Monthly Archives: October 2017

My Birthday: Putting 31 in the Record Book

I turn 32 today. Four years ago, I wrote about the ubiquitous silliness of birthdays, but at 32, I feel differently. As Malin Akerman’s Billions character says, “If we don’t mark the milestones, we’re just passing with the times.” I have no interest in passing. So, for posterity’s sake, here are some things that happened while I was 31:

  • Chicago Cubs won their first World Series since 1908
  • Donald Trump was elected President.
  • I was diagnosed with leukemia and KT and I had to postpone our wedding

  • The effort of friends caused both Bill Self and Roy Williams to write me get well letters (note KU game on iPhone in pic…true fan!)
  • We lost a James Bond and a Batman…and eventually the Tom Petty
  • KT and I had to put down Otis the dog, then we started chemo
  • There was that weird Oscars fiasco
  • KT’s grandpa, Bebop, passed away.
  • Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks were the No. 1 overall seed (unsurprisingly losing early)
  • KT and Roy Williams’ Tar Heels won the National Chamionship!
  • KT and I FINALLY got married (BEST DAY EVER!)

  • KT and I went on an amazing honeymoon (BEST WEEK EVER!)
  • KT turned an incredibly youthful 30 years old!
  • Little Brisket the dog came into our lives!
  • I finished chemo!
  • KT and I finished building and moved into our first house together!
  • I was declared cancer free!
  • I went back to work!

There’s a lot more stuff. Too much for a b-day blog post. In some respects, it’s easy to look back at 31 as a heartbreak of a year. But I don’t know if empty hearts can break. I’m lucky enough to have never been empty. I do know that a heart needs to be broken before it can heal, and healing—physically, emotionally, spiritually—is maybe the greatest miracle God gave us, right up there with life and love. You know, it’s also easy to see 31 as the very best year of my life.

Alright, that’s enough reflection for a birthday. The milestone is marked. Like Tom Petty sang:

It’s time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby, grass is growing
It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going

KT and I love you all for all the support during 31. I greatly look forward to growing with you all during 32.


Welcome back to the real world…


Image result for trump gun


What the heck have we been doing, America? Allow me a second to roam the past textual expanse of Writing Bareback….

Donald Trump should get a sex change? Hot take, July Dusty. I enjoyed the Filet ‘O’ Fish sandwich? Sure. Those seem to be the only things that were important enough for me to bloooog about.

“Dust, what matters to you so much that you actually need to publicly write about it?”

“Um, McDonald’s seafood offerings?”

Hmmm, disappointing. Let’s start over. I’m literally going to write one thousand words about the world because it’s more difficult than taking a picture. That’s what this entire preamble has been doing, filling a one hundred and thirty two word gap.

KT and I are cancer free. I talk about the disease as an “us” because I’m pretty sure leukemia affected her as much as it did me. So we are now entering month five of marriage, and everything will be normal. I’m talking about America’s normal. We will both go to work on Mondays through Fridays. We will both say things like, “Let’s try to have a healthy week this week.” We will both consider the idea of buying an expensive pair of sunglasses so that we value them enough to not lose them. Life will be extremely not cancerous.

Now that we’ve come up for air, I’m saddened by what we, as Americans, are caring about these days. Donald Trump must be talked about always and because. Football’s undeniable destruction of the human mind is as silly as any gladiatorial sport that we’ve all loved into profitability. Jay-Z is wearing a Kaepernick jersey, which would be far more satisfying if the quarterback was actually good at playing the sport I just said I’m embarrassed to enjoy. And then there are people going to a Jason Aldean concert, which would have been a joke before it became a tragedy. That is depressing. What is wrong with our healthy, American people? And why are we so set on destroying ourselves? Let me clarify. I am saddened not by the things we have chosen to care about. I’m saddened by the things we’ve been forced to care about in our everyday, normal lives.

I have told KT many times that I’m excited about taking the opportunity of cancer to rebuild myself. People—and I mean bosses and friends and whoever else puts expectations upon another human being—grant temporary leeway in times of personal chaos. Like my man Petyr Baelish says, “Chaos is a ladder.” Ten months is a lot of chaos and a lot of ladder, but now that I’m up here, I’m trying to see things differently. I’m wondering what happened to this vaunted free will we Americans are so proud of? Choice. The Vote. Democracy. Liberties. Fighting the tyranny of evil. If American life is not what we want it to be, why don’t we change it? Why don’t we rebuild this country?

My suspicion is that we do not want a different America than the one that we already have. My suspicion is that we are sheep, incapable of making a better choice.

I didn’t vote in the 2016 election. It’s so shameful. I could have and I didn’t. I said things like, “I don’t like either candidate, so why would I endorse them with my vote?” And then my normal life became not so normal. I got cancer. I guess we all did. The system that gave our country life turned on itself. Our free speech became so free that a person could tweet about making the country great again, and other people could hear him. A person who ostensibly wanted the right to bear arms did in fact bear them, just like others before him. When was the last time a gun did something besides shoot something? I think most people forget that America was started by law breakers who used force to take what they wanted. The thing is, once these criminals won, the laws they decided to make and enforce (with force) were in defense of people doing whatever people wanted to do. And we did. We even got smarter. We made a communication matrix that allowed us to do whatever we wanted more efficiently. Did you know that 30% of all data transferred over the internet is just porn?  That’s just an interesting factoid for you to roll into your ideas about the richness of human imagination and the endless possibilities of free will. We have unfettered access to the millennia of human intellect and discovery. Also, I wonder how many people’s Facebook accounts follow both Fox News and MSNBC? My suspicion is that I don’t care, and that’s the problem. I’d rather write about fast food and sex changes and the lothario artistry of NFL quarterbacks (my only regret is not being meaner to Blake Bortles. Who sucks. Probably as a human being, and definitely as a quarterback), and so I’m a normal American.

But [extremely Samuel L. Jackson voice in Pulp Fiction], I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.

I’m writing a novel, and I like the mechanics of it, creating a new story as whole cloth. It takes work. It’s probably more effort than the final story will ever be worth. But I tell myself that the effort is worth it. The effort is what matters. The effort signifies character. And I hope you will try too. Maybe we’ll both vote in the next election. Maybe people of color won’t face the biased oppression of law enforcement. Maybe Colin Kaepernick will get back on the field and never get a concussion. Maybe. Maybe there’s a cure. If we try really hard to suppress our own impulses, maybe we can make America great again. Or maybe not. That would be okay too. But we have to try, even if it’s difficult.

This post will be 1,000 words after the word “picture.” It would have been easier to take a picture.