Vision: When Doubt Sets In.

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I hear voices, lots of voices. Ok, not those kind of voices; they don’t tell me to do bad things or hurt people, and they don’t speak different languages. No, I hear the cries of other people in my life. My brain likes to pretend it knows what other people are thinking, it also plays this game where it invents people that I don’t even know and tells me their thoughts too. “Well, that’s just crazy Matt!” I know, as my brain answers the doubting question nobody asked.

I am hard wired like this, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can come up with the most hateful, fearful, doubt-filled comments in my own head, and make myself believe it is what other people are thinking too. I bring this up because my morning, starting at 5am has been filled with these horrible doubting thoughts. All the ones that tell me I’m no good, and I will never reach my goals; that people are laughing at me behind my back because they can’t believe how stupid my dreams are. Well, isn’t that all just a bunch of ridiculous nonsense. Even if it were all true, would it change what I wanted to do? Would it stop me from being filled with the joy that I have been filled with since I started chasing my dreams? No, no it wouldn’t.

The fact that I have these thoughts means that the old Matt is scared, he is shaking in his dirty old sneakers looking for an excuse to run to a bottle of vodka and give up. It is times like this that I have to remind my self, of “Why” and look towards my vision of the future, not my fear of the past or the lacking of the present. I want to share something with the ones that read this. It is my vision statement, my reason or my “Why” for doing what I do.

“To inspire and motivate others to be their best selves. To serve others with humility. To be better today than I was yesterday. To have the courage to live a good life and become the man God created me to be.”

I wanted to share this with you because of my experience with doubt this morning. Yesterday I wrote about having guts and the faith to take action, having just released my first Novel I felt pretty good about myself. Well, as is usual those good feelings last about as long as a cup of coffee. It didn’t take long for the doubt to set in or “the voices,” It was a maelstrom this morning, a deafening cacophony of, “YOU IDIOT, NO ONE WANTS TO READ YOUR BULLSHIT!” And “YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME AND EMBARRASSING YOUR SELF!” I wanted to jump back in my whole and hug my knees to my chest, rocking back and forth like a scared child.

Until I remembered “Why” I was doing what I was doing. I remembered my vision. Nowhere in my vision statement did I say that I would be the greatest writer of all time or that everyone would love me. Nope, instead, my vision is to inspire, motivate and serve others. Not that being the greatest of all time and having everyone love you is bad, it just isn’t “Why” I am in the game. I want to inspire others because I want to be inspired. I want to motivate others because I want to be motivated. I realize that if I want to be successful, I have to love the process of success and find out what success means to me. And at the end of the day, success for me is not a giant house with fountains all over the place. Or tons of really nice cars.

Success for me is a sense of peace and well being. It’s being in Love and being inspired, on a daily basis. If I can achieve that by sitting at a kitchen table or in this case a Hampton Inn, bedroom desk, then by God I am going to do it. All the fancy property and things come as a result of me following my passion and doing what I love, and not focusing on the outcome or the doubt. Other peoples opinions of me are none of my business. Especially if what I am doing is helping me live a wonderful life and not hurt others. Also, I was reminded this morning, by a nice email, that I am doing exactly what I intended to do in my vision statement. I inspired someone, an excellent friend, to start doing something that they have wanted to do but just couldn’t force themselves to do. How awesome is that?  That just so happens to be the exact thing I want to do, my God it’s amazing.  I don’t care what it is you want to do if you haven’t started yet, now is the time.

The doubters will come, and it will feel like you are just banging your head against a wall sometimes, but then you will remember “Why” you started in the first place and your Vision, will outshine your doubt.

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The Day has arrived. I thought it never would. I had no reference for anything like this in my past. I didn’t know what to expect, and I had no clue what I was doing, but I did it all the same. “What did I do?” You ask.
Well, I published a real-life novel, available now on Amazon and Kindle.

Soon I will be holding my very own copy of my very own book. I swear, I never thought this would be possible just six months ago. I dreamed about one day being a published author, but I had no clue how I would get there or if I ever would. It was as they call it, a pipe dream. But that is the magic of the program of AA.

I didn’t know that by working the 12 steps and taking the simple, not natural action of getting sober and working a spiritual program, that my dreams could become a reality. It was such a simple answer too. It usually is.  I remember the day it started; I had just finished a book called “Start With Why.” By Simon Sinek, which is all about figuring out the “Why” of your life and working from that point. It is the reason the program of AA works so well. AA has a defined “Why,” and there can be no deviation from it. The programs Why is to find a new, better way to live without Alcohol and its main purpose is accomplished by the “How,” which is the 12 steps. A simple program of action, and the “What,” becomes all these beautiful gifts of a sober, spiritual life.

Anyway, one day two months ago, October 11th to be exact. I wrote what my “Why” was; then because I needed a job, I began to look for work with that “Why” in mind.

Well, I got two job interviews set up that day for positions I thought were my dream jobs, coaching football and recruiting. So, I got dressed up and went to my first job interview — a recruiting position at a reasonably new scouting firm; I was so excited.  I ended up walking around midtown for an hour in 90-degree heat, looking for the building, calling my contact multiple times and getting no response. After an hour bloodied and drenched in sweat, I gave up. I was literally bleeding, don’t buy dress shoes from Walmart, your feet will thank you. What a massive failure, I didn’t even go to the next interview, which was for a coaching position at a junior college. I was so angry and honestly just over the whole work thing, haha. It is funny how things happen in life that seem like huge failures but end up being the kick in the ass that is genuinely required for success.

I said to myself that day, “Matt you didn’t get sober to keep doing the same miserable things you have done your whole freaking life. It is time to try something different,” and I did. I was so motivated not to have to live like I have lived my entire life that I started writing, because If you want to be a writer, you have to write.  Starting just over two months ago now and have published two…  TWO FREAKING BOOKS!! I previously never thought it was possible.
Here is my take away, I discovered my “Why” and the way I went about accomplishing it was the same way I had gone about my life, My whole Life. The program of AA teaches me to try something different, keep an open mind, be willing to take action when an opportunity arises, and stay honest. If I expect for my life to be different, then I need to be different.  I never thought that I would spend hundreds of hours in front of a computer screen writing, and it would become the most joyful, fulfilling experience of my life. But it has, and it is a miracle of working a program of recovery through AA.

I say all that to say:  Knowing that I need to be different is one thing. Actually taking action to do something completely different is another. I could have let all the past failures keep me from writing and publishing my own books.  I was laughed out of the writing center in college, unable to spell my last name until 3rd grade. I am not a genius by any stretch, but I did make a decision. I decided I would no longer be limited by fears or not knowing exactly how to do something. I just started doing it and you know what, I figured the rest of the stuff out along the way. That is what life is, no one is born with a pre-existing knowledge of everything they will ever do in life. It takes some guts and some faith and a lot of action to do the things I want to do in life. I am just willing to do those things today, thanks to AA.

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Fear emanates from me like a thick mist of moisture. It permeates and fills me until there is no ME left and only the Fear exists. I am not my self, I am no longer human. I have become my nightmare.

This is me on many days, not as many as a month ago and not nearly as many as six months ago when every day was filled with fear and anxiety. It was my drinking fuel.

Today and yesterday have been weird days for me. I have accomplished so much in the past couple of months, in regards to a new career in writing, and sobriety. However, yesterday was one of those days where I woke up, and everything was as it usually is. I did everything I was supposed to do. I checked everything off the list. But, I still felt a sense of unease and foreboding, like I was waiting for God to part the clouds look down at me, realizing he made a mistake and squish me to death. Of course, this never happened and I went to bed like I usually do. But again this morning, I woke with a great sense of anxiety as if I was somehow behind the 8ball.

Still, I did all the things I was supposed to do. “What the hell is going on?” I had to ask myself. It would be easy to think that I am not doing enough or that I am somehow just working a mediocre program. But everyone around me says I am doing well; my sponsor says that I am doing all I can.

I came to a realization, which I usually do throughout the day, either during meditation, prayer, writing, or talking to another alcoholic.  I am anxious about travelling and being out of my, oh so wonderful, routine.  Which led me to the next realization, that everything will not always be on my time table and most importantly,  I am not always going to feel great. I will repeat that, I AM NOT ALWAYS GOING TO FEEL GREAT. I know, I know blasphemy. But the pure and simple fact is that I spent my entire life running from feeling’s any feeling’s the only thing I wanted was the feeling of no feeling. That is why I drank. If I didn’t feel, then I didn’t have to deal, not with life, not with people and definitely not with myself.

The program teaches me that only by dealing with what I feel I can grow. It is a gift of life to be given all the emotions and uncomfortable anxiety-inducing situations that teach me to grow. And I am almost certain that is what I am here to do, to grow. When I am not growing, I am simply dying. What a waste of life to be born to die. That is not my lot, that is no one’s lot. I believe that my Higher Power, placed me on this Earth to grow and to help others grow. It is why, I feel so alive and fulfilled when I am assisting another alcoholic, or learning something new, or accomplishing something that inspires me. Growth is the most natural and frustratingly painful thing in life. Call it change if you will, but I say it’s Growth, one and the same.

So this anxiety that I am feeling, its ok. I am ok with being uncomfortable, it is a symptom of being human, and to deny my anxiety, which honestly is only present because I am traveling tomorrow and will be out of my routine, is to deny my humanity. I will no longer deny my humanity because that would be denying the very essence of who I am.

I know who I am today and that is a blessing.

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Jumping the Gun: The art of Patience

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I am impatient. There I said it. I want to be the best now, immediately before anyone else. I want to be happy now. I want to have millions of dollars in the bank now, and damn it I want everyone’s love and respect RIGHT NOW!
I am a bit of a child in this respect, but I realize that its ok. I have to be patient with learning patience. I can forget that I have spent the majority of my life sick, looking for instant gratification. From alcohol or women or food, whatever, it didn’t matter. The main thing was that I felt better and I got what I wanted immediately. It happened to me again this week, when I finished my novel. I did my edit of it, and before letting any other eyes edit it, I submitted it for reviews. SMH. I do this to my self without even thinking. I get so caught up in a state of “Oh My God, I did it. This is the greatest book ever; everyone has to read it now.” I lose my freaking mind, haha. I have to laugh because when I look back at myself in that crazy state, it’s funny. Like watching a child beg and plead for a toy that they want, then they get it, and 20 mins later are on to something new. I completely forgot that finishing the book was never the actual goal. The real goal was to write what I love, and when I was in that place every day was a friggin gift. The moment I went from writing what I love, to, everyone has to read this now, I lost my purpose and my joy. That’s not to say; I don’t want people to read it, because I do and I believe it is good work. But because I was impatient, I put out an incomplete product, which I am learning is not the way to win readers, especially if I am asking them to spend money on what I do. So, I will edit the hell out of Trent Foster and The Council of 10 before publishing.
The program of AA is teaching me that there is a better way, but to get there, I have to be willing to allow the feeling of uncomfortability to sit in my life, without trying to numb it or run from it. “Oh, you mean being uncomfortable has a purpose?” Yes, it does have a purpose, and that purpose is personal growth. I have numbed myself and ran away from discomfort for so many years that, six months worth of working a spiritual program has not taught me everything I will ever need to know in life. But it has shown me that its ok not to know everything and in fact, it is a key to a happy and fulfilling life. When I believe I know everything I am all high and mighty and full of myself, judging others for their lack of knowledge.
How small of me, I have come to realize that the less I know, the better. Thinking I have all the answers causes me to force my will in my life. I am not an Omnipotent, all-knowing being. I am just Matt, and that’s good. I don’t have time to manage everyone else’s life. I can’t even handle my own. But every day is getting better, and learning to be patient with myself and the things in life that are out of my control is allowing for a lot more happiness and joy to flow into my life. Because life is not all run according to my schedule, there is so much more to the picture than I am even capable of seeing. That is why I must pray every day for God’s Will.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I need this reminder every day, or I will force my life back into a state of ruin. I no longer want to live in that misery anymore. Or at least not today.

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Who Am I


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A thrum of energy resonated through me, as time seemed to pause.  A drop of water from the leaking faucet hung in the air for a moment before crashing into the metallic basin, with a thunderous crash.  Stirring me from the thought that had me frozen.  “Who am I?”

What a question.  I have spent my entire life pondering, somedays I increase my ponder level to a million though, and seemingly stop time.  Today is one of those days.  Let’s dig in shall we.

“Am I my past?”  Well, one would surmise that, yes, yes I am my past because everything in my past has made me the man sitting here at the kitchen table writing this blog right now.  However, that would mean that I am only possible of doing the things that my past has shown I am capable of doing, which is to say destroy my life with bad choices and alcohol.  Well I know for a fact I am not that person anymore, I haven’t been for almost six months now, what a miracle.

“So, I am not my past, fine.  Am I the man I want to be?”  Great question, thank you for asking.  Sure I could say, well yeah I am the man I want to be.  I am sober, I’m writing every day, I have published two books in two months.  I have accomplished a lot.  I have friends who I care about and my relationships with my family are growing better each day.  Not bad, I could be happy saying I am that guy.  But, “Is that who I am?”  NO, it’s not.

“Well geez, Matt, who are you then?   Are you the future you?”  HA, I say.  What a silly question, of course, I am not the future me, that me only exists in my imagination.  He has lived a life of a million stories, loved and laughed until he was incapable of doing either another moment more, yet still somehow found the endurance to love more and to laugh more.  No, I am not that man.

“It would seem you are confused then Matt, you have no real Idea of who you are.”  Ha, I say again to you.  For I am all these men, I am built of my past experiences but not limited by them.  I am proud of my current accomplishments but not satisfied with them.  And I am excited for the next moment that is sure to come and fill me with all the joy it could ever muster, as soon as I am done with this moment.

I am as religion teaches, and the program, a Trinity of things.  I am only truly who I am when I am mindful of the 3 in 1.

“Wow, that is very interesting.  I have never thought of it in that way.  You must be very proud of yourself.”  Haha, I am and you should be too because you are the “past me” asking the “present me” about the “future me”  and we are all here to answer the call.

Now I ask you, Who Are You?

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A Holiday Marathon

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I have been thinking a lot about the pace of things for the past couple of days. This is largely due to the fact that I am almost finished editing my first Novel, and the excitement of having it done is pulling me towards it like a tractor beam. However, I also work a 12 step program and pace is a common theme in my life. One day at a time is the most commonly used phrase in AA in my opinion and for good reason. While I was drinking I had no concept of one day at a time, I was so consumed with consuming as much as possible, as fast as humanly possible that everything else in my life slipped away. I was so enamored with getting drunk, that the idea of anyone or anything else in my life was barely a second or third thought. And when I am not careful, I can get right back to that sick mindset of, I want as much as possible as fast as possible, to Hell with everything else.
So, in the process of finishing my Novel, I have lost sight of some important things, such as pace. Less than six months ago, I was bedridden, hadn’t showered in weeks or done anything resembling taking care of myself. I had put on 40lbs in two months, from a combination of Vodka, Malt liquor, and frozen pizza. I would dare to say my pace was off then. Today, because of working a program, I have written and published a Novella, and am putting the finishing touches on a Novel. I also have a sponsor, have worked the 12 steps and do service work daily, along with going to meetings, praying and meditating, my life has improved drastically.
But leave it to me to say, “yeah but” when something exciting comes along and life becomes good again, I have a tendency to revert back to that alcoholic pace. With the thought, “oh look, there is the finish line, I will win the race.” It happens so often to so many of us in the program, and it has happened to me countless times. I will forgo the pace and the things that got me to this point because I think I see the finish line.
Here is the Truth of the matter, THERE IS NO FINISH LINE. But I will delude my self over and over again to make myself believe that there is one. Because a finish line means I can stop running, I can take a break, and most importantly I can look back at all the poor suckers I left in the dust. My thinking is sick if I am at this place. Because in reality, if my pace is correct I love walking or jogging along, meeting all kinds of friends along the way having experiences I would never have had if I were still drunkinly standing at the starting line. More accurately passed out in the bushes hundreds of feet behind the starting line. But that is the gift of the program of AA, I am able to see that my pace is off, because I have these checkpoints in my life reminding me that I am on the right path and I’m doing good. Checkpoints like, my sponsor, prayer, meditation, meetings, and working with other alcoholics. All these things are daily practices that can enlighten me to how I am doing and if my pace needs to be checked. Because when I stop doing them, I start running way faster and way harder than I can manage, at the thought of a finish line. By the time I realize it was a mirage and there is no finish line, my legs are weak and tired, I can’t breathe right and I feel like giving up, because, “Damnit, it hurts too much, and it’s just too hard.”
The holiday season has a special way of turning in to false finish lines for me as well. “If I buy them just the right gift or the right amount of gifts they will love me or finally accept me. Or if I give to all these charities I will feel better about doing the horrible things I have done.” The idea of becoming someone different for a few months out of the year can be a huge stumbling stone for me. The idea that I can persuade the people I care about the most to care about me more or change there mind about me. When in reality, I haven’t even made up my mind about my self, I haven’t loved my self. My pace is off again. Its only through the 12 steps of AA, I have found a pace that not only makes every day better, but it makes me better in the process. I focus on my steps and by doing that, I get to the place I am supposed to be however long it takes. “Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, they will always materialize themselves, if we work for them.”  I will continue trudging the road of happy destiny today, hope to see you along the way.

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What’s a picture worth.

Light cascaded in through the old kitchen window, specalling the pieces of dust dancing slowly in the air, daring one another to land.  The kitchen table had seen many days like today, full of sun and a quiet peace that resonated through out the  home.  On the darkened circular slab of well worn wood, sat a metallic dish curved and concaved to form a bowl.  The sun reflected a scarred and tired face as the dish had been used for many years, never complaining or groaning at the work it must do.  No, it sat with a shining, gold, glimmer on its lip, happy to carry the sweet delights it held.

Full, almost to overflow sat friends of the table and bowl, now leaning back, catching the radiant glow from the light filtering in.  The Banana was reclined, eyes closed bathing in the beautiful day, only one brown spot decorated its yellow belly.  Apple stood at attention to Banana’s side, squinting as the sun glistened off the apple’s tight red skin, which shown white with a happy glow.  Orange lay sleeping in its round pot marked skin, head turned to the brilliant light forcing patches of light to bounce from its back.  While Pare was fully aware of the suns delightful beam, it stood stretching itself as tall as it could go, the sun poured generously upon its discolored out stretched torso.  And last but no least all the grapes hung purple from their small brown stims, lazing about as some fell over the lips of the bowl trying to escape the canter of light beaming down slow.

It was a sight to behold all the friends as they sat, one after one falling into shadow, as the sun began to go flat.  Up over the house, the sun it climbed, leaving all the friends inside to sit in darkness, waiting till the next time the sun would shine.

When we define what something is worth, only by our own perspective we do a disservice to all the amazing things in life, that if only looked at with a different pair of eyes, might change the entire way we feel or hopefully the way we see.


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Writing With Purpose

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I have wanted to do this for a little while now. The past week, in fact, the idea of writing the journey of writing my first novel was one that I was interested in. Well, I have finished the first draft of the novel and am in the editing process now, so I figured what better time to start. I have heard it said, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” I am planting my tree, by writing this blog in a way. I have been unsure on what to do with the blog because when I first created all I wanted from it was a place to “Publish” my short stories. Holy crap did that start an Avalanche of craving the creative process and writing some shit that maybe people wanted to read. The true magnitude of which I am sure I don’t fully see.

The reason, it became such a big deal to me is because I never thought that I would want to be a writer. I mean sure, I love a good book but sitting at a computer crafting well-written stories was not my thing. In college, I had to write a dissertation or “Thesis” my senior year on whatever subject I wanted. I wrote about training high school athletes, and I hated it. Which was weird because I assumed I loved training people to get stronger and better, why was the writing so difficult. I managed to produce 40 or45 pages of something worthy enough of a B, and I was fine with that as long as I didn’t have to write anymore. It was such a miserable process that took me 2 full semesters to complete, and I was actually training athletes at the time so I should have had plenty of insight to draw from. Alas, non-fiction textbook writing was not my thing.

Fast forward 10 years and multiple trips to rehab, a failed business, 2 failed marriages and a plethora of other unmentionables crimes against the “American Dream.” I find my self in a place where I utterly crave writing every morning, it has opened up my eyes more than I could ever have imagined. I was told to “come to the blank page with, fear, anger, anxiety, excitement or any other emotion, but I was told to come.” Let me back up a bit for context.

So, I have self-published one novella an 18,000 word short (Dead Heart: An Origin Story) about a Knight named Sir Ageon. It’s actually on the Amazon Kindle for purchase now. The whole idea behind writing that story came to me because I wanted to write inspiring stories, and the idea was for me to write about a man that lost both his legs. From that little nugget of an idea came Dead Heart, which I am so proud of and, I am working on the second book now. It took me a week to write the thing and another to edit it, I was hooked, fully mesmerized and lost in a 4th dimension where time and space didn’t exist, even now I feel myself slipping into that space. Which led me to look into writing classes and other ways to get better, if I was going to put my work out for everyone to see I wanted to get better at the craft, not to mention I want to make a living doing this. I was hit with another incredible (What I think is incredible), idea during a creative writing exercise for one of the classes, three weeks later I have the first draft of, Trent Foster & The Council of 10. A 65,000+ word creative explosion from my mind. I couldn’t believe it, still can’t, and the crazy thing is I think it’s good. The shit had me laughing and crying as I wrote it like I was reading the damn thing not writing it.

Along the way in those 3 weeks, I was hit with some pretty incredible personal awakenings of my own. Without even knowing I was doing it, I was, in essence, writing a Sci-Fi/fantasy version of the last 10 years of my life. I saw it when I wrote the ending and damn did it hit me like a brick truck hauling a ton of shit.

Here is what I learned, I don’t always have to know what is going to come out of me when I sit down to write, hell that’s half the fun, I realize now. It is a gift to have any creative thought and it is even more of a gift to get a chance to share that with anyone else. So if you are scared to write, good and if you are excited to write, good. Just for God’s sake write, it is the greatest thing I have found in my life to this point. I never understood when I would hear quotes from people like Steve Jobs, saying “Your work is going to take up the majority of your life and if you want to do great work you need to do what you love if you haven’t found it yet keep looking.” Thanks, Steve, I used to think, this guy found his passion at an early age, I was lost I didn’t love doing anything. Until now, I can honestly say I love writing and whether I become the richest most famous Author in all the world or just some guy named Matt that writes weird stories and self publishes them all, I will have spent my life happy doing what I love, and that is worth something.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to get back to editing. Trent Foster & The Council of 10, will be available by January 2019.

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The Gettys-burger Address

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“What is it, Mary?”

“I am making lunch, do you want a sandwich?”

“Oh yes, that would be fantastic. I have been sitting here racking my brain about how to address Gettysburg and didn’t even realize how hungry I had become.”

“I have a feeling those folks at Gettysburg won’t even remember what you say after all they have been through. I hate Cemeteries they are so creepy, I hate that we have to go.”
“Mary men fought and died to live in a free state country we are going to show our support of the American cause.”
“I know, I know it just weird’s me out. Here is your sandwich. ”
“Thank you, Mary, it feels like 4 score since I had something this good to eat. Surely all sandwich are not created equal.”
“Oh, Abe you flatter me.”

“You have a God-given ability that shall not be in vain your sandwiches innervate my spirit, now I must get back to this speech.”

“Nothing better than a delicious sandwich, during the rebirth of a free country.
I wish I knew where to begin.  How about, Death Sucks, am I right? I mean how gross is that.  No Abe dammit, your not a teenager anymore. Act like a president.”
“Dearly beloved we are gathered here today… No, NO, NO…”
“Mary, when was the Declaration written?”
“Like 87 years ago or something.”

“Wow, what’s that like 4 score and 7.”

“Abe you know I have no idea why you insist on trying to change the way we talk about passages of time.”

“Mary you know how important it is to me remember I was self-taught no one was running around with those fancy numbers and years when I was a boy I had to come up with this on my own.”

“Yeah yeah, I know Abe… jeez what a baby.”

“What was that Mary?”

“Oh.  Nothing honey. Glad you enjoyed your sandwich.