The Psychopath’s Guide To Failure part 2

**Get up later than I intended to, feel like a failure. Get on the scale and weigh more than I wanted to, feel like a failure. Get to work and find out something didn’t go as I had planned yesterday, feel like a failure. Don’t stay caught up with all of my email throughout the day, feel like a failure. Find out that my daughter was in tears, AGAIN, at the idea of going to school today, feel like a failure. Have to leave work earlier than I’d like to make it to parent’s night at my son’s school, feel like a failure. Get to son’s school later than I had planned, feel like a failure. Son pretends to not know his own birthday and makes a scene in front of his teacher, feel like a failure. Get home and realize how much homework I still have to do for this week, feel like a failure. Am too depressed, too exhausted, and too frustrated with myself to find the motivation to get to the gym, feel like a failure. Am short with my wife and kids because of my mounting frustration, feel like a failure. **

Noticing any redundancies? This is the glorious spiral that happens to me more often than I’d like to admit. Being a father of 3, a husband, an employee, a student, and just an adult in his 30s has left me with zero free time, and seemingly not enough time to even give adequate attention to the responsibilities that I have. I could feel myself getting more and more upset tonight so I decided it would be smart to stop, take a breath, and try to compose my thoughts. While doing so, I realized that I hadn’t had time to post anything on this site in over a year so I figured I would compose my thoughts online. Getting ready for STREAMOFCONCIOUSNESS9000!!!

On any given day I can be found ranting and raving about the fame culture that we’ve created, and the attention craving monsters that have built empires out of nothing more than wanting attention. Of course the very existence of this blog, and the fact that I’m typing this post, should represent an amazingly hypocritical irony, and it’s something that’s not lost on me. I’ve often wondered why I write these posts. Certainly my viewership is nothing to boast of, and for those pour unfortunate souls who do stumble across this tapestry of insanity and self-loathing, what am I hoping that they’ll gain from reading this? The answer is nothing. I could lie of course and say that I’m writing all of this in the hope that someone like me will find it out there, realize that they’re not alone, and feel just a bit better about themselves, but that’s not true. So why do I write these posts? Two reasons that I’ve been able to discern.

First, it helps me to make sense of my own thoughts and emotions if I can write them down. I don’t actually enjoy writing with a pen and paper, so I type them out and figure while I’m doing so I might as well put them in a single place where I, my wife, my kids someday, and my one and a half friends will all be able to read them at some point. And for whatever reason I do enjoy the idea that someone new out there might read some of this and get a kick out of it.

The other reason that I’ve surmised is that this blog has effectively been an ongoing and open letter to everyone that I’ve left behind in my life. Everyone that I’ve lost to time, distance, anger, and death has been on my mind when I’ve written all 100 or so posts on here. Because I’m no longer able to express these thoughts to them directly, this site has become a dumping ground for all of those things left unsaid. This has been my last word in a proverbial argument that may or may not have already ended, or may or may not have ever even begun.

I’ve spent a good deal of time and effort building up walls around my life and my family for what I consider to be the betterment of our little clan. I keep those out that I’ve deemed unworthy to share in our journey, or those that I feared would somehow tarnish the experience. I don’t regret this in the slightest, but it can make you feel isolated sometimes. I think one of the reasons people keep so many “friends” in their lives, digitally or otherwise, is because we like to have that insulation. When we’re feeling down, or when the darkness is creeping in, we can call upon this friendship army to come and help us beat back the demons. When you’ve made yourself an island you don’t have any reinforcements coming. It’s just you and your 4 other survivors, left to face the demons alone, waiting for the next sunrise to come. Is that melodramatic? Nah, it’s juuuusssst right.

I never really wondered if my dad was proud of me, and never really considered what he thought of me at all, until he was dead. Suddenly, as I was back in Nebraska, back in the wind and the cold that somehow feels colder than Indiana, I wondered what he thought of my life when he was at the end of his. Was he proud of what I’d become? Was he happy with what our relationship had become before he died? I like to think that the bond that we had formed had morphed into a sort of hybrid friend/mentor/father that may not have been typical, but it suited us well. Our conversations had become something more than the mundane small talk we’d had in my youth. When I needed a father, he really wasn’t one to me, and was hours away. But I didn’t need a father anymore, I had become one. I think that we both reached that same conclusion, accepted our past for what it was, and moved on with an honesty and respect that suited our personalities. People have told me that I remind them of him and I’ve come to take that as one of the highest compliments that I’ll receive.

I now wonder if he is somehow still watching me, and what he thinks of my actions day to day. I actually think more about his opinions of me now than I did when he was alive. I guess I feel like he’s past the family name onto me and I’d better make something out of it that we can both be proud of. Maybe that’s the urgency that I feel to be more than I am. Maybe that’s what drives me so hard toward a goal that I hadn’t clearly defined until he had passed. If I could sum up my 20s I would say: aggression, uncertainty, fear, loneliness, longing. If I could sum up my 30s I would say: certainty of desire, uncertainty of purpose, fear, happiness, exhaustion. Maybe those don’t all seem to go together, but they do.

The older I get, the less significant I feel in the grand scheme of things, but I have learned through many years of discussion, honesty, and even pain that I am significant to my family. We are a small crew, but each of us is as significant as the whole and that is something that I hold as sacred. I mean as much to them as they do to me, and that’s a feeling that I’ve never really had before. Thoughts composed, rambles rambled, and now it’s time to get back to finishing an education 15 years in the making.

They Psychopath


The Psychopath’s Guide To Getting Older

DSC_0095 editBWOh February, you really are the perfect storm of self-indulgent, narcissistic, retrospective, introspective nonsense! It’s shortly after the turn of the new year. It’s my birthday. It’s my kids’ birthdays. It’s too cold to get outside and do anything. It really does put me in a nice little pocket of talking to myself. Thank you technology for allowing me to talk to myself publicly for the benefit of all mankind.

It’s an odd thing getting older. You hear people talk about it all of the time, but when it happens to you it just really is indescribable. It’s very similar to a first kiss, or maybe your first hangover. People can talk all they want about it, but you’ll never know until you’re there. I feel the same way each time the calendar flips its page and sends me one year closer to whatever awaits me at the finish line. This feeling of inevitable speeding forward has only been amplified by the fact that my dad died in December. When the top branches of your family tree are suddenly pruned, you find yourself at the top looking down. Suddenly you are no longer a part of something; you are the head of something. It occurs to you that slowly, secretly, you have been building a world for yourself to live in and that the consequences of your choices are far too real.

My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer last summer, and it took him away shortly before Christmas. His dad died of the same thing, when my dad was roughly around my age. It definitely gets your head turning about what the future holds. My dad was probably the strongest guy I’d ever met, and he fought this horrible confusing disease up until the end. I saw him 4 days before he died. We talked, joked around, told stories. It was just a usual visit with him. We hadn’t seen each other in just under 3 years and it felt like we hadn’t skipped a beat. That was our relationship though. We’d learned to cope with the distance. Time held no real significance for us. It was a special connection, something that is difficult to explain.

If you know me, or have read through any of my other ramblings then you may have caught on that my connections to people are not necessarily typical. I don’t miss people. When they leave, I don’t often think of them. When they die, I have an easy time moving on. I haven’t seen my mother in about a decade and on a daily basis it tends not to phase me. I hadn’t seen either of my brothers in about 6 or 7 years and the sun just kept shining. Call it a safety mechanism, or call it being a self centered ass, but I just don’t really miss people when they leave my life. Understand the gravity of the statement then, when I say that I miss my dad. It eats away at me, and puts a painful lump high in my throat. A lump that I have to choke back more than I’d like to. It’s taken a couple of months to process him being gone, and even now I find myself wanting to talk to him. Every time it snows here I feel like I should call him. We had a shared amusement for Indiana’s definition of “bad weather.”

I saved the last string of text messages that we had exchanged. He told me that he loved me, and I told him that I wished I could have stayed longer during my visit. Then I sent him a picture of my oldest daughter working on her homework at the kitchen table. That image was the last thing that he got from me. He died shortly thereafter, and my step mom had to call me with the news. I don’t know how else to describe it, but when she told me that he was gone, something broke inside of me. It was like a piece of me shattered and I haven’t quite figured out how to rebuild that piece yet.

I hadn’t been to a funeral in about 16 years and it was a strange experience to go to his. I can remember going to many funerals when I was a kid. I remember sitting near the back of churches, and funeral homes. I remember looking at the relatives of the deceased and wondering what they were thinking. I remember feeling a strange detached sadness for them. It was similar to the feeling you get during ads for the humane society. You feel a sadness, but not anything strong enough to truly impact you. I always knew that by and large my life would be unchanged after I left the funeral. It’s a very different perspective when you’re in the front row of a funeral.

My children had never seen me cry, and frankly it was a record I was hoping to hold on to. I have no idea why, but I just view crying as some sort of personal defeat. It’s a clearly visible sign that I’ve lost control over my own emotions and my body. As I sat staring at my father’s body in front of me though, I was overwhelmed. I thought that the grief would be more general. I thought I would feel a vague sense of loss, or something very widespread, but it was so specific. Thoughts kept bursting into my mind and driving the rusty nail further into my heart. They weren’t thoughts of all the times that we’d had together; rather, it was thoughts of everything that we’d talked about doing. My son’s first hunting trip, planning my family’s future farm, buying my first truck, choosing our first horse together. The list went on and on. Each scene played in my head like a short home movie that would never exist. I thought of how much he’d talked about seeing his grandkids graduate high school. I thought about him dancing with my daughters at their weddings. I thought about him showing up to my son’s bachelor party someday. Then I thought about my own wedding day. There’s a picture of my brothers and I standing with my dad at my wedding. All of this was a flood of water that crushed my lungs and took the fight out of me.

People don’t know what to say to you when you tell them that your dad has died. They throw out hollow phrases of condolences, and I believe most mean well, but there’s nothing worth saying. My dad and I had a relationship that most will never understand, and few have had the opportunity to experience. I was raised to hate him, and was instructed well in that skill. I wasn’t raised by him, and never knew him as a father in that regard. I knew him as a mentor. I knew him as a friend. I knew him as a man that I wanted to be more like. He represented the qualities that I wanted to bring out in myself, and thanks to genetics, qualities that I knew I had hidden somewhere in side of me. When his former boss pulled me aside and told me how proud my dad was of me, and how much he talked about me, it was probably the greatest compliment anyone has ever given me. Without knowing what to say I told him I was trying my best to live up to the family name.

When someone dies, the instinct is always to say something benign like, “He was a good man.” My dad truly was good. He was better than me, and better than most. I think that the world was better for him having been in it, and I honestly believe it will be worse without him.

As I look at my kids, inching away from me with every passing year, I can’t help but feel gratitude. It’s of course sad to watch them grow up, and know that someday they’ll head out on their own, but I am undeniably grateful that I get to watch it happen. With each passing year, and each milestone reached, I am thankful that I got to watch it. Each morning I wake up and I pray for two things. The first is that he will keep our small family together. Regardless of what else happens, or where life takes us, I ask that he keeps us together. The second thing I pray for is that we all have understanding and acceptance if his plan separates us. The older that I get, the more I can look back at my life and see all of the mysterious changes, moves, decisions, heartbreaks, and successes building up like a puzzle. Each piece is too small to even recognize but after 32 years on this amazing planet there is a picture starting to form. It’s a picture I don’t believe I will see finished in my lifetime. A picture that I don’t think I’ll fully understand until long after I’ve left this life.

So while I live each day with a fresh new pain that I’ve never know before, and a longing that I can’t quite describe, I also live it with nothing but gratitude. Gratitude for the three amazing, beautiful, and truly awesome little people sleeping across the hall. Gratitude for the stunning creature that sleeps beside me now. Gratitude for the close few that I call friends. Gratitude for the even fewer that I call family. Gratitude for a life that I never asked for, a gift that I don’t deserve.

Until Next Time

The Psychopath


The Psychopath’s Guide To Pursuing Happiness

Driving home tonight I heard of yet another protest happening somewhere in this fair country, this time protesting the many silicon valley execs that drive up rental prices in California. In my awful logical mind I thought to myself, “Waddup self. Wouldn’t they be happy that large successful companies are bringing lots of really well paying jobs for qualified people?” Out here in the midwest we’re lucky to get factories to stay open so that people with no education or qualifications can get somewhat decent jobs working god awful hours. Out in the good old bankrupt west coast, their biggest problem is that companies are creating so much wealth that it’s driving up the cost of rent in the area. Of course it all comes down to supply and demand, as it always does. There are rich people there. Rich people will pay more for a nice place to live. They find a nice place to live in which you currently pay less. They offer more. You’re evicted. Thanks economics! You’re always there when I need you.

Out here in the Midwest we have the opposite problem. There are very few higher end condo or apartment complexes that ever go up, because there is no one to pay for them. No demand, so why supply? Out there, mucho demand, so why not supply? So like all protestors in the last decade there are a bunch of entitled people complaining about not being entitled to enough. Back in the day, think before any of us were born, they had REAL things to protest. Being physically assaulted, and potentially killed because of your skin color! Being outright discriminated against or oppressed because of gender. These are things worth protesting. Complaining because you feel that being born, somehow entitles you to the best that life has to offer is not a cause. It’s barely a way to fill an afternoon.

You have the right to the PURSUIT of happiness. There is nothing that guarantees you happiness. In fact, the majority of things in life work pretty hard to ensure you’re not happy. It is completely up to the individual to go out, find what makes them happy, and then make it their own. I’ve seen several demonstrations on the news about minimum wage. The idea that someone should be able to live a comfortable life on minimum wage seems entirely contradictory to me. If you could live comfortably on minimum wage, then why would anyone do anything else? Why bust your ass in school, work long hours, put in the extra effort, when you can already live just fine wrapping up the deliciousness they make at Burger King? Why would anyone ever start Burger King if they could have provided for their families by just waiting tables? The idea of minimum wage is just that, it’s the minimum! It’s your starting point. You’re not supposed to stay there. If you can’t live the life you want to live on minimum wage, then great! The world makes complete sense!

I worked for minimum wage for about 6 or 7 years. I was poor, I lived in a hellhole, I ate crappy food, and drank crappy beer. Not once during those bleak years did I ever think that I should somehow be able to live in a nice house, wear nice clothes, and drive a nice car while washing dishes, bussing tables, and delivering pizzas. I knew that I was working crappy jobs, that anyone could do, I had no unique skills, and was just a warm body filling a spot. If I didn’t do it for $6.15 an hour, then there were plenty of other college dropouts lined up outside to take my spot. So I progressed. I worked hard, built up marketable skills, and went out and found a job that I could progress in, and utilize those skills. I always knew that if I wanted to live comfortably, and not just live, that I would have to somehow climb up to the next rung.

I remember when I was just old enough to get a car, my step dad took me over to the only car lot in town. They had a fantastic ’85 Buick Somerset that didn’t run, had tons of body damage, and had mysterious red stains all over the interior. We paid a handsome sum of $250 for that car and pushed it off the lot. I remember he agreed to help me fix it up, and I could use his shop for free, and he would buy the parts, but I had to actually pay for the car. In one of our more lucid moments together, he explained that nothing was free. This car was dirt cheap because of the time, it took almost two years to fix up, and energy we were going to have to put into it. He explained that you can’t get a great car, that looks good, and runs well, and not expect to pay for it. That has stuck with me, and still rings in my head today. If you think you can easily get a job with few skills required, no responsibility asked of you, and that is easily filled by anyone off the street, and still make enough money to live wherever you want, then you’re mistaken. If you think that you can live in a desirable area of the country, with well paying jobs being created, by stable companies in a growing industry, and the cost of living isn’t going to go up, then you’re mistaken. Everything has a cost. Pursuing happiness has a cost.

I recently read a book about the collapse of the auto industry, and the time leading up to 2008/2009. In the book they detailed  the auto workers struggles with the way things had been, and the way things needed to be. They had gotten used to earning absurd amounts of money for doing increasingly low skill jobs. If they kept earning the wages they had been, the companies would go under and their jobs would disappear. If they wanted to keep their jobs, they would have to take a wage cut and accept the fact that their labor truly wasn’t worth what they had previously been paid for it. I feel like many parts of America are at this crossroads. The Education Industry (and it truly is an industry) is seeing soaring costs of tuition, while also seeing rapidly increasing numbers of students attending online. There’s a reconciling coming for them. Soon, just like in the auto industry, students will begin questions whether the wages (tuition) they’re paying to schools are truly worth the product (an education) they’re putting out.

When you’re looking at jobs, or at housing there are two questions to ask yourself to see if you’re looking at it through a clear lens. The first, related to jobs, is “Are there any other people with the same skill set as me willing to do this job for the same wage or even less?” If the answer is yes, then you are completely replaceable and should be grateful for the job and the wage being offered. In relation to housing, “Are there people willing to pay the owner more than I currently am for this property?” If the answer is yes, then welcome to reality. People looking to sell or rent real estate to you are in it to make a profit. I’m guessing when you woke up this morning you didn’t go into work and tell your boss that you’d like a pay cut because he’s such a nice guy. Likewise, your landlord, or the person selling you a home isn’t interested in making less money just because they feel bad for you. If they can get more, they’ll take it. So would you. So would I.

Of course, this is all related to money and finances as a vehicle to happiness and for most of us that’s not true happiness. But, it’s easier to look at the more tangible examples. The less tangible, are the ones that can’t easily be taken away from you, and are more directly in your control. For most of us, money and housing can be a limiting factor on the intangibles though so sooner or later you have to deal with that side of it. That being said, my family is my happiness. Raising my kids is the greatest accomplishment I’ll ever have, and loving my wife is the greatest feeling I’ve ever known. I make money to try to offer them the life I think they deserve, but with the understanding that we are not entitled to it. This country is set up like a huge mountain. It’s easy to stay at the bottom, and harder and harder to climb to the top. Even when you’re at the top, it’s terribly difficult to stay there. But my kids, and my wife are the guiding light on my mountain. They’re the fire burning somewhere up ahead, that I’m clawing and fighting my way towards.

The main point that I hope people understand, and that remains ever present in my mind, is that you didn’t earn anything at birth. It’s a hard life, it’s agonizingly frustrating sometimes, and for those of us who started at the bottom, it feels like we do nothing but slip and slide our way back to the bottom every time we try to climb up. But that’s the way it should be. Are there days that I wake up and wish I had been born to a rich family? Yup. I would be chilling poolside, eating copious amounts of beef jerky, and sipping on Blue Moon all day long. But most likely I’d be an entitled douche who wouldn’t have met my amazing wife. I probably wouldn’t have raised the kids I raised, and I probably wouldn’t appreciate any of it. Life would be easier, but I don’t know that I would be any happier.

There’s an old hippie commune on the east coast that had the motto, “Stop bitching and start a revolution.” I think most people have the motto today of “Start a revolution by bitching!” I would say lose the revolution, and “Stop bitching, and be grateful.” Or “Stop bitching, and learn a trade.” Either one works, but neither looks as cool on a t-shirt.

The Psychopath


The Psychopath’s Guide To Turning 31

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I always tend to get contemplative and introspective in February. It’s my birthday, two of my kids’ birthdays, two of my favorite musicians’ birthdays, hell it’s Facebook’s birthday! It certainly gives plenty of reason to look back and to assess. A conclusion I’ve made this year, and certainly not a revelation, is that I was not born this way. Unfortunately the gospel of Gaga is incorrect and I was not born as the person I am now. Continue reading


The Psychopath’s Guide To Weight Loss

ImageThe picture above has nothing to do with the title above that. It’s just a cute picture of my daughter and her doll. To those of you who know me personally, or have seen pictures of me you may have noticed I’m not a hefty fellow. I’ve always been skinny, and never had trouble staying that way. In fact my biggest challenge was gaining weight. The typical response from people when they hear of this is, “I wish I had that problem.” Before you go saying that though, let me walk you through a little history.

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The Psychopath’s Guide To Anniversaries

ImageI suppose it’s natural to become contemplative and to reflect upon your life when you hit certain landmarks. Certainly each birthday I seem to churn out paragraphs and paragraphs of ramblings about the meaning of it all, and other gloriously ambiguous topics. But for this occasion, my wife and I’s 9 year wedding anniversary I’m more lucid than ever. There is no wondering about “what it all means” or questions of topics that I gather will always be beyond my comprehension. This year I am left with nothing but an overwhelming sense of appreciation and gratitude.

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The Psychopath’s Guide To Christianity Pt 3

Things sure have changed here on Walton’s Mountain. When I left off in the last post in this series, I was struggling with my new found identity as a Christian. No surprises here, I’m still struggling. I hate rhetoric. I don’t like meaningless phrases, or phrases that get so carelessly thrown around that they can’t possibly be sincere. When a stranger on the street tells me to have a blessed day, what are they really saying? Are they implying that without their request that I wouldn’t have received God’s blessing? Do they genuinely want me to receive blessings? If so, what exactly? It’s stupid for me to get riled up about it, but I do, so there.

The phrase “Praise Christ” or “Praise Him” also gets peppered throughout Christian conversation. If it seemed in the least bit genuine, then maybe I wouldn’t have such a problem with it but the tone is far too reminiscent of my daughter’s second grade teacher as she says things like “Super” and “Fantastic” as some child is telling her a 25 minute story about a smiley face sticker she found.
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The Psychopath’s Guide To Women’s Footwear

The Psychopath’s Guide To Women’s Footwear

We’ve all heard the old saying that blondes have more fun. I can directly refute that claim as I’ve had far more fun with my wife since her hair mysterious changed from blonde to light brown, than I did with her before that change. Similarly, I didn’t have much fun during an ill advised period where I had highlighted my own hair with blonde. The question that plagues me though is whether or not women in heels, have more fun than women in flats. More specifically, whether or not women in heels have happier relationships than women in flats.

Why do I wonder this you may be asking yourself. Because I have casually observed in the last few years that the women that I see wearing heels, or wedges, seem to be a bit more enthralled with their men than those in flats. Moreover their husbands seem to be more content with their wives as well. Unfortunately this isn’t a simple question to answer as it requires careful observation, analysis, and standardization in order to get accurate results.
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Gay Chickens

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and it’s been a while since I came back into the fold as a Christian. A lot has happened in the last 6 or 7 months, but the main thing is that I’ve been reading my bible…a lot! The more I read, the more I understand, and the more I understand, the more questions I still have. As is often the case in my life, I have more questions than answers, but I’m lucky to have a few key people in my life who have really helped me along this journey. I find myself quite torn though as we gear for good ol’ election season, and now apparently chicken sandwiches are all the rage when it comes to making a political or social statement. A good portion of the Christian community can be found on the right side of politics, right as in direction, not necessarily correct. Most of the more vocal Christians love their guns, hate their gays, despise abortion, and think that removing the word god from anything government related is blasphemy.
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Why Occupy Wall Street Will Fail

So the Occupy movement has been cropping up in cities around the nation, and now they’re claiming to be in unison with protests happening around the world. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone has been able to convince the protestors that what they’re trying to accomplish is impossible, and also a waste of everyone’s time and money. Now we have to acknowledge that the Occupy movement has no centralized leadership or spokesperson so you can’t nail down their list of objectives, and say why each one will fail or succeed. Collectively they’ve listed off thousands of demands that range from somewhat reasonable to outright insane. As a whole their general goal is simple, to have the 99% controlling themselves, and to eliminate corporate greed.

If you’re not laughing at them already, please begin now. They want to eliminate corporate greed by simply gathering, occupying, and drawing attention to their “cause.” While I think that most people in America would agree that eliminating corporate greed is a good idea, I don’t think that anyone has really stopped to think about the result of doing such a thing. As much as we all hate to admit it, greed is the driving force behind all innovation, advancement, and essentially the one thing propping up our entire lifestyle here in America. Let’s take the protestors themselves as an example. Greed is just a more advanced case of selfishness, and is there anything more selfish than shirking your responsibilities, jobs, families, etc and going to “occupy” some place in the name of some self-righteous cause? Rather than just staying home, trying to participate in local politics, and causes that they could actually have a chance of impacting, they decide to go for their 15 minutes, and do something that is nothing more than a dog and pony show.
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