What Thanksgiving Means To Me By Way Of Hashtags, The Bastard Child Of Zumba And Crossfit, A Little ENDWORLD, A Few More Hashtags And A Life Less Extraordinary

Well Good Evening, Morning or Afternoon to you ALL. Happy Thanksgiving Eve, or #HappyThanksgivingEve to those of you that love a good Hashtag. I, myself, really REALLY love a good Hashtag. I use them religiously across all of my Social Media platforms. I don’t know if I really understand the whole Hashtag thing–mine vary from one devoted to my youngest minion–#NatNatBoo–to one devoted to my every-other Saturday morning routine–#Crumba. Yes, #Crumbaisathingnow, or so that @fmarshauthor guy Tweets. For those of you that are wondering what Crumba is, Crumba as the bastard child of Zumba and Crossfit: Two activities that participants are fervent, and in some cases militant about. I hold nothing against the practitioners of both. In truth? I’m a bit envious. My idea of activity right now is yard work, cleaning house, doing laundry, playing with my minions and trying to top 10K steps daily on my Fitbit, something that I’ve only managed to achieve two or three times in the six months since I bought it. So let’s get that out of the way now. Dear Crossfit and Zumba peeps: Keep on keepin’ on. Keep rocking those deadlifts and “ooh ooh’ing” to “Uptown Funk.”

There are a probably a few of you reading this right now that are wondering “hey, where the f*ck has this guy been for the last year?” You’d be right to wonder. My last blog post (incidentally also a “What Thanksgiving Means to Me” ponderance) was on 11/26 of 2014. That’s an eternity for a guy that used to pride himself on writing every day. What can I say? The same thing I always say when I disappear off the literary radar for a bit: Life, man. Gul’darned, cotton-picking LIFE. It gets in the way. Between being a good Branch Manager, being a good dad, being a good husband (all things that I’m always trying to improve upon) et al et AL, writing with any sort of consistency has been a tough thing to do. The good news? Over the last two weeks, I HAVE been writing more. CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD mainly, otherwise known as #CHILDRENOFENDWORLD in my own, subjective Twitterverse (#Amwriting #Homestretch, baby). If everything goes the way I hope it to, I should be done the first draft sometime within the next few weeks, so those of you that have been waiting patiently for the continuance of William’s story? Your patience will soon pay off. And if you want to Beta read it, message me here, on Facebook or on Twitter. I’ll be lining up about a dozen once it’s fully edited and ready to go.

Is it any good? That’s a tough question to answer. I’d be lying if I said I personally didn’t like it. I actually like it more than ENDWORLD. A LOT more. I’ll be honest with you: While it continues William’s story, it’s a very different story. Darker. But deeper, too. More spiritual, really. In fact, spirituality is a huge theme in it, one that I expect will carry over into Book Three, HEAVEN AND ENDWORLD (#HEAVENANDENDWORLD #Areyougettingtiredofthisyet). Okay. I’ll ease up on the Hastags moving forward. #Acceptmyapologies #STOPF*CKINGHASHTAGGINGEVERYTHING!

Anywhos, I digress. Focus. Focus and we’re back on point. I’m not here tonight to write about my writing. I’m here tonight because I cannot let a year go by without a “What Thanksgiving Means to Me” blog post. It’s tradition. And LIFE cannot get in the way of traditions. The thing is? It’s been a rough year, friends. At times REALLY rough. It’s definitely had it’s high points: Disney World with my minions, my wife and my in-laws, a new Mad Max movie (still the best movie of the year, IMO; at least until the new Star Wars movie comes out next month). There’s more but my head hurts a bit too much tonight and I’m sure you don’t want to read 5000 words about every little, piddling good thing that’s happened to me this year. Back in April, I passed a Kidney Stone and it hurt like a MOTHERf*cker. See? That’s a good thing but do you really want to read about it? Survey says: HELL no.

In truth? It’s been for the most part a challenging year. Sick loved ones, saying goodbye to my childhood home (booyakasha, Maple Street and J-Town: RESPECT), turning 40, turning 40 and did I mention turning 40? Yeah. That’s a tough pill to swallow. #Thisis40 and let me tell you the Judd Apatow movie was on. F*cking. POINT. The only thing it was missing was the overabundance of white hair and a sagging stomach. That said, it’s a bit tough to ruminate on the good when so much of what has happened this year has been… well? Not great. But ruminate I will because if I’ve learned one thing over my now 40+ year life on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence it’s that it could always be worse. And at the least? There’s THAT to be thankful for.

So what does Thanksgiving mean to me… hell, to ANYone in a less-than-spectacular year? Well, it remains a time to give thanks for the basics: Family, friends, good health, a roof over my head and food in my belly, a new Mad Max movie and NOW a new Star Wars movie to look forward to, a six year old minion that enjoys reading and writing as much as I do (and has her mom’s aptitude toward Math and Science, as well; it’s a powerful combination), a three year old minion with a propensity for “twirly skirts,” princess crowns and “squeezy hugs” and a wife who at 35 is just as appealing to me as she was when we started dating 14 years ago this month (11/11/01, a day that had lived and will continue to live in infamy). But it goes deeper than that, perhaps moreso when you’re coming down the #homestretch of 365 daunting days and already looking forward to embracing 2016 with open arms and a plea: Dear God please do NOT be like 2015. Pretty please? Thank you, Baby Jesus. Like CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, there’s something spiritual about it.

I can’t really describe it save for through experience. Feeling. It’s that experience… that feeling of wandering out to the curb on a chilly night after you just got done making Sauteed Apples and Cornbread (or as #NatNatBoo calls it “Corn Cake”) for Thanksgiving Dinner, lighting a cigarette, looking up at the full moon, inhaling deeply and smelling wood burning in a fireplace somewhere near. For no reason whatsoever a little smile graces your face and a little bit of serendipity wells up inside of you despite your pounding head and dire need for a good night’s sleep. As Creed sang back in the days of my wayward youth in a song that STILL has meaning for me today, “There’s a peace inside your soul/Let it be your friend/It will help you carry on/In the end/There’s a peace inside your soul.” That peace? It’s what sustains me through the tough times.

But there’s more. I’ve come to realize something over the course of the last 11, soon to be 12 months. I feel it every time I see my girls after a long day at the office (and man? Some of them have been really, REALLY long; maybe not physically but mentally? Aw hell yes; a few have taken me to the brink of passing out), get a “squeezy hug” from Natalie and I hear about Cara’s mandatory Three Things she must reveal to Nicole and I every night that she did at school that day (which usually revolve around a subject–Math for instance–recess and either Spanish, Music, Art, Library or Computers depending on the day). That feeling? The aforementioned “more?” Simple, friends. Love with a capital “L.” It wells up inside of me to the point where I can barely suppress it and focus on driving, or making dinner, or giving Natalie a bath and spotting Cara while she showers. I look at their Cherubic little faces–still so much like Nicole’s and for that I remain grateful–and listen to them speak, or sing, or even bicker. And I smile. Maybe even shed a little tear (though I’m quick to disguise it from their view; they hate it when I cry). And I think to myself: Thank God for them. For my wife. For my friends who I can still talk to about any and everything from the most mundane–Rousey losing to Holm for instance–to the most complex–discussion of the respective books we’re working on. For my family who I can still call if I need advice.

THAT’S what Thanksgiving means to me at the ripe old age of 40+ guys and gals. It’s a time to give thanks for all of the intangibles that I have. Money? Fame? Success? All are wonderful and I’ll never stop pushing myself to achieve the highest level that I can achieve and obtain of each. But all of those things really are secondary. In a way I’ve come full circle. When I was younger, I didn’t have ANY of those things. I learned to live and learned to love without them. I grew from a boy to a man and suddenly those things were there in spades and they WERE important to me. To a certain extent they remain so though the thing… the THINGS that are the most important to me now are not the amount of money in my wallet or my title; not whether I sold 1000 copies of ENDWORLD or 10. Family. Friends. Those little moments of peace like standing by moonlight on a chilly, Autumn night, the smell of burning wood in my nostrils and the taste of Apple Cider on my lips, waiting for my girls to return from a hayride to the Witch’s House (booyakasha, Linvilla Orchards: RESPECT) while I chat with a close friend. Or lying in bed next to my wife at midnight and laughing ourselves to sleep with anecdotes. Even sitting here tonight, typing these words while listening to the soundtrack to the Rocky movies (it’s called “The Rocky Story” if you want to pick it up or better yet, stream it via Spotify, iTunes et al et AL) and discussing with Nicole between paragraphs how the f*ck we’re going to get out and see “Creed” in the near future when we can’t get a babysitter and all Cara and Natalie want to see is “The Good Dinosaur” and in Cara’s case, “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”

Life, friends? It doesn’t have to be extraordinary all the time. Sometimes a life less extraordinary is better for the heart, mind and soul. It teaches you humility… teaches you to really, REALLY appreciate the things you have. By the cold light of a full moon on Thanksgiving Eve 2015 while a cigarette hangs from one corner of your mouth, you realize that once upon a time…

‘Cause all good stories begin as such…

You thought you’d never have the things you have today. You were miserable. You spent your days and nights pining away for an ideal that really was nothing more than a fictionalized autobiography of your life. What you envisioned, not the really, really REAL world. The really, really REAL world is a what waits for you inside your little, two story Colonial on a sleepy little street in Suburbia, US of A. It may not be the dream you originally dreamed–the sometimes impossible dream–but guess what? It’s the dream that THAT dream became while you weren’t looking. And amazingly enough, you realize as you flick your cigarette out into the street and turn and stroll up your driveway, your shadow cast in front of you in full relief that this? THIS was what you always wanted. A home. A family. Consistency. They’ll always be a little part of you that yearns for a bit more. Use it, friends. Let it drive you. Never give up. Find peace inside your soul… let it be your friend, but never totally stop reaching for the stars. If you grab ‘hold of one, make it your b*tch but never, EVER neglect what you already have. #Noregrets, folks. To quote the great Paul McCartney, “money can’t buy you love.”

And with that? I’m spent. #Itsgettinglate #IvealreadyneglectedNicolefortoolongtonight. But I’m glad I did this. And I’m glad that if you’re reading this right now, you once again came along for the ride. I appreciate you in ways you can’t possibly imagine. Your support. Your candid feedback both good AND bad. I oft times end these little ponderances with a long list of arbitrary thank you’s but tonight? I’m not going to do that. #Keepingitreal. I’ll just end it with one. Thank YOU, friends, readers and fellow sh*theads. And have a Happy Thanksgiving.

#THEEND.

What Thanksgiving Means to Me By Way of CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, Hans Zimmer and the “Interstellar” Soundtrack

Good Evening, Afternoon or Morning, fellow Sh*theads. Happy Thanksgiving Eve to all of my fellow denizens of this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. It’s been a while since I last wrote… almost too long. For those of you that have been waiting patiently for a new blog entry I’m sorry. Thank you for your tolerance of me and my inconsistency as a writer, lately.  As before, I assure you that it’s not for lack of wanting. I want to write every day. But sometimes, life gets in the way and this aspect of me has to take a backseat to other aspects of me. Husband, father, friend and working stiff. Not to mention laundry, chores, homework and playing princesses with my minions. Birthday parties, holidays… you name it. I do what I must. But tonight? Tonight it’s me, my trusty old laptop, the soundtrack to “Interstellar” and a blank page. And it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without another of my yearly “What Thanksgiving Means to Me” entries.

I promise not to be too long winded. I’ve been accused of that in the past. And really? I don’t feel the need to be so anymore. There’s no need for embellishment to tell you how I feel right now. In short? I feel blessed. Thankful this year more than I’ve been in years past. It’s not that my life has changed much. It hasn’t. Short of my kids being a year older, my marriage being a year stronger and my new-old career coming up on it’s one year anniversary things really aren’t that much different than they were at this time last year. On the surface. Inside? I don’t know. I just feel… what’s the word I’m looking for? Ah, yes. Two words actually…

At peace.

As I sit here tonight with the soundtrack to an incredible movie playing in the background (Hans Zimmer is so very, very good for the soul) I type these words with a sly grin upon my face beneath my bushy, salt and pepper beard. Why? Because I’m at peace. It’s nothing concrete… substantial. Like I said, my life isn’t much different than it was a year ago. But I feel it. I felt it at my daughter’s Thanksgiving Feast today and I felt it as I watched my girls play in the snow outside this afternoon. I felt it when I closed my eyes and took a brief, half hour nap this afternoon and when I woke up and started baking for Thanksgiving tomorrow–Pumpkin Bread and Corn Bread from scratch; I accept no substitute. I felt it watching “Caillou’s Holiday Movie” for the first of many times this season earlier and I felt it when I read my girls their nightly story, tucked them in, kissed them on their respective foreheads, told them “goodnight,” “sleep tight” and “I love you.” It was gul’darned serendipitous, friends. Like now as the composition “Stay” soars.

Serendipity.

I could type a laundry list of the things I’m thankful for this year. I could. But I won’t. Because really? There’s only one way to explain it without filling up Kilobytes upon Megabytes of text here on WordPress. I think I’ve mentioned this before and if I have, sorry for repeating myself. Yet if I haven’t? Well heck, now’s as good a time as any. I’ll admit: I’ve been stymied on CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD lately. Again, not for lack of wanting to work on it. Life, man. It just gets in the way sometimes. But there’s the scene in CHILDREN that I’ve always looked forward to writing. I call it “The Thanksgiving Scene.” It happens around page 300 of 400 or so and without giving anything away, it’s the scene where my hero, William MacNuff is reunited with his brethren in totality for the first time. Past, present and future: All intermingled, as some in Endworld would say. All one.

The other night, after not working on the book for weeks I sat down and finally… finally wrote it. I’d always had an idea of where it would go and who would be involved. A few things have changed from the moment I re-wrote the first words of ENDWORLD until now (sarcasm fully intended; the whole damned thing changed) but surprisingly? The same people that were in it the first time I conceived of it were in it again. Through a hundred and one twists and turns… new characters, unplanned demises et al, the same people showed up the other night in my living room to eat wild turkey, drink Wild Turkey and toast each other on an undetermined day of an undetermined month in the year BLANK of the BLANK (come on; I can’t give that away, can I?). The same people went around the table and said what they were thankful for. And yet when I got to William’s moment I stopped typing. Because really, what was he thankful for? His loved ones. Sure. His life. Definitely. But how could he… how could I rank the things I’m thankful for? Fact: I can’t. And neither could he.

So what did he do? What did he say? That, I can tell you because it applies this cold and snowy night here on my side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Art imitates reality and vice versa. And what follows sufficiently answers the question posed by the title of this blog entry, “What Thanksgiving Means to Me,” perhaps better than any laundry list ever could:

There was not a lot to be thankful for in Endworld. Living under the proverbial boot of a totalitarian Administration bent on suppressing humanity? Constantly running for our lives to a hypothetical freedom? There once was a poet, whose name I cannot remember that wrote that “nothing gold can stay.” “So Eden sank to grief, so dawn goes down to day.” I believe that’s how it goes. And yet at that moment as I sat there amidst my brethren… my friends after so much time apart an undetermined day of an undetermined month I knew. I knew that there was one thing I was thankful for… the same thing that we were all thankful for, originality be damned. Slowly, I stood from my feast. All eyes followed me as I did so. I picked up my half-filled glass, raised it to the ceiling and spoke.

“I’m thankful,” I began, paused, and completed, “for now.”

Smiles graced the faces of all those assembled around me. A few people nodded. I heard someone sniffle. And then, in a rousing chorus, all of my counterparts spoke in unison.

“To now,” they all said as time moved onward without check, as time always does in Endworld.

Okay, so I edited it down a bit. There were a few “tells” in the passage and I don’t want to give away what’s coming. But that statement? “I’m thankful for now?” That’s really the crux of it for me. Let’s face it, gang: You never know what tomorrow will hold. Carpe Diem, baby. I’d like to think that I’ll be here in the morning to see my wife off to work and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade with my minions. I’d like to think that I’ll be eating store bought turkey at my mom’s house tomorrow afternoon and thereafter watching the Eagles beat the stuffing (pun intended) out of the Cowboys. But who knows? Anything is possible. If life has taught me anything over the last 39 plus years it’s to expect the unexpected. And if the world ends sometime between now and when I wake up on Thanksgiving morning to a snow-bleached world and a bright, blue sky at least I’ll be able to say that I did. I lived for now. I’d urge you all to do the same. That, friends, is my Thanksgiving wish for you. Seize your respective days and make them your b*tches and b*stards. Booyakasha. Respect.

And that? That’s the end of this little piece of pre-Turkey Day mental flatulence. Thanks as always for your time! May your turkey be warm, your mashed potatoes and gravy be un-lumpy, your stuffing be… well, awesome (’cause stuffing is just awesome) and your yams be sweet. May your afternoon be filled with love and high fives every time the Eagles score. In short?

Happy holiday, fellow Sh*theads. Winky emoticon. Smiley face.

What Thanksgiving Means to Me by Way of an iPad, Scotch, Hashtags, Curiosity and the Eminent Zombie-afication of the Earth

Well here’s a first. I’m typing this on an iPad. ‘Whoda ‘thunk it? In all honesty, I didn’t buy this for me. Despite my seemingly ageless aversion to anything and everything Apple, I will concede at this juncture that while Apple may never gain a monopoly over the technological world, the iPad will, by the time Cara enters school, have replaced ‘ye ‘ole copybook. So rearing her on it at an early age is, in my opinion, crucial to preparing her for school. I still want her to learn how to handwrite and not merely type, because for all I know, the Zombie Apocalypse will happen sometime between now and September of 2014, erase all traces of anything technological from the face of the world and force her to do so. But if it doesn’t? Well, at least she’ll be technologically savvy. It could be worse. I could be allowing her to watch Spongebob Squarepants.

Maybe that’s the big secret that NASA is keeping from us: The Curiosity Rover found an ancient, petrified, zombie-afied finger in the dust that it was analyzing and the Jet Prepulsion Lab is trying to figure out how to break the news to us.

I can envision it now: “Guess what, Earth? We have determined that there was life on Mars once upon a time, but a Zombie outbreak coupled with the rapid deterioration of the planet’s atmosphere caused all life on the planet to disappear. Oh, and by the way, the same factors that contributed to the death of that planet are contributing to the death of ours, just more rapidly. Hope you enjoyed dinner and had pie. Have a Happy F*cking Thanksgiving, Sh*theads.”

I wonder how Curiosity could encapsulate that statement in to 140 characters and Tweet it? It’d probably have to paraphrase. Something like “@MarsCuriosity dear certified, bona fide Sh*theads: Mars went Biter and Earth’s going to too. Eat pie. Happy F*cking Thanksgiving. #Turkeycoma.” 140/140. Sweet. Can a machine swear? That’s a serious question, guys. I may need an answer to it if I ever publish ENDWORLD and start writing the sequel.

Incidentally, did you know I wrote a book? If you didn’t then you really must be new to Random Musings. The only thing I’ve blogged about more since I started writing these little ditties in 2008 is… Well, okay. Nothing. I’d say “myself” but it’s ‘kinda the same thing, isn’t it?

It’s still Thanksgiving. At least it will be for the next 39 minutes. Within five minutes of when I left my mom’s sans Nicole (she’s going Black Friday shopping with my sister, AKA she’s taking her life in to her own hands and I know where her living will is) both girls were in #turkeycomas and have been since (Natalie woke up just long enough to spit up on me, drink her bottle, smile, sh*t, spit up on me again and pass out). I’m firmly ensconsed in my own, yearly tradition of wearing sweatpants, drinking Macallan Single Malt and watching “Punkin Chunkin.” Somewhere between tumbler one and tumbler two I decided to start writing a blog entry on our new iPad.

My initial impression is the same as my initial impression of my first Android phone was: Typing on a virtual keyboard is incredibly awkward when compared to typing on an actual, physical one. ‘Course, that could also be the scotch. But I’m managing despite my unfamiliarity with it to muddle through. I can’t speak to the quality of what I’m writing… That’s up to you the reader… But I can say with the utmost certainty that… Well, I’m still composing. I don’t know for how much longer. That’ll all depend on when the Tryptophan starts to mingle with the Macallan and turns me in to a zombie. Hashtag turkey coma, #eveyrhtingtastesbetterwithsinglemaltscotch.

A quick, parenthetical aside: Does the brain trust at Discovery order Kari Byron to wear something skimpy for every show that she films? Everyone else at “Punkin Chunkin” is wearing a parka, a hat and gloves. Kari (God love her) is wearing a knit hat, a pea green skiing jacket and a pair of tight, tight jeans. Tight. Really tight. Knee-high brown leather boots, too. #Iheartredheads, especially intelligent and muscular ones. End aside.

I have relocated to my bedroom and am still writing despite the fact that it is now 12:04 AM, Thanksgiving Day Plus One, AKA Black Friday. I just talked to Nicole. She and my sister apparently decided to risk their lives a few hours early this year. They’ve already hit Walmart and Target and are now preparing to go to sleep until 4:30 AM when they will awaken from their own, respective #turkeycomas and rejoin the masses in pursuit of that once in a lifetime, Black Friday deal, again.

I never really “got” Black Friday. Perhaps that is because I worked it for every one of the 13 years I was enslaved by I MEAN AN EMPLOYEE OF CVSStress Pharmacy. I don’t have any funny retail stories about it. Not even from when I was working in good ‘ole Norristown, Pennsylvania. Generally, CVSStress opened around 6:00 AM on Friday and not 8:00 PM on Thanksgiving. Generally, the best deal offered was on the latest, generic knockoff. One year it was a DVD player for $50.00 back when DVD players were… Well, we’re worth more than they are today which, amazingly enough, is approximately $50.00 on the eve of the eminent Zombie Apocalypse and simultaneous deterioration of the Earth’s atmosphere (f*ck the Mayans. Here come the radioactive Walkers).

Since I left in 2005 and sought gainful employment elsewhere, I’ve stayed as far away from any retail-based proprietorship as I can on the “busiest shopping day of the year.” FYI, guys: That’s a misnomer. Take it from someone who… Well, worked 13 Black Fridays in a row. The last few days leading up to Christmas, specifically Christmas Eve are easily twice as, if not three times as busy as today. So for those of you out shopping pre-dawn that are reading this pseudo-drunken rambling on your iPhone, your Android or your Windows Phone while sitting in your cars, engulfed in a toxic haze of recycled heat, coffee and a #turkeycoma induced Methane deposit, or those of you that are waiting in line, shivering in the cold behind a couple of dozen other, crazy-eyed shoppers that want the free Super Mario Game for the Nintendo WiiU that Old Navy is offering to the first 100 customers starting at 4:00 AM… Breeeaaattthhheee… Do me a favor? Tell the doe-eyed cashier that rings you out to conserve his or her energy. After all, Black Friday is just one day. There are still 31 more shopping days left after it until Christmas. He or she will either thank you for your perspective or quit retail, never to return.

Either way trust me: It’s a #winwin. #BlackFriday, #youdorealizethatsomesinglemaltscotchwouldmakethecoldgoaway.

12:44 AM now. The grand finale of “Punkin Chunkin” is almost upon me. That’s good, ’cause I’m pretty tired, and my gut is telling me that the girls are both going to awaken from their respective #turkeycomas around the same time that Nicole and my sister are drinking their coffee and driving to… Wherever the hell their first shopping destination is this year. Scratch that: They already hit two so their third shopping destination. If they are reading this right now which, knowing my wife, she is I’d like to take this opportunity to tell them both that I love them and will be praying for their safety while Cara watches Dora in the dark on one side of me and Natalie drinks an early bottle on the other. And if that doesn’t happen? Good luck. I’ll be asleep and dreaming a dream of Kari Byron. Not to self: Relocate sheet and pillow to the couch in the Man Cave before Nicole gets home later due to one too many Kari Byron references. #FML.

I think I’m going to try to synchronize these last few paragraphs with the end of the show. I’d narrate what’s going on for you but really, guys? You probably watched it. I mean, it’s not just my tradition but everyone’s… Isn’t it? Hashtag silence, #thesoundofcricketschirping. In truth? I’ve missed most of it. The last time I really paid attention was earlier around the same time I wrote (still on the iPad, by the way) and revealed my inner longing for Kari Byron. Guys (only the males, and any females that are in to that kind of thing) I’m serious: Google her. I promise that you won’t be disappointed. See what I mean?

So what was the point of this blog entry? I honesty don’t know. The original title was “An iPad Test” but it has since morphed in to something more. Sadly, I can not say what that something is save for another semi-drunken rumination on a holiday by your buddy, the Madchronicler. I’ve covered everything from the Zombie Apocalypse to Black Friday. And did I somehow manage to show a correlation between the two?

I guess there are similarities. Consider that exhausted shoppers, just emerging from their #turkeycomas ‘kinda resemble zombies, and it is pretty cold out, tonight. Cold could equal climate change which could be a fore bearer of a forthcoming, catastrophic depletion of the Earth’s atmosphere. And then there is the fact that I’m writing this on an iPad which I did not purchase on Black Friday (I purchased it about a week ago), but I’ve always maintained that me, giving in to the Cult of Apple would be one of the signs of the apocalypse. Why not a zombie one? I guess in the end it all comes down to one, indisputable fact. And that fact?

Those of us with access to Macallan Single Malt should not be allowed anywhere near an iPad while drinking it. We should be content to simply allow our own respective, post-Thanksgiving dinner #turkeycomas to engulf us before our minds start racing. But then again, without imagination, The iPad, Macallan Single Malt, Curiosity, hash tags and the eminent, Zombie Apocalypse wouldn’t exist.

F*cking tradeoffs. 1:18 AM, guys. Sweet dreams.

What Thanksgiving Means to Me, a Certified and Bona Fide Sh*thead

Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening or night, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving Day minus two or, depending on your age and perspective, the Biggest Party Night of the Year minus one. I remember when the latter actually meant something to me. Nowadays? I have become a certified and bona fide, card carrying Sh*thead and will be spending tomorrow evening at home with my two daughters and our two cats. My wife is working until 10 PM and by the time she gets home, I will likely be three quarters of the way through a two liter of Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper. I know: Quite a crazy night I’m planning for myself, my three year old and my six month old, aye? Maybe we’ll even watch “Tangled” for the umpteenth time and eat some popcorn. Cue the dancing girls and the pulsating but outdated, Techno soundtrack. Who doesn’t love Moby in 2012?

Um…

Uh…

Okay, then. Apparently, no one even knows who the f*ck Moby is in 2012 so I’ll just skip right over that reference and move on. What, exactly, is a Sh*thead and why am I referring to myself as one? The Urban Dictionary defines “Sh*thead” as, among other things, “a narrow minded or ignorant waste of food, water, and air who usually is impolite to those with seniority and/or is sovereign; smacktard; bigot.” While that is an… intriguing definition it is not and has never been my understanding of what a Sh*thead is, nor is it what I’m referring to when I call myself or anyone for that matter a Sh*thead. So please, don’t call me a bigot if I refer to you as a Sh*thead. I’m not calling you a smacktard. What the hell am I calling you, then?

Okay. Back in 1999 I wrote a piece of what I then called “Mental Flatulence” and now call a blog entry entitled “V-D Day: An Observation.” In essence, all “V-D Day” was was me, rambling on for five single spaced, typed pages about how much I hated Valentines Day. In it, I stated that “the world is full of Sh*theads” and proceeded to categorize the many variations of Sh*thead that I had observed inhabiting my personal space on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. ‘Cause really, guys? If you’re going to make a statement like “the world if full of Sh*theads” and call everyone from the girl working in the cubicle next to you to the members of your family one you’d better be able to back it up with an explanation.

And I was. At the time, a Sh*thead was anyone other than me and my closest friends. There were monkey-suited Sh*theads and artistic Sh*theads. There were married Sh*theads, single Sh*theads and parental Sh*theads. There were slutty Sh*theads and Sh*theads that liked to play with your emotions. There was the worst kind of Sh*thead that would alter her or his (I need to be fair to those with different penchants then mine) entire personality to fit yours, i.e. the Chameleon Sh*thead. Back then and too this day, the Sh*thead was and remains by my definition the Nine to Fiver who gets up every morning between six and seven, showers, brushes his or her teeth, combs his or her hair, drinks his or her coffee, gets his or her kids up and ready for school, drops them off and goes to work for eight hours (minus a one hour lunch break) before leaving work, picking his or her kids up at school, taking them home, feeding them dinner, bathing them, getting them ready for bed, putting them to bed and thereafter, prepping for the next day before finally retiring to bed no later than 10:30 PM. While I don’t have a copy of “V-D Day” in front of me I remember that the crux of that composition was pretty simple: I was tired of my vagabond existence. I wanted to be a Sh*thead. I wanted to live a normal life. And I vowed at the end of it that I would make a concerted effort to become one.

Fast forward 13 plus years from when I wrote that to now and guess what? Yep. My effort payed off. It didn’t even take that long. I was already well on my way to becoming a Sh*thead when I met my wife-to-be in 2001. Granted, I was merely a fledgling Sh*thead then, still unschooled in the Sh*thead culture of early bed times and Sunday night, HBO co-viewing with your spouse while drinking wine and eating a summer salad (thank you, “I Love You, Man”). It wasn’t until recently that I was officially inducted in to the International League of Sh*theads, EST Chapter. I’m not exactly Chapter President yet, but per my latest evaluation I’m doing well. I’m targeting a political run sometime around this time next year. Maybe 2013’s “What Thanksgiving Means to me” will be a campaign piece and not just a… what did I call these “essays” (a bit of a misnomer, I know) in the header of this blog? Oh, yeah, “the sometimes insightful but many times inane observations of a self proclaimed Sh*thead living on one side of the proverbial wormhole of existence.” A guy can dream, right?

Consider my day, yesterday (not today as today was a wife-off-and-home-with-the-kids-and-the-cats day): I woke up at 6:20 AM, fed the almost six month old, took a shower, dressed, left my house at 7:10 AM, stopped and bought breakfast (which included a Diet Monster energy drink which I prefer to coffee), got to work at 8:01 AM and plugged away until 5:00 PM when I left work, picked up the girls at daycare, drove them home, fed them, got them ready for bed, put them to bed and prepped everything for today, all in the vain hope of being in bed, sound asleep by 11:00 PM which, of course, didn’t happen. That’s my life, guys, and unless I’m mistaken, my life closely resembles the  life of one of my aforementioned normal, Nine to Five Sh*theads, doesn’t it?

Yep. It does. In short? I got what I asked for. I now live in a house with my loving wife, our two daughters and our two cats and not on the floor of someone’s apartment. I have a roof over my head and money in my pocket. I have a deck and a backyard, along with a combination office and Man Cave. I have everything that I wanted back when I wrote “V-D Day”… back when I and my brethren all lived on a small plot of prison ground in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania known as “Madison Manor” and no one lived anyplace else. I have it all and then some. End of story. Finis, right?

Wrong. Because this blog entry isn’t about Sh*theads. I’ve already categorized them and explicated them to death via my previous writings. Nor is it about “V-D Day.” While I still pretty much despise Valentine’s Day and always will I’ve come to grips with it out of necessity, not for my wife who respects my feelings about it but for my daughters, the eldest of which expects that her daddy will be her very, very best Valentine every February 14th. Who am I to deny her that request? Were I to do so I really would be the Urban Dictionary’s walking and talking definition of a Sh*thead or one of said term’s many synonyms.

No, guys. This blog entry is about Thanksgiving. Specifically, what Thanksgiving means to me. If this is your first time reading something that I’ve written welcome. I’m glad to “meet” you though if you Googled “cats” and somehow ended up here I’m sorry and I expect that you’ll be sorely disappointed if you aren’t already. For your viewing pleasure I give you the following two pictures of my cats.

This is Pandora:

And this is Roxy:

Okay, so the second one really isn’t a picture of Roxy, but she’s about as elusive as Big Foot. Only a handful of photos exist of her and those are from the rare occasions when she wasn’t A.) Locked in the closet or B.) Hiding under the bed in mine and my wife’s room. Those of you that ended up here in error may now redirect your browser to any number of the blogs about cats that exist throughout cyberspace.

For those that are here by choice a little background before I continue: Everything Thanksgiving since 2010, I have written a blog entry entitled “What Thanksgiving Means to me by way of BLANK.” Previous installments have replaced the BLANK with the well received “Probability and Statistics” and the poorly received “Monty Python, Industrial Strength Aerosol Lubricant and CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD.” This “What Thanksgiving Means to me by way of BLANK” is the third, and only time will tell whether readers actually enjoy it or run screaming in another direction. I hope it is the former though I am braced for the latter.

What does Thanksgiving mean to me in 2012? Well obviously, it means the traditional trifecta of family, food and football but is there more outside of my new, yearly tradition of not only the above, but “Punkin Chunkin,” Single Malt Scotch and midnight, online shopping? I’d wager that there is. While my family and I never embraced this tradition I’ve known others that did. Pre-gorging themselves on turkey and ‘fixins and before lapsing in to a Tryptophan-induced coma while the Dallas or Detroit game plays in the background (seriously, NFL, why not just combine the two traditional, Thanksgiving games in to one?), families go around the table and talk about what they’re thankful for. This year, I’d like to embrace that tradition myself in this, the first of what I hope will be many blog entries here on Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman Version 2.0.

So what am I, a certified and bona fide Sh*thead thankful for this warm and sunny Thanksgiving Day minus two, 2012?

Well, guys, I’m thankful for my loving wife and our two glorious daughters, not to mention our two furry, feline children, only one of which appears more than occasionally, usually to eat something that she will, 10 minutes later, puke up on our supposedly stain resistant carpet. FYI: Cat’s mock the phrase “stain resistant.” There’s a helpful tip for any cat people that have despite their better judgement read this far either A.) Out of morbid interest or B.) Because they thought that picture of a white cat wearing a polka dotted dress was just too f*cking cute to turn away. See? Random Musings Version 2.0 can be practical, as well.

I’m also thankful for my family and my friends, both the ones that stood beside me so many, many years ago when we all lived in one place and no one lived anyplace else and the ones that stand beside me today. Even before I had a traditional “nuclear family” of my own (though our place does not have a white picket fence and we prefer cats to dogs)… even before I was a Sh*thead I had a family: Brothers and sisters that weren’t necessarily related to me via blood but were related to me via our shared, life experiences. I will always consider those people my family no matter how much time or distance separates us in 2012 and beyond.

I’m further thankful for my lone, God given talent and no, I’m not talking about an unerring capacity to sling bullsh*t or to put my personal feelings about Valentines Day aside for the benefit of my three year old daughter. I’m talking about the ability to write and, I hope, write well. Some may beg to differ with that assessment. Mine is not to question your judgement. If you find this blog entry, or anything that I’ve ever written nothing more than an inane observation of a self proclaimed Sh*thead living on one side of the proverbial wormhole of existence then that’s your prerogative. But I, personally, feel pretty good about what I consider a gift from the almighty.

And finally, I’m thankful that the world if full of Sh*theads, even Chameleon Sh*theads that, if given a chance, can and will drive a man or woman (depending on your penchant) insane. I’m thankful that I, too, am a Nine to Five Sh*thead now. There are times when I miss the vagabond lifestyle that I used to lead, along with the spontaneity and the endurance required to live it. But then I remember what it felt like to wake up on the floor of my buddy’s apartment at three in the morning covered only by my jacket with the taste of liquor still on my lips and the smell of cigarettes still on my fingers. I glance around me at the big bed within which I’m lying, or the couch upon which I’m reclining, or the office within which I’m writing a book or the deck upon which I’m enjoying a brief moment’s peace and I smile. Because really, which would you prefer if given the choice?

That’s it, guys. Finis. I’d write more, but I’ve got a date with my girls, a two liter bottle of Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper, the movie “Tangled” and a big bowl of popcorn to get ready for. Who needs Moby? Cue the dancing villainy that frequents the Snuggly Duckling and the opening chords of “I’ve Got A Dream.” Those of you heading out for the Biggest Party Night of the Year? Have a shot of Patron and a cigarette for your ‘ole buddy the Madchronicler. And have a happy, Happy Thanksgiving.

F.