so that the goddamn neighbors don't fucking complain. I won't give in to the peer pressure. You want to see beautiful flora and fauna? Go on a vacation. And keep off my lawn.

2) Pretending to enjoy whiskey.
I love making that sour grimace every time I take a drink. Just like I love working twice as hard to repress that sour grimace when I'm only half way through the glass. Why pretend to enjoy something that looks and tastes like rust? I won't. It's stupid.

3) Pretending to enjoy cigars.
Oh, yes. Let's envelop ourselves in a cloud of acrid smoke emanating from the soggy brown phallus hanging out of our mouths. Oh, could you make it so little bits of it get stuck in my teeth and mouth for DAYS? You can? Fantastic. Can I also get a side of zero buzz to go with my nauseous feeling? Perfect. Let's also throw in a nice carpet-flavored aftertaste that lingers for several days.

4) Pretending to enjoy strip clubs.
I haven't had a ton of experience with this one as I've only been to one or two, but these places are mostly sad. I'm not even talking about the strippers. Dudes get weird and desperate. Also, the strippers often make me sad.

5) Pretending to enjoy gambling.
Gambling is for boring people who don't know how to have fun. Anytime someone proposes something that might be even slightly construed as a competition, some dude is always, "Why don't we make this a little more interesting," and he plops down a twenty. Really? You need the threat of losing money to make it more interesting? How about you have an interesting conversation with any one of the people you are with? Or maybe fucking make a joke or two at your buddies' expense? Why does money have to be involved? If you can't have a good time without some kind of stakes you are broken.

6) Bug duty.
Look, I don't mind killing or removing bugs from the house. Someone else needs to step up and handle it every now and again. I don't need to be informed every time there is a bug in the house. Anyone else can work the flyswatter (or "splat" as Scarlett calls it) as well as I can.

7) Driving.
Traffic. Other drivers. Fuck that. Get me out of here. I'd rather be playing Angry Birds in the passenger seat any day.

8) Fighting.
Why would I want to hit or be hit by anyone? I wouldn't. You always just end up with two angry dudes with more bruises and zero problems solved. Fighting is dumb.

9) Lifting shit.
Yes, I may be the strongest person available. Yes, I will use good form and lift with my legs. Yes, my back will still hurt tomorrow. No, I won't complain about it because everyone else already used the bad back excuse to stick me with the chore, anyway. I won't stoop to your level.

10) Golf.
Why is this the chosen sport for guys to do business? Can't we just have dinner at a restaurant with a nice outdoor area? Let's save us all the frustration of playing a game at which everyone is terrible.

11) Anything involving a ladder.
I'm afraid of heights. The last thing I need is to be climbing up on a ladder and putting my entire life in danger. I'll do it but you're going to have to clean the poop out of my pants when I'm done. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Letter To My Daughter #1 - Mistakes

I have some terrible news. Well, it's probably not terrible for you. I'm sure you've already realized this news I'm about to reveal. This is really for me. The terrible news I have for me is: you're not perfect. 

That was hard for me to write.

As much as I might want to hold on to the thought that you are my perfect little girl, you're not. You're going to make mistakes. You're going to make lots of mistakes. Glorious, wondrous, spectacular mistakes. Some will make you laugh and some will make you cry but you'll make them. If you do it just right, some of those mistakes will be the best thing that ever happened to you. In fact, most of your mistakes will make you a better person provided you take the time to learn from your mistakes.

I spent most of my childhood scared to death that I might make a mistake. The one thing that drove me through childhood was doing everything I could to avoid making a mistake or failing in any way. Guess what? I still failed. I made lots of mistakes and I even learned from some of them but it wasn't graceful and it wasn't good for me. I was a stressed out kid. I spent many nights in my room crying over my homework because I was worried that I wouldn't get all the answers right. That is not a good way to spend your childhood.

What I failed to understand was mistakes and failures are good. They are the best way to learn. Sometimes a mistake can even lead to something better. A misspelled word can lead to a new joke or a spilled glass of water can inspire a new painting or failed test can lead to revelation that you're pursuing the wrong degree. Failure can motivate us to do bigger and better things. 

Now, don't run off and start making every mistake you can. That's not healthy, either. Some mistakes can be permanent and devastating. If you're curious about what it's like to live with only one arm, it's probably best to just tie one behind your back for a while instead of chopping it off. When you make your mistakes, you need to be in an environment that can support it. Fortunately, most environments can. However, you still have to use your brain. Think about the consequences of the risk you're taking and ask yourself if you can live with those possible consequences. Will writing this English paper as a series of haikus (thereby possibly getting a failing grade) keep you from your academic goals or will it just be a tiny blip from which you can recover? Will getting into the car with a drunk driver be worth the possibility of never being able to walk again (or worse)? What can you live with and what really matters in the long term? Ask yourself this every time you are about to take a risk. Know that the risk your taking is recoverable. (HINT: You can recover from almost every mistake.) That doesn't mean that your failures can't still be spectacular.

Enough with the lecture. Back to my point.

I want to see you take chances. I want to see you make mistakes. I want to see you fail and fail spectacularly. In fact, I'll be right there beside you cheering you on. When you walk up on stage at your school talent show and read a poem you wrote that takes playful jabs at your teachers and nobody laughs, I'll be in the back of the room giving you a standing ovation. Then I'll help you make it better -- if you want me to. When you organize your classmates to boycott your school's lunch program in order to get better and healthier options, I'll be there to help you print up the flyers (or, more likely, set up the Facebook page). When the administrators call you a troublemaker and want to discipline you, I'll be there to help you make them understand why what you're doing will teach you and your fellow students more than just about anything they're teaching you from those textbooks. Whatever it is you decide to do, your mother and I will both be there to help you learn from your mistakes and to encourage you to try again. It's up to you to try.

Now get out there and start screwing up. I promise you it won't hurt nearly as much as you think it will. 


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why I'll Never Run for Elected Office

It may seem ridiculous to you that I would need to explain why I'll never run for elected office. That's only because you're one of the people who don't know my family history.

If you know me, I'm sure you don't think it's ridiculous. If you don't know me, let me explain.

My dad was a politician. He was elected twice as our county's Prosecutor. He ran three times and was elected twice to the Indiana State Senate. That's it. That's all I really need to explain.

That's basically why people ask me if I would ever run for elected office. I guess I should stop being surprised.

However, my uncle is an astronaut and no one ever asks his son if he would ever want to be an astronaut. Maybe that's because they know you need actual qualifications and education to become an astronaut. You just need money to run for office.

ANYWAY, I would never run for office. I'm not saying I haven't briefly considered it and then immediately squashed it from my brain -- usually by drinking until I black out. Here are some reasons why I would never run for office:

Money. Do you know how much it costs to buy signs and flyers and buttons and stickers and web domains? Neither do I, but I can think of a thousand different ways to better spend my money. For example, buying raisins in bulk for my daughter. My daughter loves her some raisins.

Time. Do you know how much time it takes to properly run a campaign? Even a small town campaign? All of it. All of your free time. You need to go to the local political meetings, knock on doors, march in parades, attend local festivals, answer people's emails, participate in forums/debates, etc. Look, I've got a full time job that I'm not willing to give up. I really like spending time with my family and watching TV and surfing the Internet. I can't be bothered trying to convince people that I can make their corner of the world a better place for them. I'm not convinced I can.

Energy. I'm fucking tired. I want to take a nap. Even if I'm taking a nap while you are reading this, I'm dreaming about taking a nap. The people of my town deserve better than that.

Humor. I know there are important issues facing my town. I also know that there will be times when I won't be able to resist making fun of those issues. People don't like that shit. Make a joke about something that someone is serious about one time. No matter how funny the joke, they'll walk away thinking you are an evil person. Those are sad people and they often find their way into politics.

Family. People say nasty things about you when you run for office. I know that my wife and daughter are smart enough to know they aren't true but it doesn't make it any easier to hear. Plus, I don't want to have to explain to my daughter why people are saying terrible things about me and I definitely don't want to make her a target because of my crazy ideas about how the town should run.

Honesty. Even on the local level, honesty doesn't really exist. Even in the short time I've lived in my new town, I've come to understand that much of the political infighting is due to various companies trying to buy off the politicians.

Baby Boomers. We're all just waiting for them to die so we can finally make some real progress. I'm sure this is what every generation says about the preceding generation.

My political views. Maybe it wouldn't come up in a local election (though it probably would) but I'm an atheist. I recently saw a poll where Americans rated atheists the least trustworthy group in America. Even Muslims rated higher. Think about that. Many Americans don't make a distinction between a Muslim and a terrorist and yet they trust Muslims more than atheists. Also, I'm pretty sure I live in a politically conservative area and my politics tend to lean toward the liberal side.

My sordid past. I probably shouldn't go into it but there are some pretty big skeletons in my closet. I mean, have you read some of the shit I post on this blog? I lived in Chicago for 12 years. I'm pretty sure some of that famed Chicago corruption just seeps into you after living there for that long. You don't even want to look at my browser history. Or the camera roll on my iPhone. Or my locker in high school. Or my pants.

I fart a lot. Politicians have to sit in a lot of meetings with other people. I can't be getting up and excusing myself two to three times every meeting simply because I don't want to fart-bomb my fellow plutocrats. Well, they'd be plutocrats; I don't think I'd count. See my point about money above.

As you can see, I'm totally unfit to run for elected office. Feel free to stop asking me now. Thanks.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Internet is Fun

Once again, good times with people who know how to play along.

Come have fun with me. #PulseTheNuts

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Broken Inside

Sunday night, while putting Scarlett to bed, I got to the portion of the routine where I turn out the lights and sing her songs. She did not want to sing songs while sitting on Daddy's lap in the rocking chair like we usually do. She wanted to sit in the chair by herself while Daddy leaned on the front of the chair and sang to her. I was exhausted, so I acquiesced. This meant that I was staring directly into her face while I sang her songs. I've never done this before while putting her to bed. At first it was fine -- mostly because she wanted to sing the "Notre Dame Victory March" -- but once she requested "You Are My Sunshine" I fought to hold back tears as her sweet little face stared at me as she quietly sang along. It was at that moment I realized I can never have another child.

Once Scarlett was born, the piece of me that was able to control my emotions stopped functioning. Now I'm emotionally raw and much closer to tears at any moment than you would ever think -- tears of joy or tears of sadness. Commercials make me cry. Any kind of human achievement in the face of adversity makes me well up with tears. It doesn't even have to be remarkable. If I see someone who sprained his ankle bravely make it up a flight of stairs, I'm on the verge of tears. Forget about something like a child with a prosthetic leg learning to play soccer. I'm a mess just thinking about it.

Scarlett came along and opened me up. I'm affected by the things around me more than I ever had been before. If I were to have another child I don't think I could actually operate in the world. In order to open myself up enough to love both Scarlett and another child (not to mention Dee) I would be a constant well of emotions. I would always be crying or laughing. I would walk up to random strangers on the street and hug them and say things like, "It's okay, man. Everything's going to be okay." Simply because I understand the struggle of being human in this world. I would tell every woman I see how beautiful she is because, goddamn it, every woman is beautiful and that's a gift the world refuses to recognize. I would agree with people who say the final season of The Office was funny. I would cry myself to sleep every night because of, oh man, the beauty and, oh no, the sadness. All of the beauty and sadness. I wouldn't be a useful human being anymore. There's a good chance I'd morph into a ball of emotion and explode.

I'm broken inside. Broken in the best possible way and another child might just be my end.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Speaking of...

Holy shit, guys. You would love what is going on in my train right now. This androgynous person sitting in front of me on the train is eating greek yogurt. Blood Orange Chobani. With a black spoon. I think it's a woman but not because he or she is eating yogurt. I eat greek yogurt every day when I get home. I think it's a woman because she's wearing what seem to be mom jeans. HOWEVER, the footwear is very guy-going-trail-running. Not saying that ladies can't go trail running, just that they would probably wear less manly footwear. The haircut is very preppy-80s-movie-asshole. Plus, he or she has some gray hair. That's fairly rare on a woman. HOWEVER, I did see an attractive lady in my office sporting a fairly trendy cut and the front of her hair was gray. It was pretty sexy. Ladies should do more to make their gray hair sexy instead of hiding it behind false color. No reason a woman can't be a silver fox (silver minx?). Anyway, person of indiscriminate sex is sitting in front of me eating greek yogurt. WHAT A MYSTERY. Maybe I'll take a chance and offer my hand to help him or her step down off the train and say, "My lady," and see if I get punched in the face. FOOLPROOF PLAN.

Speaking of mysteries, my train is always getting stopped for something which often makes us late. The conductor will announce over the PA, "Ladies and gentlemen we are stopped waiting for signal clearance. We're not sure why we're stopped but we hope to be moving shortly." Why tell us that you don't know why we're stopped? I need confidence from my train operators. Look, when the zombie apocalypse goes down, the train is going to be our most reliable source of transportation (just trust me). It's one of our oldest forms of transportation. The people running this shit should always know what is going on. Don't shake my faith in you, train system.

Speaking of faith, I have none. Not the spiritual kind, anyway. I mean, I have faith in Tristan Tanner and her ability to always be funny. I have faith in my wife's ability to mother. I have faith in my ability to project manage the shit out of IT projects. I have those kinds of faith. The other kind of faith I don't find very useful and I've never gotten anything out of it.

Speaking of getting out of it, it seems I've gotten out of the comedy business. I haven't performed in probably a year. I'm not really keeping track but it's been a long time. I haven't shut off the funny faucet or anything. I can still be funny. Ask Dee, she'll tell you I'm hilarious. She'll probably tell you I'm mostly annoying and sometimes funny. Still, I HAVE THE FUNNY IN ME. I'm glad Tristan Tanner is still in the comedy business and I hope she stays in the comedy business forever. The world deserves to have her funny spewed at them until the second she dies.

Speaking of death, I often imagine that instead of something profound, I'll say something hilarious and dark in my final moments. That's the way I want to go out. When I'm lying in my deathbed because the cancer has eaten my insides, I want to make a hilarious and sick joke like turning to Dee and saying, "YOU DID THIS FOR THE INSURANCE MONEY!" Then dropping dead. Or maybe I can get the cast of The Death Show with Death back together and we can all sing the closing song, "Die One Day," around my deathbed. I'll even let Brad Norman record it for his YouTube page. Can I write that into my will?

Speaking of will, I've got a strong one.

Speaking of strong one, I just farted.

Speaking of farting, it's only funny in real life. Never in movies, on TV or in improv shows.

Speaking of entertainment, I hope this was.

Speaking of was, this is.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Actual Conversations with My Wife

As a married couple, Dee and I often communicate with one another. Some times we text, sometimes we email, sometimes we call each other on the phone. Hell, sometimes we even talk face-to-face. Usually, we're all business because we're not the kind of people who have time for horseplay and shenanigans and tomfoolery. We are human, so sometimes we have intentionally and unintentionally funny conversations. Here are a few real life examples:

Email from Dee:
"Just wanted to say thank you for taking care of things laser night so I could get to bed early. I love you."

My response:
"No problem, baby. I knew you were tired and needed some rest.

Also, 'laser night' sounds awesome."


While watching The Bachelorette the name "Malachi" pops up in a graphic.
Jeff: (Head down, furiously typing on computer)
Dee: (trying to be helpful as I write my review) "The dad's name is Muh-latch-ee. M-A-L-A-C-H-I."
Jeff: Huh? Muh-latch-ee? (Looks up and sees the name) Nope. That's Mal-uh-kai.


This one happens a lot:
Dee: *says something very important about our daughter's health/school*
Jeff: Yep, got it.
Dee: Are you even listening?
Jeff: Nope.


Dee: *Texts me a picture of her at the NKOTB concert with another woman who also brought her Joey MacIntyre doll to the concert. The caption reads, "Joey met his twin."
Jeff: Is her husband also ashamed of her?


I'm at home by myself watching Scarlett. Dee texts me.
Dee: How is she doing?
Jeff: She just called me Cathy.


The day after Dee attended the Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z concert:
Jeff: How was the concert?
Dee: It was really good.
Jeff: Were you able to determine how many problems Jay-Z has?
Dee: Yes, 99. He thought it was important to specify that a bitch was not one of those problems. Hit me.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I recently saw this photo on Facebook. I'll admit that this briefly resonated with me on a certain level. Then I remembered that my daughter is her own person and this is very nearly the worst advice any father could take.

Let me break it down point by point.

Really? Must we have rules for everything? I'm sick of rules. Rules almost always have unintended consequences, plus there are often very good and valid reasons for breaking them. Can't we just deal with situations as they occur with levelheaded reason?

1. Get a job.
Sure. If you're not in high school or college or getting your post-graduate degree or in the Peace Corps. Ideally, I'd like my daughter's boyfriend to be able to support himself by earning his own income.

2. Understand I don't like you.
This seems unnecessarily harsh and confrontational. Understand that I may not like you if you give me reason to not like you. However, I won't hate you simply because you're dating my daughter. I plan to raise a daughter who is smart enough to make her own decisions and if she likes you, I'm going to give you a chance because I trust my daughter to make good decisions.

3. I'm everywhere.
I'm not everywhere. Hell, I'm not even most places. In fact, I'll mostly be where you aren't unless I've decided to become terribly creepy in my old age.

4. You hurt her, I hurt you.
How very Old Testament. I'm not a violent person. If you assault my daughter I will call the authorities. If you assault my daughter in my presence, I will step in. You may be hurt in the process. However, my goal will not be to hurt you but to subdue you. 

If you break my daughter's heart, I will not attempt to break your heart. Most likely I won't carry enough weight in your life to inflict the kind of emotional pain on you that you were able to inflict upon my daughter. You will walk away from this unharmed, physically. Why? Because I know that heartbreak is a part of love. Everyone needs to have their heart broken. Everyone needs to experience the pain of a breakup. It will hurt me to see this happen to my daughter but I know it will make her stronger and that she will learn a valuable lesson.

5. Be home 30 minutes early.
Look, it's my daughter's responsibility to be home when we tell her to be home. I don't expect her to be 30 minutes early. If she is, that's great. If I wanted her home at 11:30 PM I wouldn't tell her to be home at midnight. This is dumb and manipulative. I will say what I mean and not expect you to guess what I mean. If I'm unclear, it's my fault.

6. Get a lawyer.
This is probably good advice for everyone. It's good to have some legal representation in case you need it at some point. How this applies to dating my daughter, I don't know. Have they introduced extra paperwork into the dating scene since I started dating my wife back in 2005?

7. If you lie to me, I will find out.
Maybe. I might find out. There's a good chance I won't find out. I will expect you to be honest with me, though. If I do find out that you lied to me, things will get much harder for you when it comes to dating my daughter -- depending upon what you lied to me about. I'm more concerned about you lying to my daughter. If you give a damn about her at all, you'll always be honest with her even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. Both I and my daughter will thank you for it later.

8. She's my princess, not your conquest.
NO. SHE'S NEITHER OF THOSE THINGS. She's a woman. A human being. She's not to be put upon a pedestal and held to impossible standards and she's not an object to be owned. She's another person just like you and me. No, she's not like you and me; she's probably smarter than you and me and way more in touch with her emotions than either of us. We'd probably do well to shut the hell up and let her make a few rules of her own.

9. I don't mind going back to jail.
I've never been to jail, so this doesn't make much sense to me. I can't really judge jail but it doesn't seem like the kind of place I'd like to go to for assault (or murder?) of a minor -- which is what this implies. I'm not sure how this is relevant.

10. Whatever you do to her, I will do to you.
GROSS. GROSS. This is the creepiest thing I've ever read. Also, how is this different than #4? In the end, it's just one of six completely empty threats on this list (the others: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9). That's right. Over half of this list are thinly veiled threats. It's the kind of macho posturing that perpetuates the stereotype of the helpless woman.

I understand that dads feel powerless when it comes to who their daughters date. Lashing out at the boys/men that your daughter chooses to go out with is not the answer. It's only going to make your daughter miserable and eventually she'll resent you. When that happens, she'll cut you out of her life entirely and you'll be left without a daughter that you profess to care about so much.

I want my daughter to be happy. If it means she has to make some mistakes and suffer some heartbreak to get there, then I'll just have to deal with it. Sure, watching my daughter date may make me uncomfortable but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make if I get to see her find love. 

All of this posturing is ridiculous. That's why I'll have only one rule:

1. Who my daughter dates isn't about me. It's about my daughter.