What Are The Little Things In Life That Keep You Sane?

platesWhen my dad was 51 he was retired from the fire department, with a hefty pension, and working part-time as a mechanic. He and my mother traveled, their house was impeccably maintained, and the man HAD HIS SHIT TOGETHER. Still does, in fact.

I, on the other hand, feel like one of those vaudeville performers who spin plates on sticks. I’m constantly giving them another nudge to keep ’em going, paying close attention to the balance, and trying not to let anything crash to the floor. I’m exhausted, because of all the goddamn maintaining o’ the plates.

It’s not the greatest way to live, believe me. As my spiritual adviser, Paul Westerberg, would probably put it, I’m unsatisfied.

But, I haven’t given up the fight. It might be due to mental illness, but I wake up most days full of optimism. Toney doesn’t understand this, but it’s true. I almost always climb off the dormancy platform feeling positive. The day sometimes crushes it, but I’m no sad sack by nature. And I almost always have something going on that gives me hope. Or at the very least… provides a pleasant diversion.

Today I’ll give you a quick rundown of the stuff that keep me sane(ish), and turn it over to you guys. I hope you’ll also share the things that inject a bit of additional happiness into your lives: the hobbies and various diversions. Let’s get to it, shall we?

A new novel  I’ve abandoned my shitty-job memoir, for the time being, anyway. And I’m about to start writing another ridiculous novel. The great thing about it? There’s no way in hell a traditional publisher will touch it. So, it’s incredibly liberating, knowing from the start that it’ll be self-published. Or, as the cool kids call it: indie.

I’m going to learn from the mistakes I made with Crossroads Road (like not really working with an outline, and completely botching the ending), and make this story as entertaining and satisfying as possible.

And… I’m going to give myself a deadline. I don’t work well with open-ended projects. The shit stretches out for years. I haven’t decided on a timeline, but no more than six months. Possibly less.

I’m invested in this thing right now, constantly thinking about it. I come up with plot twists and new ideas every day. And it’s keeping me fired-up.

Podcasts  I work ten hour shifts, five days per week. A lot of it’s computer-based, and I would likely lose my mind if it weren’t for my little blue iPod; I cling to that thing like a life preserver. Every morning I load it with podcasts — I subscribe to dozens — and play them while sitting in front of the monitors at night.  Oh, I can rip through a ton of programming in a week. It takes a LOT of fuel to keep the day moving in the right direction.

There are programs on just about any subject at this point, and I’m constantly in search of new ones. I often get hooked on one, burn out, and move on. There are only a few that I’ve stuck with, and never abandoned. They are: WTF with Marc Maron, This American Life, and The Adam Carolla Show.

Carolla is a divisive character, but I like him. He’s not educated, and not as sophisticated as some people, but he’s really smart and funny. I’ve probably listened to 500 or more 90-minute episodes of his show. It’s like spending time with friends, or a big plate of comfort food.

Marc Maron can be a little annoying, but he’s a great interviewer and gets interesting guests. He had Robyn Hitchcock on, just a few days ago. I listen to every episode, even if I don’t know or like the person he’s talking with. I’m almost never disappointed.

And This American Life is just really good. It’s been on the radio forever, and is fantastic. I never miss it.

Beyond that… it’s just a rotating lineup of podcasts about music, entrepreneurship, and entertainment. The “podcasts” tab at iTunes is a treasure trove of greatness, if you’re willing to sift through the not-so-great stuff. And almost all of it is free.

My Kindle  I’ve always loved to read, but everything got cranked way up when I bought a Kindle. It’s not a tablet, or anything like that. It’s one of the early ones, designed for reading and nothing else. There’s a light built into the case, I can adjust the font size to whatever feels comfortable, and if I’m patient… I can get almost any book in the world for a ridiculously low price. I love that thing, I really do. I escape into it, every night. And I can read it in bed, because the small light doesn’t bother Toney while she’s sleeping. It’s perfection, and over the past five years or so… I’ve probably read more books than the previous 45 combined.

Watching dumb TV with my wife  On Fridays and Saturdays Toney and I watch a lot of shows like House Hunters, and Ghost Adventures, and that sort of thing. Oh, and Property Brothers! That’s one of our favorites. Recently we’ve started watching Master Chef, on demand. I know nothing about cooking, and couldn’t give a shit, in fact. But it’s a great show, because you get involved with the contestants and their personalities. I love those weekend nights of just sitting there, decompressing. I don’t watch too much television — almost none during the week — but it scratches some primal itch on the weekends.

What about you? What gets you through the week? The tiny things that keep you sane? Please tell us about it in the comments.

And I’ll see you guys next time.

Have great day!

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  1. Steve in WV says

    My Tivo keeps me sane.

  2. I’m with you on the podcasts. I have to make a 3 hour drive (each way) to visit my mom every two weeks or so and the podcasts keep me from casually plowing into an overpass pillar.

    If you like This American Life, you should also check out The Moth Radio Hour podcasts. The Moth hosts storytelling “jams” in various cities, just regular people telling stories based on a broad theme that changes with each show. The best ones go on the podcast. It’s great.

  3. My two weeks off after each of my three week work marathon. My years at work have earned me enough vacation to be able to do the three on two off from April thru December every year.

    Second is taking the kayak out during those two weeks and floating alone on a river or lake.

  4. I have a Nook and nothing makes me happier than getting caught up in a good book.

    Food keeps me in check. Give me a really good cheeseburger and I’ll park my woes for a while.

    Animals. Show me a kitten playing with some string and I can forget the asshole who cut me off on the ride to work.

    This site. Oh hell yeah – not ass kissing – I really mean it. I love my “Maturity” family. The comments are priceless.

    Since I still rely on FM radio in my car (which I have to say, I do like) it’s really great when they play an old classic song I haven’t heard in a while. Gets my toes a tapping.

    TV – I am currently addicted – ADDICTED! to Cinemax’s new series “The Knick”. Holy smokes – it has everything. (it’s a series about a New York city Hospital – The Knickerbocker (aka The Knick) in 1900 starring Clive Owen. Creepy good. And I still like Buying Alaska, Buying the Bayou and Buying Hawaii. Real estate shows in totally different places.

    I’m sure there is more!

  5. RIP Joan Rivers.

    Per CNN: “Comedian, 81, dies one week after medical procedure.”

    I remember when she was a “comedienne”. I guess that term fell out of vogue.

    I blame Rosie O’Donnell.

    • There’s talk of a lawsuit at that clinic she went to for her procedure.

      • Ron from PA says

        Shall I insert a nasty, racist joke here so we can all visit the anus of the internet once again?

    • johnthebasket says

      Dude . . .

      In my opinion, the person who carries the largest blame for the disappearance of the word comedienne is Joan Rivers. On The Tonight Show and the Sullivan Show in the 60s, she was simply too competent to be distinguished from the male comics.

      So comedienne lies next to Jewess and Negress in the graveyard of underclass distinctions. Insult comics are not quite my cup of gin, but she was a genuine pioneer and I join you in remembering her fondly.


      • johnthebasket says

        But, of course, that observation is implicit in your comment. As happens, you were there ahead of me, subtle as usual.

  6. Ron from PA says

    Alcohol, beer to be precise. Not much for the hard stuff, but a few beers every night after work takes the edge off. And since I live in the “Valley” I fit right in with the whole drinking mindset around here. Dumb TV shows. Cops, House hunters international, same with you Jeff, it’s got to be mindless for the time I waste watching TV. And last but not least, my dog, Daytona. Nothing more relaxing then sitting on the porch pettin you good ol’ friend. No matter what type of day I’ve had he’s always there wagging his tail when I get home. And if I don’t pet him cause I had a shitty day, he comes over and nudges me to “Snap out of it and pet me, dammit”
    And try the pod cast “Weird Medicine” with Dr Steve. Funny stuff and you actually can learn some shit. In between the fart and hemorrhoid jokes. Which of course, are presented in medical terms.

    • I’m surprised it took 8 comments for someone to mention alcohol.

      I was going to bring it up, but I’m still in denial.


  7. The Qweezy Mark says

    Truly depraved,, way too young, deepthroat bitches. Questionable lineage OK. Drugs OK. Thieves OK (apparently, after the last one)..

    I also need tons of Jim Beam plus the occasional purchase of XXXXXXX. to keep up with the depraved bitches. They usually come with their own supply anyway.

    Other than that, strong coffee. With these things, I can maneuver life in a controlled fashion.

  8. johnthebasket says

    Hate to take up this much linear space, but Paul Simon wrote a song in 1974 about the feelings you expressed today. Called it American Tune. I think the first two verses will do. . .jtb

    Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
    And many times confused
    Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
    And certainly misused

    Oh, but I’m alright, I’m alright
    I’m just weary to my bones
    Still, you don’t expect to be bright and bon vivant
    So far away from home, so far away from home

    And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
    I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
    I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
    Or driven to its knees

    But it’s alright, it’s alright
    For we lived so well so long
    Still, when I think of the
    Road we’re traveling on
    I wonder what’s gone wrong
    I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

  9. AngryWhiteGuy says

    I too get through the waning years of my life with food too keep sane. The Child Bride tells me I have let myself go. I have reached290 pounds again and have no desire to fix that. Food makes me happy. I’m a professional chef for dogs sake.

    Spending every spare minute with my 17 year old son is another sane keeper. Kid got diagnosed with brain cancer two weeks before junior year ended, had a shitty summer with daily 188 mile trips for radiation and lost all his hair on the back of his head due to radiation. Goes to a gifted school and has a Mohawk a beard and an eye patch due to seeing double from the brain surgery. Coolest fucking looking kid at that school He also has the best attitude ever and is my hero. Best thing I ever made.

    I also enjoy punching things. 300 pound bag by my pool I have almost broken through Like to pretend I’m jake Lamotta.

    Still working 90 plus hours per week. Stress can be defeated if you find the right outlet.

    Great job my old friend on updates. New format is awesome. I like when you mention past dudes and I recognize and picture them. Jeff should write for a sitcom. Do you invible frieds agree.

    By the way WB and others. Thanks for your donations to my sons godundme website. His bills are reaching 2 millions dollars and every bit helps and I am so thankful for it. Love ya guys.

    • AngryWhiteGuy says

      “Invisible friends”. Fucking selective spellcheck.

    • AngryWhiteGuy says

      And again. Gofundme website. Jamie Myers road to recovery is the title Again. WB. You got the wvsr ball rolling on this. Thank you from the bottom of my coal black heart.

  10. AngryWhiteGuy says

    Sorry JTB. Didn’t mean to step on that. That was awesome.

    • johnthebasket says

      AWG. . .

      Step anywhere you want, my friend. Your comments here always enliven the discussion, and they are entirely too far apart. Your son is in my thoughts, and I wish you, him, and the Child Bride joy and redemption. One day at a time.



      • AngryWhiteGuy says

        Thank you John. The angrywhitegirl. Now ten years old. Has an understanding of what the eventual outcome may bring. Hoping for the best. Mom then father in law now son. Cancer fucking sucks.

  11. Lucie in Tampa says

    I love my DVR & my stupid games on Book Face. the promise of sleeping in late on a Sunday….

  12. Keep that schedule for the new novel! I can’t wait to read it. Crossroads Road is one of my favorite books. My husband and I have recommended it to many people. It would be a hilarious movie. Sorry that Joan Rivers won’t be available as the mother.

  13. I like to do little chores. Things that only take a couple hours and can be accomplished in two or three beers. Like doing a little fence work out back. Shore up a couple uprights with a hammer and nail…no big deal. Then I realize a few of the main support post are lose. Get a shovel and a tamper and add some dirt around the bottom to firm it up…no big deal. But I notice the the post itself is sorta/kinda rotted out about six inches down in the ground from being in dirt for twenty years and moisture has done it in, breaking the wood down. No big deal…go buy some 4 X 4s, measure, get out the power saw and cut to fit. But the old post won’t pull away from the two horizontal boards that hold the uprights. If I destroy the horizontals trying to pry them away, I’ll have to replace them and at the same, take off every upright (hopefully without fucking up any of those), essentially rebuilding this entire goddamn, motherfucking, piece of shit fence. So I calmly decided (7th beer by now) that my best course of action would be to leave everything alone and dig out around the main uprights, go buy some 2 x 2s, measure, cut to fit, dig more holes to sink them for extra support while utilizing Sakrete (six bags worth) to help make this who in the fuck decided they needed a goddamn stupid fucking fence here in the first place…fuck this thing, fence. (13th beer by now). I got it all lined out. Wife came home and was quite surprised at my progress, not to mention the condition the back yard and fence was in. There were holes dug everywhere…maybe in places I didn’t even need one (17th beer and two Wild Turkey miniatures by now). Apparently I had a industrial sized concrete mixer delivered by United Rentals and an entire pallet of Sakrete. My wife remained supportive although confused has to how only needing a hammer and a few nails turned into what she was seeing. She told me it was going to be so nice when I’m done. I told her I love working outdoors, I helps me relax. She asked me if I was going to paint it when it was all done.

  14. Gotta give this podcast a try. It’s from Otis Gibbs and called Thanks for Giving a Damn. He does outstanding interviews with great people from music mostly.


    His whole library is on soundcloud but the newest ones are on itunes if that’s the easiest for you


    this podcast keeps me sane. Recent good ones are John Strohm and Cheetah Chrome.

  15. During Fall and Winter, my getaways to LSU football games. Its my special thing. No school. No work. No kids. No fur kids.
    I just get away and spend the weekend tailgating and hanging out with adults.
    I love my kids and fur kids but us single parent mom’s need to run away occasionally.
    My sanity hangs by a thread during the Spring and Summer.