2022 RANT

The “Rant” started over 20 years ago as an acerbic and sarcastic response to those sappy and wholly unrealistic letters families send out around the holidays.. it’s matured since then of course… well somewhat…

I start this process every year by reading the past few rants, always interesting to wander back and think about my state of mind in those moments, it’s good for some laughs, tears, and few shakes of the head – “like dude WTF?” 

Admittedly this year I got caught up in the memories and ended up going back 20 plus years; the digital archive only goes back to 2000; the rant was handwritten in the 90’s. Looking back though it’s funny the things we think are important when only viewing life through a 12-month lense. Taken collectively though it represents a quarter century of life; triumphs, failures, and retrospectively a bit of regret – a father’s narrative if you will on his family and their journey. I can’t help but smile at the brash naivete of some of those early ones, clearly I lacked perspective or at least the context of time. 

You’re probably thinking… Oh Christ it’s going to be one of those… and well after thirty years of doing this I feel entitled to write whatever the fuck I want – however, there is plenty to rant about this year so don’t get in a twist we will get there. But not yet – I have the very good fortune of having four very engaged adult children – one of the chief benefits is genuine conversations; a week or so ago we were talking about some of those early days and the evolution of our family dynamic – the core six we call it. One of my sons wondered how or if things would have been different if Dad had been more vulnerable and open in those early years – admittedly he may have been drinking. Still, an interesting question and probably generated by a more open and “vulnerable” dad today; got me thinking though. 

Now what the hell does this have to do with a rant you ask? Well maybe nothing, but it forced some introspection and every rant should have a bit of that don’t you think? Interestingly reading back through the years I can see the evolution, that ability to set the fight down and be more open and contemplative.  I look back at the early years with a great deal of fondness – but they were tough and I always seemed to be battling: career, money, maintaining a young family – no question I armored up emotionally. No apologies, you do what it takes to get through and keep it together. Things are different now though and I am thankful to set the armor, as beat up as it is, aside and share at a completely different level with my family. They know it was never about loving them, I had to protect myself so I could protect them – not so easy to explain, but the older they get the more they understand. Possibly it’s the perspective of grandchildren and the context a multi-generational view provides; but not be to cliché, all those challenges really do teach you what’s important. No question though our ability to delve into topics like this in a loving and objective way has allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of each other and draws us even closer – it’s a true measure of the love that binds us together. 

If you’re early in your journey consider opening a couple of chinks in the armor – no harm will come to you and you might find things are a bit easier to shoulder with some help and understanding from those closest to you. For us seasoned warriors, share the journey, have those important conversations with those that followed you into battle they deserve it. This isn’t a dad only thing either – the journey is shared and everyone has their battles along the way – but we need to learn to bind each other up and heal along the way – when those final notes fade into the breeze I don’t want to leave any wounded troops wondering why I made the choices I did or if I loved them. If you’re shaking your head and thinking, good Lord man what the hell… I’ll make it simple: don’t let all the shit in this world distract you from loving those important to you the rest is just noise.

Damn no ranting at all in that whole first page, well if you endured this far, let me tell you there was plenty of nonsense this year to piss me off. Where to even start the list is long: toxic corporate culture, COVID (haven’t we had enough of this?), why is no one working, a messed-up supply chain – which naturally leads to ridiculous grocery prices and there’s always Starbucks isn’t there?

I spent the first half of this year working sixty-hour weeks worshipping at the altar of corporate greed only to be unceremoniously sacrificed on a beautiful sunny Monday morning in May; no hard feelings though they had been showing their true colors for months and I probably should have seen it coming – it’s only business right? I decided it was an excellent excuse to take the summer off and detox a bit while figuring out what was next. I wasn’t alone though, there were 200+ of us let go that morning; normally losing a job isn’t a positive, but something really cool happened. We came together and started a vibrant digital community supporting each other – job leads, encouragement, and the knowledge that none of us had to go this alone. The ability to share the experience meant we didn’t have to armor up – unfortunately we have added another 500 or so to our group, but we’ve built a support system they can lean into.  Great stuff right, but as positive as it is/was direct deposit is pretty damn good too and the folks that let all of us go are still worshipping. Looking back though, it was a potent reminder of why I left the corporate world in the first place. Okay so that wasn’t quite a rant either, but I think the message here is simple: be careful what your worship – people matter, a job is just a job, don’t get confused about that. 

Now having the summer off did give me plenty of time to enjoy a personal bout with COVID, without the distractions of having to work. Let me tell you, in case this is still confusing to you, being vaccinated apparently has absolutely no bearing or impact on whether you will get the virus – vaxed and double boosted and tested positive. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t get the jab; I’m just saying I still got plenty sick.  According to the “experts” though I got less sick than as sick as I could have been if I had been really sick… umm ok how the hell does that even work? Of course, I was immediately prescribed the Paxlovid pill – just so you know this pretty much gives you the same symptoms as the virus only less? Hmmm, once again less severe than as severe as they could have been if they had been really severe? You see where this is going right, I came through it though, but definitely don’t want to do it again. Final note on this, I don’t know if this long COVID thing is real or if I am just feeling my age these days, but I am a new kind of tired at the end of the day – I’m blaming the virus, why not… or maybe it’s because I am working again? Whatever the case if you’re sick (any kind of sick) stay the hell away from me.

Now this supply chain issue is also not new this year, pretty sure I bitched about it last year too, but damn crazy the stuff that you just can’t get ahold of these days. Half the time I can’t get Half & Half and that half the time I’m forced to head up to Starbucks. You all know how that winds me up, cause that damn Prius and the double half oat milk / soy latte with no foam is always ahead of me; never mind that half the time they’re out of half the ingredients as well. When you can get groceries, they seem to cost twice as much and shortages have forced me to get inventive with a recipe every now and again – still these are first world problems. It’s interesting though shortages extend beyond our grocery store shelves, I stopped by the local Ford dealer the other day, (looking not buying) still no new F150s to be found – turns out Ford is having supply chain issues getting their blue ovals… seriously the oval badge! Seems ridiculous… I don’t know the answer, but I’m guessing this isn’t a quick fix; I’m not buying a cow for my coffee, but maybe I should grow some of my own vegetables and do some canning… maybe a chicken?

There’s plenty of other things to rant about, why can’t businesses find folks to work? Where the hell did everyone go? Half the places I go – especially restaurants – are having trouble staying open because folks just don’t show up for work – seems crazy to me and they are having the same supply chain issues everyone else is. I drove through a Hardee’s the other morning (biscuit craving – shut-up!) the staff was walking out – biscuit maker decided not to show up – is that even legal south of the Mason-Dixon line? Biscuits aside, rollercoaster gas prices also make me crazy, especially because I have a hard time believing our old friend Vlad has anything to do with it. More importantly any little drop totally creates ridiculous lines at the gas station (worse than Sbux, but not a Prius in sight) they have us on a string – and you all know how I feel about lines. I promised myself I wasn’t going to talk about politics this year, but the cynicism and hypocrisy of these people is infuriating, yet we continue to support what has become an intractable stalemate – “it is what it is,” isn’t enough any longer, don’t we have to figure this out at some point?

When I started this journey the rant was all about crafting a cynical and overtly sarcastic response to those sappy end of year letters we used to get when our kids were small and Tammy and I were struggling to figure out what we could afford for Christmas. Mixed in with the flurry of bills would come half a dozen delightful letters extolling the virtues of other families’ Nobel Prize winning children and all the excellent adventures they experienced over the course of the year. Tammy and I were excited when we could afford Happy Meals for the boys, and keeping the lights on was adventure enough… what the hell I thought. Actually, it was probably closer to… “F’ you guys!” We certainly weren’t having the same experience raising our kids; thus, was born the rant. I haven’t received one of those letters in a long time and my own kids have grown past the point of me extolling their blunders and achievements, but l look back on those days and know that as difficult as it was; the six of us were always in it together – we made it through. Now we have another generation coming up, four of the most wonderful high achieving and one might even say exceptional grandkids to ever exist.  Just kidding, they are a handful and that’s as it should be – the best part for me… PaPa doesn’t have to wear any armor with these little ones, I can just be PaPa. 

2021 RANT

So, another incredibly fucked up year in the books, I mean come on seriously this isn’t even fucking amusing anymore… I just knew I was tempting fate publishing a week early last year… “oh what’s the worst that could happen…” I asked myself… fuck me dead 2021. Usually I sit down, listen to some good music and crank out a rather nostalgic look back interspersed with some classic rant material… this year I’m cranking the blues and drinking whiskey out of the bottle. 

I mean seriously where to even start; I’m not doing the Covid thing again or that shit will never go away… and it’s already cost me three needles this year and I fucking hate needles. By the way, thanks for the heads up, nobody told me I needed a fresh mask once in a while – so this one looks like a fucking picture menu… I’m not having the vax / no vax argument either – do what you want – I personally know people that have died on both sides. 

Look I wouldn’t say there haven’t been any bright spots this year… simply wouldn’t be true. I’ve got four wonderful grandkids that have inspired a year-long comic strip – Drive By Grandpa… Finished up the latest Jessie novel, even with this pandemic mess slowing me down; and I’m pretty pleased with this one. Our Seattle boys have made a couple trips this year – including an epic surprise Mother’s day and another at Thanksgiving. Chris and Tara bought a beautiful new house – plenty of room and they love the neighborhood – bonus they are still close to PaPa and GiGi. On the West coast Kyle opened his own massage therapy practice and is doing great… Kiersta landed a new job working with homebound kids making sure they get all their educational needs met… incredible work and such a huge impact on these children and perfect for her. Cory continues to build amazing stuff including a new back porch swing for dad. I have to smile though – the original rants were a sarcastic and acerbic response to those sappy letters people tend to send at the holidays bragging about their kids and all the wonderful things they managed to pack into the year… Mine were quite the opposite, but I find myself bragging on progeny pretty regularly these days; and my grandkids well now let me tell you… 

Tammy and I are renovating the house… I think this was partly driven by being locked in here for the last two years… we just needed a change of scenery. No surprise it’s taking about three times as long as it should and four times as expensive… let’s go Brandon! (you don’t know, that might be my contractor…)  – what’s finished so far is great and the kitchen will be incredible when it’s done, let you know next year how it turns out. Been a challenge though, there’s no explaining the materials we can’t seem to get ahold of, tile, paint, doors! Probably the largest renovation we’ve done since actually building our first house thirty years and eighteen houses ago – what, we moved a lot! 

There was a little positive interlude for you, now where was I? Oh, have you noticed how rude the general public has become? I am not getting on an airplane again until TSA starts letting me carry a taser… you get up in my face or God forbid think you’re sitting in the seat next to me… yep I’m gonna tase you bro… I remember the days when all you had to worry about was the occasional drunk traveler or someone too friendly with their Twizzlers, but now… it’s like people are taking a dose of “idiot” before boarding a plane… It seems to be everywhere though, are we all just exhausted, out of patience, or have we been inside and isolated so long nobody remembers how to act? I don’t get it even the three-year-old next door flipped me off yesterday… something has to give. Of course, there is the inverse as well, some really lonely people that just want to talk to you no matter what… need to back their omicron shit up though… this is my six-foot circle, and I’m thinking about extending it!

There are some things that just have me shaking my head this year though. For instance, have you been to a car dealership lately… um they don’t have any cars – lots are empty it’s just odd. Or this cream cheese shortage… where the fuck is all the cream cheese… plenty of bagels – no cream cheese. Dropped by the store for some Fritos today… can’t have Frito pie without Fritos… not one single bag – bare shelves! Now you can live without Fritos but more than once I’ve had the pharmacy tell me prescription meds are on backorder… if that doesn’t terrify you… well you’re probably too healthy. Even if this is the temporary “new normal” it’s just not cool. I would include politics in this mess, but I can’t even this year – what a depraved, inept, self-absorbed bunch of people; and if you serve on a school board just go ahead and resign cause it doesn’t matter what you say all of the parents are coming for you. It’s all just perplexing, or vexing, or I don’t know exasperating maybe – I can keep rhyming if you want.   

I have to admit as we exited 2020 I didn’t expect to be reliving those challenges for another year and I am hoping against hope that we are not entering another twelve months like the last ones… It’s not just Covid, I think if we look at it objectively we understand that the statistics aren’t the issue, the vaccination isn’t the issue, the politics aren’t the issue, the distinct impact on humanity is where the real pain is… we fight and argue about what we think is important – all sides of the “issues” if you will, but what do we gain in the end? We’ve been given a license to abuse each other; wielding this virus like some club we should bludgeon each other to death with. Doesn’t it feel like some cosmic psychology experiment gone wrong? A worldwide “Lord of the Flies” moment… and don’t for a moment think I don’t understand the liberty vs public health arguments from both sides, I think most of us can see both points of view. It’s the acrimony of the discourse that’s the real disease in my mind and there is no vaccine for that. 

As is usually the case with these rants I don’t have answers for you and maybe your experience is different; I hope so. For me I work to make quality efforts to fill my space up with some light, some positive: family, friendship, art, food, music, experiences that give me a little something to hold on to… I encourage you to do the same… maybe it won’t solve the big problems, but I am convinced life gets just that much brighter every time we invest in those things that elicit a true and honest emotion or experience. I was thinking about my mother the other night, reflecting on things if you will… we talked for a while, she may have left this physical plane long ago; but that didn’t end our conversations: 

I spoke to my mother tonight… 
we reminisced on things that never happened… 
grandchildren never held 
wisdom never imparted… 
smiles never shared
 I spoke to my mother…
 of lessons I finally understand
 pain I never knew…
 apologies I meant to say
 I spoke to my mother…
 she filled me with light
 held me tight
 and sent me back into the sleepless night…

Friends find whatever “mother” means to you; God, a friend, husband or wife, sister or brother, or maybe just your mom… it doesn’t really matter, but have a conversation – say the hard things, the meaningful things, the things that matter and maybe we can all go into that sleepless night with a brighter light…




It’s one in the morning
And your heart’s storming

Rain in steady streams
Haunts your dreams

The lightning races 
The thunder chases 

Embracing silent fears
tasting salty tears

Morning’s distant glow
Marches too slow

It’s one in the morning
And your heart’s storming

Prairie Winds…

Prairie winds blow
Rain, sun, and snow

Endless milky way
Shooting stars play

The seconds crawl
I’m lost in awe

No future no past
Let this last

The clock winds
All left behind

Prairie winds blow
Rain, sun, and snow

PaPa Stories…

When I’ve grown old
What stories will be told

Will little ones sit to listen
With bright eyes that glisten

Long ago and far away
Seems just the other day

Was it a life well lived 
Now only stories to give

An old man’s wisdom
Last gift to give them

When I’ve grown old
What stories will be told

Drive by Grandpa – Episode 44

Drive by Grandpa – Episode 43

Drive by Grandpa – Episode 42

Drive by Grandpa – Episode 40

Drive by Grandpa – Episode 39

Drive by Grandpa – Episode 41

Drive by Grandpa – Episode 38