A couple weeks ago I turned 50 (on Bastille Day, for all you Francophiles out there). When I turned forty I had a big party and was planning to do the same for fifty but, you know, pandemic.

I’m excited to be fifty. Excited to see what the decade brings, assuming we all make it past this year. And though I rarely take much time reflecting on the past, I spent a few moments thinking about what lessons I’ve learned in my first five decades. I decided to create a list of advice I would give to the childhood version of me if I could go back in time. I think I’d tell that little buck-toothed ankle biter the following things:

  1. Don’t be a dick.
  2. Embrace your flaws.
  3. Go to a foreign country. Wander the streets.
  4. Cook for others.
  5. Make your family laugh.
  6. Wear sunscreen every day (I’m stealing this from Mary Schmich, but it’s still true. Minimum SPF 30).
  7. Never say, “I don’t have time.” There’s time.
  8. Play as much as you work, or at least get a job you love.
  9. Wear your fucking mask (see #1).
  10. Go with your intuition 80% of the time.
  11. Laugh more than you cry, but don’t forget to cry.
  12. Tell stories, if even just to yourself.
  13. Take time to be still.
  14. Stop and stare in wonder at your kids every now and then.
  15. Get good sleep.
  16. If you can’t get good sleep, make sure it’s for a worthwhile reason.
  17. Pursue your dream before you even realize it’s your dream.
  18. Love someone endlessly.
  19. Exercise as much as possible (see #7).
  20. Read every day. Doesn’t have to be a lot.
  21. Don’t be afraid to indulge yourself.
  22. Do things that scare you. (Power tip: avoid felonies)
  23. Don’t be afraid to look stupid.
  24. Realize that faking confidence will eventually make you confident.
  25. Embrace rejection, learn from it. There’s gonna be a lot.
  26. Accept compliments humbly.
  27. Don’t dwell.
  28. Be willing to suck at something for a long time before you get it right (that’s what s/he said).
  29. Find something every day for which to be grateful.
  30. Realize that worry gets you nowhere.
  31. Take care of your teeth. No one wants a crappy mouth when they’re old.

Less than a year away from the launch of my next thriller, The Dead Husband. I know it’s a long way off, but I’m excited for this one. It’s the first time I’ve created an entire fictional town as the setting. The name of the town? Bury. Creepy, right?

What I’m Watching 

F is For Family  (2015-, Netflix)  Another reason I’m bound for hell, I started watching this animated series with my kids. Loosely based on the childhood of comedian and podcaster Bill Burr, F is For Family takes us back to the 1970’s and follows the lives of the Murphy family, who are just trying to get by in the mid-western suburbs. The show is brutally funny and wayyyyy more adult than I was expecting, but it’s not all dick jokes. There are keen observations on racism, sex, gender inequality and American complacency. In addition, the cast is first-rate, featuring Bill Burr, Laura Dern, Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn and Haley Reinhart. If you have a twisted sense of humor and are nostalgic for the days of gas shortages and bell bottoms, this show is for you.

What I’m Listening To

My friend Lydia’s 80’s playlist. She and I grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs, and we constantly had KROQ on the dial. If you want to vibe on the new wave and alternative rock scene from the 80’s, add these songs to your rotation (or link to Spotify playlisthere):

The Smiths – Sheila Take a Bow
Simple Minds – Waterfront
Bronski Beat – Why
Prince – Baby I’m a Star
Madness – Wings of a Dove
U2 – I Will Follow
Tones on Tail – Go!
The Lucy Show – View From the Outside
The Chameleons – Up the Down Escalator
INXS – The One Thing
Howard Jones – Pearl in a Shell
ABC – 15 Story Halo
The Cure – Primary
Midnight Oil – Dreamworld
Love and Rockets – Yin and Yang the Flowerpot Man
Polecats – Make a Circuit With Me
Roman Holliday – Stand By
Q-Feel – Dancing in Heaven
Depeche Mode – Remotivate Me
Ultravox – White China
Wang Chung – Everybody Have Fun Tonight
Simple Minds – New Gold Dream
Big Audio Dynamite – The Bottom Line
Blancmange – Living on the Ceiling
Thompson Twins – The Gap
Scritti Politti – Wood Beez
New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle (Extended Mix)
Curiosity Killed the Cat – Misfit
Shriekback – Everything That Rises Must Converge
The Lucy Show – A Million Things
B-52s – Legal Tender
Oingo Boingo – Weird Science

Bits of The Dead Husband

Up until my book launch next May, I’ll be sharing snippets of The Dead Husband in this space, starting with this:

Photo of the Month
Look at this beauty. There are a pair of bald eagles nesting in trees just next to my local Walmart, which is both somehow fitting and depressing.

Update From My Kids

My 16-year-old daughter got all four wisdom removed a few weeks ago. She did great, but boy did the anesthesia make her a mess. In the first hour after surgery she’d go from laughing to crying and back to laughing in seconds. Fortunately for the rest of us, my daughter filmed herself as her mom drove them back from the appointment.

Because she’s hard to understand, I’ll set this clip up. I’m on the phone with her and she says she misses me. Then her mom tells her that she’s bringing her to me and that I’ve got all sorts of yummy soft food waiting, to which my daughter exclaims, “Pudding! Yay!”

Update From My Cat

Guff has a window perch with a PVC frame, and he likes to bite down on it as if puncturing the throat of a baby bunny. What a cutie!

What’s In My Backyard?

No interesting animals, but I did get two large boulders delivered and added a swing chair to create a peaceful yin & yang space.

Reader Questions

What’s your favorite horror movie?

As a younger man, I gobbled up all those classic teen horror flicks, like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, etc. Once I hit my thirties or so, I just stopped enjoying most horror films. At heart, I’m a wimp, and the more gritty and realistic a horror movie is, the more it stays for an unpleasant amount of time in my head. I don’t enjoy violence-for-violence’s-sake, so rather than horror I tend to prefer an edgy thriller movie, like Se7en.

I’ll say the horror movie that freaked me out most was the original Blair Witch Project. I was one of the folks who saw it in the theater soon after it came out, had no idea what it was about, and thought it actually was a documentary. Wow. The scene in the end with the house and the painted handprints on the wall. Still gets me even just thinking about it.

Have a question for me? Ask me something interesting and I might just answer in my next newsletter. Email me HERE.

 

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