You’re So Vain

I’m so vain, I probably think this post is about me. Middle-age performs dark magic to a person’s psyche, especially someone like me who pays attention to their feelings and deals with an anxiety disorder. There are things you aren’t told about growing older that can bring you to your knees, especially when you’re naked in front of a mirror. Relax, there will be no selfies in the nasty gleam of a pudgy reflection. Even I have some dignity, not much, but some. But when I realized the shirt I wanted to wear to work this morning needed to be ironed, I set up the board, plugged in the appliance and walked upstairs to make sure 2 of my 3 daughters hadn’t fallen back asleep instead of getting ready for school. They weren’t greeted by Iron Man.

“Really? Can you put a shirt on? That’s unnecessary, ” Said the 17-year-old.

“I don’t need to see that. Go put a shirt on, you’re a dad,” dropped the 8-year-old.

They made valid points. Granted, they were probably just joking, seeing as how I require them to wear shirts in my presence, but the paranoia devil that lives on my left shoulder told me that it may be time to re-dedicate myself to the gym because flab and jiggle have replaced fab and wiggle.

I’ll be 43 in September. I have a real job (communications project manager), a side job (writing books and freelance online stuff), 3 kids, and a wife. You mix in cheerleading, judo, drums lessons, school events, birthday parties with cake and ice cream, and the need to drown my demons (not as much as I used to, and I use Diet Dr Pepper more than whiskey) and the calories add up. My teenager eats more than anyone I know and she’s barely over 100 pounds. My thirtysomething wife and I hate/envy/bemoan the player and her yoga pants wearing high metabolism game. I used to be like that. Around the age of 25 all those wings and beer caught up to me and by 30 I was an unhealthy forty pounds overweight mess. I spent my thirties working it off but as my family grew and I started writing again, something had to give. It was my gut.

I’m what the ancient Romans and contemporary French would call “average-looking.” I’m built like a Guinness beer can; short, stout, dark exterior and all of my weight is in my middle. I wish I could blame my lack of Bradley Cooper looks on my family but all of the men, save one cousin who has my build, are six-foot tall manly looking dudes. This is my late grandfather, whom I’m named after (my first name is Thomas, like his), when he hit the Army at age 19 to help win World War II as a scout.

Private Thomas Arlee Bowen

Look at that tall, dark, handsome son of a gun. He looks like Johnny freakin’ Cash. When he got back from Europe he married a woman who looked like Marilyn Monroe. Why don’t I look like that? I mean, I have his sideways grin, love of fishing, and passion for Atlanta Braves baseball, but good grief that’s a heck of a fella.

I’m 5’8″ and I could pass for a pasta-addicted Italian shopkeeper in the old country who was 2-23 as a boxer and had to retire because my face was hamburger.

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I should be more realistic. My wife is beautiful and so are my children. They are very comfortable with their looks. You should see each of them when they’re in sweatpants, first thing in the morning. They’re stunning.

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How did I pull her and get those kids? I can tell you that blackmail and dark robot trickery are awesome. I do appreciate my 9-year-old (the child in the middle) covering up my midsection. I’d just eaten 37 chocolate oatmeal cookies.

I’m only superficial for myself. Looks fade and how someone is on the inside is indeed what’s important. I have a tendency to think all of my friends, family, and blog readers are model-perfect so if you need your ego boosted ask me how you look. But for myself, I’m not a fan of my “stuff”. This may be due to mental illness, middle-age crazy or it might just be that the pressure I put on myself to be the best I can be sometimes kicks my “need to run more” ass.

Priorities fail me sometimes. Writing my first book, The Ballad of Helene Troy, available on Amazon/Kindle, smashwords, Good Reads, and paperback from Lulu.com or a signed copy from my kitchen table  bookpicturesahdddddddddddddddddddddddddkcfb

…I disgress. Oh yeah, writing as much as I do, especially publishing the first book and preparing a second, Italian Radio, out soon, has done wonders for me mentally but wrecked me physically. I’ve gained 20 pounds, killed my sleeping habits, and grown more gray hair than I care to show. Finding that hour and a half three to four times a week to exercise, before the writing kinda sorta took off, has become difficult. I know those beautiful people in that picture love me no matter what, but I need to find a place for my physical before it starts punching my mental until I’m down for the count.

Today’s song belongs to the namesake of my 8-year-old daughter, Carly. Here’s her musical godmother, Carly Simon with Mick Jagger singing backup.

Learning To Fly

I wish I could make mother-in-law jokes because they’re funny and sometimes true. But I can’t.

How good is my relationship with my wife’s mom? In two weeks she and I will jump out of a perfectly good airplane together and I’m convinced my chute will work.

My mother in law teaches me to fly every day.

*****blogger’s note*****

This is 57 words for my friends Mel and Michelle’s “Ketchup with Us”

http://accordingtomags.blogspot.com/

Ketchup With Us

where I’m supposed to write 57 words about a mother in my life. It was my mother in law Teresa aka Mimi’s birthday yesterday. She tells me she had my wife Deana the Bobina when she was like 12, so I believe her. We’re going skydiving on May 11th. That was her Christmas present to me. She also bought my book, although she won’t read it because it’s too racy for her tastes. But you should buy it and read it. It’s available on Amazon/Kindle, smashwords and in paperback from Lulu.com or a signed copy from my kitchen table.

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http://www.amazon.com/The-Ballad-Of-Helene-Troy/dp/1300800216/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367436173&sr=8-1&keywords=lance+burson

Today’s song is from Tom Petty. It fits in every way possible. Get your strum on.

Lonely Boy

Loneliness is art’s greatest muse. Some of the greatest songs, paintings, movies, and books are themed by the need for companionship or the cure of someone’s solitary sickness by finding someone else.

I’m terrible as a single person. While I’ve never been one of those “always gotta have someone” kind of people, my “best”, whatever the hell that is, is brought out of me by my wife and kids. I’ve spent three different parts of my life single; ages seventeen to twenty, ages twenty-three to twenty-six and ages thirty-five to almost thirty-eight. While I neither robbed any liquor stores or killed anyone during those roughly nine years, the bulk of my self-destructive behavior occurred then.

My wife left for Orlando, Florida with a girlfriend yesterday. One of my three daughters is with her other family for a few days. My other two girls are on spring break, and thus hanging at home. While I’m technically not single, I mean I’m wearing my ring and my 17-year-old and 8-year-old who are at home would pretty much take out any other women who showed up at the house in one punch. But I am alone, especially after the kids go to bed. It’s weird. The girls are less loud than usual. I’m sleeping on my wife’s side of the bed. Too much information? Maybe. But it speaks to what marriage or the better term, companionship, really defines.

I’ve always been a one person at a time kind of guy. I tried dating two women at once when I was in my twenties and I think the fact I could find more than one person who liked me was so overwhelming, it sapped my energy for two of them. I’ll read about dudes who maintain separate families or multiple mistresses and I just don’t know how they do it. They must drink a five-hour energy every hour and have iron bear trap memories to balance their stories. I can’t remember my kids’ names or what my wife asked me to get at the grocery store without her texting it to me and giving me a list written in very black ink.

I think what makes me a good married person is I’m, by nature, a people pleasing person. Yes, feel free to say that three times fast. It also makes me qualified to live with four women. I tend to sacrifice more than satisfy my own needs and that’s how I was raised. My dad did this too. When I encounter single friends I always laugh at their “I don’t need anyone” or “I wish I could find someone” attitudes. I never said either of those sentences because when I was single, I was either really drunk or just really busy. That’s why loneliness is such a great muse for artistic types. It promotes alcoholism and hard work.

My wife comes back Wednesday. That’s a busy day for me work-wise and our 9-year-old has judo that night. I’m laying off the booze because being a good dad requires that? Or should I be drinking? I forget the new rules. But I’m staying busy by writing a new book, promoting the other one, and working my real job while making sure the girls are okay barricading the house against the wanton loose women who know I’m the wife’s gone. You people do know that’s sarcasm, right?

You know you are with the right person when you miss them. The first time I was married, I viewed alone times as precious moments when God was telling me I was pretty cool after all. But this time, I’m with the right person and the moments are lonely, not alone. I don’t think this is whining as much as it is the muse of loneliness making me appreciate what I have, even when she’s at Sea World with Shamu.

Here’s The Black Keys.

Keep Your Hands To Yourself

Earlier in my life, I couldn’t get the attention of women I thought I wanted. Then, I listened to the Georgia Satellites. I stopped handing out lines and kept my hands to myself.

*****blogger’s note*****

For the uniniated, I live with 4 women – my wife and three daughters. My extended family bringing the total to about 10 women I spend my free time with. Add my writing partner and writing friends, and that number doubles. Sometimes the attention of the opposite sex isn’t what you think it is and or what you need.

This is for http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/We want you to give us thirty-three words of advice.  Your advice can be to  anyone or about anything.  We only ask that you make it uniquely yours.

Did you know I wrote a book? Go check out The Ballad of Helene Troy on amazon/kindle http://tinyurl.com/c4zscb2 smashwords: http://tinyurl.com/cebl7k2 Good Reads: http://tinyurl.com/cnge4a8 or in paperback from Lulu.com http://tinyurl.com/cbh4l2k

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Here’s some novelty southern rock from my home state, The Georgia Satellites with Keep Your Hands To Yourself.

Connected

The allure of instant information is as addictive as any drug or drink I’ve ever taken. With a upward thumb swipe I can unlock my droid, press no more than two icons, and know more about the world quicker than it would take my grandparents to read an entire newspaper or watch the nightly news. I can also connect with like-minded people, that I swore didn’t exist when I was growing up, and alleviate the pressure of mental illness, being different, and intellectual loneliness (on certain issues and habits) in seconds. To call this sexy is way too weird so I’ll choose the word - attractive. But the downside is the people who are most important to me, my wife and three daughters, get gipped of their connection from me.

Sometimes I’m stupid. You’re shaking your head up and down and saying “yeah, dude, there’s 700 other posts on this blog that make that fact loud and clear.” But sometimes I’ve really really stupid away from this blog.

Last Saturday my wife, Deana, aka The Bobina, was specific in what she wanted for her birthday. Every year, I know how important the celebration of her birth is to her. She parties for at least a week and that’s okay. I love her self-confidence and bold display of Bobinaness. I’d give anything if I had her gumption and rock star attitude. She wanted to go eat our favorite food, sushi, then walk around a local mall, ostensibly to buy new clothes for her upcoming Florida vacation with a girlfriend. I don’t toss around the word hate a lot. But I HATE shopping. She knows this, but that’s what she wanted. She doesn’t like watching football games or listening to punk music. But when my birthday comes around September 10th (cash in lieu of gifts, please), she knows buzzing guitars, screaming vocals and games by the Jets and Falcons will be filling our house for 24 hours. Marriage is awesome like that, isn’t it? The problem was, I couldn’t deliver my end of the bargain because after dinner, while she tried on everything in the zillion square foot mall that is Sugarloaf Mills, I couldn’t stay off my phone.

I’m not going to defend myself. Yeah, I’m an Indie author with a book out, thus making me a small business dependent of social media and email. Sure, I get a lot of my news and information from the Twitter and blogs, where I’m active as a writer. You betcha that most of my Internet activity is innocent updating and mild entertainment. But this was her night. She deserved my full attention and fake smile as she pulled on another pair of shorts. But I screwed up.

I didn’t realize my grevious error until the next day when it was mentioned by her. I honestly thought she was ignoring me because Burlington Coat Factory had a stuff on sale.

*side note* shouldn’t that place be called Burlington Clothes Factory? I mean coats make up less than half their inventory.

But she wasn’t ignoring me. She saw every thumb swipe, each chuckle at a decent tweet, and all the finger shuffles as I answered replies, emails, and blog comments. I sucked that night. I don’t think I’m as bad as my teenage daughter who has burned many plates of brownies because she wouldn’t stop texting. I’ve seen her run into furniture and people because her friends just had to send her something so random that it needed to be checked immediately. But last Saturday was special for the Bobina and I blew it.

My dear writer friend Andra Watkins wrote about being unable to enjoy a spa experience because of similar dooshy behavior by those around her http://andrawatkins.com/2013/04/03/he-took-it-out/  . It’s bad when you relate to the antagonists in your friends’ stories.

I like Twitter, the book o face doesn’t bother me some of the times, and  I dig blogging the mostest; but I love my family, especially The Bobina. This isn’t a “cell phones are the devil” post nor is it “social media friggin rules, get over it people” one, either. But I need to find a balance between family time and self-expressionism that blogging that the media that is social emulates. It’s great to be connected. But I need to make sure I’m connected the right way.

Here’s the Stereo MCs. Feel free to dance.

You Got Lucky

How do I explain love when I’m shadowed by her honor? Her birthday’s April 1st but I’m a fool if I can’t convey I got lucky with a one of a kind woman.

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*****blogger’s note****

My wife, Deana, aka Bobina, is celebrating her thirtysomethingishesque birthday. It’s officially tomorrow, April, 1, 2013 – seriously, no joke, but the Bobina has a birthday week. For trifecta’s 33 word challenge trifexta, I included an idiom – one of a kind (although she is that) and some Tom Petty& the Heartbreakers. Yes, it’s me who got lucky.

 

 

100 Word Song – Better Dig Two

How much can one man love his wife? Well, if he hosts a blog meme that bases it theme around his lifeblood, music, and she requests the chance to pick the week’s song, he says, uhh, uhh, okay. Before we get to my music snob waterloo, thanks to my rockin’ new writer friend, Linda, aka @modmomelleroy for finding 100 word song, writing two back to back awesome 100 word posts. She picked last week’s song, Brilliant Mistake, by my second most favorite songwriter ever, Elvis Costello. The entries were terrific. Deb gave us Vivid Black, t gave us a heart wrenching tale, and my wife wrote something really strong. It was so strong, and she kisses good, that Deana aka Bobina is choosing this week’s tune, Better Dig Two by country music group, The Band Perry. Yeah, it’s country. I would’ve rather she picked Eastern European polka than country, especially “new” country. But the way I’m rationalizing it is, I get to stay sleeping in the same comfortable bed, Kimberley Perry, the lead singer and songwriter is pretty, uber-talented, and gives a great performance in the video. It isn’t Tay Swifty.

For my 100 we go back to stressed out Jake in his living room in my short story, Soul To Body.

Between his rib pain and revisiting a decade old wound of almost cheating on his late wife, Jake thought about asking Augusta and Violet for a raincheck on this talk. Violet wouldn’t allow it.

“Dad, you still belong to mom. That may seem stupid, like I’m still six-years-old.”

Jake and his sister-in-law, Augusta, looked at each other. They’d assumed Violet didn’t remember the fight between her parents over ten years ago.

Jake stood and tried to grab Violet’s trembling hands. She jerked them away and shouted.

“Mom said that night you were hers until the day both of you die!”

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always you have 7 days from right now to write 100 words inspired by my wife’s love of The Band Perry and their new song, Better Dig Two. Make sure you use the linky below and then tweet/book o face/and smoke signal your handiwork. Tell a friend or 50.

Then, if you haven’t already, check out my first book, The Ballad of Helene Troy available on Smashwords, Amazon/Kindle, and in paperback form at Lulu.com. Let me know if you have trouble with paperbacks and I’ll get you one.

Try It Again

Living with four women, my wife and three daughters, means they dominate the attitude, personality, and culture of the house, inside and out. I’m always out-numbered, and usually wrong; according to them. Since we’re a blended family (I met my wife about five years ago, and my middle daughter, age 9, is my only biological child), the rules or lack there of and style of our lives is a lot different from most. We work, as a family, but if you followed our blueprint, you’d probably fail miserably. We’re like the New York Dolls or Guns N’ Roses. We don’t rehearse, we’re always disorganized, we seem like we’re high all the time, but once we hit the stage we’re magic.

I have so many females in my life, family and friends, that I hear a lot of complaining about bad husbands or lazy husbands or inattentive husbands. “They don’t pick up their clothes”, “they don’t pay attention to me”, “if I were a football/hockey puck/basketball/racecar then he’d listen to me”. Since I am a dude and thus a husband, I know the complaining can always go both ways.

This post was inspired by a very funny, quite randy exchange by two of my favorite writer friends, Debbie aka @SanDiegoMomma and the Empress herself, Alexandra of GoodDayRegularPeople.com as they were talking about songs that “put people in the mood with their spouses”

Alexandra Rosas I know! I know! Have a man singing “I’ll bring home the groceries, fry them all up in a pan. THen I’ll take this laundry here and fold it over there. Cuz I’m your maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan…”
 Debbie Anderson Ooooo Alexandra Rosas! I just took my clothes off!
Alex and Debbie were joking. They’re happily married and were simply having fun at their husbands’ expense. But this is a common refrain. Dudes forsake the duties of the house and resentment sometimes builds and the next thing you know Diane Lane is cheating on Richard Gere with the French guy and someone has to get killed.
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I swore to myself, when I was given a second chance at happiness with my wife, that she would never have an excuse to get it on with a Frenchy because I was ignoring household chores, not carpooling at the elementary school or turning my back while the teenager ran wild. In our situation, I do more laundry than anyone, I pick up kids, I even have taken on the role of “cheer dad” for my 17-year-old’s cheer teams at her high school. Using Alex and Deb’s model for sexiness, if getting stuff around the house accomplished is hot then I’m Brad Pitt or Ryan Gosling or whomever you women are into at the moment. So, my wife has it made, right? She’s got a dude who does dishes, gossips with the cheer moms, and irons.
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Uh, have you read this blog? I’m nuts, like clinically crazy. Without anxiety pills and a whole lots of smoke and mirrors, living with me is a damn freak show. If I didn’t do the chores, pick up the girls, and listen to my wife’s day, I’d be a 42-year-old Taylor Swift – totally undateable and forget putting a ring on my finger.

My wife has to deal with me yelling at Harlem Shake videos for not actually being the Harlem Shake. My lovely Bobina has to watch me pace around the room searching for the perfect sentences to post or wondering if anyone’s read my book. I’m going to see The Gaslight Anthem in concert, my first rock show in 3 years, on Thursday of this week. I had to shut myself in the bathroom for a half-hour worrying about their set list.
Every marriage has their “thing”. Even if the husband doesn’t OCD-clean the place like I do, that doesn’t mean he isn’t repairing something or saving money for rainy days or just being a badass dude. I’m sort of half-chick in terms of emotions and style. I’m sure my wife wishes I’d stick my hand on my pants and burp more but I am what I am.
I don’t give advice and Lord knows I stay in trouble under this roof on a daily basis. I’m one episode of Vampire Diaries not being recorded properly from living in a van down by the river. But if you’re a wife or husband reading this and things at home aren’t what you want it to be, I say follow the words of the best band ever from Sweden, The Hives, and the contributors of today’s song, and Try It Again.

Buy my first book, The Ballad of Helene Troy on Amazon/Kindle http://www.amazon.com/The-Ballad-Helene-Troy-ebook/dp/B00BJOMM84/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362454035&sr=8-1&keywords=lance+burson also available on Lulu in paperback.

Hearts Burst Into Fire

As you stand in the grocery store, gas station or truck stop line with those flowers, candy, and cards stare into your smart phones and read this.

In 269, 270, 273, or 280, Saint Valentine, then known as Valentinius, was arrested under the order of Emperor Claudius, for helping Christians marry. In the last 3rd century, in the Roman Empire, Christians were like gays, now. They were treated like second class citizens with little to no rights under the law. Valentinius loved Jesus and his fellow man more than the Emperor and his law. Personable, kind, and loving, Valentinius charmed Claudius and almost won his freedom. Then Valentinius decided to win the Emperor over to the side of the Lord, and Claudius, valuing his carefree existence of orgies, murder, and frivolity, turned on Valentinius and ordered him stoned, beheaded, then buried.

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Saint Valentine became a martyr. Martyr always become legend, it’s like a thing. Stories in the 5th and 6th centuries were exaggerated about his works. Finally, a popular, best-selling authir, Geoffrey Chaucer, yeah, that dude who wrote the Canterbury Tales, laid on some more legend in his page turner Parliament of Foules, a 700 line poem published after his death in the 1400s. Most of the lovey dovey, hearts, chocolates, kisses, and smoochy stuff we do today came from Chaucer’s piece.

For a fake holiday, Valentine’s Day means a lot to many, especially the fairer sex. I live with four of them. They mean the world to me. If celebrating love in honor of a Christian badass who went against a dude much like Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator makes them happy. So be it.

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The majority of my audience, my friends, my loved ones are prettier than me. They appreciate a good Sandy Bullock flick, a compliment about their hair, and a nod to romance. Happy Valentine’s Day to my wife, Deana aka the Bobina, my daughters Taylor, Lyla, and Carly, aged 17, 9, and 8, my mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, my daughter’s best friend Leila, the cheer moms I hang with, my writing partner and dear friend Tara, and the many of you who read, comment, tweet, book of face, and email with me. Hope you get the love you desire and avoid being stoned and beheaded for your beliefs and actions. I love you all. Mean it.

Dude Write

Here’s Bullet For My Valentine. Crank it.

Beyond Belief

Being the father of a seventeen-year-old girl while writing on the internet means I spend a lot of time thinking about my teen years while wondering why I even turn on a computer. While standing in a Mall food court line for Bourbon chicken over lo mein noodles, I ignored the screams from inside of my body for its inevitable fate to reflect on how lucky I am there was no information superhighway when I was my daughter’s age in 1987. Occasionally, okay, several times a week, I offer, unsolicited, my experience in relationships and my career in journalism to my daughter. I counter her eyeroll with pithy remarks about being smart, protective, and cynical. That’s right, I tell my daughter to question everything and walk hard with a critical nature.

This Manti Te’o story about being duped by two or more people who created a fake online girlfriend that the All-American Notre Dame linebacker used to generate publicity that helped him finish second for the Heisman trophy should be taught in schools. I would love for my children to hear about someone closer to their age (Te’o is 21) than mine who eschewed common sense to become so fooled that he lied to avoid people thinking he was, well, a fool.

My three daughters, aged 17, 9, and 8, belong to a generation that co-exists with the internet. They are taught more by wikipedia, online educational sites, and their dad’s blog (kidding) than their actual school teachers. Running across the bad of the web is expected as much as the good. They can type in Taylor Swift or Carly Rae Jepsen’s name into google and be a click away from seeing Rihanna mass tweeted goodies. There’s no reason to be outraged by this, because that’s like being ticked off there’s traffic on Saturday mornings when you go to the mall.

My wife disagrees with me as well as my other family members, but being naive or “innocent” in the age of 4G internet service just isn’t wise much less possible. Manti Te’o, by most accounts, is a nice, kind, smart, well-mannered young man who values his virginity as well as his public image. Yet, despite an intelligent mind and disciplined body, he was allegedly made to look like a total rube by people on social media sites. Welcome to the club where dues are paid in embarrassment and fake girlfriend memes, Manti.

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Being the butt of every twitter comedian’s joke isn’t as bad as having to explain your MySpace account musings in open divorce court. So, my sympathy for Manti Te’o stops at “dude, you were dumb, buck up and make a lot of tackles in the NFL as a millionaire”.

What I want my children and you all to know and think about, is that being cynical doesn’t mean you think boogeymen and women are around every corner of Al Gore’s internet. In fact, the web can be and do amazing things. But having a healthy eyebrow raised at stuff that just doesn’t make sense or seems too good to be true is how you survive and suffer fools rather than be one.

Let’s get a something straight between us. This is me.

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If I was lying, I’d show you a picture of Matt McConaughey or one of those other magic Mike stripper boys. I’m 42-years-old, married with those three aforementioned girls, with a dog, two cats, and a basement that I neither live in nor write from. I’m clinically crazy but not criminally, I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone other than myself. Technically I met my current wife online. She dropped over 20 grand just to talk to me. That’s almost a true story. But after one phone call, I set up a lunch at Chili’s because chicken crispers are lie detectors. You ask me anything, if the women I live with approve your questions, I’ll provide the answers. I’ve never fake dated a Notre Dame linebacker nor have I used a fake relationship to almost win a Heisman Trophy.

Most of all, blogging, writing for websites, and drawing on my six and half years in my early twenties as a full-time journalist has made me tougher and thicker-skinned. I think this is something a lot more people who are online should be. For those with similar backgrounds, do some good, and relay your web war stories and made the clicking culture more positive.

****blogger’s note****

The great Elvis Costello, one of my musical idols, had no clue there’d be something called the internet or social media when he wrote this song over 30 years ago. He was reflecting on the crappy music business and even crappier music journalism business at the time. But his well-written song, Beyond Belief is perfect for today’s post. I hope Manti Te’o isn’t too gun-shy with the computer to track this tune down.