Stu Monroe is a hard-working Southern boy of no renown and a sick little monkey of great renown. He has a beautiful wife, Cindy, and an astonishingly wacky daughter, Gracie. His opinions are endorsed by absolutely no one…except!

May I rant for a minute? Where's my soapbox? What do you mean "the midget took it?"

May I rant for a minute? Where's my soapbox? What do you mean "the midget took it?"

I'm going to ramble on here for a bit. I do hope that you'll bear with me. I've got some shit to get off my chest. There's some shit that's been grinding my gears (as the great poet Peter Griffin once said). It's getting to be a bit...unbearable.

I've come to the conclusion that the main reason I didn't realize how batshit fucking crazy things have gotten in the world these last few years is more of a timing thing than anything else. I'm 39 years old. My daughter is 14 years old. My life, for the last decade or so, has been all about working and getting ahead. When you hit work hard the way that I do, you tend let the peripheral stuff be just that- head down and eyes on the prize. I hunker down with my family when I can and play when the opportunity presents itself. 

Recently, I left a job that was draining my soul. I took the position to "get ahead" (whatever the fuck that means). It wasn't a bad decision, all in all- I paid off some debts, replaced some of the necessary evils that were in need (appliances, car, etc.), and splurged a little. The main thing I did, though, was manage to NOT live paycheck to paycheck for the first time in my life. That is not an exaggerated statement. The financial side of my life has been a struggle for as long as I can remember. 

Something felt hollow, though. Sure, I was making a decent (i.e. by no means extravagant) paycheck. I could afford a good bottle of Islay and a good book. The bills were getting paid. Every day, though, my soul was getting a little lighter, as if things were being removed that couldn't be returned. I know that my fellow Area Managers that are reading this know exactly what I'm talking about. Don't lie to yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. You're better than that. 

As my illusion was worn out and my burden became heavier, I did a bold thing- I DARED TO DREAM. I knew I could do more. I knew I was more than a corporate America middle management stooge; I knew it in my fucking heart! So, I made a crazy move and planned my escape. I saved money and plotted an exit strategy that would allow me to transition into something that will be better. I patiently swallowed shovelful after shovelful of shit until I thought my mouth was a goddamn toilet. I held out as long as I could. Finally, the joyous day came when I could walk away with a clean conscience. 

Lo and behold, an amazing thing happened: I was validated! A cubic fuckton of love poured in from those whom I'd impacted. It was all very gratifying, and I miss everyone there. Still, the takeaway was that there was more for me. From the moment I made that decision my passions began to pay off. I was published again. I made contact after contact in a business where I had no foot in the door. All I could do was push, push, push! Sometimes that's all you can do. So I did. I became a little obsessed. 

Am I a raging, overnight success? Not even close. Am I famous? Not even in my own mind. Here's the thing, though- if you don't make the commitment to get out there and risk embarrassing yourself you'll never have shit! 

The old adage is that America is the Land of Opportunity. That is true, but I don't believe that to be an inherently American ideal. It's a human ideal. Sure, it's as cliched as a redneck burning his Nike shoes or a hipster waxing his mustache and telling you how smart he is, but the result of all those lofty dreams isn't going to come to you if you just sit on your ass and wait for it. 

The coolest thing about all this (as I wait to start my next "bill paying endeavor") has been the ability to be home with my family for a significant amount of time. I've been able to reconnect with the most important people in the world in an awesome way, but I've also been able to develop a routine and experience what life as a writer will be like someday. 

Yes, I said will. You goddamn well better believe it.

It's with that in mind that I throw my "rules for living" out into the world. Call it my religion, if it pleases you. Everyone has to believe in something, and I have an eclectic list. Here goes:

  • Do unto others as you'd have done to you....this above all else. Take a minute in every situation you find yourself in to ponder it as deeply as time permits.
  • Family comes above all else. Family can be blood or it can be "ride or die", but you never fuck over family even when they act like total fuckheads.
  • There's absolutely nothing wrong with taking time to look after yourself. Don't forget that if you're twisted then everything else will be, too.
  • Read a fucking book. Learning doesn't end because school does.
  • A day where you learn something new cannot be a total loss. It doesn't matter if it's "trivia nonsense"...fucking take that shit in!
  • You'll fail quite a bit, but do your best to avoid hypocrisy. You can be crass and be loved. You can be a big old pussy and be loved. You can be obnoxious and be loved. However, everyone hates a hypocrite. 
  • Do your best to practice what you preach. Have the courage of your convictions.
  • Keep an open mind. Always be willing to truly immerse yourself in the other person's state of mind and beliefs; it's the only way you'll ever grow. 
  • Resist hate. THIS ONE IS REALLY HARD. 
  • Answer the toy phone; that kid is depending on you for validation.
  • Don't overthink it. As great and unique as you are, you have to remember that the shit is going to happen whether you like it or not. Fretting over it doesn't do you any good. 
  • Resist the authority if that's what your gut and your heart tells you to do. 
  • Conversely, if it feels wrong in your heart then you probably shouldn't do it.

Have I rambled enough? Maybe.....maybe not. 

I'm not going to let myself get bummed out, but it has been disheartening to see everyone so easily separated by the petty things in life. Family members are no longer talking to each other because of how they feel about the orange-skinned asshole who "runs" this country (FULL DISCLOSURE: I voted for him based on economic decisions; I regret it). No one can forgive anymore. Everyone has a party line to tow, and every decision is just!! It's a bit sickening. Ideology (regardless of the alignment) has replaced the human heart. 

Don't buy what they're selling you, folks. As much as I love John Carpenter's They Live, I'd never have thought that people could be duped on that level. And yet....and we are. Everyone has lost their fucking mind. 

Just remember that the shit you're being told to take seriously isn't half as serious as they'd lead you to believe. You know what's real, what's serious, when it's all said and done? It's not proving that your side is right. It's not a fucking shoe advertisement. It's not even the cause that you feel not enough people are fighting for. Those things aren't unimportant, but they pale in comparison to those who love YOU and fight for YOU. 

Quit being someone else's stooge. 


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