I Like Valentine’s Day

E-cards suck.I like Valentine’s Day.

It seems crazy that this is the sort of thing one has to say out loud, but when the day rolls around, I sometimes feel like I see more negativity than positivity about it. I know the arguments against: it was made up to sell cards, it makes single people feel left out, you should show your love every day… and I can’t disagree with any of them

BUT

Every event you celebrate is probably used primarily for commerce nowdays. Single people feel left out of everything–I know this because I was one for 25 years. And of course you should show love every day.

What people seem to not realize is that it’s not always easy to do that. Life is busy. Life with a kid and one on the way is even busier. Sometimes, by the time the baby is laid down and I’m finished working, my wife is too tired to woo or be wooed. So days like today are helpful to people like me. It’s a societal nudge to remind me to be thankful for what I have. To remember the amazing, spectacular, intelligent, beautiful woman who agreed to marry for God-knows-what reason. To remember that life is more than work and kids and money and etc. To be reminded–as we all probably need to be, sometimes–that the most important person in your life deserves a day to be celebrated just for being them.

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This post is boring.

boring-marketing-content

Sometimes, you wake up clad in a full suit of armor, swinging your sword, fuming/giggling about something that’s on your mind, annoying your significant other by talking about such and such a topic incessantly. Those are the days when you sit down in front of the computer, bring up the word processor, and bang out 2,000 words on the injustice in the world, and when you’re done, you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. There’s a little part of your brain hoping to be Freshly Pressed or to go viral, just because, well, what you wrote would probably change the world, if enough of the world would just read it.

And then there’s today, when you’re 100 words into a post and still not sure if you’re even awake yet. When you hope your dog, your child, or your dog and your child in tandem, will do something exciting or funny enough for you to write about. And then, after typing a couple paragraphs a couple times, you delete your draft, start over with a new topic–say, the all-natural dandruff shampoo you’ve been using–and then reluctantly hit post and hope that at least one of the comments that comes in isn’t spam.

You’ve heard–we’ve all heard–that you can’t win if you don’t play. Rarely mentioned is that you also can’t win if you don’t play well, so some days, you’re just going to lose, and that’s ok. Maybe the dog and the kid will do something tomorrow.

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A Faceless Christian in a Secular World

My wife wrote a great post about living as a Christian in a secular world at The Outlier Collective. Read it!

Speak Loudly and Be a Big Jerk

Terrible Tom Sucks

…and I’m going to write a blog post about it!

There’s a blog that a lot of my friends on Facebook like. I won’t name it here, but it frustrates me. It frustrates me because, while it sometimes espouses views I agree with, it almost always does it in an aggressive, antagonistic way.

If someone says something bad about a post he wrote, the author doesn’t just respond–he burns them to the ground. Insults, ad hominem attacks, sarcasm, the whole 9 yards. This is in a blog post, mind, not private correspondence. No matter how cruel he is, or what he says, or how unkind he is toward those who disagree with him, his comments section is always full of cheerleaders agreeing that, yes, all welfare is just theft, or, of course that person who disagreed with you on how to raise kids deserved a 2,000 word polemic about how stupid they are.

It’s bad enough that these kinds of responses are embraced and applauded (and not just on the internet–talk radio is almost exclusively populated with the same sort of “dialog”), but to see so many friends sharing these things, which they presumably agree with, is disheartening. Sometimes it’s people I respect; other times it’s people I barely know. In all cases, it makes me think a tiny bit less of their judgement when they support someone who can’t seem to discuss things without sharpening his blades.

The worst thing, for me as a Christian, is that this guy is “one of us”. A good chunk of his posts are religious in nature, and they’re no less defensive or abrasive than the ones about politics and parenting. In James 3:6, the Bible says, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” In Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” In Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” And that’s not all there is.

Maybe it’s hypocritical of me to write this at all. I know it could be read as an attack post itself–but I’m tired of it. Tired of seeing the name of Christ besmirched by this guy, and plenty of others, who claim the name but can’t be bothered to extend grace to anyone who gets on their nerves. There’s a time for disagreement and even for sharp words–Jesus even said a few himself–but personal attacks, condescension, being a jerk? No.

When I write, I try to remember the Golden Rule–that’s from the Bible too–”Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” And maybe that’s what this guy, and guys like him, are trying to do. But no one likes being attacked, being the butt of a joke, being treated like an idiot. Maybe we can start weeding that out and make the world a little better place for everyone, Christian or not.

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What God Means to Me

I posted about my religious views on A Clown On Fire today. Take a look, and leave a comment!

Afraid of Everyone

calm

It’s early 2011 and I’m at Barnes and Noble, looking for a free table in the coffeeshop. I’ve got my laptop, new back then, not so new now but it’s writing this so. It’s always busy and it’s busy now and I’m not sure I’m going to find one, and I’m dreading heading back home where I’ve promised my new wife some time alone to get some cleaning, reading, etc. done. And then something opens up, someone steps away, and there’s an outlet in the wall. I’m there. My laptop is my reservation.

Then I’m at the counter, looking at the drinks–hot or cold, sweet or bitter, this or that–and I hear on the speakers, barely, over the mannered din, about Ohio, where I lived, where I went to school, where I hoped I’d meet the girl of my dreams. I was carried, we were carried.

And it’s deep, man. It’s deep. The voice, I mean, and also I mean the words.

This is a memory but it’s a memory that will happen again. I am being quiet–no mannered din here, at my house, at 9 o’clock–because I have a baby girl who sleeps fitfully. I didn’t know back then.

Ohio has changed since I was there. It has washed me away completely, and I go back a stranger, but I never go back alone, I bring a life I never anticipated. My blood flows on in my little girl’s veins. My wife smiles and she has claimed my name. I owe money to money to money too, Matt, so I can relate but that’s not the whole story, thank God. Not the end.

Just the beginning of another story. Of another verse. Now I make my own coffee. I sit at my own table. I listen to what I want to listen to. But sometimes I still hear something else in the distance, and I know I’m just not there yet.

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Still Water

I was the wandering, trembling fool,
And she the dark maiden beside the still pool.
I offered a smile, she offered a stone
Toward the sad water, toward the deep moan.

Where is your father? Where are your friends?
Where is your lover? Could no one attend
This watery pyre, this infinite sky
Above the soft ground where fair maiden would lie?

I stood far too close, to the woman so fair,
And saw the stone, painted with red in her hair,
But it was not my fingers, it was not my hands,
It was not my sinews that trembled the land.

Depth of the water
Queen of the mud
Spirals of beauty
Of echoes, of blood.

And do I hear footsteps?–But wait, like a fool,
Before the dark maiden beneath the still pool.

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Comic Sans Irony

Comic Sans... sucks?

The British would have laughed us back to England.

Comic Sans sucks.

Googling “Comic Sans sucks” returns 193,000 results, so there’s proof. There are loads of objections: it’s ugly, it’s poorly kerned, it’s overused, it’s ugly, it’s juvenile, it’s unprofessional, it doesn’t scale well. All legitimate complaints; all legitimate reasons to dismiss anything written in Comic Sans out of hand.

I hate Comic Sans too*. When, recently, I went to a fairly expensive restaurant and saw Comic Sans on their menu, I laughed loudly enough that I had to be shushed by the maitre’d. So this isn’t some sort of devil’s advocate, “Comic Sans is underrated” thing.

But I haven’t always thought Comic Sans was bad, so maybe there’s a part of me that wants to defend it, just a little. When my parents bought their first Windows PC in the halcyon days of 1995, I had never heard of Comic Sans. To a 13-year-old kid coming from DOS, the idea that I could open up MS Paint, draw few circles and a couple word balloons and bust out the Comic Sans was intoxicating and I, like many from my generation, was intoxicated. There was even a program, Microsoft Comic Chat, where you could type your words and the conversation would take place in a series of panels. It was like we were a/s/l-ing** in a graphic novel! Point is, it was awesome. Comic Sans was designed for use by kids, so it makes sense that I, an unjaded kid, would like it.

Image

Anyone older than me probably never saw the appeal of a font that looked like a poor man’s Artie Simek, and I suspect children now pop out of the womb cooing for Comic Sans’ demise. Maybe there are others out there with nostalgia for this crappy little font, although, in my experience, it’s now mostly used to make things like an internal memo on toilet paper usage look “fun”.

There’s now a movement to remove Comic Sans from Windows’ standard font library. If that happens, maybe it’ll develop a cult following, and this post will someday be seen as an early text in the salvation of Comic Sans. But, if not, we’ll always have Papyrus.

* You’ll note that this post isn’t written in it; I’m not a sadist.

** Age/Sex/Location, and if you didn’t already know that, I’m surprised you’ve made it this far.

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First Among Equals

ImageTwo days ago, my little girl had her first birthday. I know she’s still a baby. She can’t walk very well, she only says a few words–one of which is “R”–and she hasn’t really done anything important yet.

She doesn’t have a real moral compass, so she hasn’t had the opportunity to stand up for what’s right. She can’t tell Liz and I how much she loves us because she doesn’t really understand love that way yet. She isn’t even big enough to walk the chihuahua.

So how can I be so proud of someone who hasn’t done anything yet?

Well, sometimes she throws her head back and laughs, and I can see her tooth that’s just peeking through. When I wiggle my finger in her armpit, she reacts as if I’d just given her a kitten. When she sees our actual cat she tries to smack it, because she doesn’t totally “get” petting. She cries when I walk out of the room because she isn’t sure if I’ll be back. She snuggles into my neck when I’m holding her and she’s sleepy. Sometimes, she’ll stop playing and scowl at her toys. And sometimes, like now, she lays in her bed sleeping, and I look at her on the baby monitor, and I melt, just a little bit.

So how could I not be proud?

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