Exploring sources of competition and the motivation that pushes me



I am friends on Facebook with my high school girlfriend’s younger sister. Let’s call this sister Farty. Let’s call my ex-girlfriend “Asshole.”

Just kidding.

Let’s call her nothing at all. She’s not a HUGE part of this story.

Farty, though, lives somewhere in North Carolina with her husband and three kids. My ex lives somewhere on the east coast. I’m not sure where.

Farty has a bun in the oven, and I think she’s a stay-at-home, homeschooling parent. I’m almost certain she keeps an elaborate shrine to Martha Stewart somewhere in her home. It features constantly burning candles, fluffy flowers, lacy decor and shabby chic tabletops. I’m also quite sure she prays to Martha Stewart 5 to 6 times a day. She also prays to the Christian God, whom I think she confuses with Martha Stewart.

How do I know this? I don’t really. It’s an educated guess based on the holiday and birthday pictures she posts on Instagram and Facebook.

Farty arts-and-crafts all the decorations and food in a way that only Stewart, and her embarrassing number of followers, would swoon over. Then Farty holds editorial style photo shoots of all her hard work and shares those images with the world. Her twenty-liking fans gush and adore the décor. Then, I imagine, she kneels and prays to Martha for inspiration for the next holiday.

Easter is coming up, so I expect Jesus emerging from multicolored and elaborately painted eggs and woven baskets created in Madagascar and sold at Hobby Lobby.

On Valentine’s Day, Farty made large, bible verse laden valentines with hearts and cupids. She plastered them all over her house. They were in Martha Stewart style. She photographed them and plastered them on her Facebook wall in a neat photo album called, “Jesus’s Love Fills our Home.”

This is the way Farty chooses to live her life. She chooses to think it’s adorable to teach kids to sing “Amazing Grace,” because nothing is more psychologically sound than teaching adorable, upper/middle class children that they are wretched pile of vomit.

Recently she posted a picture of her kids playing with my ex-girlfriend’s kids. I know this from her wall of family pictures. They were all at Farty’s house. By the end of the weekend, there was another photo posted. This one was of my exgirlfriend in running gear, crossing a finish line of what appeared to be a marathon. There was a title: “My sister crossing the finish line of her first marathon.” There was a hashtag: “#sisterlove”.

In the background, there was a clock that read 3:44:00. My ex ran a fucking marathon in three hours and forty four minutes. That’s approximately 8.5 miles per hour … for all of 26.2 miles.

I’ve seen my ex in pictures since we broke up a few times. It used to be a bit startling. And that immediate response has since subdued. But what threw me off about this image was that my ex crossed a marathon finish line in 3:44.


I can barely do a 5K on the treadmill doing 8 minute miles.

From pictures, my ex appears to have sixty five children. While skinny as all get out, I remember running with her in high school and smoking her slow ass.

Have the tables turned? Is she in better shape than I?

Oh no she din’in!

So in my embarrassment, shame and anger — and because it was too cold to run outside — I ran three miles on the treadmill at a pace a little faster than 8.5 mph.

Take that ex-girlfriend with 65 kids!

I only have 23+ miles to go in order to prove my point!

Speaking of Farty McFarty and her Martha Stewart underpants, do you ever have those experiences where if you hear yourself talk, or you look at your actions from the outside, you’d almost mistaken yourself for one of your parents?

For instance, when I express a lack of compassion when Tina’s not feeling well, it’s a direct result of how my mom treated me when sick as a kid. She grew up with Type 1 Diabetes, and in turn, there weren’t many people’s sicknesses that warranted compassion in her mind. I don’t believe she did it on purpose, but it was tough.

We were rarely allowed a sick day. If we could wiggle our toes, we were school bound, no matter how feverish and laden with boils and rashes we were.

More than once, I had colds as a kid and would be coughing up a lung while lying in bed. She’d stand at my door and say, “Stop coughing! Turn on your side and STOP coughing!”

I’m not sure if you’ve ever been sick — I’m betting you have. The one thing you can’t do is “stop coughing”. It’s a proven fact that over half the time you’re sick with a cough, you cough. Even when you’re sleeping, you’re coughing. It’s one of those things the scientists like to call, “Un-con-fucking-trollable”.

I blame this lack of compassion while Tina’s sick on this behavioral handmedown, aka a memetic virus.

Another instance of behavioral handmedown surprised even little old me. This one comes to me from my pops.

A few weeks ago, we were photographing interiors at O’Hare Airport. We had been there since 6 a.m., and my regular movement — if you will — happens soon after I get up between 8 and 9 a.m.

As if right on time, the spirit moved me. It may have moved others around me as well.

“Whelp, Tina,” I said. “I gotta drop some kids at the pool.”

And off I went in the direction of the men’s room. As I walked, I was passing a little bookstore, and near the front of the store, there was a young woman stacking books on a display. I saw her from the corner of my eye, but didn’t think much of it.

The urge to let go of some wind overcame me and I thought, “No worries. Just let it go.”

And I did.

Do you know the sound a truck makes when it blows its horn?

This is the closest equivalent of what emitted from my ass. Startled, I felt the young bookstore clerk raise her head. I gathered all the strength and elderly-apathy I could muster — tried my damnedest not to laugh — and kept walking … at the same speed toward the mens room.

This abrupt, loud, flutter of flatulence I blame on my dad. This is a guy who — when we were growing up — would let off ground-rattling farts without a care in the world. There was no warning. Instead of unannounced, frequent earthquakes of the west coast, we got dad’s farts in mind altering, decibel laden hellfire.

The funniest was when I’ve traveled with him on airplanes. We wouldn’t be sitting together, but I would hear — and I’m not kidding — a fart erupt from his direction.

It was as if holding it in was completely impossible and pushing out with as much sphincter force was imperative to the health and wellbeing of the known universe.

Dad may not have saved starving children in Africa, but many an angel got its wings from the land mines my dad laid out of his butt.

Or something.

So when you are motivated to either run 8.5 mph or machine-gun fart … consider that possibility that it was passed down to you, like a genetic trait, or it was some distant ghost with the ability to stir your innermost competitive idiosyncrasy.

Regardless, the past has a way of influencing your present.


Newsworthy: Germans Intercept Cocaine-Filled Condoms Destined For Vatican

From this TPM article:

If someone within Vatican City was trying to smuggle a shipment of cocaine into the Catholic mini-state, they’re certainly not coming forward to claim it now.

German customs officials at Leipzig airport intercepted a shipment in January that contained 340 grams of cocaine packed into 14 condoms inside a package of cushions from South America, German weekly Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday.

Read on

Holy CRAP!!! This is not just a train derailment | blue line plowed off the tracks


In the background, we listen to NPR most of the day.

They keep talking about a train derailment, which happens somewhat frequently.

I googled what happened, and this picture came up on Chicago Tribune.

This train had to be moving fast. It’s so far from the tracks. This is a lot of freaking damage. If you’ve ever flown out of O’Hare and seen this train station, you know just how awful this accident is.

Or you can just look at this photo. Oh my gosh.