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Thunder Like a Toddler

The storms come. They always do.

On one such day, when our wobbly, bobbly toddler heard the roaring clouds, she exclaimed with fierce certainty, “The thunder is loud…! Just like me!” Oh yes, the thunder is loud just like you. Well, almost. Maybe the thunder isn’t quite that loud.

It reminds me of the often reconceptualized proverb: “Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the coming storm.’ The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’”

Perhaps you’re in the midst of a cruel storm right now. It’s dark and deafening and there’s no end in sight. But let me tell you a secret: the storm is not greater. The sun rises, not the night. Darkness never covers the light. The smallest flame spreads and illuminates the entire room.

When the thunder yells, you can yell right back: “I know you are, but what am I‽” 😝

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about. – Haruki Murakami

Alexa… Alexa… ALEXA!!!

Alexa, why oh why did I cross the road?

Our doting toddler recently mastered the ability to use our Echo Dot which can only mean two things:

  1. Listening to “Baby Shark” a bazillion times.
  2. Never listening to any particular song all the way through again. Ever.

Initially, it’s one of the cutest things to hear that tiny, squeaky voice peep out “Alexa, play Baby Shark please!” But all good things must come to an end. What begins as adorable quickly fades into aberration. Alexa becomes an insanity-inducing device; a form of cruel and unusual punishment like waterboarding, except, it’s song-and-rhyme-boarding.

Seriously, what is it with kids’ songs anyways and all the morbid undertones? A song about a family of bloodthirsty carnivores on the hunt for their next unsuspecting prey with cheerful hand motions to accompany the death and despair?

If I hear that song one more time, I’m gonna go nuts. It’s like someone has cut open my skull, scrubbed my head with bleach and a Brillo pad, and then blended my brain with jalapenos, sandburs, and thumbtacks.

But then I remember: these are precious moments, and they won’t last forever. I must learn to cherish them, all of them. Despite the monotonous, repetitive dribble drabble, there is a contemplative solace to be found in ritual. Life doesn’t have to be “just going through the motions” even when you’re just going through the motions—even when those motions involve toothless sharks. Within the daily routine we might find a divine rite. If we stop to look for it; if we have eyes to see. The simple spaces become sacred places.

Because re-experiencing the familiar time and again allows one to focus in on the deeper, often overlooked realities. As my daughter and I sing and dance to Baby Shark for the tenth time in a row, my heart and mind become free to see my beloved child in fresh new ways. I see the sparkle in her eyes. I hear the giggle in her voice. I feel the delight in her soul. And my heart is overwhelmed.

Although, of course, sometimes Alexa doesn’t “work” because she’s tired and needs to rest (i.e., mommy or daddy unplugged her). That’s ok too. We can live life to the fullest in silence as well.

The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard but must be felt with the heart. – Helen Keller

The Pumpkins Are Coming, The Pumpkins Are Coming

Family Portrait (…sometimes, I wonder if I’m adopted…)

Yes, listen indeed, my itty bitty children and you shall hear… As legendarily proclaimed by Paul Revere during his renowned midnight ride to warn citizens of the impending harvest hayrides and incessant fall festivals with their outrageous apple bobbings and gluttonous blue ribbon pie contests. At least, I think that’s how it went.

Steady yourselves and hold fast. Local cafés around the country will display exorbitant lines of leggings-wearing, post-yoga, pre-brunch patrons salivating for that sweet, hot-gourd-infused nectar. Yes, give me some of that black, boiling bean juice stirred with a creamy, chemical-enhanced syrup. What does “other natural flavors” on the ingredients list mean anyways?

Be still my beating heart. Or maybe run away. Pumpkin-colored, pumpkin-flavored everything is near and already here.

Pumpkin spiced lattes/coffee, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin juice, pumpkin casserole, pumpkin bologna, pumpkin soap, pumpkin deodorant, pumpkin toothpaste, pumpkin hats, pumpkin costumes, pumpkin vitamin water, pumpkin ornaments, pumpkin displays, pumpkin yoga pants, pumpkin candles, pumpkin mugs, pumpkin cigars, pumpkin wine, pumpkin spiced pepper spray, and pumpkin buckets for holding all your pumpkin stuff.

For some, today’s reflection will be exhilarating and ingratiating. For others, shear anxiety and terror. Is there a National Pumpkin Day? More like Indulgence Day. A time when we can truly celebrate what America’s all about: consuming copious amounts of calories in celebratory cause.

And if you’re wondering whether pumpkins are a fruit or a vegetable—well then, they’re definitely a pie.

You know the rest. In the books you have read…,


A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!

– excerpt from “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longellow

Shirt Tags Are—Just the Worst

Once a week, I sit down at my home desk and contemplate the cosmos. I make odd observations about life, our world, and society. Usually, these musings turn into me just complaining about random nonsense as I shout into the empty, dark void of the Internet. Anyone unfortunate enough to be exposed to my various virtual ventilations has unbeknownst to them become a small part of my self-medicated, self-therapy sessions.

Do you remember how shirts used to have these really annoying and itchy tags in the back of the collar until someone realized that they could just print the same information directly into the fabric? Yeah, those were awful. But do you know what’s worse than having a hideous tag scratching the back of your neck all day? Having an infuriating tag cutting into the side of your abdomen all day.

Seriously, who thinks that these terrible torso tags are any better than the collar tags of lore? At least before, the aggravation was symmetrical. Now my burden to bear is isolated to one side. It makes me think of what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he bemoaned his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Are these thorns in the side some corporate conspiracy to make consumers constantly anxious and agitated so we’ll waste more money on buying their stuff?

Do you have a prickly, tickly life-tag in your side that just won’t go away? Sometimes we can cut them out without doing any harm. Other times, we just have to carry on and let it make us stronger. Either way, my hope is that we can all find contentment in whatever cotton-picking, irritating circumstances we find ourselves in.

But for real, why do we even need the tags sewn into the shirts? Are they really necessary? A shirt tag, regardless of its size, shape, structure, location, affinity, denomination, etc., would still be a horrible shirt tag. Let’s just get rid of those dreadful things.

For the 2020 presidential election, I’ll be running on the sole campaign platform of abolishing shirt tags. Let the people be free. Let the shirts be tagless! See you at the polls: Finanigans 2020.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. – Viktor E. Frankl

When YouTube Thinks You’re Depressed

Man, I’ve got a headache… must be a caffeine-ache since I haven’t had my third cup of coffee today.

So, I think the Internet thinks I’m depressed. Or at least YouTube/Google thinks I’m depressed. Lately, I’ve been getting these advertisements on a daily basis telling me that maybe I need to speak with my doctor about an antidepressant. Here are my thoughts about that:

  1. Get out of here! Algorithms need to stop trying to sell me stuff. Ya think you know me with all your profiling and predicting software, but you don’t know me! Just because I searched for videos of funny, fat baby animals doesn’t mean that I subconsciously desire to regress back to an infantile stage of development so that I can nurse and reclaim the soft, succulent baby pudge fat that I so desperately yearn for.
  2. Why does Google think I’m depressed? Recommendations are based on my search activity, but I honestly can’t think of anything that would trigger these ads. Perhaps it’s because I’m a millennial(ish), and we’re all supposedly depressed. Or maybe it’s because I consume copious amounts of caffeine, and anyone who needs that many stimulants must be depressed.
  3. Speaking of caffeine, this particular ad features a guy at a coffee cart, and all I can think about is “That looks delicious! I’d like some coffee please. How can I be depressed when I’m so stoked for some more of that sweet, sweet nectar of heaven, that roasted, brewed black elixir of my transcendent dreams?”

In all seriousness though, depression is nothing to take lightly. If you’re struggling, then please know that it’s ok, and please, please reach out to someone and get help. There are 24/7 hotlines that you can call, and you can even schedule counseling sessions with a professional online. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and everyone needs a little help sometimes. We were never meant to do this life alone. My opinion: we all need counseling. Everyone can benefit from speaking with a counselor at least once in their life. Or you could be an overachiever like me and live fulltime with/marry a counselor.

Also, does anyone know how to unsubscribe from the GoogleTube?

Let not the world’s deceitful cares the rising plant destroy,
But let it yield a hundredfold the fruits of peace and joy. – John Cawood

Slippery Slope

We took the kids to this natural spring swimming area located in a national park. Overall, it was delightful experience. But there’s a couple of things about these parks that aren’t ideal. Specifically, I’m talking the slick algae and moss growing on all the rocks and steps and ladders. I always feel like I’m gonna slip and bust my head open while trying to get in the water.

But the real kicker is this: the park had installed these railings around the entire swimming area. They looked as if they would function both as safety rails (to prevent people from accidently falling in the water) and as hand rails (to help people safely enter and exit the water).

But if you thought that these rails were for helping people to not slide and tumble while getting in and out of the pool, then you would be so very wrong, and the livid lifeguards perched atop their judgment nests would surely let you know of your transgressions with the blowing of trumpets blasting forth from the clouds and with cups of wrath flooded out onto the earth as fire and brimstone from the grave.

“Stay off the rails!!!”

The shouts of condemnation would pierce into a person’s soul and then some would inevitably fall like lemmings to their demise (actually, the lemmings jumping off cliffs thing is a total myth).

One friendlier lifeguard approached us and said, “Hey guys, you can climb and jump off the rocks all you want, but you’ve got to stay off the rails please.”

And I’m thinking… wait, wait, wait a second here… First of all, there are no signs about staying off the rails. Maybe if there were signs, you wouldn’t have to scare people half to death with your four horses of the apocalypse war cries.

Secondly, maybe there were signs, but I don’t know because I wasn’t paying attention. Who has time to read when you’re too busy trying not to die while algae figure-skating?

But thirdly, seriously? We need to stay away from these securely mounted railings, but those super slippery, goo-covered rocks are fine‽ These rocks are by far the most dangerous thing out here! And what’s the point of all these rails in the first place if not to use them?

Sometimes, life doesn’t quite make sense. Like pineapple on pizza or pickles on peanut butter or hot sauce on mango… it can be difficult to rationalize the sanity of the world. But take heart, and do not lose hope! For to hope is to be human. That we can continue to imagine a better world and believe in a better future is a testament to the divine nature in all of us. At times I start to lose faith in humanity like I’ve lost faith in Sony’s ability to produce good a Spider-Man movie. But then I remember: Hey, chicken and waffles are delicious! What an unexpectedly great idea‽ Perhaps, truly, there is hope after all.

(By the way, if you happen to know why these park rail rules exist, then please don’t bother letting me know why; you can feel free to not email me at MySpace… is that still a thing? Don’t let me know. Not really interested.)

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. – Mahatma Gandhi