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How to Write 50 Essays in 9 Short Months

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Bergamot Ink logoSince April I’ve been working on a column—Bergamot Ink—with the The Good Men Project, which is why I let Nerdy Dad Shirt go untrimmed, and for good reason.

I started Nerdy Dad Shirt three years ago this week, and eventually when I was writing essays that I was proud of, I decided to challenge myself to write 100 essays (good or bad).

“100 essays” turned into “100 posts” (as any good writer and blogger will know the difference), and, as I started writing for other publications and got syndicated, I sort of lost count.

I’ll count them up and get back to you.

So here—parked—are my latest essays for your enjoyment. Please share if you’d like!

AND if you’re a writer, I’m also an editor would love to help you get published. Let’s talk.

Read on and Share!

What Men Hear Vs. What Women Hear—When Will Things Be Heard Equally?

God Isn’t a Bad Word (It’s Just One We Don’t Use)—Raising Children Without Religious Belief

7 Reasons Why I’m Done with Star Wars

9 Ways We Can Truly Save Christmas (Once and for All)

‘Meet Your Second Wife’ Cuts Deep and is Uncomfortably Hilarious

Han Solo, Captain Picard, or Mr. Spock? How to Decide What to Do in Life (When You Don’t Know What To Do)

The Science of Parenthood: Poop, Chemistry, and Duct Tape

5 Easy Steps to Staying Married Forever

Unbrand Yourself Today!

What Does Life After God Sound and Look Like?

13 Ways You Can Achieve Total Perspective


See you next week!


Money, Beer, and the Cost of Being Free

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My needs are simple: a hearty tax shelter, healthy pension, robust health insurance, generous sick days, fully stocked fridge, a little extra cash after paying the rent, and seven beers, preferably craft or imported.

My tastes are sort of set in their ways.

That, and—of course—perfect health for my wife and kids, is all I need, on top of the basics of modern First World living. Forget a new house, car, clothes, and forget Paris. Give me the know-how of there being enough beer in the fridge for the end of a long day of hard work where I’ve earned every dollar. I want to hear that clink-clink when the fridge door is open. I’m not asking to drink seven beers a night, but I want the financial freedom to enjoy one or two if I want, and to have seven more in the fridge waiting for me, for tomorrow or the weekend.

I want the ability to drink or share with the wife or friends—it might be a Bourbon and ginger ale, or a gin and tonic, but the principle remains. I want that bordering-hoarder pleasure of having luxury in reserve, when I want. I want that financial freedom.

And eventually I’ll have it. Maybe when the kids are out of college. I don’t want to die on my feet a sweaty worker who didn’t know how to be smart about money, especially in my American lower-middle-class world, where I’ve been privileged enough to reach a point and skill set that can guide me towards a retirement and help me provide for my children until they can provide for themselves.

What is a dollar? 

Let’s talk about $7—specifically the amount (give or take sixty cents) it costs to afford seven beers or seven burgers or seven of something in your refrigerator. That seven dollars is swallowed up by the big picture—the cost of the fridge, electricity, the contents within—plus the pantry and its accoutrements. That $7 is a small slice of rent or a mortgage, or of a movie ticket or water bill. You know what things cost. The cost of take-out versus a week of groceries, the price of beer and coffee versus milk, and the cost of luxury, however simple, versus holding out until you really deserve that luxurious finish, whatever it may be.



13 Easy Steps to Achieving Enlightenment, Total Perspective, and Complete Self-Awareness and Self-Actualization (Reduced)

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As the somewhat obvious yet profound saying goes about perspective, it really does all depend on how you look at it. Wherever you are in life, there is some struggle or suffering that you’re going through or about to go through. Somehow it’s always inevitable whether you’re a student, parent, young individual, or fledgling professional (or anyone in-between). But if you’re prepared with the right set of eyes (and most of us aren’t), then you’ll be able to tackle any setback, obstacle, or low point, all in good time. So forget trying to achieve Maslow’s highest level of Self-Actualization.

Forget trying to be perfect. You can even forget trying to fulfill your true potential, if just for a while. And you can even stop forgetting forgetting, as the Yogis and Jedis teach. What you might need is sharp, willful perspective, and a heavy dose of reality to get you to where you should be (and maybe where you want to be).

Here’s how.

1. Start with your death bed and work backwards.

There are three ultimate and undeniable realities: Death, Nature, and the Unknown. The sooner you realize you’re incapable of controlling these three, the sooner you’ll feel a little release from Life’s cool grip. As you are dying a long time from now, who will you be surrounded by and what will your final wish be? What will you have let go of? If you can imagine your life from your final moment backwards to right now, then you’ll have constructed enough timelines to know what you really want (which might not be what you think you want). This isn’t meant to make you mediate on your own death, but rather to jostle you out of the current moment and consider the long arc of your life.

2. You’re going to get old (and be old) for a while. 

Consider this: between your twenties and retirement, you will live almost three lifetimes as you did between birth and the age of twenty. And then you’re going to have a brand new life in retirement. Most men die around seventy-six, and most women out-live men by ten to fifteen years (often twenty). Those nice, old church ladies? They’re living a second and third life after career and children, many of them in retirement and then widowed. Life is long and you’re going to have time, so prepare for early mornings and long afternoons, and plenty of time to look back to now and wish you knew what to change – and change it while you’re young. That should take some of the pressure off, but know that the dreams you’re not getting around to right now might be waiting for you on the other side of life, when the world will still belong to the young, fast ones.



The Hour of My Almost Belief: How Buddha Boy Changed One Atheist

Ella Ruth

“Between the Pope and air conditioning,” says Harry Block of Woody Allen’s 1997 Deconstructing Harry, “I’d choose air conditioning.”

The Pope, however, does have a castle. And cool outfits. But the sentiment of that quote, that in our modern age an individual would choose science, technology, and convenience over mythology (and the anxiety that comes with belief)—remains appropriate, especially in this modern age where “Nones” and “Dones” are growing in numbers while the faithful are seeing declines like never before.

In a world of full of air conditioning, bottled water, Pop Tarts, seedless watermelons, and endless computers in the hands of children, it’s easy for nonbelievers to rely on modern convenience and leave the possessions, miracles, and conversions to badly produced religious movies (and some well produced Hollywood films) and tall tales, where they belong. There are no miracles, there is no Devil, and most parents will choose medicine over straight “prayer-changes-things” sessions any day. We’re awash in a non-religious reality, the whole Western world over.


PHOTO: Ella Ruth

All American Marriage!


A few years ago I was privileged to perform a wedding ceremony (as I do from time to time) for an older couple who wanted to marry in one state because their same-sex marriage would be legal. Because it was not legal to marry in the state where they lived as a couple for decades, they were, along with friends, trying to start a small movement: marrying in a legal state and then moving back in order to buck the system so that one day all same-sex couples could legally marry in America.

Such a day is here.

Now we can say that all traditional and same-sex marriages in America—not just one state, or four, or 37—are legal.

All marriages are now American.

There are no longer second-class marriages to be spoken of quietly, as if those wanting to be married have done something wrong with the one they love, and they have to wait for a vote or court to allow them legal rights that almost anyone else can have.

Here’s to America! Here’s to cake! Here’s to marriage!



When To Love Your Neighbor In America

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Bergamot Ink logoThis will hopefully be the last thing you’ll ever need to read about any controversy surrounding same-sex marriage or LGBTQ orientation and the freedom of businesses, fraternities, colleges, organizations, and people with money to discriminate against humans who may not be heterosexual and may want to enter into the lawful institution of marriage.

But I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that it won’t be. If this essay is shared successfully, we can – together! – end any and all debate regarding whether or not we as humans should willingly differentiate against people based on a narrowly defined set of mystical (or actual) laws.

You can already hear the lobbyists and speech writers preparing talking points based solely on this essay. I’m so proud. We’ve come a long way in just the last twenty years here in the West in terms of our views on religion and homosexuality (and the two being compatible), but we still have probably millennia to go if the last millennium has taught us anything. Each election cycle, both sides of the political aisle find new ways to hold onto old ideas regarding the same issues. It’s what we do best. –

Read the rest here and thank you!

And catch up with my weekly column here. 

Why I’m Letting My Girl Be A Girl

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I’ve decided to let my girl be a girl.

I’m also going to let my boy be a boy, and my other girl (who, at this time is still a baby girl) be a girl. If they want. I don’t know what else to do. “Let” isn’t the most accurate word – I have no control over these things in the long run, and letting my five year old daughter be herself (whoever that is) and be a girly girl at that is just part of her figuring out everything about being alive. And I should mention that it’s my wife and I raising these beautiful children, herself not an admitted girly girl, not ever. But as a man, a former boy, and a general over-thinker, I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter what I do to keep my daughter from wanting to play princess and wear pink and purple all the time, it’s not going to work. It’s not something we put on her or lead her toward — it’s just something she picked up on during her five years around other girls and boys and the variations of masculine and feminine in between.

Read the rest of the article here on The Good Men Project’s Bergamot Ink

How To Name Your Stupid Blog

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 11.05.45 AMCONGRATULATIONS ON JOINING THE MASSES OF FORMER ENGLISH MAJORS, HOME CHEFS, AND STAY AT HOME PARENTS WHO THINK  THEIR OPINIONS ARE EITHER RELEVANT, INSIGHTFUL, OR FUNNY! You are (or will be soon enough) a blogger, the lowest common type of writer out there. There’s a dog on the Disney Channel who is a billionaire off of this already, and somehow you are stressing about finding kitschy pictures to annotate your paragraphs with. We welcome and love you – the blogosphere can be a safe place.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 10.51.26 AMThe kind folks at Nerdy Dad Shirt Corporation and Speedy Bread Sludge HQ (a subsidiary of Brand-Mart Corporation) want to help you name your newest blog that will either go nuclear-ly viral or fold within six months. The name, however, can be something you’ll spend forever thinking about until you realize that literally a million people have already done this and done it better than you could have thought to do. Or not. Do not lose heart! Do not despair! Back in grad school you were going to be Isabelle Allende or John Updike, but you’re currently searching your brain for the perfect quiche metaphor or fart joke. And soon you’ll be writing thousands of words about trending topics and wondering where your integrity went. Just think of a blog as a start in the right direction of the career you’ve always wanted, without the risk of painful failure. Right now anyone with enough money for a coffee can Free-WiFi-it into the internet hall of fame for a day with the right snark or hashtag.

But first you need a name.

Side note – “blog” is an awful word. It was originally coined as an ironic joke, and then somehow became a overused, daily, easily-reportable word. “I write essays” or “I write for the newsletter” sounds distinguished. “I write blogs” sounds like you stencil names on silly putty.

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So let’s name that blog – er – distinguished website featuring your ingenious prose : Disclaimer: ALL the cool mom, dad, media review/reporting, and foodie blog titles are taken, so it’s up to you to be original and clever with whatever words or phrases are left.

– You want something catchy or at least forgivable when it’s been read and said two thousand times. Remember, you can always say “I always hated that name” if you tire of it, or you can embrace it if it brings you success. FartyDadBlog as a title you might regret when Rolling Stone publishes your top ten reasons babies are like senile orangutans.

– Pick something your grandma and best friend would think is clever but doesn’t take too much to explain, although sometimes people like a difficult name because it sounds interesting, albeit foreign or confusing. You’ll have to say this name over and over to web designers, friends, strangers, and then see it every day online when you’re checking your abysmal stats, so be careful. Like a long-lasting professional-type email, be obvious but not too obvious. never looks good on a resume.

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– Unless your blog name just presents itself to you, you might have to work on it a bit. Pick an adjective, noun, and -or- vice/niche word combination and go to work. The words don’t have to match, and sometimes juxtapositioning an odd combination just feels right, even if it doesn’t make total sense. CrumbBumMum, a mom blog about all things Holden Caulfield, just might work.

– Use a phrase, song title, band name, or word all-too-familiar and make it yours (FrackSabbath would be an awesome blog about fracking – take it, it’s all yours). If this blogging thing feels like it might be more than a hobby, just use your name or a really clever pseudonym. Like a band naming their LP the same name as the band, it’ll take a few rounds or albums before becoming the iconic, one-of-a-kind you site.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 7.53.01 PM– In the end, it’s your talent, content, and voice that matters, and although the sea of blogs is wide and deep, your vessel matters. Still, Oedipal’s Edibles would be a great name for a foodie blog written by a former Classics Major.